The highlights of Croatia

April 9, 2013 in Croatia,Europe,Places

Now that summer is right around the corner–I went without a jacket for the first time in New York City yesterday!–I can’t help but think about my favorite summer destinations. I’ve been noticing Croatia popping up on a lot more of my friends’ summer itineraries, and I am SO thrilled: I can’t think of a more beautiful, fun, budget-friendly place to visit.

Busabout Croatia Sailing

I sailed Croatia with Busabout, which was a super easy and cost-effective way to get to many of the islands. You can also navigate the islands via public ferry, but I understand it’s a bit more difficult to get to some of the smaller destinations. Either way, it’s worth it to get off the mainland and experience the Dalmatian Riviera.

Croatia also has some of the coolest hostels (and guesthouses!) in Europe: it’s much less expensive than Western Europe, but with even better amenities. Win-win. Here are my favorite places to see in Croatia:

Red bicycle in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb

I was completely taken by surprise by the Old World charm of the Croatian capital: red tile roofs, brightly colored flowers and shutters, sidewalk tables. I wrote about the 8 little things to love about Zagreb, but to be honest: I could have written about plenty more. Mostly, I just really loved the bicycles.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Plitvice Lakes

There’s a reason why this out-of-the-way national park makes it onto every must-see list in Croatia: it’s simply breathtaking. Some of that breath might be taken by the endless stairs or the smothering tourist crowds, but most of it is by the incredible natural beauty of the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Split port in Croatia

Split

I only spent a night in Split, so I can’t say too much about it–other than I would love to go back and explore more. It’s a popular place to either begin or end a cruise of the Croatian islands, and an excellent jumping off point to explore the north of Croatia by car. However, there is an adorable old city, a fortress with a spectacular view and plenty of beaches. No complaints here.

Monastery on an island in Mljet National Park

Mljet Monastery

A monastery. On an island. In a national park. It is awesome, and that is all.

Hvar Island in Croatia

Hvar Island

If Jay-Z and Beyonce choose to party here: you know it’s has to be good. What most surprised me about Hvar, however, is that you don’t need to be rich and famous to enjoy the island. One of my favorite memories of the trip was renting motorbikes for the day: we went straight to a little beachy cove, zipped all around the mountainside vistas, wandered around the port eating ice cream. It was the most delightful afternoon. Also: you can go wine tasting in the interior of the island, and with the right crowd, that’s never a bad time.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the walled city is chock full of tourists off the cruise ships and it’s a little bit intense. From 4:30 pm. until 9 a.m., it’s absolutely delightful. You can walk on the city walls at sunset or dance until sunrise in a club INSIDE the ancient walls. The best sort of old city that has completely embraced the now.

What’s your favorite place to visit in Croatia? 

  • cosmoHallitan

    I’ve got Croatia on my 2015 travel list but don’t know if I can wait that long!!

  • I absolutely love croatia! Although I spent most of my time in Spilt and sadly didnt get to see a lot more of the country…..must go back!!!

  • Naomi Todd

    I’ve wanted to make it to Croatia for a while now and I really want to make sure I get there before the mass tourism get going!

  • Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    I just went to Croatia over my Spring Break (perk of teaching in Europe!) and fell in love all over again in Dubrovnik. I do have to say that I liked Hvar and Split better than Dubrovnik.

  • Looks amazing!!!!!

  • Croatia’s been on my list since 2010 but I still don’t know when I’ll actually be able to make it there! But when I do I’ll be coming back to this post for reference :)

  • :))) ! a big ‘hello’ from Croatia! :)

  • camorose

    No! Go sooner–it’s going to get so touristy SO soon!

  • camorose

    There’s still so much I’d love to go back and see! Incredible country :)

  • camorose

    Yes, agreed–go soon!

  • camorose

    I would have loved to spend a bit more time in Split–was only there for about 24 hours, and I think there is so much more to see!

  • camorose

    The best!

  • camorose

    Go this summer or fall–direct flights from Paris to Zagreb!

  • camorose

    My favorite Croatian reader! Hello hello!

  • Pingback: Travel Inspiration of the Week (15/2013) | Food & Photos()

  • Megan C. Stroup

    I really wanted to go to Croatia during my trip this summer, but it just looks like it’s going to be too hard to get to – unless you have any suggestions for cheap transportation over there from Western Europe? I’ll be in Greece, too, but the ferry rides look quite long.

  • camorose

    I flew over from Paris, and the flight was pretty easy and not too expensive! Don’t try to cram it in though–I think you need at least a week to really enjoy one of the cities and the islands. Yay for Greece!

  • Lindsay

    Hi Christine! Did you go to Vis? The hubby and I are going there next week and I found a few amazing things to do…but wondering if you explored or have any advice!

  • Croatia has long been on my list of places I would absolutely love to visit. It looks so stunning.

  • camorose

    One of my favorites!

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