With one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-seven kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic that offers clear blue waters and magical hidden bays, it’s no wonder that Croatia is a top travel destination.
We are indeed fortunate to be living a mere ten kilometres from the Croatian boarder. So close that instead of using Podgorica or Tivat airports in Montenegro our home/base airport of choice has become Dubrovnik. The only downside is that the passports are filling up quickly with stamps in/out of Croatia and before we have even gotten to our end destination.
The drive along the coast is idyllic. Hidden villages yet to be explored (by us) with small harbours, amazing beaches and inviting waters.
Having never been to Croatia before, we decided to do a road trip to visit Split and Dubrovnik.
Croatia - Split.
As frequent travellers and having many worldly friends, Split had come up in conversation on numerous occasions, so our expectations were high. Approaching Split I was shocked at the vastness of its urban and industrial areas. Not at all the picture I had in mind or that people had gushed over. Maybe Split had just become too big? Nevertheless we made our way to our accommodation in the Old Town. We were met by a charming maze of cobblestoned streets surrounding the Diocletian’s Palace, ancient Roman architecture, churches and ruins.
Being mid-March the weather was still mild and the tourists hadn’t flocked into the area yet. It can become very overcrowded in season July/August. Split is well known for its commerce and shipping transportation. The currency is the Croatian Kuna which is about €1.00 to kn7.50 , Croatia is part of the EU but not a Schengen country. However they are said to be included in January 2023 and will convert to the Euro.
The Palace of Diocletian (built 295-305 BC) was a royal residence with churches and fortifications was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. In a sharp contrast, the promenade offers an array of night clubs, shops and restaurants. Two days should be enough to see all that Split has to offer.
What to do in Split
Krka National Park – situated along the Krka River north of Split this national park is known for its seven waterfalls. We were there later in the year at the end of July on our way back from Slovenia and found it very busy with tourists. So best to avoid during the summer holiday season if possible.
Blue Cave – a semi submerged cave. Once entered you can observe the mystical blue colour from sunshine entering below the waterline. You won’t spend too much time there as it’s just one of the stopping points on the bay cruise that includes the Blue Lagoon, shipwreck dive and five island tour.
Diocletian’s Palace – if you are staying in the Old Town district you can’t help but see the ancient Roman ruins. It would be a good idea to do a walking tour to get the historical background. There is also a Game of Thrones Museum, but this was unfortunately closed when we visited.
Croatia - Dubrovnik.
Now this was what I was expecting to see when we visited Split. So, if you are planning a trip to Croatia and did not have Dubrovnik on the itinerary, then nip and tuck a day here and there to make sure you don’t miss it! The greatly anticipated suspension bridge Pelješac opened in June 2022 and cuts out a narrow strip of Bosnia eliminating a border crossing and cutting your travel time from Split to Dubrovnik considerably. Best known as the location “Kings Landing” where Game of Thrones was filmed, Old Town Dubrovnik is a magical location to explore.
What to do in Dubrovnik.
Old Town – or shall I say “Game of Thrones” tour. Whether you do a guided tour or just get lost by yourself in the old town, it will be an amazing experience to explore the cobbled streets. There is a walk you can do along the wall, but you will have to pay for this. Some have complained about the price, but avid GOT fans have no issue forking out the €25 odd to walk the wall. To save some money try the Old Town Guided tour with City wall combo ticket.
Kayaking & Boat Tours – the coastline is amazing, and the water is clear and warm. For the adventure seekers, rent a kayak and explore the coastline. For the more laid back, see it all from a charter boat, catamaran, or old wooden ship.
Cable car – it’s a short cable ride from the Old Town offering fantastic views of the city and coastline. We did not do this excursion, but comments are all positive and we recommend booking a table at the Panorama restaurant at the top. Another option is to take a taxi up and cable car down (or the other way around).
Montenegro & Bosnia – being a hop, skip and a jump from Croatia and if you have the luxury of time then pop over to Montenegro (see our article on what there is to do here) or Bosnia.
We absolutely love the natural beauty Croatia has to offer. A place where time stands still, life is simple and friends and family are cherished. It’s a tonic for those who need to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy life. Doctors’ orders are to rent a villa with sea views, pack your swim suit, suntan lotion and feast on fresh hand caught seafood. Experiencing Croatia will teach you what really matters in life.