In my opinion, Croatia is the best kept secret of the Adriatic (or even Europe). The rich history, both literally and figuratively, friendly people, beautiful islands, and affordable price-line make it a good bet for both young and old. Here are ten must see activities in my new favorite coastal nation.
Split is incredibly beautiful, but most western travelers don’t even know it exists. Of all the sights I’ve seen in Europe, the 1700 year old Dalmatian Palace is one of the most impressive, and truly makes you feel like you’re in a movie. This is fitting because some scenes from Game of Thrones have been shot here. For an easy morning activity, get an espresso and some fruit from the farmers market and walk through the ruins for a true “breakfast of champions.”
A snapshot in time, Dubrovnik is a beautiful example of a well thought out medieval city, and with few exceptions, hasn’t been changed since. To be blunt, it puts all other “old towns” of every other city to shame; they look like knockoff replicas. Try to come in June because July and August are major tourist times and prices go sky high. Buy the city pass and walk the ramparts to feel like true nobility.
3. Hvar Island
In a nutshell, it’s a cheaper Ibiza. See big name DJs at a fraction of cost while still feeling like you’re in paradise. The best club? Carpe Diem. If you need any more convincing, it’s on a private island and pops off around 2 am.
4. Korčula town, Korčula Island
I worked here during my last vacation and had a blast. Take a day trip here and see the alleged birthplace of Marco Polo and one of my favorite beaches: Pupnatska Luka. My advice is to get off the boat, rent a scooter for the day (around $36 bucks), and zip from beach to beach.
Not just the best word ever to use in scrabble, Zadar is beautiful, affordable and an up and coming tourist town. There are too many fun things to do to truly describe, but the sea organ is a one of a kind art installation that is worth a visit. Sit on top and listen to the symphony of waves.
6. Zrce Beach, Pag Island
Best known for its music festivals, the beach itself is beautiful and the parties that follow are supposed to be better. July and August are the months to go. Be sure to book festival tickets earlier, as general admission often sells out early and the only tickets available are for citizens from Ex-Yugoslavia.
If you can correctly pronounce it, you should be given a prize. Renowned for natural beauty, almost a third of the island is national park, which you should take full advantage of. An inland sea, countless hiking trails and excellent snorkeling make this a must see for any outdoorsman. Buses are limited, so boat hire or renting a car would be my recommendation.
8. Krka National Park
It looks like a dreamscape. Waterfalls with crystal blue green water that you can swim in, lush foliage…the pictures speak for themselves. Drive from Zadar or join a guided tour if you want to avoid the hassle. Click here for information on Krka National Park.
9. Zlatni Rat Beach, Brač
Located on the island of Brač, by the city Bol, this impressive reef changes shape constantly, making your time there ever the more unique. Pick up a pack of snorkel gear before you go, or try out windsurfing for the day, the area is known for it. Click here for more Zlatni Rat Beach info.
10. Stiniva Beach, Vis
The island of Vis was formerly a military fort under control of Yugoslavia until 1989, and the island was only opened up to the public since then. Because of its isolation, Vis is home to some beautifully preserved beaches and parks. Stiniva Beach looks like the perfect place for a pirate to bury his treasure, or for you to plant your umbrella. Park at the closest hamlet, Žužec, and hike a steep goats path down to the sea.