Between soaking in soothing coastal views, getting lost in time through the various Old Towns and enjoying the country’s natural beauty on hikes, Croatia easily become a contender for our favorite European stop.
Since we were nearing the end of our trip, we tried to balance between relaxing but also making the most of every day (and avoiding Croatian FOMO). We rented a car and explored Croatia and its neighbors for 10 days. So here’s our attempt to capture those 10 magical, non-FOMO days.
All in all, I would break our visit down to three non-MECE themes:
A. Outdoor hiking
B. GOT/Old Town geeking
C. Day tripping.
A. Outdoor Hiking: Follow the circles and chase waterfalls
Matt found some great hikes through this blog for our stops in and between Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik.
Hike #1, Mosor Mountain (Split): We started with a hike through Mosor Mountain to the highest point of the area. At the beginning of the hike, I was promised a mountain house with a restaurant stop so I was down.
The hike was rocky but not too challenging. It was windy but the weather held up nicely. While hiking up to the highest point (marked by a cross), I realized that Matt had another pit stop (besides the mountain house restaurant) in mind…the second highest point of the mountain (marked by a red building).
I should have read BBQBoy’s “Man’s Hike” Blog post more closely…. Nonetheless, this woman very much enjoyed the hike to Veli Kabal, Vickov Stup and the Mountain House (AKA PL. DOM).
On a related note, we were blown away by how well-marked the path was. Sans paper map, we were guided by these white and red circle markers.
Hike #2, Paklenica National Park (Zadar): While Paklencia is more known for its climbing, we stopped there on our way to Zadar from Split for some hiking and to break up our drive. It was definitely an easier “hike” compared to Mosor Mountain but still a great way to stretch our legs and enjoy some time outside. We saw some mountain huts (I’m starting to wonder why there aren’t more of these in the states…) and a bunch of rock climbers (maybe next time).
Hike #3, Plitvice Lakes National Park: We took a day trip to visit Plitvice Lakes, which was recommended by our friends when they went on their RTW trip. It was an incredibly beautiful and peaceful. We literally got to see waterfalls from almost very angle: above, below, to the right of, to the left of, in front of…
So both of us spent the day chasing waterfalls and one of us also hummed the TLC song non-stop. Get ready for beau coups of waterfall pics:
Hike #4, Matt Solo: In Dubrovnik, Matt did a morning hike up Mt Srd. The hike takes you up to views looking out over Dubrovnik, the Adriatic Sea and Bosnia-Herzegovina from the other direction. If spending time in Dubrovnik, it’s highly recommended.
B. Geeking: Winter wasn’t coming
Croatia seemed to be filled with Old Towns. They’d be neat to explore anyway but since many of the spots were Game of Thrones filming locations, I hardcore geeked out on the exploring. We walked the old city walls of Dubrovnik, listened to the sounds of the Sea Organs in Zadar and sat on the edge for views of the water. And if you followed me on Snapchat, you’ll already know that I played the GOT theme song non-stop. Sorry about that. Here are some photos from the GOT filming locations compared to the actual scenes:
OK, now that I got all of that out my system (note there are more photos but I’ll spare you). Here are some photos of the Old Towns for all you non-GOT geeks.
C. Day-Tripping: AKA sneaking in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro
Matt and I were pretty pumped that we could “sneak in” two more countries easily while staying in Croatia: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Determined to pack in the most we could, we took day trips to both places. We spent the drive listening to the S-Town podcast and enjoying the views.
Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina: We made a quick trip down to Trebinje with only one goal in mind- explore! There wasn’t any big “must sees or dos” in the town so it was a leisurely visit. We ended up walking around the Old Town and also hiking up to see two different churches in the area. On visit we spotted two snakes and more kindness! While we were walking down from one church, a local offered us a ride down in the hill (we declined because we were enjoying the walk)! We continued to be delighted in all the kindness in the world.
Kotor, Montenegro: We had heard great things about Montenegro and were excited to see it for ourselves. Our drive was once again filled with beautiful, coastal views and the sounds of the S-Town podcast. We walked around the old town but the highlight was the fortress hiking we did. We hiked up the city walls and beyond to see an old fortification, where we were greeted with high-up views of the town and water. While up there, we found a way to also hike the “Ladder of Kotor” – which is pretty much a switchback hike that looks like a ladder. We didn’t end up doing the whole thing but still had a ton of fun.
Before we left town, we grabbed lunch at a local spot known for its roast chicken. We weren’t sure of the sizes, so I tried to order two roast chicken plates. I was told that we only needed one. Thank goodness we listened…
Croatia ended up being one of our favorite stops. It’s hard to really find the words why, so I’ll just end it with some photos.. 🙂