It’s not even 8pm and it is already dark outside. I am sitting at home on my couch, sipping tea and trying to cure the inevitable cold I get each year when summer turns to autumn and temperatures drop. What better moment to think back to the awesome summer we had this year! If you are already thinking about next year’s summer vacation let me give you five reasons for spending your precious leisure time in beautiful Croatia.
1. Because Split is just beautiful
Split is Croatia’s second biggest city and features one of the most beautiful historical sites I have ever seen: Diocletian’s palace. Built in 305 CE as a retirement home for the Roman Emperor Diocletian it has been claimed Unesco world heritage site in 1979 and now houses lots of restaurants, shops and a few apartments. When visiting Split take your time to explore all the narrow streets and the amazing architecture. It is both beautiful by day and at night.
If you are looking for a good view of the city – just like the one on the header picture – you can walk up Marjan Hill. It’s an easy hike, although it can get quite exhausting when it’s hot outside. Try to plan a route across the Marjan Hill area that passes by Joe’s beach bar. It’s the perfect place to grab an iced coffee or a bulgur salad and just chill out. Don’t forget your swimsuit and be aware that you need to pay to use the loungers on the beach – we kind of “forgot” and had to pay 150 Kuna, which amounts to approximately 25 Euro. Oooups.
A good place to stay in Split is Azur Palace – it is located very close to the city center but very quiet. It is both stylish and cozy and features a rather little, but very delicious breakfast buffet. The coffee they serve in the morning is really good and the eggs will be prepared freshly according to your wishes (for me: scrambled with mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese). Check out the picture below; the dining room has a boat strapped to its ceiling!
Two other beautiful cities we visited are Zadar and Trogir. The historic city of Trogir is another one of Croatia’s many Unesco World Heritage sites and quite nice, but I liked Zadar even more. Why? Because Zadar has two spectacular art-installations at the seaside: the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation. You can hear and see the Sea Organ here – although nothing compares to the real-life experience on site. The same goes for the Sun Salutation, which “consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates placed on the same level with the stone-paved waterfront in the shape of a 22-meter diameter circle with photo-voltage solar modules underneath” (thank you, Wikipedia).
2. Because nature will take your breath away
Before traveling to Croatia I knew nearly nothing about this country – but I noticed that most of my friends had already been there and spoke very fondly about their vacation in the various places they travelled to. Upon asking what they liked most about Croatia most of them told me: “The nature.” Now I can confirm: they were right.
Croatia has eight national parks and about ten nature parks. The one that is best known is called Plitvice Lakes and it is also one of the oldest and largest national parks in the country. We of course had to go there and thankfully two of our travel-loving friends who had already been there recommended an awesome Bed and Breakfast that we booked straight away. Nena’s B+B is located directly in the national park very close to its famous waterfalls and boasts a natural charme. If you decide to stay there you definitely have to try the dinner that Nena is preparing freshly each day – it is just delicious (we had trout on the first night and lamb on the second, both unbelievably tasty)!
Two important remarks for your stay at Plitvice: Swimming is prohibited and the food that you can purchase in the park is just aweful. So use the room in your backpack to pack some nuts, homemade sandwiches and fruits to make it through the day healthy.
3. Because the food is great
For me one of the most essential things about a vacation is the food. I would never book a trip to a country that does not serve good food (which is why I have not been to Iceland yet…). Food-wise Croatia has not disappointed me: We ate very well without exception. For your stay in Split I can recommend three different locations specifically:
- The best coffee in Split is served at D16 coffee. Since you know that I am pretty picky about coffee you can trust me with this – they also serve a delicious cold brew.
- For some traditional Dalmatian cuisine make a reservation at Kod Sfinge. This restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and serves an amazing Pasticada (homemade Gnocchi with beef in a special sauce).
- Since there is always room for ice-cream head over to Luka and get yourself the best ice-cream you have ever tasted! Seriously. They have the craziest flavors (lavender for example) and I personally got addicted to their chocolate-icecream because it was just so creamy. Thank God I don’t live in Split otherwise I would go there every day.
4. Because people are friendly and the service is great
This is a quick but important one: Compared to other countries I have been to before the people in Croatia are very friendly and focused on service. As a tourist you will be treated extremely courteous – not only in hotels, but also in restaurants and shops.
5. Because there are so many Unesco World heritage sites
Croatia has ten cultural and natural Unesco World Heritage sites, three of them being Diocletian’s Palace, Plitvice Lakes and the historic city of Trogir as we have just learnt. For a complete list check out Wikipedia and plan your very own trip with your own highlights. I personally would like to visit Dubrovnik some time, because unfortunately it did not fit into the route we had planned this year.
So what are the two reasons for not going?
- It is sooo crowded! If you decide to travel to Croatia in summer, July and August might not be the best months to do so. Try to go there off-season in order to avoid the masses of tourists that we encountered in the beginning of August.
- It is sooo expensive! It probably had to do with the high season, but we were shocked how expensive everything was. Not just hotels or restaurants, also entrance fees and parking fees were similar to what you pay in Frankfurt’s city center. So plan your holiday budget accordingly if you are not willing to make cuts while you’re traveling.