Croatia was one of those reportedly magical destinations I had elevated up to the highest ranks on my bucket list over several years. I’d seen all of the sailing trips pics and was green with envy. This summer I finally got around to booking a holiday and, happy to say, completely loved the place: get yourself to amazing Croatia!
3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
KORCULA | not an island I’d even heard of, but ultimately my favourite. Day one was spent exploring the tiny old town then the afternoon dipping in and out of the crystal clear water towards Medvinjak. Also check out: we saved day two to hire bikes for Lumbarda (head to Bilin Zal beach, not Vela Przina).
PAKLENI ISLANDS | rent your own little motorboat (400 kuna / ~£38 full day). Go exploring secluded coves, rustic restaurants like Pension Tonci or Dionis in Vlaka, luxury sunbathing pit stops, and unbeatable sunset drink venues or even night out at Carpe Diem. Also check out: you’ll be staying in Hvar, so be sure to climb the fortress walls and visit Pokoji Dol bay.
DUBROVNIK BOAT TRIP | in contrast to Hvar, we did an organised three island day-trip at this point, visiting Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud – the Elaphite Islands – with Miko’s boats. Despite natural scepticism about tours, this was well worth the 25 euro! Lopud in particular is gorgeous.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
BARS WITH VIEWS! | there are some stunners throughout the route from Split to Dubrovnik. These were some of my favourites: Hula Hula in Hvar to mingle with the party sunset crowd; a spot on Setaliste Frana Krsinica (this is the road; I can’t find the name) overlooking Korcula port watching boat-life ease gently by; and Buza bar II in Dubrovnik to admire the seemingly endless ocean.
FERRIES | it’s a real pleasure to travel in Croatia – equally as slick and easy to navigate as Greek Island hopping, when you’re sticking to the more popular bigger islands. In June there was never need to book ahead.
SWIMMING | whether it’s the marked divide of wealthy tourists versus the locals at Dubrovnik’s main city beach, or the great little spots around the castle, even right in the heart of Croatian towns you’ll find great swimming. Next time I’ll remember the snorkel!
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
TOURIST HYPE | one example being Massimo bar in Korcula. I’d been warned it was very much a go-for-the-view kind of place, but with so much beauty around you I’d recommend give the over-priced haunts a miss and hunt out something more authentic.
WINE AND COFFEE | as a Londoner, I think many would agree a morning caffeine kick and glass or several of decent wine are holiday musts. Unfortunately Croatia is no Italy in this respect, and I was regularly left wincing at the (admittedly damn cheap) table wine!
DUBROVNIK CROWDS | do not loiter in Dubrovnik old town during cruise-crowd hours – it’s horrible! I was really put off by the large groups shoving down the gorgeous tiny alleys en mass, so much so it really lowered my overall impression of the town. Oh who am I kidding?! Just check out these pics: it’s beautiful.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
VIS & MLJET | as first-timers who were tight on time, we very much picked the Croatian stalwarts to visit. Next time I’d love to explore more off the beaten track, to places like Vis and this recommended National Park.
AND KNOW THIS: their currency is named after a rather cute little chappy called the kuna, or marten.