Probably there is no need to advertise Croatia as holiday destination. However, never enough of inspiration. Moreover, Croatia has particular place on my personal destinations list, like special category 🙂 A fortiori, I thought that it’s good topic for premiere blog post.
In some way, I got inspired to write this post also by looking at many articles about Croatian trips and their routes are always presented in similar way, in short: Zagreb-Plitvice-Zadar-Split-Dubrovnik.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all wonderful places, worth visiting for sure (to Dubrovnik I have quite ambivalent feelings, but for Split I already feel unconditional love), however it’s not enough!
To really feel Croatia, or at least Dalmatia, you should go to smaller towns, and absolutely, really absolutely, to one of islands (1244 islands to choose from out of which 68 is inhabited, 50 permanently).
Here is a completely subjective list of things to do and places worth seeing, and they are not Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and even not Split.
What to do during holidays on the Croatian coast?
- Eat in Konoba, in which klapa sings
Konoba is a traditional restaurant, most often in rustic style, with traditional regional dishes and wine.
Klapa is musical form, choir (up to 12 people) singing a cappella about love, wine, motherland and sea. Most often it is a male choir, although in recent years also female klapa got more popular. It’s strictly Dalmatian tradition, acknowledged on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Hard to find an idea for more traditional evening.
- Eat, eat a lot
It is of course part of every trip, doesn’t matter where. However, in Croatia (and whole region) it’s particularly important thing. The number of dishes you should try is so many that even a week will not be enough, even if you will eat two dinners daily. Going to restaurant is a must (look at point 1), but with big frequency it may be cost-absorbent. You can eat well and regionally also without restaurants.
Buy burek or other miracles from bakery. You will find bakery without problem, there are really many, and you can sniff one out from a 50-meter distance. Look out for local markets for fresh vegetables and fruits and fish markets for fish. Olive oil, wine, honey, olives, cheese, all this is easily reachable on markets, directly from producers, and even in supermarkets.
- Buy even more coffee
Croatians drink yearly around 5 kg of coffee per person (for comparison: Poles 2,3 kg). Although in this case it’s not about amount, but mainly about culture of drinking. In Croatia actually you don’t meet famous coffee chain places. Costa Coffee once opened some place, but they closed it quite quickly. Once for some time you can read gossips, that one of the chains wants to enter to the market, but it finishes on gossips. In winter, the rumors were about the opening of Starbucks in Zagreb, but the company confirmed, that they don’t have such plans at the moment. One of the reasons was market research- they confirmed, that Croatians would still choose coffee drinking calmly in café. It’s true, you will just not notice crowds running on streets with take away cups. It’s rooted in the culture and mentality and, fortunately, it doesn’t change.
There are many non-chain local cafes instead, noting but sit among locals in such place on riva and drink good coffee spiced by sun and beautiful views.
Adriatic is calm sea and Croatia, with its particular type of coast (called nomen omen Dalmatian in geographical nomenclature) and coastline in 6278 length, is ideal place for the sails. Developed infrastructure, modern marinas and the huge number of charter companies only emphasize it.
It’s easy to find companies that organize charters and cruises. I really recommend such holidays. If it’s completely not your cup of tea you can think about some typical touristic, few hours cruise. It’s worth it, Croatia from the sea is even more beautiful.
- Stay overnight in the lighthouse
Well, that’s a bit ahead of time, as myself i still have it on my bucket list.
But I already imagine night in such a place, on the island, with such a view…
You can choose from 12 lighthouses offering accommodation, most often with the transfer.
Places worth visitng
These are not very secret or revelatory regions. Worth to remember about their existing and include them to holidays program. Probably it won’t all fit into one trip, just not enough time.
Starting from north:
- Istria, this seaside one, because of Pula, Poreč, Rovinj. Because seaside, views, amphitheater in Pula (third Europe largest), basilica from sixth century, historic towers, charming streets, harbors.
- Istria, but continental one
Buzet or ‘the smallest town in the world’ Hum. Beautiful green views, Gothic towns, truffles.
In Buzet pop into Museum in old part. Personally I was painting it (nothing better than volunteering!)
In Hum except visiting of city (you don’t need too much time on this) you can also see slabs with Glagolitic alphabet, first Slavic script.
- Island, one of those north of Zadar. Generally every and whichever. It may be Rab (because Rab on Rab is very charming town), it may be Pag, which offers so different places: pretty beaches, towns, clubs- Pag is often called ‘Croatian Ibiza’, mainly due to Zrče beach.
For me actually what’s more convincing than clubs is delicious sheep milk cheese (paški sir).
- National Park Kornati
Often called sailing paradise. 89 of islands and islets, rocks, creeks. Impressive and special views, a bit row, a bit moonscape-like.
- Šibenik i Trogir
Just to remind only, that these two cities are on the way between Zadar and Split and not that it’s worth it, but it’s absolutely must to stop in them.
The island becomes more and more popular, and island capital- town Hvar is quite a party place during the season.
However, it’s also town-monument, with armory, three fortresses, cathedral, monasteries and charming crooked alleys.
Other towns and villages on the island are calmer and similarly charming.
The island, is often poetically called as scented by rosemary and lavender. Indeed, you can feel that in the air. The biggest lavender productions have been destroyed by fires, currently different actions are being taken to bring back tradition and production itself (for example by annual lavender festival in Velo Grablje).
Second of the islands, which is right away is associated with the smell of herbs and lavender. The place of birth of Marco Polo and pf museum placed in his house.
From bird’s eye view old town resembles the backbone of a fish, with big amount of narrow atmospheric streets, to which usually small stairs lead. Old town create a really amazing vibe with fortifications, two gates into the city, historic buildings as cathedral or Arneri palace and harbor.
If you rather search for peace, you can go to one of smaller villages on the island. The most famous is probably Lumbarda, known of beautiful beach and a fishermen atmosphere.
I got lost in daydreaming. And for sure I’m going soon again. Recommended!