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Croatia in 3 Years – 3 Complementary Croatia Itineraries

It’s June 2020. My girlfriend – now fiancée – was purported to moved to the Czech Republic to reside with me, however right here got here an sudden impediment. As a Brit residing in Prague I used to be banned from coming into the US, and Kate was banned from coming into Europe.

Then the clouds half, Serbia opens up, and there’s a direct flight from New York to Belgrade. That’s only a nine-hour drive – plus a gnarly Hungary/Serbia border – from Prague. We make the preparations and I meet Kate, bleary-eyed from an in a single day flight, at Nikola Tesla Airport.

We don’t have a lot of a plan aside from ready until the Czechs open their borders to companions of residents and residents like they simply did for quick family, however at the very least we’re collectively. (Spoiler alert: they allowed companions of residents in late July, as a part of the #loveisnottourism initiative. However #loveisnotforpermanentresidents, and we ended up ready until late September). We guess we’ll spend a while exploring Serbia whereas persevering with to work remotely, then possibly North Macedonia?

In the long run, we had been in Serbia for a bit over two weeks. Croatia opened its borders and we didn’t want a lot convincing. With buddies and colleagues there, and it being the center of summer time, this was a unbelievable alternative to get to higher know a rustic we had each already spent quite a lot of time in.

Dubrovnik through the pandemic

Apologies for the preamble, however this was all to set the scene as to the inspiration for the Croatia in Three Years itineraries. Primarily based on my experiences mixed along with her personal deep information, our knowledgeable Croatian journey planner Lidija put these collectively.

For lots of vacationers from the US, Croatia is approached in one among two methods: a packed south-to-north itinerary, with one or two islands, or sticking to the headline acts of Dubrovnik, Cut up, and Hvar. The hazard with both method is saying “I’ve ticked Croatia off, no want to return”. The aim of those itineraries is to showcase a few of the many issues which are price going again for, and how one can take a number of bites at this Mediterranean peach, every with some acquainted flavors and a bit totally different each time.

Soar to a bit of this text

Dubrovnik, The Pearl of The Adriatic

There’s actually nowhere else to get a greater first impression of Croatia than Dubrovnik. The anticipation that has constructed up within the weeks main as much as your journey culminates at that second when your driver brings you across the nook and also you get your first in-person glimpse of the orange roofs of the walled metropolis jutting out into the azure sea. There’s nothing fairly prefer it. And on this itinerary, you’ll spend three days marveling at it from all angles.

This image shows the red rooftops of Dubrovnik with the sea in the background.
Dubrovnik’s well-known skyline

Korcula, Marco Polo’s Hometown

No first go to to Croatia could be full with out some island time, and Korcula is a high quality first island to go to. Marco Polo’s hometown, in accordance with the locals, Korcula is sort of a mini Dubrovnik. Getting past the Previous City, you may take pleasure in some unbelievable white wines from indigenous grape varieties, great seashores, and untouched nature.

This is a top-down drone shot of Korcula with its picturesque red rooftops.
Korcula looks like Dubrovnik in miniature

Cavtat, Dubrovnik’s Quiet Neighbor

To ensure you’re on the airport in time to your departing flight, it is smart to move again within the path of Dubrovnik, through the Peljesac Peninsula, and on the best way, you may pattern Croatia’s heartiest pink, Dingač. You’ll positively wish to take some dwelling! The delights proceed whereas nonetheless on Peljesac with a cease at a small family-run oyster and mussels farm. Learn the way these shellfish are cultivated and take a look at them simply moments after being pulled out of the ocean.

I wrote “path of Dubrovnik” intentionally. To your final night time, we suggest staying within the smaller coastal city of Cavtat – it’s even near Dubrovnik airport. Not solely will you get some extra time in mattress (most departures that hyperlink up with transatlantic flights have a tendency to go away within the morning), however you’ll additionally expertise this calm little city as your final reminiscence of Croatia. Till your subsequent go to that’s!

This is a panoramic view of Cavtat. There are stone houses with red-tiled roofs built among trees. In the background, there's a gorgeous beach.
Cavtat is totally picturesque

Zagreb, Croatia’s Vibrant Capital

We swap gears for the second yr. Our Yr 3 itinerary would possibly really feel a bit an excessive amount of of a direct continuation of the primary, so we’re going to indicate you some totally different features of what may appear at first look like fairly a small nation. To place it in perspective, Croatia’s only a contact smaller than West Virginia in space, and Oklahoma in inhabitants. And but the north of the nation is dramatically totally different from the south by way of panorama, delicacies, and folks.

Begin your journey in Zagreb, the nation’s political, financial, and cultural capital. Central European café tradition, a la Vienna, meets Mediterranean chill. Among the nation’s greatest meals is available in Zagreb, and it’s a very good probability to attempt a really totally different delicacies out of your journey final yr.

This is a panoramic view of Zagreb under a sunny sky dotted with beautiful clouds.
Zagreb is stuffed with life and shade

Rovinj, The Jewel of The Istrian Peninsula

Subsequent up is Rovinj, a coastal magnificence in Istria, the so-called Croatia’s Tuscany. In addition to being drop-dead beautiful in its personal proper, it’s additionally an outstanding base for day-tripping within the truffle-rich forested areas of inland Istria round Motovun and Groznjan, or to Pula, with its still-in-use Historical Roman amphitheater that’s on the UNESCO World Heritage Record.

This is a panoramic drone shot of Rovinj at sunset.
No surprise some name Rovinj a Little Venice

Zadar, Croatia’s Underrated Gem

The panorama modifications as soon as extra as you head south and inland to the Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park. Whereas technically attainable to squeeze this right into a cease on a protracted drive to your closing vacation spot, Zadar, the beauty of staying for 2 nights is that you just get to enter the park as quickly because it opens within the morning, whereas the plentiful day-trippers from Zagreb, Zadar, and Cut up don’t arrive till round 10:30 AM. Plitvice is one other of Croatia’s UNESCO websites and is a riot of vivid turquoise lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and deep inexperienced forests. Since you don’t depart until the following morning, you may take your time having fun with the park.

The ultimate cease on this itinerary is Zadar. As soon as an historic Roman metropolis, this outdated city situated on a skinny peninsula has a enjoyable vitality due to its giant – by Croatian requirements – scholar inhabitants. With one full day right here, you may both head to a different of Croatia’s nationwide parks, Krka, for some extra climbing, or go for a pleasant boat journey across the Kornati Islands shut by. Zadar’s worldwide airport is properly related with main European hubs to your onward flight dwelling.

This image shows fishing boats in a canal lined by city walls.
A sunny day in Zadar

Brač, Croatia’s Scenic Haven

Selecting up virtually the place we left off, this itinerary is a loop from Cut up, Croatia’s largest coastal metropolis. You’ll get a glimpse of Cut up, returning to it on the finish of your journey, as you go straight from the airport to the ferry port. This Croatia itinerary is all concerning the islands. The primary of which is Brač.

Brač presents a laid-back re-introduction to Croatian island life. Much less glitzy than Hvar, it’s nonetheless wealthy in seashores, significantly essentially the most well-known seashore within the nation, Zlatni Rat, or Golden Horn in English. The pleasure of the island is its stone. The distinctive white Brač stone remains to be quarried and was used within the development of the White Home.

This is a top-down drone shot of Zlatni Rat Beach. There's a narrow piece of white-sanded land and insanely turquoise waters.
The otherworldly Zlatni Rat Seaside in Brač

Hvar, Europe’s Sunniest Island

From Brač, a brief ferry experience will take you to Hvar. Simply Croatia’s most well-known island, Hvar has a celebration status, however peace and quiet are straightforward to return by. A guided hike or an island tour in a 4×4 is a good way to get a really feel of how locals reside. Wine lovers will benefit from the island’s Plavac Mali, a relative of Californian Zinfandel. No journey to Hvar is full and not using a cruise across the Pakleni archipelago. Your skipper is aware of all the perfect bays and a wonderful place for lunch.

This is a drone shot of tiny islands dotting the sea.
Cruising across the Pakleni islands, near Hvar

Vis, Croatia’s Attractive Hidden Treasure

When staying in Hvar, many individuals take a complete day boat journey to see the Vis Blue Cave. What they’re lacking by doing that is exploring the island of Vis itself. Vis is particular and that’s why we’ve chosen to allocate essentially the most nights to it. Vis has a novel historical past. It’s been of navy significance for hundreds of years – the British constructed a fort right here – and it even has historic Roman ruins. Through the Yugoslavia years, it was a fortress island. These days, you may discover the gun placements and even the tunnel {that a} submarine might slip into. A driving tour of the island with a cease at a family-owned vineyard will take you to all these plus Komiza, a fishing village on the opposite facet of the island.

Apart from the navy historical past, there’s the compulsory Blue Cave journey. Nevertheless, you get to mix that with the Inexperienced Cave and a seashore and swim cease, circumnavigating the island, reasonably than the hurried method of visiting the Blue Cave from Hvar.

This image shows small wooden fishing boats resting on the crystal clear waters. The shore is lined by traditional stone houses with colorful doors and shutters.
Surrendering to the magic of Vis

Cut up, Croatia’s Summer time Capital

Your three years of Croatian travels come to an finish in Cut up. Keep throughout the partitions of the Previous City and select a lodge constructed throughout the ruins of a retired Roman emperor’s palace. Take in the wealthy historical past that’s Croatia, from antiquity as much as the folks artwork and costumes within the best ethnographic museum within the nation. Stroll alongside the Riva promenade, and take your final glances on the perfection of the Adriatic. For now at the very least.

You’ll must stand up very early to see Previous City Cut up this empty. This was round 2 pm on an August afternoon in 2020.

Fast Hyperlinks to all Three Itineraries

Dovidenja – Until We Meet Once more

Now you might have a stable top-to-bottom information of Croatia, you may come again and fill in a few of the different gaps, or see a few of your favourite locations once more. I do know Kate and I’ll as there’s at all times one thing new to fascinate us in Croatia. And, then, there are all these reminiscences that may by no means cease bringing us again to the Land of a Thousand Islands for extra.

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