I have visited Croatia during my New Year holiday and this place is still fresh in my mind. Although I have not visited even half of Europe, undoubtedly this country is of the trendiest and hyped place to visit. Trust me, this place with its magical essence lives up to all the excitement. The flight fares of Croatia are low as compared to the neighbouring countries which makes this place a desired tourist destination. Croatia is truly picturesque and gives you the eternal European feel with the heritage buildings and vibrant locations.
I planned my itinerary for four days, but definitely you can spend 10 days to cover most of recommended places. I traveled from Amsterdam via Croatian Airlines .
Following is my travel itinerary in Croatia encompassing 3 Nights and 4 days:
Dubrovnik has some of the best attractions in this beautiful country and is a must visit if you plan to see Croatia. It is in the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and is also known as “Pearl of Adriatic”. This beautiful walled city is famously known as Kings Landing, as the popular HBO series Game of Thrones has been shot here and there are multiple guided tours for Game of Throne fans. I noticed the entire town is full of pubs and roadside cafes and tourists mostly hang around in the Old Town. This city is full of adorable friendly stray cats.
Although the best time to visit this old town European city is during the summers (April –Aug) but we were not disappointed as end of December recorded an average temperature of 10 degrees and it was pretty crowded even during the off season. If you are planning to take the island tours, summer is the best time as most of the island tours are closed during winter.
Where to Stay
Name – Apartment Royale (for 4 persons)
Location – Pile Gate, City Center (Old Town)
Tariff (Depends on travel month) – Euro 178 (2 nights)
I personally recommend staying inside the city fortress. I loved the location of this hotel and it was a wonderful stay. It gave us a fairy tale feel in the morning when we saw the old city walls from our window. As we had a kitchen, we cooked food which made the tariff reasonable.
What to eat
Restaurant- St. Blaise
Location – Old Town
Cost – 300 Kuna for 3 people
Menu – Fried Prawns, Chicken schnitzel and Chicken burger
Food quality was great, especially the prawns were mouth-watering.
We reached Dubrovnik during 4 pm in the evening on Day 1 where we enjoyed the X-Mas décor and live concerts in the old town. We started our day after we had a wonderful breakfast by this wonderful restaurant by the bus stand just by Adriatic Sea Cliff. I don’t have the name of the restaurant but have these lovely breakfast pictures.
Second day’s trip included the below locations.
Cable Car Ride – SRD Hill
Tariff – 150 Kuna per head
Next in our to-do list was the Cable Car Ride as the cable car takes up to 412 meters and the city view is exceptional from the cliff top.
There is a museum and a restaurant on the cliff top, which I didn’t visit but the view was lovely and the sunshine added an extra dimension to this splendid panoramic view. It took us around an hour to complete the cable car ride and we were back to take the city wall tour.
City Walking Tour
Tariff – 120 Kuna per person
The old city of Dubrovnik which is covered by 25m high city walls and the entire city tour is approx. 4 kms, this walk will give you the entire sea side view of Dubrovnik. These walls were built during the 17th century to protect the city from the pirates. This walk will have numerous places where Game of Thrones (GOT) was shot. If you are a GOT fan, you can also opt for the guided tour.
You can also plan the GOT Guided Tour using the below link
Price – 150 USD per head
Duration – 2-3 hours
This tour will also include the island of Lokrum (City of Quarth from GOT Season 2) and there is an Iron Throne replica in the Lokrum visitor center as well.
As the island tour was unavailable, we missed Lokrum but we did locate a GOT merchandise store fan store in the city center which was closed.
Lovrijenac Fortress Tour
This is extension of the City walking tour but you need to cross the city walls to reach this fortress. I didn’t find this castle much appealing, it had multiple locations where GOT was shot.
The most popular and centrally located beach in Dubrovnik is Banje. The crystal clear blue water will take your heart away. Although it was end of December, couldn’t resist myself from taking a bath in the deep blue sea.
There are multiple city gates to enter the Old Town, don’t forget to visit the back entrance “Ploce Gate” which has the boats for the city tour and island tour. It is 10 Euros per person for 50 mins and it is highly recommended.
We hired a car from the Dubrovnik airport and started on an early drive from Dubrovnik to Spilt. It is 3 hours’ drive (230 kms approx.) and you will enjoy every bit of the journey. We reached Spilt around 11 am in the morning, it is a beautiful city. I feel in love with this city’s undying essence. It had a strange resemblance with Cannes. I only had one day in Split but it was a mistake, you should spend minimum three days in this charming city. Again if you are Game of Thrones fan, Split is Meeran and Bravos in this popular series. As I had only one day these are the places I covered in the short whirlwind tour.
Where to Stay
Name – Best of Split Apartment
Address – 3 Bosanska Street
Tariff – Euro 63 per night for 3 people
This was another superb choice. This apartment had an awesome location and it was beautiful. This also came with a Kitchen where we cooked a lovely dinner.
Diocletian’s Palace (Old Town)
Entry – Free
This is the biggest landmark and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 1700-year-old Citadel that dominates this city. It seems like this palace covers the entire City due to its never-ending structure. We reached Split after a long drive but when we saw this monument the tiredness was replaced was by amazement when we reached this palace.
Make sure you don’t miss the famous statue of ‘Gregory of Nin’ constructed by prominent Croatian modern sculpture Ivan Mestrovic, he traveled throughout Europe and studied the ancient works of Michelangelo and other Renaissance painters. Gregory lived in 10th century in Zagreb (Croatian Capital). He was visionary known for his patriotism and he promoted saving of the local language. It is a beautiful sculpture, but you will notice one of his toes shine with an unique colour. It is a bizarre myth that if you rub his toe, it will bring good luck to your life.
Cathedral of Saint Domnius
Entry – 20 Kuna per person
This is a beautiful tower if you aren’t afraid of heights. This was built during the 4th century. The climb to reach the tower top is steep and tough but the city view from the top of this tower is panoramic and mesmerizing. We visited this tower during the sunset. It was an amazing view but you must be prepared for the wind.
Riva Promenade Walk
Riva is undoubtedly the heart of this Croatian city with an idyllic coastline. After completing the city tour this is the best place to relax. It is a river side walk strewn with coffee shops and ice cream parlous, lined with palm trees on either side.
Given its coastal location, Croatia has some exotic beaches. The nearest beach to the city is the Bavice beach which is one of the most popular beaches in Split. The Banje beach was one of the best beaches which I have visited recently but Bavice had a different story to share. The beach was full of night clubs and cafes which make this place lively after sunset. You can easily spend an evening with the wonderful surroundings and the shallow water is also an enjoyable experience if you swim. If you have time Kasuni, Kastelet and Jezinac Beaches are all fantastic options to visit.
Game of Thrones Merchandise Shop
Location – 10 Bosanska Street
This is an Official HBO licensed shop but the souvenirs are overpriced. The best part is the Iron Throne Replica where you can take fancy pictures.
Our last destination was around 3 hours’ drive from Split (250Kms approx.). We started an early morning drive as we had a long hectic drive ahead of us.
National Park Entry Fee – 55 Kuna per person and 7 Kuna for parking per hour
This place is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of overall 16 interconnected lakes and over 90 waterfalls. Although a lot of blogs suggested December isn’t the season to visit this waterfall but it was serene experience for us. The prediction was snowfall and when we reached the national park, it was snow-capped and it was nature at its best. I have never seen or experienced snowfall like this before. I recall my last snowfall experience was in Mount Buller (Australia) which was more of artificial snowfall for ski and tourist attraction. I was completely rejuvenated post completing this walking trail in the fairy tale waterfall park. I couldn’t believe I walked 3 hours in snowfall and it was an overwhelming experience of completing this trail. Google suggested this national park itself draws around 1 million tourists every year and is the most visited site in Croatia and the hype is worth every bit of it.
This gorgeous waterfall took my heart. I want to visit this dense raw forest again during the summers. There were 8 different hiking trails which you can follow, we followed the 5 KM walking trail for 2-3 hours walk. This entire hiking depends on how much time you have and how much you enjoy hiking.
As this is a long walk, it is recommended you carry some food and water with you. The view is indescribably beautiful with the waterfall pouring into the turquoise colored water of the lake. The entire trail is accessible on wooden foot blocks and shuttle buses are available every 20 mins which would take you from the trail end to the main entrance number 2 next to the Upper Lakes. A boat ride is also included in the entry fee which is available every at 30 minutes interval.
We started from Plitvice around 3 PM in the afternoon and drove to Dubrovnik which was 5 hours from there.
As we planned to stay in Dubrovnik for the fireworks, we stayed in the below hotel. This was a very good accommodation but I would prefer Hotel Royale if I visit Dubrovnik again.
Where to Stay
Hotel – Garden Oasis
Address – Pile Gate Dubrovnik
Tariff – Euro 85 per night
We reached Dubrovnik around 7 PM in the evening and it was packed due to New Year’s Eve. There was a live performance going on and the environment was electrifying. The fireworks started at sharp midnight and it was a lovely night to celebrate the New Year in Kings Landing. We had an early morning flight on 1st Jan 2019 back to our work life.
I hope this blog will be helpful for you if you are planning a Croatia trip soon.