Croatia has so far the best seaside I’ve been to. Though the Plitvice Lake and Dubrovnik have been the icons for the country, what attracts me the most is its countless beautiful islands. You can either go to well-developed Golden beach for the family fun, or go to a quiet natural islands just for a meditation. Its beautiful beach scenes had been wandering in my mind ever since my last visit two years ago, so this summer we decide to go visit it again.
The itinerary is as follows:
- AMS – Zagreb, Jul 2, Fly to Zagreb, city walk.
- Zagreb – Plitvice – Zagreb, Jul 3, One day in the National park Plitvice.
- Zagreb – Split, Split – Bol, Jul 4, Fly to Split then take a ferry to Bol.
- Bol, Jul 5, Relax at the beach in Bol
- Bol – Hvar – Palmizana – Bol, Jul 5, One day trip to another two islands Hvar and Palmizana.
- Bol, Jul 7, Again, relax at the beach in Bol
- Bol – Split, Split – Dubrovnik, Jul 8, Take a bus to Dubrovnic
- Dubrovnik, Jul 9, walk in Dubrovnik
- Dubrovnik – Zagreb – AMS, Jul 10, End of the trip.
Day 1: AMS – Zagreb, Jul 2, Fly to Zagreb
Tips: It’s always easy to withdraw Croatian Kuna directly from the ATM machine, but the exchange rate is not so good. So an easy way is to withdraw a few hundreds of HRK from the ATM in the airport, then go find an Exchange Office in the city centre, which has much higher exchange rate. That means you should carry some of your local currency to Croatia with you. As for the exchange rate through the ATM could be 1 EUR 7.1 HRK while at the exchange office it usually moves around 7.5 HRK.
In Croatia, especially for seaside, an apartment is a better choice of accommodation. For instance this one we booked in the centre, is a big apartment with two rooms, one kitchen, one bathroom and one toilet. It’s able to host up to 5 person, its price for one night is 75 EUR, which is very acceptable during the peak season. The price can be even lower if you rent more days, or if you avoid the peak season.
The city is pretty but small, so it doesn’t take too much time to walk around. It was already late afternoon after we checked in the apartment, so there was only city walk planned for the first day. Zagreb 360 cafe is a good place to go. It’s located in the peak in the city, where you can have a coffee with the sky view of the city. The view is very great, though the coffee is just fair. Another nice place to go is the open market, with very pretty umbrella. The market is also an icon of the city.
Mediterranean food has never disappointed me, as long as I don’t go to a “specially for tourists” restaurant. This Bistro Fotic is recommended by a local friend. It really surprised us a lot. The restaurant is quite small, with simple decorations. But it’s really surprising how good the food is, and the price is very acceptable.
Zagreb has vigorous night life. There are lots of people hanging around at 1am, let alone in the pubs. You can find lots of good looking people in the pub, especially girls.
Day 2 Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice National Park is one of the most famous attractions in Croatia, its magnificent waterfalls are breathtaking. The park is located 130km away from Zagreb. Public transportation is not so convenient here, so renting a car is a better option.
Unfortunately the weather was not so nice when we arrived, the park was overcast by the rain. After arriving at the entrance, it’s easy to find the ticket office. Ticket for an adult is 180 HRK, while for student it’s 110 HRK. A rain coat is also available to be purchased in the souvenir shop around (costs around 20 HRK). Follow the sign at the entrance, you can get to the bus/ferry stop. There are several routes you can take. Considering the time, we took a short route. It first went to the biggest water fall by ferry, then came back by bus. All the transportation inside the park are free.
/image/////////////////////////////////////////////////The park is quite big, there are different routes to see the park. It’s a good idea to decide which route to take before you arrive there according to the schedule.
The numerous waterfalls storming through the park makes it an incredible site to visit. The water itself is crystal clear, with numerous fishes swimming around. Fishing and swimming are prohibited in the park, the strict rules maintain the fresh water, and protect it from pollution.
There are small cafes in the park, where you can buy drinks and food. The food is just tourism standard, so it’s better to bring your own food.
After the trip to the lake we went back to Zagreb, and tonight I just had the best pasta I ever had so far. The restaurant is called Restaurant Agava, it tops on the Tripadvisor ranking. The salad is just regular, but the truffle pasta is so amazing, it’s the best pasta I’ve tried so far. The truffle flavour is very strong but not fatty, and the portion is not so big which makes it a perfect starter (otherwise it might be even more expensive.) The baked dough with cheese and sour cream is also super nice, the combination of sour cream and the cheese makes the baked dough very soft and flavoured.
A day starts with breakfast, and a fancy breakfast makes the day. Not only for its amazing seafood, Croatia is also famous for its creative pastries. There are several famous bakery chains, and Dubrvica is the best of the best.
My favourite one is burek with cheese. The ones with spinach, potatoes are also super delicious. The croissant is very crispy, the one with poppy seeds is wow. There are a lot of others to try, for instance the pancake rolled with cheese or yoghurt, burek with meat, etc. Though the burek is super good, keep in mind that it’s oily, and since it’s very delicious, it’s easy to eat a lot. But yeah, you can always take a diet after the trip.
The Zagreb airport is small, and there are not so many flights, which makes it very fast to get through the security check. It’s possible to find a cafe or groceries before the security, but for the domestic flight, after the security check there’s no drinks available anymore.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia. It’s a transportation hub due to its convenient access to lots of pretty islands, including the island we are going to. After only a few hours hanging around, we took a ferry directly to the island.
The airport is small but you can find lots of flights coming from lots of European cities.
The city itself has very typical Mediterranean architecture, it’s also easy to find supermarkets, pharmacy, shops and restaurants
Restaurant Ranč. It’s the No.1 restaurant in Tripadvisor.
The restaurant has very good decoration. For the outdoor seats, every table is surrounded by tall reed plants, which makes it very romantic.
Food is good, the salad came in very big portion, after which our girls could not even eat the main course anymore. The grilled seafood is very fresh.
There is also a possibility to preorder dishes under “peka”. Which is a dish prepared in special containers under hot coal. This traditional method of preparing the food takes long time, thus you need to preorder it in most of the restaurants.
The Zlatni Rat (or Golden Beach) in Bol has a special triangle like shape, which has been featured in lots of travel magazines. The triangle shape will change by season due to the flows.
The water is very clean and the rocks are very smooth, which is very great for swimming especially if you prefer swimming in the shallow water.
It’s better to go in the early morning when it’s less crowded and the sea is not wavy. In the afternoon more and more people come here and the water becomes wavy, though you can always find a part that is perfect for swimming.
On the beach you can find some clubs where you can have a drink, eat something or even smoke water pipes
Dining in the restaurant here is never a problem. Tripadvisor lists 37 of them. But the possibilities are countless.
As there are several groceries stores on the island where products for cooking can be purchased, in case you live in an apartment with kitchen, you can cook by yourself if you get tired of seafood.
Seafood dishes in restaurant Taverna Riva.
The swordfish has very special texture, and the sea bass is fresh. Both dishes come with boiled potatoes and a mix of zucchini and carrot garnish.
The fried potato combined with truffle sauce is just amazing, and the fish soup is also very fresh.
Three different desserts (called Triple pleasure) is just perfect to finish the amazing night.
Day trip to Hvar Island and Palmižana Islands
We booked a trip online going to Hvar and Palmižana. The trip consists of 2 hour boat ride to Hvar Island, to the town of Hvar itself. The boat departs at around 9 Am and arrives to Hvar around 11 AM. According to the plan there’s sightseeing in Hvar for 2:30 hours and then departing to Palmižana at 13:30. Once in Palmižana there is 2 hours for swimming and relaxing. The departure back is at 16:00 and it takes 2 hours to arrive back to Bol.
On the boat you can order lunch for additional 70 HRK (10€), but you can also arrange dining in Hvar town by yourself.
On the boat there is a small bar where you can order coffee (Lavazza), tea or some other drinks. The price is 15 HRK (2€).
Hvar city is just amazing. There is a fortress located right above the city, it can be reached by walking around 20 minutes uphill.
The entrance to the fortress itself is 30 HRK for an adult and 15 HRK for a child. It gives a splendid view of Hvar city. The Mediterranean architecture gives a splendid view, the blue sea and the red rooftops creat a special contrast of complimentary colours.
We had lunch at a pizzeria (Kogo) on the main square. The food was the worst quality so far.We had Greek salad and shrimp risotto. The food is overpriced, the service is bad and really slow. Please avoid this place.
Today is a relaxing day. We went to the Zlatniater Rat for a whole day just to lay down. It’s a really good beach for swimming and sunbathing, though there are lots of people here, you can always find a place to lay down and find the nice spot to swim.
Around the beach there are lots of bars, you can order drinks in a bar to lay under the umbrella offered by the bars. If you want to pay by credit card, tell the waiter before you order otherwise they will make cash bills by default and will be bitching to you that you didn’t ask before.
Water sports are also available here around, you can do water gliding, diving etc. For children there’re also some entertainments, which makes this island great for the whole family.
There’s an early ferry going back to Split at 6:30, and it’s the only one in the morning. The ticket office is right by the port, it opens 45 minutes before the scheduled departure of the ferry. The ticket costs 55 HRK.
Drinks are available in the ferry, the espresso is good. There’s big space for the luggage, so you don’t have to worry about the cases. It’s better to sit by the entrance/exit so that you don’t have to wait in the long queue to get out when arriving, because it’s a really big ferry which holds hundreds of people.
“Pivo” means beer in Croatian,
The bus trip turned out to be a disaster, there was NO AIR CONDITIONING in the bus for the whole ride. Staying in a closed bus with the strong sunburn is like being simmered in a oven, let alone the trip took us 5 hours.
One side note: during the trip the bus will cross Bosnia and then get back to Croatia as shown in the map. There will be boarder control but its just to check if you have documents, no stamping.
Eating in Dubrovnik’s bakeries can be tricky. Although a chain bakery, “Mlinar” charges more than double the price in comparison to the prices in other cities. For example the “mini burek” usually costs 7-8 HRK, while in the bakery of Mlinar within the walls of the old town the same product costs 15 HRK.
An easy trick to avoid it to buy the pastry from “Konzum”. Their products are also freshly baked, and they are coming from the same company (Mlinar) frozen, and they bake it spot on in every single Konzum. The same “mini burek” in Konzum will cost you 7 HRK (even if you buy it in the smallest Konzum within the city walls).
The nightlife in Dubrovnik is various, and mostly it’s in the Old city. The music is quite loud even in the early morning at 5am, bars are always stuffed with young people. However, our girls were not satisfied with the bars, because most of the guys are either gay boys or pretty but feminized guys.
During the day it’s super hot and crowded. Though the view is very pretty but this hot weather is really burning. One of the must go places is The Wall, of which is view is splendid. In order not to suffer from the sun burn, it’s also recommended to go in the early morning (opens from 9am) or late afternoon. The walk takes around 1 hour, for photographers it might take longer.
It’s the last day in Dubrovnik, a good way to keep memory of the city is to buy some local products. The souvenirs in the old city are very expensive, but you can still find chocolate on promotion which is even less than in big super markets (look for the Kraš store on Stradun). Postcards are generally 3 HRK, but most of the shops charge it for 3.5 or even 5 HRK, let alone the magnets. Actually both postcards and magnets can be found in the post office, and surprisingly the price is the cheapest. Sending a postcard within Europe costs 4.2. HRK and 5.8 HRK for outside Europe. If you want to buy some local wine, snacks, or even truffle products, the best place to go is Konzum. There are several Konzums in the city, avoid the ones in the old town because they are more expensive. You can already find lots of things after going out of the old town gate. There are also Konzum Maxi and Konzum Super, which mean big and super big separately. In these big markets you can find much lower price and they offer much divers in general.
Dubrovnik airport is located 30km away from the old city district. It’s possible to get there by public bus. Going by taxi is also a good option especially when the public transportation is not accessible. If it is in the early morning it’s better to make a reservation in advance.
If you rent a car, watch out the drunk people on the street. This morning at 4:30 when we were in the taxi, there’s a drunk guy suddenly laying down in front of our car, while his friend was filming him. Also don’t forget that some of roads are one way roads, read the map/GPS carefully and don’t get lost.
The airport is very small, and the waiting room for the domestic flights is just as small as in Zagreb. The gate is right behind the security check.
There is airport wifi available but free wifi lasts for only 15 min, after that you have to pay, just like in Zagreb airport.
This is the end of the amazing trip, see you again Croatia.