Time of Year: Early July
What to Bring: Stylish summer dresses. Lots of chic lewks. Bathing suit. Hiking gear if visiting one of the national parks. Warm sweater if spending time in the North.
Where/how we traveled: Either fly directly into split or into Zagreb airport. I believe there are less flights from US into Split which is why I would suggest Zagreb and rent a car from there. Drive to Split. Ferry to Hvar (that takes cars). Ferry back to Split. Drive to Plitvice Lakes (near Zagreb). Drive to Zagreb Airport.
Things to Know: If possible, fly into Split and out of Zagreb. Buy ferry tickets in advance if traveling to one of the islands, especially if traveling with a car, they sell out. Airbnb’s are beautiful and modern, my suggestion over hotels. Croatia is one of the more expensive places we traveled in Europe. Currency is the Kuna, not Euro but many places accepted Euro or USD as form of cash payment. Almost everyone speaks English and quite well. Croatian men and women are super attractive.
Croatia seems to be popping up on everyone’s travel radar and there’s a good reason why. Whether you’re looking for city, mountains or beach you can do a little or a lot of each depending on how much time you have to explore.
Croatia is the perfect mix of history and modern. The ancient ruins are preserved beautifully but remain functional with restaurants, shops and bars weaved into them. I was literally obsessed with every place we visited and was never ready to leave. I had also chosen Croatia as the team I would root for during the World Cup, arbitrarily. I had already felt as special connection going to bars rooting for Croatia around Europe all summer! I was practically a Croat.
B.A.Local in Split// – 2 Nights
We stayed in an Air BnB at the edge of the old city. All of our meals, drinks and sight seeing had a certain air of magic around them as we walked through the 3000 year old city. 2 nights is plenty of time to see everything.
Toro Grill Bar – Breakfast, lunch or late night drunk snack. This place is so good. Its all outdoor seating with a grill. I had the Toro Chicken Burger, twice. I could also get really used to being served up a perfectly cooked steak when I have the drunkies, major upgrade from Bagel Bites.
Villa Spiza – Absolutely amazing and authentic Croatian food nestled within the old city walls. We rolled up our sleeves and got our seafood fix here. We saw the local bartenders from down the street dining here and they seemed like regulars which confirmed that it’s not a tourist trap. Get the langostines, shrimp, anchovy platter, and whole grilled fish.
Restaurant Brasserie on 7– Waterfront restaurant with a really nice atmosphere, on the pricier side. Everything we had here was delicious, from the chilled seafood platter, to the white tomato soup to my divine pasta. I had the Traditional Dalmation Pasta with shaved black truffles, grana padano and pancetta crumble. I had a hard time sharing this with others at the table.
Caffe Bar Sanctuary – Cool bustling dive bar within the old city walls. Good place to feel the Split vibe, sit and have some drinks.
B.A.Tourist in Split//
Once you enter the old city, you’re already doing the tourist thing just by walking around the 3000 year old city. Go deeper and deeper into the city walls and you will inevitably run into the following tourist attractions.
Diocletian’s Palace– Central point in Split Old Town. There are sporadic choir performances in the middle of the square throughout the day. Nice place to sit on the stairs and people watch.
Cathedral of Saint Domnius – Oldest Catholic Cathedral in the world that remains in use in it’s original structure.
Temple of Jupiter – Dedicated to Ancient Roman God, Jupiter. Super old and cool!
Split Ethnographic Museum – Museum that exhibits traditional costumes and culture of the Dalmation Coast. *Pro Tip* Take the stairs up to the roof for the best view of the city!
B.A.Local in Hvar// – 4 Nights
If you’re at all considering a trip to Croatia, make visiting Hvar your priority because this place is for realsies magical. I love this island for its unrivaled beautiful water, perfect mix of fun but chill and delicious food. We split our stay up in 2 Airbnbs.
Staying within the old city walls means you are in the center of nightlife, restaurants and tourist attractions. Endless places along the coast to lay out and jump into the sea, restaurants to choose from and bars/clubs to party at until sunrise. In my opinion, it’s the ideal place to have the time of your life, if that’s what you’re into.
Hvar Market – No better place to get a sense of what locals are buying than to see what they’re selling. We bought up tomatoes, fruits, meats and cheeses to have for breakfast and snack time.
Bonj ‘les bans’ Beach Club – If you decide to opt for a more refined sea side day this is a great option. Things are a little pricier but the beds are nice and on a slightly elevated ledge that you can jump off of directly into the sea for when you need to cool down.
Macondo – Situated on a charming street in the old city. Ask to sit outside so you can people watch. This is a nice dinner option for some seafood and Croatian charcuterie.
B.A.Local in Milna//
Staying in Milna was exactly what we needed after traveling around for 5 days. Sometimes when you’re traveling, you need to be told it’s okay to do nothing and this charming sea town forces you to just chill out and relax in the best way possible. Sea, eat, sleep, repeat type of environment. Not to mention, the Adriatic Sea is my favorite body of water on earth. If blue Topaz took on the form of a sea, it would be the Adriatic, with all its glimmer and deep hues of blue. When the inevitable urge to feel the water, and not just look kicks in, Milna coast is lined with small carved plateaus that have little stairs you can use to take a dip into the sea. It’s a small detail but this non commercialized access to the sea felt so natural and fulfilling that the thought of it has taken over my “happy place” image in my head.
Gostorica Moli Onte – We visited this restaurant twice. One day we took a boat around the islands to some of the caves and stopped here for lunch. We got to swim directly up to the restaurant off of our boat and plop down in our seats still dripping from the sea for what would be one of the most epic meals of the summer. Here we got to try the traditional Dalmation Peka. Peka is a mixture of either meat or fish, with vegetables. Sounds pretty simple but the flavors from the way it is is cooked are so layered and perfect. The food cooks in a tray under a bell covered in embers for 2 hours. We tried one with rooster fish and came back from round 2 to try the lamb. If you want to do this, call in advance so they have time to prepare it for you. This is one dish that my we have tried to recreate at home – still trying to master it.
B.A.Tourist in Plitvice Lakes//
We rented an Airbnb on a farm next to the park. The accomodations were lovely and we were able to forage fruit in the yard. The north is a totally different landscape than Split or Hvar.
The oldest and largest national park in Croatia feels like you’re taking a tour of fairyland, which definitely exists. I hate to keep using the word magical for Croatia but I can’t even imagine what the first people who encountered this national park thought, before it was manicured for visitors. Like damn, can’t believe earth is such an artist. The wooden boardwalks allow you to weave your way through the green vegetation, bright blue lakes and cascading waterfalls leave you feeling like you’ve been thrown into Neverland, minus the pirates but with something much scarier – hoards and hoards of tourists. Which is why I cannot stress how important it is to be part of the very first wave let into the park. We arrived 15 minutes before it opened, 6:45am, got our tickets, and got on the bus that takes you to the park entrance. By the time we were leaving around noon the beauty was shrouded by every single tourist faux pas you can imagine – umbrellas when it’s not raining, booty shots in front of waterfalls blocking all of traffic, selfie sticks, tour group flags, etc. Early bird definitely gets the worm in Plitvice Lakes!
Croatia is know for having the highest quality lavender in the world. I brought back Lavender Potpourri and little ceramic fish chachkas for friends.