Croazia on the road: From Dubrovnik to Zagreb
Here I am, back home from my summer holidays, which this year my boyfriend and I decided to spend not too far from Italy, but in a completely new place for us: Croatia. I had read of the beauty of its islands and pristine beaches, its small medieval villages, its natural parks, lakes and waterfalls… But the magic of those places has far exceeded my expectations, leaving me completely amazed and enchanted. Our road trip to Croatia started from Dubrovnik and ended in the capital Zagreb… Here are all the stops and the story of what I saw on my trip to Croatia!
1st STOP: DUBROVNIK
We started from Dubrovnik, where we stayed for three nights. Once at the airport, we rented the car and, after a few kilometers, immediately we came across a viewpoint: the view of the Gulf with the city that runs between the rocks really leaves us breathless!
Dubrovnik straight out of a movie, and in fact it is the case: here have set part of one of the most viewed and popular TV series in the world, Game Of Thrones. Although it is now in its seventh season, I’ve never seen her before, but visiting the city has made me want to do it! have you already watched it?!
A tour of the ancient city is a must, as well as a ride on the walls that surround it, although it costs 30 Euros (I don’t remember the amount in Croatian currency, the kuna, but remember that the change practiced is this: 1 euro is about 7,5 kuna).
Inside the walls I found a place full of charm and history, which fully deserves the recognition of UNESCU heritage site. An acknowledgment to a beauty that has resisted over time, despite Dubrovnik had been almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1600 and then by the 1991 bombing (before recognition of independence from the Balkans).
The whole city winds at different heights: you find yourself doing a lot of stairs to get to the various points of attraction, which can be a bit tiring in the sun, but I think this is precisely the characteristic that distinguishes and makes her unique in the world!
Another peculiarity of Croatia: the breakfast time. The breakfast is consumed on the street, buying products in the various kiosks and shops throughout the city. We usually took the croissants at a bakery in the main street, the juices in a specialized shop and the berries in a market vendor. And then we ate our breakfast walking through the city. A different breakfast, but beautiful. And also very good!
Now we come to the beaches of Dubrovnik! The first we visited was Banje Beach, the most popular and trendy beach where you can enjoy a view that embraces the entire Gulf and the city in the background. It is an organized beach where two sun beds and an umbrella cost 15 euro per day (much cheaper than in Italy). The water was crystal clear and inviting, but there were too many people for my taste. If you are wondering where they were, you have to know that I am an early riser even on vacation and that the photos were taken early in the morning!
The second that we visited was the Hotel Bellevue beach, a small bay a bit’hidden and accessible from the hotel after having traveled at least fifty steps down. Being less known and harder to get to, it’s definitely also quieter. It’s available if you stay at the Bellevue: just eat at their restaurant, Vapor, and request access to their beach facilities. They are, if possible, even more beautiful than Banje Beach… But judge for yourself!
Dubrovnik is very beautiful even after sunset. It has plenty of nightlife and the locals are all nice. One of the nights we were there, there was a concert in the main square and it was really exciting to see the lights that created unique color shades on the monuments!
In general I would like to share with you a couple of considerations of Dubrovnik. I found it very expensive, as the whole of southern Croatia in general. Dinner costs the same as in Italy, if not more. The restaurants, however, are valid and provide plenty of quality fresh fish. In general the food is excellent, very close to the Italian in some parts.
The hotels have really disappointed me. Generally, they cost a lot but offer very little. Prices start from 150 € for a 3 star hotel and climb steeply. But comfort, cleanliness and facilities were really poor. The wi-fi access never works. Only in Zadar and Zagreb I have not had this kind of problems… But you will find out reading… We continue now with my road trip in Croatia!
2nd STOP: SPLIT
After Dubrovnik it was the turn of Split, where we stayed for two nights. This was my favorite stop of the holiday: in addition to exploring the city, which is beautiful, there are lots of activities and excursions that you can do!
Here too we continued the tradition of street breakfasts… The fruit smoothies were delicious!
The first day we visited what is the most important and impressive monument of the city, the Palace of Diocletian. A sort of citadel which was built by the Emperor in order to go to reside. If we think that goes back to the fourteenth century A.D., it was very well preserved: the central part is intact and it’s really impressive. What struck me most was the Temple of Jupiter and its steps. The perfect place to stop and take a break, enjoy the shade and read the ancient history of this place literally sitting on the temple itself!
Within the walls of Diocletian’s palace are many rooms, restaurants, bars and ice cream shops. Among them, we were particularly impressed by a wine bar that we had chosen for the happy hour, so much that we decided to stop for dinner as well! It was literally carved into the rock, with wooden tables positioned at the roadside. If you go there, do not miss the bruschetta and pasta with clams!
Another address that you want to recommend is Luka IceCeam & Cakes. Croatia is famous as Italy for gelato and this is the best ever. We found it by chance and we loved it… Only after we discovered it was famous. We took two cones: chocolate and watermelon for Manu, while for me stracciatella and watermelon. It was the first time that we find watermelon icrecream and it entered among our favorite flavors ever!
The sunset in Split is beautiful and the best place to observe it from the piers of the port… We left enchanted by the magic of the sun, tinting the Palace of Diocletian in all shades of red and orange!
As I anticipated, what I most appreciated of the stay in Split was the choice of many boat trips… We’ve done three: one in Hvar to Palmizana, one to Škrip and one to the Blue Lagoon!
Palmizana was our first choice. To reach it you have to go toHvar, an island that is located exactly in front of Split and is easily reached by hydrofoil. We left early in the morning, at about nine o’clock, and after about 25 minutes by boat we arrived in Hvar, where we took a small boat to get to Palmizana. An island very quiet and different form the busy Hvar, but with a sea that has nothing to envy. There are several beaches to stop and we were enchanted by Laganini. A row of wooden beds decorated with white mats, straw umbrellas and a seafood restaurant that serves delicious food. The price are pretty high for the standards of Croatia: there was the minimum spending of 50 euro per day, but since you could also enter the lunch we decided to stop. The beach was much quieter than the other island, although around 16: 30-17: 00 p.m. it became very crowdy due to the happy hour. So it is not recommended if you don’t like this kind of thing, or if you have very young children… Otherwise Laganini is perfect to combine relaxation, a beautiful sea and a bit of fun!
Laganini had a beautiful white wooden pier from where you can dive! The photos below were taken in the morning, fortunately for us, because in the afternoon we couldn’t have shot them: the pier was literally surrounded by boats of people who had come for the happy hour!
I had tied my hair with a special elastic of wich I can’t remember the name (bought last summer in Turkey), with attached braids of colored threads!
Palmizana has an incredible vegetation with dozens and dozens of giant cactus… An absolute delight, that I could not take pictures of!
The next day we were tired from the day at Palmizana, so we slept a bit’ longer than usual, and we decided to take a trip in the afternoon, starting at 14 and back to 19. The goal was Škrip, another beautiful one of the many islands that lie off the coast of Split. The photo below was taken from the boat, which offered a beautiful view of Split in the background from which stands the bell tower of the Palace of Diocletian.
The water in Croatia and in particular in Skrip was always clean and very clear. It was also very quiet, like a swimming pool… Ideal for relaxing on a mat or a donut. It was almost a month I had received the white swan from Goolp and I was not able to use it. This boat trip seemed like a good opportunity to take it with us! On the island I found a guy who lent us a pump and Manu inflated it to make me happy! Being really giant, it needed more than twenty minutes of work, but it was really worth it: even Manu, despite at the beginning it was not too convinced about my idea, had a lot of fun aboard our new friend. Deflating it at the end of the day to fit it in my bag was quite difficult: it took four guys to help Manu and finally, after about half an hour out of the boat and half an hour on the return trip, they were able to eliminate all the air inside! Since then, unfortunately, we have not inflated it, but I’m guarding jealously awaiting the next opportunity!
For the third and final boat trip we chose to visit the Blue Lagoon, one of the most beautiful lagoons of Croatia. The tour is daily and allows snorkel!
3rd STOP: KRKA NATIONAL PARK
From Split we went on in the direction of Zadar, stopping about halfway to visit Krka, one of the most beautiful natural parks in Croatia. A green area of 109 square meters traveled by the Krka river, which counts 7 waterfalls.
We left the car in one of the closed parking lots, which are free (though there is someone trying to cheat money saying that you have to pay) and then from there we made tickets for the ferry that takes us directly inside the park and near the main falls.
If like me you go and visit Kkra in August, I suggest you go early in the morning because at 10 a.m. is full of people and it becomes really hard to walk. The bridge located near the biggest waterfall, Skradinski Buk, from which I took the photo you see below, get filled so much that you walk by the tail. Same thing for bathing in the waterfall, which becomes more like a swimming in a hyper crowded pool rather than in a natural reserve.
I recommend you do the walk of about 5 km following the path indicated, which takes visitors around the park and access to other waterfalls, lakes and exceptionally beautiful landscapes. Along the way are some small stalls selling drinks, fresh and dried fruit to eat along the way (all sold at a very affordable price). I reccomend to you to buy the figs (an entire basket cost of just 2 Euros)!
We also wanted to visit the other natural park ofCroatia, Plitvice Lakes national park, but, after learning that in August the falls are almost all without water and it was even more crowded than Krka, we gave up and decided to change our travel plans… Manu and I do not love crowded places when we’re on vacation!
4th STOP: ZADAR
Almost the last stop of our trip to Croatia was Zadar, where we spent just one night. A city that overlooks the Adriatic Sea and is the historical capital of Croatia.
The city is so magnificent because it is old, one of the oldest in Croatia, and literally full of monuments of historical and cultural interest. In some of them you can still see the signs of war. There are plenty of natural and architectural sites of interest also… Among those I loved most, the first is definitely the Sea Organ. The wind combined with the sound of the sea and the waves crashing against the organ (consisting of a system of marble stairs that descend from the city towards the sea) creates a unique melody!
The second is the Greetings to the Sun. A small square that lights up at sunset in many colors, thanks to the installation of colored walkable LED panels (which below contain photovoltaic panels that during the day absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity). Don’t miss it if you decide to visit Zadar!
The last is the People Square. The central square of Zadar is surrounded by old buildings but very well preserved, among which stands the Clock Tower. In the evening it comes alive with tourists who eat in different restaurants or stop to watch the performances of street artists.
Unlike in the previous stops, in Zadar the hotel was beautiful… It is called Villa Diana, is located near the city center and offers rooms with a floral theme, each one different. Ours was lavender themed (I was very lucky, you know how much I like it): all the furniture was themed, including towels and soaps in the bathroom! The breakfast was delightful: you had to book in the first afternoon of the previous day, so as to guarantee the freshness of products day by day.
5th STOP: ZAGREB
As a last stop before returning home we decided to visit the capital Zagreb.
The first photo I took was in the street of the Hotel, where I was struck by a passing tram of the same color of the sky. We then noticed that all of the historic center of Zagreb trams are blue (and are also the most comfortable way to get around).
We stayed at Hotel Esplanade Zagreb, a 5 stars hotel where we received a very special treatment! It is located in a central position and also has a SPA inside. The room was spacious, the bathroom had both shower and bathtub, and our window had a great view of one of the historical monuments of the city. Even the breakfast was sumptuous: continental, with a huge selection of pastries, jams, breads of all kinds, cereals, soy milk (which is rare to find in hotels)… It can also be enjoyed outdoors, in a area which is located right in the main square of the city. The staff was very friendly and gave us a little surprise on the day of our departure: because we had the plane very early at 7:30 a.m., so ten we had to leave the hotel at 5 a.m., they prepared for us two breakfast boxes! Definitely the best hotel in the whole holiday!
A visit to the Cathedral is really worth: it is the most impressive religious building in Croatia’s, realized in the neo-Gothic era. Its twin spiers rising in the sky are so high that you can see them from every part of the city!
We have reached the end of our trip… I hope it was a pleasant reading and that somehow it can help you organize your future trip to Croatia!
Happy Monday and happy start of the week to you all!
TOP: Stella Jean
DENIM SHORTS: Asos
VESTITO – DRESS: Stella Jean
TUTA AZZURRA IN PIZZO – LIGHT BLUE LACE JUMPSUIT: Asos
BIKINI BIANCO – WHITE BIKINI: MC2 Saint Barth
TUTA BIANCA – WHITE JUMPSUIT: Asos
BIKINI BIANCO E NERO – WHITE AND BLACK BIKINI: Olivia Beachwear
OUTFIT KRKA NATIONAL PARK
TUTA BIANCA IN PIZZO – WHITE LACE JUMSUIT: Asos
VESTITO – DRESS: Stella Jean
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