You haven’t been to Croatia? Who hasn’t been to Croatia?
Me apparently. And it seemed like anyone who’s anyone was hopping on a plane headed to the Adriatics. I think it was time to see what I was missing.
We plumped for Split over Dubrovnik, partially due to flight costs but more importantly because we wanted to take a day trip to the lakes. I’d heard that Split had a ‘younger’ vibe but without compromising on all the old-town charm, which sounded good to us.
Split quickly became a favourite with the gorgeous coastlines, emerald sea and well-preserved Diocletian’s Palace sitting at the heart of the city. This place was all about fresh seafood, dining on the seafront under the August sun and getting lost in the winding streets.
We had a small but basic ground floor apartment, just a stone’s throw from the palace walls and a short walk to the beach. Perfect!
Our host was keen to be accommodating and spent some time with us making sure we knew where to go and pointing out some rated restaurants. ‘This is Buffet Fife – you must go here’
Buffet Fife was on the other side of the harbour, to the west of the city. It was a just few benches and communal dining tables to the front of the restaurant but it had a good view of the Adriatic Sea to watch the ferries and day trippers come and go. I’d already been on TripAdvisor and knew to order the Fried Calamari and fries, we paired this with a cherry beer and got stuck in. Delicious!
Krka National Park
Krka is one of Croatia’s national park located in Central Dalmatia not too far from Split. We were in two minds on whether to visit the smaller but closer Krka or head to the larger, more famous Plitvice. Again it came down to budget restrictions, and we didn’t have the time to do both, especially since we had a rafting trip booked for another day. We were also told that whereas Plitvice tempts you with gorgeous clear lakes and stunning waterfalls, it’s a protected area and it’s a no-swim zone – but as I discovered through The Blond Abroad’s travel blog – you can bathe in Krka’s waterfall. It was August, 30 degrees and hot! Swimming it is!
It’s safe to say Krka is spectacular. I was beginning to get a bit fidgety on the travel up to the park (although I have to note that Ernest our tour guide [Portal Day Tours] did a stellar job of keeping us entertained with tales of his family’s vineyard and other local stories), but gazing at the water from the vantage point from the top of the hill, I realised it was well worth the long coach journey. Despite it being peak season in the height of summer, and the park crammed with other like-minded tourists, it was still pretty darn beautiful. ‘Oh my god, look at the colour of the water!’
Taking a short hike to the bottom waterfall was where the swimming area was. It wasn’t as crazy busy as I thought it would be – overhearing a few people walking by, it seemed that many people didn’t realise you could take a dip, and hadn’t packed accordingly. All the better for us!
Straight away I regretted not bringing water shoes – it was rocky as hell underfoot and the current was strong, I found myself having to squat down to keep myself balanced, shrieking, clinging to slimy boulders, and attempt to make my way out in a kind of hunched up, goblin-like struggle – really attractive. With all ten toes well and truly stubbed I’d made it out to the deeper waters closer to the falls; okay and now chill!
Could stay out here forever. Might have to, as I don’t know how I’m getting back – eek!
So, Croatia! My short time here definitely left me wanting more. Plitvice lakes are now on my bucket list after the success of Krka (and judging from the photos it looks stunning at any time of year), a visit to Dubrovnik should also be on the cards and I’d love to hop over the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina to Mostar and perhaps plan a trip to Montenegro to see more of the Adriatic coastline. That list should keep me busy anyway…
Fresh sea food. I believe I exclusively ate sea food throughout my trip, the fish come straight from the boats in the harbour, to the kitchen and onto my plate. I would recommend Buffet Fife (like most of the travel guides do too) for cheap eats and great Calamari.
Krka, for all the reasons above. Croatia, you do do National Parks well!
We booked our trip online through Portal Day Tours, which we then sorted out via their office in the city centre when we arrived. It was a long day, but Ernest treated us to some stops along the way, showing us some breath-taking panoramas of the lakes, passing through a village for lunch (cold meats, cheese, olives and bread plus a sherry or two!), and later heading to Sibenik and then to Trogir where we left the group. We also booked our rafting trip with the same tour company, which was awesome.
Have you been to Croatia? Have you been Island hopping – where would you recommend to see next?