Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Croatia

 zadar sunset

A few months ago I traveled to Croatia for the first time, a place I had long wanted to see. While some things were expected, many more surprised me including a few things that I wish I knew before my first visit.

1. Cities I had never heard of – I’d like to think I’m fairly well versed in geography and that I’ve at least heard of most major cities, even if I don’t know anything about them. Apparently I was very mistaken. Cities like Zadar and Split sounded like entries from a fantasy novel instead of real places on the map, but even though I wasn’t familiar with them prior to my trip, I ended up falling deeply in love with their beauty and romance. Zadar was a particular favorite, its strange name gave me the chance to believe I was walking through a Game of Thrones scene instead of a beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea. Croatia taught me that I certainly don’t know as much as I think I do and reignited that thrilling feeling of discovery that makes travel so much fun.

2. Food is excellent – I was bad, I made certain assumptions before visiting Croatia and I shouldn’t have. One of those assumptions was that the food would be bland, as in a post-communist, boiled potatoes kind of way. I was wrong, very wrong. Croatia has a long and proud culinary history that not even decades of oppressive, Communist rule could destroy and which is on proud display today around the country. From the hearty stews and meat dishes of the inland regions to the seafood and Italian influenced cuisines found along the coast, the food was varied, fresh and delicious. In fact rather than just necessary sustenance, the foodie aspect of my trip around Croatia quickly became a very important part of the experience. My favorite delicacy was Pag cheese, the best in Croatia and made on the small island of Pag near Zadar. There a unique set of weather conditions produces one of the best sheep’s milk cheeses you’ll ever try; especially great when paired with prosciutto and some Croatian wine, or in the risotto pictured above.

 Plitvice Croatia

3. Plitvice was nice but… – If people know anything about Croatia, it usually includes the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park. An undeniable natural wonder, images of these cascading lakes are the stuff of travel dreams for millions. So I was understandably excited when I arrived at the park early in the morning, ready for a day of hiking and exploration. And it was fun, but the experience didn’t provide the moment of emotional intensity that I had anticipated. I mean, the lakes were nice, very pretty, but they didn’t take my breath away and the sheer crush of tourists really did eliminate from any chance of quiet introspection as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, the lakes are great and you should go, but it’s not the only natural wonder in Croatia, indeed there are many other beautiful natural sights around the country that may be just as pretty and which do provide the oneness with nature that Plitvice just cannot guarantee.

 Dubrovnik Old Port Croatia

4. Dubrovnik is indeed amazing – Dubrovnik is Croatia’s number one tourist attraction, a rare example of a medieval walled city and one that is visited by millions of people every year. I knew it would be nice, but before I first stepped through the city gates I had no idea just how nice it really is. Turns out all of those tourists are on to something; Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. If I thought Zadar evoked images of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik went even further since several scenes from the series were actually filmed there. Aside from the familiar scenery, the city is beautiful in every way. The best way to really see Dubrovnik is by walking along the city walls, affording a bird’s eye view of the labyrinthine alleys and streets of the old city. So if you were thinking of skipping Dubrovnik because it’s too touristy, don’t! You must see it; you must live it in order to truly understand what makes it so very special.

 Dubrovnik cafe

5. Needs more time – This is a common refrain, but I needed much more than the ten days allotted to explore Croatia. Even with this generous amount of time, I was only able to skim the best parts of the nation, not even visiting entire regions. The trip though was a great introduction, a travel first date as it were and left me with a deep desire to return. I’m not alone either, most people I talk to who have visited share a similar sentiment, there’s just something about Croatia that grabs on dearly and refuses to let go.

Have you been to Croatia? What surprised you?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

141 thoughts on “Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Croatia”

  1. We’ve just spent seven weeks in Croatia and loved every minute of it! The islands won us as did the small towns we wandered into. I too was surprised by how delicious the food was. Pag cheese is the best though we’re still wondering about their famous sheep…we drove all over the island and only saw a few on the last day! We’ll be back…we still have to eat our way through the Istrian Peninsula!

    1. I tried home made cheese in Gospic ( which is a small town on the way from Zagreb to Zadar) and the taste was very sharp and strong. Apparently its made from the sheep milk.

  2. Excellent article – 10 days doesn’t really give you time to scratch the surface!
    I went to Dubrovnik and Korčula in May and totally adored both. (And Cavtat and Trsteno and my day trip to Mostar)

    Next spring I’m looking at visiting Zadar, Šibenik (for Krka national park) and Trogir.
    It’s many months away but I’m already getting excited ;)

    1. I agree, Croatia will take me many trips to really explore, but I’m glad for the first opportunity! You’ll love Zadar, it’s a great city and lots of easy day trips from there.

      1. Hello I’m going to Zadar this July. I dont know if I should stay in the center or near the beaches. And if its better to rent a car.
        I have a 7 year old girl.
        Could you give me a tip.
        Thank you.

      2. Isabel. Good choice especially if you want to explore quite a few places. We live in Bibinje just outside of Zadar and many of our guests have made that comment. However, if you want to visit various places I would seriously sugggest hiring a car. There is a reasonable bus service from Zadar but no rail service to talk of.
        If your seven year old wants to be on the beach, remember that most beaches are stony, thus the ver clear water. But this is where a car would be useful as there are some sandy beaches within easy driving distance.
        This is a country where family is important and your little girl will have a ball.
        Hope you have a good holiday.

  3. I totally agree there is so much more to see except Dubrovnik and Split – Trogir, Sibenik, Biograd, Zadar…and Rijeka, Opatija, Pula…

  4. Very interesting and a nice list of must see places in Croatia. It is not a place I would think has great food but from the sounds of it, it could be underrated for its food, just more reason to visit though.

    1. It really is underrated for its food, and I hope that surprise jumps through the page. :) There are still meals I think about, which is a great testament to the variety.

    2. I have been there twice and the food is terrific. One tip is to eat where the local people eat. Some of the restaurants in Split and Dubrovnik are overrated and overpriced. And don’t forget the wonderful wine!!!!

  5. Thank you! We’ve been saying the same thing about Plitvice since our trip last year and most people think I’m crazy. Pretty, but overcrowded and I’ve seen better.

      1. Im surprised as plitvice is one of my all time favourite places and I have now travelled much of Australia, Asia and Europe. Plitvice has to be visited more than one occasion and ideally at the start of summer or in the cooler months when the waterfalls are more powerful. Take your time and do the six hour trail. Try walking it in two directions as there are total different views to enjoy. And just 40min up the road is the village of Rastoke. A living village built on waterfalls. Use this as your base or dine here. GOOGLE it- its amazing and will leave you in awe.
        You are right Croatia has so many little gems. I will give you a few more you may wish to google- Kornati archipelago, Island Murter, Vodice, Town of Skradin(Bill Gates favourite tourist destination) and Primosten. Oh and check out the quirky town of Tribunj on your way to Murter.

    1. Hi! I really want to know where you’ve seen better and more interesting lakes? (and without people) Thank you very much.

  6. I was most surprised by the ease and comfort of ferry travel down the coast, especially night ferries. After taking a night train to Krakow, I had been ready to swear off night travel–so glad I didn’t!

  7. Ahhh, Croatia. We just returned from a (delicious) trip to Istria. I agree that you definitely need more time (we did the Dalmatian Coast on a separate 2 week trip and still havent covered everything we want to do and see) Also, not sure why people give Dubrovnik such a hard time — we loved it too!And lastly — after reading this, I’m so glad we didnt drive 5 hours out of the way to Plitvice. Kind of had a feeling that once you snap that picture, there’s not much else to stick around for :) Great photos.

    1. So glad you liked Croatia too! Don’t get me wrong, I liked Plitvice, but in order to really love it you have to be really into hiking (not hard though) and can put up with the crowds. But it really is pretty.

    2. You are wrong here unfortunately, the park takes 6-7 hours of walking. It is stunning with pictures around every corner especially beautiful if you have a nice sunny day. That picture you are talking about- Im sure everyone knows which one your talking about if the Google Plitvice Lakes is actually really hard to find the vantage point – you have to ask the park ranger and it is up quite a lot of steps but it is all the fun of this location. Also visit the town of Rastoke just outside the lakes

  8. Hey Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more about Plitvice. I recently visited it this summer and felt the exact same way. It was nice but I wasn’t in awe. However, I had just come from Lake Bled in Slovenia which completely exceeded my expectations. If you get a chance, Lake Bled is well worth a visit.

  9. Matt, I identified most with your comment that you need more time to see Croatia. My wife and I recently returned from a month-long tour that included most of Zagreb County and the wine country of the interior as well as Plitvice and the southern half of the Dalmatian Coast and the islands. We loved it so much that we are headed back to stay in Šibenik for three months as a base so we can explore some more of this beautiful country. You are right about the food – people should know that to eat in Croatia is to spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the table with artisan bread w/ local olive oil, abundant food, conversation, laughter and drink.

    I agree that Dubrovnik is a must see. I would add that anyone who wishes to explore a medieval city without the crowds should consider the town of Korčula on the island of the same name. And that could also be an opportunity to tie in a visit to the nearby island of Mljet and its national park where you can rent a bicycle and ride leisurely on the roads surrounding the inland lakes where one can find the tranquility of a beautiful setting that is not crowded. – Mike

  10. ” that not even decades of oppressive, Communist rule”

    You’re confusing us with the Warsaw pact countries. Our communism wasn’t that oppressive.

      1. It was oppressive but we really had way much freedom to move around, to earn more and always had plenty of delicious food because it was produced here. We (Croatia mostly) had flourishing tourism at those times as well, our sailors sailed on ships owned by foreign companies and even those who sailed on our ships were handsomely paid. There were a lot of Croats who worked abroad, especially Germany and elsewhere in Europe and overseas. We still have a large diaspora who used to help a lot to us who remained here. So, generally we lived much better than the eastern communist countries. As for the oppression, well, it was kind of different: firstly, we weren’t allowed to keep the money we earned, it was mostly sent to Belgrade and then redistributed among other federal republics, but it mostly stayed in Serbia; it was not very wise to say that you were a Croat or you couldn’t go to church if you were a teacher or any kind of state employee. There were shortages of all kinds, electricity was being turned off at times for several hours a day, no coffee, sugar, oil, bananas etc., especially in the 80s. To cut it short, we now have great roads, better hotels, our towns are much cleaner and we’re slowly returning to our Mediterranean-Austrian historical & cultural heritage even though there are setbacks, the things are moving in a positive direction. To illustrate the feeling I have to say this: I used to travel around Europe back in YU times and I was always shocked when I was back home because everything seemed grey and shabby (in a negative sense), especially inlands where everything looked as if would fall apart, while coastal towns are made of stone and have looked more or less the same over centuries if not millennia. A good example would be Varazdin – once crumbling grey facades and roads now have been restored and it is a splendid baroque mid-European city in all its past beauty and glory.

  11. Hi Matt, I live in Australia and have travelled to Croatia on 4 occasions now. You are right it is a little wonder of the world. I too have travelled much of Europe and for all its beauty I would say that Croatia would have the most beauty and things to see per capita of any European Nation. It is a small country but you could easily spend a month here and still feel like you needed more time to see and experience everything. In fact it is funny but during my travels there I met so many other Australians whose European travel itineraries had been thrown out of order as they all wanted to spend more time in Croatia and had not allocated it enough time as did not come with expectations but found themselves addicted to the place. This was so true of people I met on the Southern Islands of Hvar, Brac, Korcula and Vis.

    I myself loved Plitvice and try to go back there every time I visit as I think its landscape and waterfalls are like the garden of Eden. My recommendation to you is go in September when the tourist numbers are less and when it is cooler and there is some chance of rain. In mid summer not all the falls are as free flowing as in cooler periods and although many of us don’t like rain this is one of the most amazing places to discover in rainfall. It is also the kind of place where you need to take your time and really take in all od the park thus the 6 hour route. I would recommend staying at the town of Rastoke just up the road. It is an amazing little town built on top of waterfalls in the Slunj area. Check out the pictures on Google images. For all the National Parks I have seen this ranks as my favourite- the colours make me want to jump in every time and the water is so good to drink.

    My other recommendation to you is Visiting the Kornati island archipelago in central Croatia, by basing yourself in Murter island consisting of four beautiful villages linked by a bridge(Murter town/ Betina/ Tisno and Jezera). At the same time take the opportunity to visit Skradin and the Krka Falls(one of Bill Gates favourite destinations), also the wonderful town of Sibenik and neigbouring towns of Vodice , Primostan, Rogoznica, Brodarica and Tribunj . This region is unique in itself and has a high concentration of islands and indented coastline making it absolutely spectacular and the towns are like towns out of a fairytale- just lovely

    Anyway I could be here all day- Enjoy yr travel and never be afraid to venture into the unknown

    1. Hi, I was wondering how Plitvice would be in mid April? Did you rent a car? Hoping to avoid the crowds. Love the Croatian ferries and Hvar City…pretty much everywhere I went in Croatia. Putting your recommendations on my to-do list. Hope you don’t mind.
      Have you ever been to Bulgaria?

      1. I’m not sure what it’d be like as I was there in June, but it’s bound to be cooler. You will never avoid the crowds there, but they aren’t too bad. Have fun!

  12. …surprised that I loved Zagreb. Well worth the visit. Nailed your observations on Plitvice Lakes. So much to see from top to bottom.

  13. Hi guys! great article Matt! i am Croatian so can’t be objective but agree with you about these things…
    for next time i recommend island Vis, it is still autenthic due to it’s history….before 1992 it was forbidden for tourists cause it was mlitary island…..
    But the best way to explore Croatia is by boat, for years now i take tourists on sailing tours and they all agree no hotel can match with that….
    Your web page is great….keep going….cheers

    1. Sandra Radolovic-Coffey

      Hi Vinko,

      I am Croatian myself, (well, half Italian as well, lol). After over 25 years, I will b e going back this summer!
      You said you take tourists sailing, do you live there? If yes, maybe you can take us out????? That would also depend on where you live.

      I would love a reply back. Thanking you in advance,Sandra

    2. Hi Vinko,

      Will be traveling to Croatia last 2 weeks in September and would love to hear what you have to offer as far as sailing tours. Don’t have a set itinerary yet but know we would like to spend a couple of days on Vis and see split. Was not thinking about renting a car but after reading everyones comments will probably do so. Open to any suggestions. Thanks and I am really looking forward to visiting your beautiful country. Nadine

  14. Did you have any language barrier problems? Did you learn any handy phrases/basic words before going?

  15. Yes, indeed…Croatia is so much more than Dubrovnik (which is truly beautiful), and Plitvice Lakes (visit them during winter, like in fairytale :))…
    I love your article, but I am also very sad, because many people outside Croatia still have wrong impressions about this country, and because of that, they are missing to explore hidden beauties…

    On the other hand, maybe that is what makes us special; we still have so many hidden treasures world doesn’t know about ;)

    Cheers from Croatia

  16. Hi Matt! Great article and I agree on almost evrything you wrote. I hereby sugest for you all to explore and discover the beauty of Croatian Continental part -TheCroatian Danube on the far east of the country that has an amazing history and wine story, beside beautiful landscapes wins are uniqe and exciting, people hard working and friendly and if you do decide to come over here, please do not miss to visit Ilok- A small town standing poudly on the right bank of the most romantic river in Europe- The Danube. Must see is the countries first purpose built wine cellar( since 1450), Principovac appelation and reconstructed Castle from the 18th century with golf shooting place facing the vinyards and the Danube. Taste the place with the famous Traminer and Gradevina from Ilok Cellars – Ilocki podrumi.

  17. Correcton needed: the grape is called GRAŠEVINA. Anyway…discover wines from rich soil and golden summers of the Croatian Danube.

  18. We have been coming to Croatia for the last six years, organizing sailing trips and flotillas for our customers. This has been a tremendous success combining sailing with culture, history and gastronomy. We look forward to doing this for Manu more years to come. This country is awesome!

  19. You should check out Trogir. Not too far from Split! This is where I grew up, it’s a small local town with a bridge connecting the town with the homes on the island. At night, the town shuts down and street bars are set up, dancing, food, drinking, and even a bungee jump / carnival area for kids! You could walk the entire town in about two hours, but definitely a hidden treasure.

  20. I’m heading to Croatia for my 5th time this July and I’m going to Plitvice for the 3rd time. I think it’s important to keep things in context here and it seems some of the readers are reading into your paragraph about Plitvice. Plitvice is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it and it’s beautiful. It’s also a great DAY hike. Notice I didn’t say an hour hike as it’s quite long if you want to see it. I’ve also been to Lake Bled a couple of times and it’s beautiful too but comparing them would be like comparing the California coast with Niagara Falls – apples and oranges.

    I DO recommend people to go Plitvice but either stay the night close to the park so you can get into the park early or just plan on doing the long hike (the tourists do the short one). Ideally you would get there early and do the short hike then proceed up above for the long one once the tourists arrive. Having said that I’ve done the short hike in the MIDDLE of the tourists and still enjoyed it immensely. Don’t write it off because you think it’s Euro Disney, it’s not (that would be Dubrovnik).

    I also love Dubrovnik but there’s even more context there as it’s completely overrun by tourists since Easyjet and the cruise ships started hitting it. I have a soft spot for the Lapad area on the Penninsula north of Old town and especially the area around setaliste kralja zvonimira. It has great pedestrian walks, great food (at much less money then inside the city walls), access to the water, a better look at how Croatians live in Dubrovnik and nearly ZERO tourists! The old town is amazing to look at but it’s also a zoo, the prices for everything are through the roof and it’s usually packed with fanny pack, camera toting, cruise ship tourists. We usually stay above the old town in apartments and spend our time in Lapad with an occasional dip inside the old city walls.

    Zagreb is way underrated and a very different experience from Dalmatia. I also recommend spending some time there but do so near the downtown.

    1. Hi!
      You did a great point when you compare Plitvice and Bled with apples and oranges. These are completely different lakes (Bled is like so many other lakes and Plitvice is really natural wonder). I know it well because I’m tour guide for Croatia and Slovenia. I’m just sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to travel with me, to explore Croatia in some other, fun and interesting way, filled with new, interesting facts, plus: comparing the present and the rich history , particularly the northern part of Croatia (Zagreb, wine region, Trakoscan castle …) and Istrian peninsula (one of the best preserved Roman Arena, the smallest town in the world, truffles …)

      Most tourists concentrate on the Croatian coast (especially the South), but the other parts of this small country, in which each region was “growing up” under completely different influences, are extremely interesting (history, culture, cuisine, customs … well, everything)

  21. Any idea if the water in Croatia is hard or soft? Packing tomorrow for a 2 week trip! Shampoo/conditioner concerns for fine hair ;)

  22. I lived many years in Split! It is wonderful:-) The thing that I like the most is the Adriatic sea.

  23. Hi!
    You did a great point when you compare Plitvice and Bled with apples and oranges. These are completely different lakes (Bled is like so many other lakes and Plitvice is really natural wonder). I know it well because I’m tour guide for Croatia and Slovenia. I’m just sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to travel with me, to explore Croatia in some other, fun and interesting way, filled with new, interesting facts, plus: comparing the present and the rich history , particularly the northern part of Croatia (Zagreb, wine region, Trakoscan castle …) and Istrian peninsula (one of the best preserved Roman Arena, the smallest town in the world, truffles …)

    Most tourists concentrate on the Croatian coast (especially the South), but the other parts of this small country, in which each region was “growing up” under completely different influences, are extremely interesting (history, culture, cuisine, customs … well, everything)

    1. Max, how I can contact you to get your guiding services, we are planning to visit Croatia this year

      1. I will be staying in Split for 5 days (Sept 14-18) before meeting up with friends for a 7 day sail. I will be traveling solo at first with no car and I want to see some inland sights. I plan on taking day trips from Split. I am in the middle of a Google search now and landed on your article. I appreciate it very much and wonder if you have any recommendations for small tour guides. I don’t want to be on a coach with 30-40 people, a van with 8-10 is ok. Would prefer off the beaten path. Ideas? Thanks!

    1. 3 weeks is a good amount of time. Here is my plan for you . Starting in Slovenia- Spend two days in Ljubljana- day trips to Lake Bled and Postoyna and or |Skokjan Caves(amazing). Then off to Zagreb, Spend two days here, recommend a day trip to Varazdin and on the way a stop at Trakoscan Castle. Stay within walking distance of Tkalciceva street(beautiful atmosphere). From Zagreb make your way to Rastoke, base yourself here for one night ( a village built on waterfall- my hidden treasure) and from here make your way to Plitvice(forty mins down the road) spend day here before heading to Rovinj in Istria( day trips to Porec and Pula, also Inland Hinterland to truffle territory(just as beautiful as Tuscanny (Motuvun, Groznjan , Hum(worlds smallest village). From here make your way to Dalmatia. On your way Stop in Opatija, spend some time here or nearby islands of Losinj, Cres , Rab- All stunning. At least three days in this region. Then down to Zadar- two days ( check out Telascica National Park and Paklenica Mountains). . from here to Sibenik(3 days). My favourite region(day trips to Kornati from Murter Island) Check out Vodice at evening and night(if travelling in summer)June to August) and Krka national park entering from town of Skradin. Have a meal at Etno selo(village) in Solaris( a must- a town totally turned into restaurant- gorgeous on the beautiful campsite of Solaris). From here move to Trogir(2 nights). I would base myself here and then travel to Split for day trip and also visit Solin and Klis(game of thrones site). Make sure to stop at the beautiful Primosten on the way through. From Split take the ferry to the islands of Southern Dalmatia( Base yourself in Hvar for 4 days- do day trips to neighbouring islands- Bol Beach on Brac, The Blue Cave and Komiza, Then go to Korcula for two nights- visit Korcula town and Vela Luka. From Here catch Ferry to Peljesac Peninsula- Visit Mali and Veli Ston(the second largest wall after wall of China). Continue your drive up the coast to Dubrovnik. Spend three nights here(numerous day trips available( including Mostar in Bosnia or Kotor in Montenegro). |If you follow this itinerary you will have the time of your life. There is so much to see in Croatia. Unfortunately everyone I meet fall in love with certain places which always throws their itinerary into chaos. One thing is for sure- you will want to come back again. PS rent a car

      1. Wow that’s really comprehensive thanks and I’ll certainly look I this itinerary we are doing 3 weeks next year!

  24. Hi! I just read through all the posts and found Dani’s itinerary particularly helpful! My husband, daughter (2 years old) and I are planning a trip to Croatia late May 2015 and need a bit of help. Here are our plans, so far, but need some thoughts about whether the duration is appropriate for each. I am really thinking about dropping Zadar or Split and adding time to one or the other. We want to have plenty of time to relax, hang out at the beach and take island trips. Thank you!

    Fly into Venice (2 nights)
    Ferry to Rovinj (2 nights)
    Drive to Zadar (2 nights)
    Drive to Split (2 nights)
    Drive to Dubrovnik (3-4 nights) – is this enough time to include day trips?
    Drive to Sarajevo (2 nights)
    Fly home

    1. Sandra Radolovic-Coffey

      Hi Megan,

      I would love to keep in contact with you, as my family is going to Croatia this summer.( we’re going in July)
      I would love to hear about your trip!!!! I have family (actually all) living there, so we will be staying with them and touring around. So . I’m sure my family will have things planed for us, but getting some pointers from a tourist will be greatly appreciated.

      Have a great trip!!!!!

  25. Your blogs on Croatia are making me homesick for a country I spent a lot of time in during the 90s when I was married to a man from Sibenik. I spent months and months pre and post war living as a local during those years and I’m trying to persuade my current husband to visit this incredibly rich country with me. Alas, he wants to go to Italy instead (been there, done that). Suffice it to say, I could never tire of Croatia, and I never even made it down to Dubrovnik!

  26. Hi Matt, where did you fly into? Where did you stay and how did you plan for your visits to specific locations? I’m planning a trip to Croatia and hoping to get your advice on an itinerary. Thanks in advance.

  27. Your work here is incredible. Am just now planning a trip to Croatia and was overwhelmed by where to tart and this converstation here is sooooo helpful. Would also like to see your itinerary. We aer thinking of doing a tour with a group we like from Slovenia to Split. Then renting a car to see Plitvice (yes, I read your comments). What else can we see on the drive back from Plitvice to Dubrovnik. we have plenty of time.

  28. I spent a few days on the Istrian peninsula in September and I would like to return to Croatia for a longer visit of maybe 3 1/2 weeks. April works best for my schedule but I am concerned that everything will be closed down. I am not really looking for a fun in the sun vacation although I would like to spend some time seeing coastal areas. I am more interested in cultural experiences and smaller towns and would not spend all of my time in the larger cities. Thanks for any advice.

  29. What valuable comments found here! We are spending 2 weeks in Tuscany with friends but my husband and I have just decided to spend an additional week in Croatia. I’m hoping that we can get a good overview in only one week. I’m thinking we should spend it along the coast line. I know we would be missing a completely different view of Croatia by not going inland but I think I would rather see more of one area instead of a brief glimpse of all the suggested areas. Comments?

  30. Matt, we are planning a trip to Croatia in latter April, flying into Munich and then driving through Austria, Slovenia, and on into Croatia. Planning to first base in small town of Starigrad, near Zadar, for about 4 nights and visit Pag, the nearby park, and Zadar. Then on to Trogir for a few days as a base for seeing Split. My question is whether or not we need to make reservations for our accommodations ahead of time or if you think accommodations will be readily available at that time of year. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi, Linda, saw your comment and thought that you wouldn’t mind if I as a local answer this one.
      My only recommendation would be to go online browse a bit and just send an e-mail to the owners of the places you liked the most saying you might drop by, no strings attached. I mean you wouldn’t have any trouble finding accommodations in April, the hosts would be really glad for your business as that is still the off-season, just give them a heads up you might drop by :)

      1. Does anyone have recommendations for travel in October? Is it too cold, rainy, closed due to off season?

    2. Well I would always make reservations ahead of time, not just to make sure you have a bed but it’s almost always cheaper. Book so that there’s no cancellation fee if you’re unsure of your exact plans.

  31. Hey ! thanks for this article, I just booked a flight to dubrovnik and was wondering where else to go after and how much time to allow there (counting day trips), any suggestions?
    Is it easy to get to the lakes using public transport?
    I’m thinking about flying to greece after croatia – which I think is best from Zagreb – but nothing settled yet

  32. My husband and I are planning our Croatian trip and have googled all the interesting places Dani B mentioned in her suggested itinerary. We will definitely include some of them now but need to spend more time around the water doing the swimming, sunning, eating and drinking thing. We are in our 50’s but are young at heart.Where do you think are the great coastal spots to hang out? We were thinking Hvar,Korcula and Dubrovnik, any other suggestions would be appreciated.:)

    1. Islands, dont skip the islands! Brac, Vis, Hvar, Lastovo… I would trade a day on Plitvice Lakes for sure, for a day longer on the coast, any of the island. Although some of the coastal towns are very nice, islands are what Croatia is really about. Hidden beaches, bays, not crowded spots.. For exapmle, Vis is a very small island, not too touristic, but extraordinary beautiful, with sandy beache, rocky beaches and amazing restaurants. Rent a boat, a skipper just for a day to do a tour around the island and to check out all those hidden beaches.. Much much more worth that Plitvice, where you will be in the crowd with other tourists.. and, it’s forbidden to swim there. So, if you have a month to spend in Croatia, ok, spend a day in Plitvice. If you dont, skip it, go check out the islands! Do some island hopping, that’s really what Croatia is about.

  33. I will be in Croatia in May. Strange, but in your other blog, you kept mentioning how magical the Plitvice Lakes were….and here, you write about them just kinda as “pretty but so-so”?

    1. They surely are beautiful. The thing is, if you have limited time, skip them. So many places that are beautiful too, and let’s just say you can enjoy them more. The scenery is nice, for sure. If you have a bunch of time, ok, visit. I would definitely suggest visiting some of the islands instead. If you are into lakes, try Krka, where you can actually swim, and are also very beautiful. You can have a boat ride from Skradin to those Krka lakes, and that’s pretty awesome. I would also suggest not to stay for too long in any of the coastal towns (not longer than a night) as all the places are tiny and seeable in a day. Dedicate some time to islands.. Croatia is about islands :)

  34. Hi Matt! I am surprised no one mentioned truffles? We did the Istra Peninsula last year and I was blown away. Exquisite country and food and so easy to drive on the highway. I have a question (a weird one perhaps?). I am considering going back to Croatia at first week of Sept. We would stay a bit south of Dubrovnik and spend a week with a rental car and our two young children. My question is if this is a good family destination for one week (my other option is Lisbon and Porto for the same week – I have been to both countries before). We like adventure, food, history and that sort of thing. Can anyone help me choose? Overall cost is the same really….

    1. I’d personally choose Croatia and since you’ve been then you know all the great activities for kids. And I have never been to Istria, hence no truffles :)

  35. Hi,

    Thinking of visiting Croatia in July. Was thinking of flying into Zagreb and work myself down hitting all the main spots but giving myself enough time to enjoy and experience without feeling rushed all the way to Dubrovnik. How many weeks should I give myself?

  36. Thanks – you have been to Lisbon then? I agree. Just trying to convince husband. I did not know that truffles was a peninsula thing? In fact, I had no idea it was a thing until we explored the area! Incredible.

  37. Hello,
    I’m from Croatia, and have to say to Leann that if nothing, Croatia is very, very safe place to be…..don’t think Portugal have that kind of safeness….also, there is clear blue sea and it’s easier to swim in sea than in big ocean…
    I read in national geographic that astronauts said that Adriatic sea , when looking from space, is the bluest sea on the planet…
    I’m sure that you are going to love Croatia…just come and visit us ;)

  38. Hi Matt, is sailing Croatia for 7 nights really worth the money or is it better to visit the islands on our own?

    1. I’ve never sailed them (well, just to one), but in general it’s going to be more expensive and much more time consuming to do something like that on your own.

      1. geraldine(south Africa)

        Hi Mat
        I am from South Africa . We
        are 8 adults and also want to visit Croatia and suroundings. Have no idea where to start or to stay. We have got +-10 days to do our trip. Some people say go for a boat but after reading all the reveiews I think touring the county is much better. Can you please advice me I would be very gratefull from the sunny South Africa

  39. I was just reading all of these wonderful, positive comments about Croatia. My husband & I are planning on travelling there in Sept. Has anyone rented a car & if so, is it safe in all aspects to drive there?

  40. Hi Matt
    My husband and are flying to Dubrovnik for a week at the beginning of September. We are mature travellers (nice way of saying that we are not in our 20’s anymore). We would like to see Dubrovnik, possibly Split, Korcula and I would like to go to Medjugorje. Question – are we being too ambitious? As Dubrovnik is our entry and exit point what would your suggestions be for our weeks stay? – we are open to suggestions. Split does not have to be on the itinerary. Mostar is a possibility. Would love to hear your thoughts. Also – we would make use of public transport wherever possible – i.e buses or ferries. Thanks.

  41. Hi Matt,

    Absolutely loved your post. I live in Croatia , 4 years now and agreed with your points.
    Next time you come to Croatia, try to explore the Makarska Riviera. We have a guesthouse in Brela. one of the most famous beaches in the entire Riviera. The landscapes are amazing and absolutely worth it.
    We have a blog as well and Im preparing a post about the best posts worth it to read if you are coming to Croatia, and definitely yours is in the list.

    See you.
    Best Regards,

  42. Hello, my name is Virginia and I am travelling to Croatia next Tuesday 21st April. I am going with my boyfriend. We will arrive in Zagreb airport but then we are renting a car to Zadar and stay there for 5 nights. What would you recommend us to do? we are also planing to drive around to other cities instead of been in Zadar every day. Should we maybe stay in other city like for example the day of arrival as is 3 hours directly to Zadar, I was thinking maybe is nice to stop in another city for the first night. Thanks! :)

  43. Hello, my name is Virginia and I am travelling to Croatia next Tuesday 21st April. I am going with my boyfriend. We will arrive in Zagreb airport but then we are renting a car to Zadar and stay there for 5 nights. What would you recommend us to do? we are also planing to drive around to other cities instead of been in Zadar every day. Should we maybe stay in other city like for example the day of arrival as is 3 hours directly to Zadar, I was thinking maybe is nice to stop in another city for the first night. Thanks!!! :)

  44. Hello, I am planning a trip to Croatia and Slovenia departing in the last week of Sept 2016. Our extended family is joining us on a 2 week trip to Croatia and Slovenia. Our heritage is Slovenian and this will be the first trip here for all of us. My husband and I are going to extend the trip for an extra week and are trying to decide if we should stay longer in Croatia or head to Prague and/or Budapest. I hate packing and unpacking and try to maintain a min 3 night average in one spot if possible. So far the 2 week itinerary is Dubronvik for 3 nights, Hvar for 2 nights, Plitvice for 1 night, Rovinj in Istria for 3 nights and then head to Slovenia for 5-6 nights, using Lake Bled as a home-base. For our extra week, should we head back to Croatia starting in Zagreb? If so, which part of Croatia from there? Or off to another country? Any recommendations? Thanks!!!

  45. Four senior ladies heading to Croatia for two weeks in September. Would love a day trip from Dubrovnik to Mostar and Medjugorje. Should I be concerned? Nervous about renting a car so found a shuttle service to take us from Dubrovnik to Split, on to Zadar and on the Zagreb. What islands should we not miss? Love the blog. Many thanks.

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