WARNING this post contains images and descriptions likely to cause you to impulse book a holiday.
Croatia Travel Guide
Ah Croatia! A land of sunshine, history, seafood, sea-life and many, many tourists. I recently experienced this stunning country right in the middle of peak tourist season. I know I know, WHAT WAS I THINKING! But despite it being ‘peak season’ I still managed to have the best holiday of my life so far (you can read about my tips for surviving travel during the peak season).
When researching a trip to Croatia most blogs and guides will tell you how beautiful the coastline is, well, they are not lying! The coastline of Croatia gives the Great Ocean Road a serious run for it’s money and given that you can stop for a swim anywhere along the way without fear of death by shark or jellyfish it pretty much wins the race.
My itinerary looked like this:
-Dubrovnik to Split in a hire car stopping at smaller towns along the way.
-Split to Karlobag in hire car with a day trip to Plitvice national park.
-Karlobag to Krk island where we ditched the car and jumped on a boat for 5 days.
Here’s my 5 top tips for traveling Croatia:
#1 Hire a car
Remember what I said about that coastline? Yep, you should drive along it. It doesn’t need to be for the full time, but at some point during the trip it’s well worth it. Having a car also allows you the option to do a few day trips to the national parks (which are inland) or to explore other villages. You can pick up an international driver's license from the RACV (or your state's equivalent) and boom, you’ve got all you need to hire a car abroad. I recommend adding the additional car hire insurance to your travel insurance before you leave. It’s cheaper than buying the insurance through the car hire company and the excess is usually lower. Book the car through AutoEurope. You’ll find the best price and the best customer service.
#2 Go to Dubrovnik, but don’t stay for very long
Dubrovnik, aka, Kings Landing is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.. the thing that lets it down? All of the Australian accents (I’m an Aussie so I can say that) it’s literally full of Australians who love to party. If downing vodka shots at night and sleeping all day is not your idea of holiday then don’t book your entire time here, but don’t let that scare you away. Make a compromise. 2-3 nights to see the beautiful things, pretend you are King Geoffrey and sip cocktails at bars on cliffs outside of the main walls (yep, that’s a thing). Just don’t get talked into a tour by one of the pushy backpackers working for the tour companies. They sound amazing, but they are NOT! Hire your own kayak or take a taxi boat to the nearby islands and caves, you’ll have a much better time.
Don’t stay in the old town, it’s beautiful but it’s a tourist trap.
#3 Road tripppppp
I know the first tip was hire a car, so this one is all about the road trip! The coast line is amazing and there are SO many gorgeous towns to stop in and explore. Take your time, stop and swim along the way and if you’re driving to or from Dubrovnik be sure to go to Mali Ston for Oysters and a chance to walk along the ancient wall known as the, "European Wall of China."
There’s plenty of campsites along the coast line (like, literally on the coast line) for you to stop and stay.
If you’re traveling in the peak season, plan ahead and book accommodation in advance. If you’re not, then deciding spontaneously should be ok.
#4 Beaches ain’t beaches
There are no ‘beaches’ as we know them. Whilst it looks all white beaches in the pictures that beautiful white ‘sand’ is actually hard rocks. They can be incredibly uncomfortable on your feet so if you’re willing to sacrifice fashion for practicality (I was not and my feet are still sore) then invest in some booties for swimming. You’ll look like a 65-year-old practical grandma but your swimming experience will be much more comfortable. There's also the option to hire a beach chair so you can lay on the beach without laying on a bed of rocks. But as strange as it sounds, laying on rocks isn't so bad.
Find a nice spot on a big rock and just jump into the sea. It’s way more fun and you’ll see all the locals doing it too.
#5 Hire a boat (and then sing the I’m on a boat song over and over)
This was by far the highlight of the trip. 5 nights on an authentic sailing boat, sleeping on deck under the stars, jumping off the side into crystal clear waters, exploring small villages and hidden cove restaurants, constant sunshine and NO TOURISTS! Have I sold you on the idea yet? I recommend NOT booking with a tour company (suprise suprise) they are overpriced and full of other tourists. Instead go with the slightly less luxurious local option. I found my boat through Airbnb and never looked back.
Do this somewhere off to tourist trail. Prices from Split of Dubrovnik are crazy and it's harder to find secluded spots. We chose Krk and loved every minute.
Have you been to Croatia and have a great tip? Share it with us in the comments below!