This hidden gem of a country is absolutely beautiful and reasonably priced. It has influences of Italy
and Greece but without the crowds and high price tags. Fresh seafood, amazing islands, a fantastic capital city, and one of the most beautiful national parks with lakes and waterfalls like you won't believe. I only got to explore a small part of this wonderful country, but I expect to return to see the islands for sure.
Suggest Staying: 2-3 weeks
Transport: Taxi, bus, metro
1. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Highlights: Lakes, waterfalls
Suggest Staying: 2 days
The National Park (Vila Vuk
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, Plitvice Lakes is filled with numerous cyan clear bluish green lakes and waterfalls. The colors are amazing even when the sky is overcast! There are wooden bridges that create a trail down along the water and you can also follow trails up above along the rim for incredible views of the lakes and waterfalls below. My friend and I spent a total of about 12 hours over 2 days exploring. Half of the first day was a torrential downpour. No swimming unfortunately to preserve the pristine color and the fish that inhabit the lakes. There are both upper and lower lakes. Both are great, but if you have to pick one, definitely go with the lower lakes.
We stayed at a wonderful guest house where we were given an unmarked bottle of clear moonshine as a “gift from the house” on our departure. The landlord lady doesn’t speak English but her daughter does. They are very nice.
- Getting There. It’s a bit of an adventure to get to the park. It’s about equidistant from Zagreb (north) and Zadar (south). We flew into Zagreb, rented a car, and drove about 3 hours to the park. Our car from the rental agency had a light go on and when we asked the guy to check it, he kicked the tires and reset the light and told us we were good to go. Luckily we didn’t break down. The route itself is a nice drive through the countryside although you will see shacks/houses with bullet holes and shrapnel in them from the war. The speed limit signs make no sense and are constantly changing which is unfortunate because if you are caught speeding there are very hefty speeding fines, like several hundred dollars. Definitely worth the adventure, just be sure you can drive a manual if you rent a car, bring plenty of cash, follow the signs as best you can, and bring a map and directions to your accommodations.
- Footwear. Although some people wore sandals, it’s pretty rocky and the bridges are wooden planks, so best to wear at least sneakers or hiking boots if you prefer. You can do flip flops, but easier in normal shoes.
Dubrovnik Old Town
Highlights: City wall, sea, food, nightlife
Suggest Staying: 2-5 days
Stay Around: Old Town
Often referred to as Little Venice, Dubrovnik is a beautiful city with the charm of a typical European city meshed with a coastal vibe. The Italian and Greek influence make this a wonderful place for architecture, food, and nightlife. The food is fresh and of varying cuisines and the old town is full of polished marble like white stone everywhere.
See & Do
- Old Town. Main area of Dubrovnik that houses pretty much everything to see.
- Pile Gate. Part of the historic city fortress.
- City Walls. Surrounds the city. Be sure to take the walk along the top of the wall for spectacular views of the Old Town and out towards the sea.
- Lapad Bay. Beaches. They are rocks not sand, but surprisingly comfortable to lay on.
- Buza. Super chill outdoor lounge bar with great views of the sea. Great place for a date or just to hang out for a drink.
- Getting Around. There are buses that travel around the city, to and from Old Town if you’re staying elsewhere and is easy to use. Just make sure you have some change to pay.
- Cash Only. When I was visiting, pretty much everything was cash only, especially accommodations. We stayed at an apartment or guest house so perhaps hotels are different, but I remember paying for just about everything in cash. Things may be different now though.