Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast has boomed as a tourist destination in recent years, thanks in no small part to the HBO show Game of Thrones, who filmed there. Thankfully, tourists are finding that there’s much more to Croatia than film sets, from beautiful islands to vibrant cities. If you’re thinking of visiting Croatia for the first time, here are a few ideas on what to do and what to avoid.
This tip may well go for any vacation destination, but while you’re booking your trip try to avoid peak season. For Croatia it’s July and August when everything peaks: temperatures, tourist numbers, and prices for hotels, travel, and attractions. If you can, try to book just around the peak season; in June and September the weather is still warm and there are still regular ferries between islands. Even early October is a good option, though some travel options may be more limited.
Another way to avoid the crowds is by checking cruise ship schedules. “Even (and perhaps especially) if you’re not planning to take a cruise to Dubrovnik, it helps to know when they’ll be in town,” says Serge Tenkia, a travel blogger at Write My X and NextCoursework. “The city can have over 10,000 cruise passengers on a busy day!” To avoid massive tour groups clogging up the narrow streets of Dubrovnik or Split, aim for days in which only one or two ships are in port.
Even in October the temperatures are balmy - Photo - Shutterstock
Dubrovnik is the first destination for most tourists, especially fans of Game of Thrones looking to find famous settings from King’s Landing. Some of these are in the Old Town, with famously attractive medieval architecture nearly untouched for hundreds of years.
But, make sure you don’t make Dubrovnik the only place you go! Split is the second-largest city and is well-known for its idyllic beaches after the capital Zagreb, both offering an exciting selection of bars, restaurants, and nightlife. While you’re in Split, take a look at Diocletian’s Palace, the ruins of its large 4th-century fortress.
Outside of the main cities, Croatia has a variety of islands that you can take ferries to, either for day trips or for extended stays. Hvar is a beautiful island frequented by the rich and famous, while Korcula is more rustic and laid back, and if its beaches you’re looking for, try Pakleni. I recommend booking rooms across the islands throughout your stay so that you have the opportunity to experience the unique feel of each.
Explore ancient cities - Photo - Shutterstock
Boat, bus and train
The best way to get around all of these wonderful sights is by public transport, affordable and efficient networks connecting all the major towns and cities. Regular ferries connect Dubrovnik to Hvar and other islands, and if you’re traveling on the mainland buses are the fastest and most popular way to get around. If you have the time there are also trains that offer some more comfortable travel between larger cities like Zagreb and Split.
As for getting around the cities, Kavita Empress, a lifestyle blogger at Britstudent and Australia2Write, advises that: “most of the cities themselves are well-served with buses and trams, although in historic districts half of the joy comes from walking around.
Food & drink
All of this traveling working up your appetite? Why not sample some of Croatia’s medley of contemporary and traditional cuisine? Much like its cities, the country’s food is a meeting point of old and new, influenced by various European cultural traditions and combined in a uniquely Croatian way.
For traditional options, you could try peka — a mixture of vegetables, meat and herbs baked in a pot in the fireplace — lamb or octopus. If it’s something more cosmopolitan you’re looking for, there are great pizza and gelato options throughout most of Dubrovnik, including Pizza Mirakul and Sladoledarna Dubrovnik Gelateria.
Discover for yourself
Part of the joy of Croatia is that there’s so much rich culture, history, and food on offer that, no matter how many blogs you read, you may well get out there and discover something special for yourself. Follow your instinct, and discover your own unique Croatian experiences!
Gloriuos coastlines - Photo - Shutterstock
Katrina Hatchett is a lifestyle blogger at Academic Brits, a writer for Thesis Help, and is involved in projects with businesses across the country. She enjoys identifying issues in projects and finding solutions for them. Her main goal is to help companies like PhD Kingdom and individuals communicate more effectively.