Croatia – Why this gem of a country should be at the top of your holiday bucket list

After an eleven hour boat journey from Ancona, Italy, we were stood outside on the top deck of the ferry at six in the morning looking at a perfectly still Split. The morning light was still creeping across the city and I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to jump in to the sea and swim to shore. I didn’t, of course…

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Croatia was one of the main countries I wanted to visit on this trip. Friends that have been before told me how much I would love it, so I was incredibly excited to spend the next few weeks exploring.

Our first stop was Split, mostly because we docked there and also because thanks to our insurance company we couldn’t drive to Dubrovnik (as you have to go through Bosnia Herzegovina for a whole ten minutes, which we weren’t covered for). As you get off the boat in Split you’re practically in the centre of the city already, so we got a good sneak preview before we returned later that day.

As we got to our campsite majorly early and parked up, it was time for breakfast so I wandered to the shop to stock up on supplies. I don’t speak any languages, at best I can get by on the basics but the Croatian language is something else. I didn’t have a clue, which later transpired when I went to put milk in to my tea and soon realised that I’d brought yoghurt instead of milk – Tea with curdled yoghurt… well, it isn’t the best!

After food and a quick snooze, we made our way back in to Split where I was instantly hooked with its glorious harbour and old town charm. A UNESCO world heritage site, Split is a piece of perfectly preserved history. Thanks to the city carrying out numerous amounts of restoration work, you can see many of its buildings and architecture, such as the palace, as white and clean as they would have been many moons ago which is pretty awesome.

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The Old Town is dominated by the Diocletian Palace and it walls which make up what is now the town centre, and within its walls, both above and below ground, are today thriving with boutique shops, cafe’s and restaurants.

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As one of the oldest places of worship in the world the Cathedral of Saint Dominus is a must see… apparently. I wasn’t actually allowed in as I was dressed inappropriately (I had m shoulders showing), so I’ll take their word for it.

Wandering around, we came across this fellow…Grgur Ninski. A 10th century bishop and Croatian icon, he defied the Pope by conducting religious services in the Croatian language. Nowadays, it is said that rubbing his big toe brings you good luck and in true touristic tradition it’s the place to get a good pic…just like we did.

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A few hours of wandering around in thirty degree heat and it was time to cool off, so we decided to head back to our campsite and hit the beach. Wait, did I say private beach?

Camping Stobreč seriously came through on the beach front. With a private lagoon bay style beach, it was the perfect place to spend the rest of our afternoon. What more do you need in life than this view…

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And by night, it’s even better.

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After some serious beach time for me and hiking for Eamo, we jumped on a ferry as foot passengers a few days later to Brač. As the largest island in central Dalmatia, Brač is the ideal place for a day trip for some peace and quiet. We were there for most of the day and only came across a handful of people in the main town of Supetar. Although it’s so close to the mainland, there are much less tourists on Brač than the likes of Hvar. It’s absolutely stunning and provides a real insight in to authentic life on the island.

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As like most of the places we’ve been on this trip, we could have stayed so much longer, but after five days we reluctantly made our way to Krka National Park, and I couldn’t be happier that we did.  If you haven’t heard of Krka National Park just google it.

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Whilst I wandered across the boardwalk through the crystal clear water, Eamo geeked out on the Lakes history – Krka’s hydroelectric power plant was the first to harness an AC power system in Europe and second in the world, supplying power to street lights in the nearest town making it the first city in the world with street lights powered by an AC current…or something like that.

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Krka National Park was truly something to behold but our next stop, Plitvice Lakes blew our minds a little bit. One was always going to win the toss as the better lakes and Plitvice did just that.

The waters were so still and clear that they could have been glass and in crazy hot and humid heat they were asking to be swam in (although we weren’t allowed to!).

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Our final stop in Croatia was the island of Krk, where we simply chilled out for a few days. On a tiny campsite (Camping Slamni) on the western shore, we spent three days working on our tan, swimming in the refreshing cool sea and watching people cover themselves head to toe in the islands ‘healing mud’.

Croatia most definitely exceeded all expectations and although we only ended up spending two weeks in this amazing country, it was easily one of the best two weeks of our entire trip so far. I cannot wait to return to Croatia to see everything we missed this time around and to re-visit everything we didn’t.

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Shout out to our campsites in both Krka National Park and Plivice Lakes. Camping Marina in Krka and Camping Bear in Plitvice – both fantastic with everything you need and super helpful staff.

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C x

 

Distance travelled so far: 8,945 km

Days away: 237

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