Croatia has been high on my European bucket list for quite sometime. It’s hard not to let the beauty of the clear blue Adriatic Sea lure you in. Croatia has become a top destination for young travellers, full of adventures and nightlife.
My friend Sarah and I went to Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik for this trip. Unfortunately, we went in early May, right before the islands fill up with cool events for all the party-goers, but it worked out in our favour for moments that it’s better to have the place to yourself (see sailing trip below). I don’t have all the top recommendations about where to stay, what to do/see, and where to eat, but I can tell you about my great experiences and what you may want to avoid.
We had some airline troubles (the FCO airport in Rome had a fire in one of the terminals so our original flight got cancelled and we slept on the floor of the airport for the night), losing a day/night in Split. Initially we planned on going Sea Kayaking or Paddle-Boarding with Split Adventures, but didn’t make it on time. Though I can’t tell you how it was from first hand experience, it does look like a great time.
Another thing I would have loved to do (next time!!) is take a bus to visit the Krka National Park. You would recognize it once you see all the amazing waterfalls. Apparently, it’s only an hour and a half away by bus.
Diocletian’s Palace is a great place to walk around and find little gifts for friends, family, and/or yourself. Just outside of the palace, along the water, is a boardwalk with kiosks and restaurants. It’s a really nice walk, especially if you continue along to look at all the boats in the harbour.
Apinelo Hostel: This hostel may not be anything special per se but it offers everything you need and is fairly central. It’s a good price and has private rooms. No complaints.
Sailing Trip with Hvar Adventures: In all honesty, this was one of the best days in my life, thus far (top 10 I’d say). Like I said earlier, we came to Croatia before the tourist season picks up, so to our surprise we had a sailboat to ourselves plus crew (when there’d normally be 8 others joining us). I expressed my interest in learning to sail, so I got many pointers along the way. They took us to the Island of Vis where we parked by a cave to swim in and explore. We sat there for a while, soaking in the sun, then jumping off the boat into the refreshing water when it got too warm. While anchored by the cave, they set up the most delicious meal. On the journey there, they had already served us cut strawberries and a freshly made in-season vegetable quiche. For lunch we were treated to a couscous salad, anchovies and capers (surprisingly so tasty), hummus, multigrain bread, salad, and wine. All of the food was fresh and made that morning. Best meal of my four months in Europe, no lie. Because it was just the two of us and we expressed our love for the fresh capers, one of the crew members took us on a little dingy boat to climb up above the cave to pick capers. It was an extremely dangerous cliff with a sharp volcanic rock surface (especially dangerous while wearing slippery flip flops) but so cool at the same time. It’s not part of the usual tour, but since it was the two of us we got special treatment. As silly as it sounds we felt like royalty for those 8 hours.
Relax and/or Party. We were only really there for a day and a half, most of the time on the sailboat. But Hvar is beautiful, walk along the water, sit by the water, go to the beach, take it all in. When it’s the summer tourist season, there will be endless amounts of parties (day and night) on the island beaches and bar events in the town. The place gets insane. Definitely deserves more than a day and a half visit.
Lukas Lodge: I cannot recommend this place enough. Luka is the sweetest man. He and the other staff made you feel like you were a friend visiting their home. We’d wake up in the morning, sit on the beautiful patio that has a view of the sea, and immediately get offered coffee, juice, fruits, and cookies – all for free. The rooms were fairly basic, but we only spent time in them to sleep. Hvar is a place I can’t wait to go back to, and I will definitely stay at Luka’s Lodge again.
Walk the City Walls: for 100 Croatian Kunas (about $18), you can walk along the Old Town Walls. The walk is about an hour and a half, if you keep moving, and it is full of breath taking views. Especially recommended for Game of Thrones fans who can spot filming locations.
Sea Kayaking: After we missed out on sea kayaking in Split, I quickly booked a new tour for Dubrovnik. This tour has two-person kayaks, so Sarah and I teamed up. Unfortunately, our tour started just as the wind picked up, making the current strong. It was a workout and a half. Along the trip, the guide would tell us about the cool history of Dubrovnik, something I knew nothing about. First stop was a cave along Dubrovnik Beach where we ate sandwiches and went snorkelling.
Cliff Bar: Whether you want a drink with a nice view, a place to sit and soak in the sun, or a cool cliff for jumping into the water. This is a truly unique place, a literal hole in the wall. The drinks are a bit pricey (it is prime real estate), so I just went there to sit and enjoy the view and some gelato. You don’t have to be a customer of the bar to go and hang out. I took a photo of the bar from the city wall (see the photo above).
Cable Car: Take this up the hill to get the best view of Dubrovnik from above. You will see all of Old Town in addition to some beautiful views beyond. If you are ambitious and have the proper shoes (once again made the bad choice of wearing flip flops) hike down the hill for even better photo-ops. Warning: the path ends on a freeway. I don’t remember how we managed to find our way to the proper path back to Old Town, so Google it before!
Villa Angelina: Once again, nothing special but it was a nice place to stay. A good location and helpful staff. We met some cool people at the hostel. It was the most social (since we were in a room with 6 beds).