Croatia in 3 Years – 3 Complementary Croatia Itineraries

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It’s June 2020. My girlfriend – now fiancée – was purported to have moved to the Czech Republic to reside with me, however right here got here an surprising impediment. As a Brit dwelling in Prague I used to be banned from coming into the US, and Kate was banned from coming into Europe.

Then the clouds half, Serbia opens up, and there’s a direct flight from New York to Belgrade. That’s only a nine-hour drive – plus a gnarly Hungary/Serbia border – from Prague. We make the preparations and I meet Kate, bleary-eyed from an in a single day flight, at Nikola Tesla Airport.

We don’t have a lot of a plan aside from ready until the Czechs open their borders to companions of residents and residents like they simply did for instant family, however not less than we’re collectively. (Spoiler alert: they allowed companions of residents in late July, as a part of the #loveisnottourism initiative. But #loveisnotforpermanentresidents, and we ended up ready until late September). We guess we’ll spend a while exploring Serbia whereas persevering with to work remotely, then perhaps North Macedonia?

In the top, we had been in Serbia for slightly over two weeks. Croatia opened its borders and we didn’t want a lot convincing. With buddies and colleagues there, and it being the center of summer season, this was a unbelievable alternative to get to higher know a rustic we had each already spent a variety of time in.

Dubrovnik through the pandemic

Apologies for the preamble, however this was all to set the scene as to the inspiration for the Croatia in Three Years itineraries. Based on my experiences mixed along with her personal deep information, our professional Croatian journey planner Lidija put these collectively.

For a variety of vacationers from the US, Croatia is approached in one among two methods: a packed south-to-north itinerary, with one or two islands, or sticking to the headline acts of Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar. The hazard with both method is saying “I’ve ticked Croatia off, no need to go back”. The objective of those itineraries is to showcase a number of the many issues which are value going again for, and how one can take a number of bites at this Mediterranean peach, every with some acquainted flavors and slightly totally different each time.

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Dubrovnik, The Pearl of The Adriatic

There’s actually nowhere else to get a greater first impression of Croatia than Dubrovnik. The anticipation that has constructed up within the weeks main as much as your journey culminates at that second when your driver brings you across the nook and also you get your first in-person glimpse of the orange roofs of the walled metropolis jutting out into the azure sea. There’s nothing fairly prefer it. And on this itinerary, you’ll spend three days marveling at it from all angles.

This image shows the red rooftops of Dubrovnik with the sea in the background.
Dubrovnik’s well-known skyline

Korcula, Marco Polo’s Hometown

No first go to to Croatia could be full with out some island time, and Korcula is a high-quality first island to go to. Marco Polo’s hometown, in keeping with the locals, Korcula is sort of a mini Dubrovnik. Getting past the Old Town, you may get pleasure from some unbelievable white wines from indigenous grape varieties, fantastic seashores, and untouched nature.

This is a top-down drone shot of Korcula with its picturesque red rooftops.
Korcula looks like Dubrovnik in miniature

Cavtat, Dubrovnik’s Quiet Neighbor

To ensure you’re on the airport in time to your departing flight, it is smart to go again within the path of Dubrovnik, by way of the Peljesac Peninsula, and on the best way, you may pattern Croatia’s heartiest pink, Dingač. You’ll positively wish to take some dwelling! The delights proceed whereas nonetheless on Peljesac with a cease at a small family-run oyster and mussels farm. Learn how these shellfish are cultivated and check out them simply moments after being pulled out of the ocean.

I wrote “direction of Dubrovnik” intentionally. For your final evening, we suggest staying within the smaller coastal city of Cavtat – it’s even near Dubrovnik airport. Not solely will you get some extra time in mattress (most departures that hyperlink up with transatlantic flights have a tendency to depart within the morning), however you’ll additionally expertise this calm little city as your final reminiscence of Croatia. Until your subsequent go to that’s!

This is a panoramic view of Cavtat. There are stone houses with red-tiled roofs built among trees. In the background, there's a gorgeous beach.
Cavtat is totally picturesque

Zagreb, Croatia’s Vibrant Capital

We swap gears for the second yr. Our Year 3 itinerary may really feel slightly an excessive amount of of a direct continuation of the primary, so we’re going to indicate you some totally different facets of what may appear at first look like fairly a small nation. To put it in perspective, Croatia’s only a contact smaller than West Virginia in space, and Oklahoma in inhabitants. And but the north of the nation is dramatically totally different from the south by way of panorama, delicacies, and other people.

Start your journey in Zagreb, the nation’s political, financial, and cultural capital. Central European café tradition, a la Vienna, meets Mediterranean chill. Some of the nation’s greatest meals is available in Zagreb, and it’s a very good likelihood to attempt a really totally different delicacies out of your journey final yr.

This is a panoramic view of Zagreb under a sunny sky dotted with beautiful clouds.
Zagreb is filled with life and coloration

Rovinj, The Jewel of The Istrian Peninsula

Next up is Rovinj, a coastal magnificence in Istria, the so-called Croatia’s Tuscany. As effectively as being drop-dead beautiful in its personal proper, it’s additionally an outstanding base for day-tripping within the truffle-rich forested areas of inland Istria round Motovun and Groznjan, or to Pula, with its still-in-use Ancient Roman amphitheater that’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

This is a panoramic drone shot of Rovinj at sunset.
No marvel some name Rovinj a Little Venice

Zadar, Croatia’s Underrated Gem

The panorama adjustments as soon as extra as you head south and inland to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. While technically attainable to squeeze this right into a cease on a protracted drive to your remaining vacation spot, Zadar, the beauty of staying for 2 nights is that you simply get to enter the park as quickly because it opens within the morning, whereas the plentiful day-trippers from Zagreb, Zadar, and Split don’t arrive till round 10:30 AM. Plitvice is one other of Croatia’s UNESCO websites and is a riot of vivid turquoise lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and deep inexperienced forests. Because you don’t go away until the subsequent morning, you may take your time having fun with the park.

The remaining cease on this itinerary is Zadar. Once an historical Roman metropolis, this outdated city situated on a skinny peninsula has a enjoyable power due to its massive – by Croatian requirements – scholar inhabitants. With one full day right here, you may both head to a different of Croatia’s nationwide parks, Krka, for some extra mountaineering, or go for a pleasant boat journey across the Kornati Islands shut by. Zadar’s worldwide airport is effectively related with main European hubs to your onward flight dwelling.

This image shows fishing boats in a canal lined by city walls.
A sunny day in Zadar

Brač, Croatia’s Scenic Haven

Picking up nearly the place we left off, this itinerary is a loop from Split, Croatia’s largest coastal metropolis. You’ll get a glimpse of Split, returning to it on the finish of your journey, as you go straight from the airport to the ferry port. This Croatia itinerary is all in regards to the islands. The first of which is Brač.

Brač affords a laid-back re-introduction to Croatian island life. Less glitzy than Hvar, it’s nonetheless wealthy in seashores, notably essentially the most well-known seaside within the nation, Zlatni Rat, or Golden Horn in English. The satisfaction of the island is its stone. The distinctive white Brač stone continues to be quarried and was used within the building of the White House.

This is a top-down drone shot of Zlatni Rat Beach. There's a narrow piece of white-sanded land and insanely turquoise waters.
The otherworldly Zlatni Rat Beach in Brač

Hvar, Europe’s Sunniest Island

From Brač, a brief ferry experience will take you to Hvar. Easily Croatia’s most well-known island, Hvar has a celebration status, however peace and quiet are straightforward to return by. A guided hike or an island tour in a 4×4 is a good way to get a really feel of how locals reside. Wine lovers will benefit from the island’s Plavac Mali, a relative of Californian Zinfandel. No journey to Hvar is full with no cruise across the Pakleni archipelago. Your skipper is aware of all one of the best bays and a wonderful place for lunch.

This is a drone shot of tiny islands dotting the sea.
Cruising across the Pakleni islands, near Hvar

Vis, Croatia’s Gorgeous Hidden Treasure

When staying in Hvar, many individuals take a complete day boat journey to see the Vis Blue Cave. What they’re lacking by doing that is exploring the island of Vis itself. Vis is particular and that’s why we’ve chosen to allocate essentially the most nights to it. Vis has a novel historical past. It’s been of navy significance for hundreds of years – the British constructed a fort right here – and it even has historical Roman ruins. During the Yugoslavia years, it was a fortress island. Nowadays, you may discover the gun placements and even the tunnel {that a} submarine might slip into. A driving tour of the island with a cease at a family-owned vineyard will take you to all these plus Komiza, a fishing village on the opposite aspect of the island.

Besides the navy historical past, there’s the compulsory Blue Cave journey. However, you get to mix that with the Green Cave and a seaside and swim cease, circumnavigating the island, slightly than the hurried method of visiting the Blue Cave from Hvar.

This image shows small wooden fishing boats resting on the crystal clear waters. The shore is lined by traditional stone houses with colorful doors and shutters.
Surrendering to the magic of Vis

Split, Croatia’s Summer Capital

Your three years of Croatian travels come to an finish in Split. Stay throughout the partitions of the Old Town and select a resort constructed throughout the ruins of a retired Roman emperor’s palace. Soak up the wealthy historical past that’s Croatia, from antiquity as much as the folks artwork and costumes within the most interesting ethnographic museum within the nation. Stroll alongside the Riva promenade, and take your final glances on the perfection of the Adriatic. For now not less than.

You’ll must stand up very early to see Old Town Split this empty. This was round 2 pm on an August afternoon in 2020.

Quick Links to all Three Itineraries

* Starting value relies on double occupancy in 3 star lodging, in essentially the most reasonably priced month an itinerary is obtainable. Airfare to Europe is just not included.

Click in your alternative of itinerary, choose variety of vacationers in your get together, month of journey, and desired star stage of lodging to get an approximate value. Submit the enquiry type with any further particulars and we are able to begin planning your personalized journey.

Dovidenja – Till We Meet Again

Now you will have a stable top-to-bottom information of Croatia, you may come again and fill in a number of the different gaps, or see a few of your favourite locations once more. I do know Kate and I’ll as there’s all the time one thing new to fascinate us in Croatia. And, then, there are all these recollections that may by no means cease bringing us again to the Land of a Thousand Islands for extra.

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