Marina Empinotti shares her trip to the idyllic haven on the Adriatic.
When I invited my parents to join me on a trip to Croatia, my dad’s first reaction was to ask me “what the hell would we do for 8 days there”. Well, all I can say is that on our way back, he was wishing we could have stayed a little longer…
Before going to Croatia we spent 4 days in Slovenia (just go!) and then drove down to Croatian capital Zagreb. We did not spend the night there, just enjoyed a nice sunny day in this big city. Saint Mark cathedral is a must-see: its colourful tiled roof makes it so unique. Also, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city dating from the 13th century. On the roof, tiles are laid so that they represent the coat of arms of Zagreb and the kingdom of Croatia.
Outside, on the northwest wall of the church lies the oldest coat of arms of Zagreb with the year 1499 engraved in it (the original is kept in the Zagreb City Museum). As the corner of St. Mark’s Square was a Town Hall, the seat of the city administration in medieval times.
A nice place for lunch is Pod Grickim Topom. The food is fine, and the city view makes a visit worth. This restaurant is situated on an outstanding location under the city cannon that shoots at noon every day. You will see notes from famous visitors on the walls. Hilary Clinton`s was just next to our table.
After visiting the capital, we headed to the most stunning part of the trip: the Plitvice Lake National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage comprises 16 lakes, countless waterfalls and eight different trails to see them, so you can choose the one that fits your group best.
Check out for more info https://www.plitvice-lakes.info/walking/
We chose trail H, with 9km. It gives you a perfect tour of the area, including a boat and a bus ride to give your legs a break. It took us about 4 hours to complete it. There is one longer option, trail K, that includes every inch of the park, but it will take you around 8 hours to do it.
There is a hotel with the park’s name inside the reserve area, which was our choice. It’s pretty comfortable and the proximity to the trails the next morning was perfect to let us rest a little longer since the hiking should start early in the morning -it can get really hot in there. Hopefully, the pictures can give you an idea of what to expect, but I assure you the beauty and peace of this place will surprise you.
Next stop was Trogir. a medieval town by the sea. Its quite small, so an afternoon there was enough to visit the city centre, the marina, the castle, and have nice ice cream. Right after Trogir is Split, one of the most famous Croatian cities, especially for Game of Thrones fans. Many locations there to visit, mostly related to Daenerys. It’s fun to visit places and try to take pictures that match the scenes from the show – we have made a bunch of them!
Downtown Split has over two thousand years old and is still protected by walls. A must-see is definitely Diocletian’s Palace, considered to be one of the most imposing Roman ruins. We spent a long morning getting lost in its tiny streets until the rain came and we rushed to Split Mall, a nice place for shopping and dining.
Since the rain insisted on staying around the Split area we made a last-minute choice: taking the ferry to Hvar Island. It was such a great idea! Hvar ended up being one of the nicest places we visited. The island is around 300 km2, so it’s easy to explore by car. The ferry stops at the Stari Grad area, which is a picturesque fishing villa from 334 BC. Next stop was the Spanjola Fort, where you can get some of the best views of the area.
There were not many hotels available when we decided we would go to Hvar (like 15 hours before getting on the ferry), so we ended up in a family-run hotel in Milna area (Fortuna Hotel) and what a gem! Right on the beach, comfortable and spacious rooms, and the nicest people. In Hvar, you can get to know some of Croatia’s best products, like honey, lavender, and wine. Also, the national “Venice” is there: Jelsa.
We spent the next morning on the island and then got the ferry from Sucuraj to Gradac. The road to Sucuraj was amazing, and so was the driving from Gradac to our next destination: world-famous Dubrovnik! Be aware that this drive includes 10 km within the Bosnian land, so there will be passport control (quick and easy). Do not forget to check with your car rental company if there are limitations for you to cross the Bosnian border – even for a 20 min drive.
We chose the Importanne Resorts to our stay in Dubrovnik. It is outside the walls, but it’s super convenient if you have a car since you can park for free and drive to the old town (“Ragusa”), where there are many parking areas just outside the walls for a fair price.
Dubrovnik is lovely and a must-see for Game of Thrones fans, even more than Split! It’s freaking King’s Landing! If I would have to choose only one place from the whole trip, this is the one. A glass-bottom boat is a nice trip to take from the pier, many companies are offering it. A walk on the top of the walls is also great, with outstanding views. from the city and some of the most memorable GoT buildings.
When you get tired of all the touristic frenzy, drive away to Cavtat, a small village with a beach walk, or enjoy the most peaceful lunch ever at the Konavoski Dvori Restaurant: not only the food is great, but you can ask for a table right next to the river and the little waterfall.
Our last adventure in the Balckns was a quick road trip to Kotor, in Montenegro. The border is super close to Dubrovnik (also, quick and easy to go through) and the roads are once again amazing, close to the ocean most of the way – which also makes it tricky and slow, so save at least 2 hours to do it.
Last stop: ferryboat to Italy (Dubrovnik-Bari). Actually, this one was our last adventure. The ferry was not what we were expecting AT ALL! Last say it was… vintage? 🙂 Yeah, a vintage boat for you to spend 10 hours crossing between the countries.
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