This picture is one of many amazing photos I had the joy of taking while visiting Croatia last December. This particular photograph was taken in Split, Croatia at Diocletian’s Palace which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s simply amazing! Not only are these ancient ruins, but there is a vibrant old city within its walls where you can shop, eat and learn about the history behind this breathtaking place – there is life inside! Be sure to go early as things get more crowded as the day moves on. Diocletian’s Palace is also very close to the waterfront and in the evenings there are free standing booths selling the most amazing local food and libations among other things. You can even act like a local and hop on some of the boats in the harbor that house full bars and lounge on the top deck while enjoying a cocktail!
Don’t Miss Plitvice Lakes National Park
As for the rest of Croatia, my number one Croatia travel tip would be to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. Located inland, many visitors who limit themselves to the Dalmatian Coast don’t
get to experience this World Heritage site. There are 16 different lakes at different levels that feed into each other and thousands of spectacular waterfalls in varied configurations throughout the park. You could easily spend a whole day here – and you should. There is a lot of hiking involved so be sure to wear comfy shoes and bring a bottle of water along. You’ll be taking tons of pictures in this area, too so be sure you have a full battery or replacement batteries and plenty of space on your memory card.
Visit Dubrovnik, Croatia
Of course, no trip to Croatia is complete without visiting Dubrovnik. This is a city like I’ve never seen anywhere else – surrounded by a wall which you can pay a small fee to climb (definitely worth it) and walk on all the way around the city – there are remarkable views to be had all the way around the wall. For you Game of Thrones fans, this is where the magic happens! There is also a gondola that can take you up on the mountain and you can look down on the city from above – you’re up so high you can actually even see Bosnia from this massive peak and if that’s not close enough for you, if you get to Dubrovnik by land (versus a cruise), you’ll have to pass through Bosnia which is actually quite beautiful in its own right.
Dalmatian Coast and Visiting Islands of Croatia
If you have the opportunity to take a sailing excursion along the Dalmatian Coast, it is quite breathtaking all by itself. The “icing on the cake” if you will – this is the area Croatia is most well known for. Each island has its own personality from forests, to vineyards and villages to beaches and even some with high cliffs. Each and every island provides its own unique adventure and you’re going to want to explore it!
Local Flavor in Istria
Aside from the beauty of the entire country, the food is something to behold as well. They serve local, fresh ingredients based on the season and pair it with wines to compliment the pallet – a true course in the art of eating (they call it Slow Food)! Sit back and take your time enjoying these local flavors. Istria is considered the best place to experience these culinary feats. Many people think of Italy and France as leaders of this sort of experience but Croatia is not to be overlooked and it’s by far become my favorite place in Europe
Timing Your Trip to Croatia
The best time to visit Croatia is September – the weather is still nice, the water is still warm if you choose to take a dip in the Adriatic and most of the tourists have vacated the area so you can avoid lines and crowds and get a more authentic feel for the country and its locals.
Croatia Travel Tips
General travel tips to keep in mind when visiting Croatia, wear comfy shoes – you’ll be doing a lot walking! Take some currency to have on hand (they don’t use the Euro – you’ll need to get some Kuna) and a pre-loaded travel money card (I call it a “plastic traveler’s check”) so that you can pull additional currency out when necessary without it being linked to any of your other accounts back home in case it gets lost or stolen. And, if it does get lost or stolen, just like traveler’s checks, it can be replaced so that you can continue to access your funds while overseas. Remember to keep a copy of your passport in a separate area from your actual passport in case it gets lost or stolen so you can have a temporary one issued to get back home. Most importantly, I highly recommend booking your trip to Croatia through a travel agent. Most do not charge fees for their services, they are a wealth of knowledge and information and it gives you peace of mind that you have someone there to look out for you and help you in out in the event that you have any problems or issues while traveling. Also, while it’s fun to explore on your own, a lot of time (especially if you don’t speak the local language), you miss out on a lot of the culture and history of the places and things you are seeing and time can be wasted in trying to get from point A to point B and spending time in long lines for sights and attractions. I say it’s like watching a television on mute – you can see the pretty pictures but you have no idea what’s going on. I prefer to travel Croatia with a tour group because everything I want to see is included plus I usually have plenty of free time to do some independent exploring as well. The schedule isn’t always as “structured” as people may think and takes the stress out of traveling so I can sit back and enjoy what I’m seeing as well as learn the history behind it which gives me a true feel for the culture I’m experiencing.