When you hear ‘Croatia’ what do you think of?
I without a doubt wanted to start my May Europe trip post(s) with Croatia of the 6 countries I visited..for that reason. Out of all the countries, a lot of people asked about Croatia.
Most known for where Game of Thrones was filmed, theres a lot of interesting quirks to Croatia that makes it very unique.
Where to begin? I mean just about everything is really genuinely, cool about Croatia. The food and the restaurant set ups within towns like Split was (sorry but) better than even Italy in my opinion. The food is made from the heart here, interesting spices,meats, lot of gelato, pizza- being so close to Italy.
The actual restaurants, are hidden back to back (like one after another) within the endless stone streets and buildings of Split. This country was my favorite food out of all of them I visited, I went really local with the food and this part of the trip was completely alone and enjoyed every little moment. The people were helpful and Split was extremely easy to navigate (kind of ;) - just keep walking, you’ll never go down the same little streets twice)
My thoughts first arriving into Croatia was… what was I thinking? I was extremely excited and nervous being alone. It was beautiful with all the mountains behind the town (and snow capped by the way!), on the really blue water with the white/red topped buildings.
These buildings though- coming into Split, Croatia was filled with graffiti. I wanted to really touch on this subject because I noticed it in Croatia, I noticed in parts of south Italy (Naples especially), Barcelona defiantly too. There is a lot of graffiti, I asked in all the destinations- why? And, theres no actual reason, they just don’t paint over it because it happens again. There is no ‘danger’ or anything, but was taken back by this in all 3 I listed above.
Time from Split airport into actual city center Split was under 25 minutes, very easy airport but customs got packed and I ran (always run if you see a ton of people, sorry it does save a lot of time!)
Made reservations with Booking.com, absolutely in the best spot- off to the side of city center, on the water and tucked away. I would recommend maybe being a touch off city center. City center of Split I would consider where the walk along the water is, GPS would be Balote Varos (parking there too). I stayed right next to the Balote park where the flag is, easy 5 minute walk into the main part.
Split is a very charming place, I am extremely happy I made my way to Croatia and how comfortable I really felt too. I walked around in the evening (sunset was actually after 9pm in Europe) and took a lot of my pictures then. I would recommend trying pictures in the morning, and evening as the sun is setting due to the buildings/shadows and the lighting was p.e.r.f.e.c.t.
Note: It can get cloudy fast I noticed, again this is just island weather and get the pictures when you can.
Krka Falls (closer to Split) If you wanted to do the falls, put an entire day aside for this. They have only full day tours.
What did I do to take advantage of my time? A 10 hour island hopping tour.
It was a blast and highly highly recommend! It was 5 islands and the blue caves- the day I went out, there was a chance of rain and did actually rain in Split but not on the islands, they cancelled blue caves due to the tide. This tour, do not take lightly on the boat, it is actually a blast but do not try to use your phones, cameras; I would even put away and hold onto your things in front of you and strapped, it was really rough and absolutely did not use any phones between islands. Bring motion sickness bracelet (off amazon) if sensitive because a lot of people were.
Company used for island hopping: Getyourguide
Hvar: Really cool! This is one of the islands you have a choice of staying on, you could for 2 days I would maybe recommend. I was fine with 3 hours- had incredible calamari, walked up to the castle fortress, went around the shops and walked around more of the beach side of the island. Decent shopping, nice food options right along the water.
You have to pay to get into the fortress and absolutely worth it- you can’t get better views than that. There is a lot to look at inside, the dungeon too (be mindful of stairs, I fell down them). You get a guide on all the history behind it and its really, a gem to Hvar- very special historic landmark. It’s incredible and be mindful where you take pictures, there is part of the castle you can go right to the edge, great picture spot but be extremely careful :)
There was 3 other smaller islands. I’ve grown to appreciate smaller islands throughout traveling. Its funny because some are easier to get to than others, some are.. not the most wealthiest off, very very few shops and food options. They were all a great ‘escape’ and just soak it all in, you get about an hour each island.
Croatia, is known for yachting, boating- ‘summer’ along with other amazing unique things like, Croatia has the most natural grown lavender in the world. There is a lot of very little local lavender stands throughout the islands as well. Ultra the music festival is held there, house music is really popular here. Croatia in some parts gets extremely busy due to Summer months.
I did go in mid May to Croatia and it was low 70’s, a touch of clouds. Would recommend beating the crowds before summer, end of May likely- it would be a bit warmer and even beginning of June. It does get hot here so look what time of year is best, it also gets cooler surprisingly - there was snow on the mountains behind Split while I was there!
Recommendations: How long to stay? Depending on what parts you are going to.
If you are going to Croatia and want the full experience, I would honestly suggest over 2 weeks as it’s both mainland and island- a lot of options.
Split: solid 4 days
(Town for full day/evenings, out to islands 1 full day, the famous waterfalls need an entire day to get to* (add extra for weather incase because its not a rainy friendly place) *You can take a boat to Hvar from there as well.
Dubrovnik: I see 5 days even along with other towns- Zadar, Roving, Zagreb and again- Hvar.