You should be already convinced that Croatia is gorgeous. It combines nature and culture in an unique way. Part 2 of our Croatia itinerary led us to the most touristy side of the country. This is also more famous as there are some of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. Let’s continue!
Day 5: Sibenik – Krka – Trogir – Split
The next morning is perfect for a visit to another national park in Croatia, Krka. Sibenik is only 13 km away from Lozovac, one of the entrances of the park and the only one where you can park for free. From there, after you pay for the entrance, a bus will take you into the park.
This is far less crowded than Plitvice and you can swim in the lake at the base of the largest waterfall, Skradinski Buk. It is a wonderful experience, but be prepared for the big fish that will seem next to you. I was not informed in advance, got scared when one of them touched my leg and scratched a little in one of the rocks.
This park was not only intended as a place to admire nature. Krka also has many cultural and historical monuments such as fortresses and Roman settlements and an ethnographic village where you can find out more about mills, smithery, weaving, and traditional clothes.
As you drive to Split, make a stop for lunch and a stroll in Trogir, another UNESCO site. Visit the Kamerlengo fortress, St. Lawrence Cathedral, The Bell Tower, the seafront promenade and the streets of the old town. You can climb either the tower or the fortress for some beautiful views of the town below and the sea. Trogir is built on a tiny island and can be included in even the fastest itinerary. It should be perfect for a lazy afternoon after the fun you had in the morning.
Spend the night in Split and explore it in the morning, when it is less crowded.
Day 6: Split
I had great expectations from Split and was a little disappointed by it. I can not say that it is not beautiful or that you should not visit it, but lower your expectations. This was the most crowded place I visited in Croatia, more crowded than Dubrovnik and Plitvice. The narrow streets and the heat only made it worse. Also, it smells bad and the streets were dirty and uncared for. Do yourself a favor and start your tour as early as possible.
Split is a great opportunity to go to the market for some fresh fruit. The fish market is also incredibly well stocked. Even if you are not going to buy fish, enjoy people-watching there, as well as on the gorgeous Riva promenade.
Diocletian’s 1700 years old palace is a living museum. I was surprised to find out that it is not a building by itself, but an entire quarter. It is there where you will find the majority of the must-see sights. The heart of the palace is the Peristyle, a narrow square next to the cathedral. All the touristic tours begin and end here, including a free tour at 11 o’clock. Also, this is the place where you can see the emperor say hello to the people daily at noon.
The streets of the old town are a real maze and it is very easy to get lost. Download a map of it in .pdf from Split tourist board website. Try to find the narrow street “Let Me Pass” that claims the title of the narrowest street in Europe. Hard to say if this is true or not, as there are several streets in Europe that claim this title. It still makes for an interesting walk. A ticket that includes entrance to the Cathedral, crypt, Temple of Jupiter, the tower and Tresorery costs 45 kuna and is the best deal you can make. If you buy them separately, climb the tower alone will cost you 20 kuna. For a nice overview of the town, climb the 300 step to the top of the Marjan hill. After tour and lunch, pick one of the beaches close to the old town and have fun.
Day 7: Split-Dubrovnik
In the morning prepare for a 3 hours ride in order to get to Dubrovnik. If you want to explore Mostar on your way there, which I strongly recommend, it will take even longer, obviously. It will add to your trip about 1 hour and a half, plus the duration of the stay there.
Dubrovnik is so photogenic that you could almost shoot blind and still get something interesting. Whatever you do, do not climb the walls of the old town at midday. Better climb them after 17 o’clock. The heat will bearable and there will be fewer people. More than 50% of the tourists get to Dubrovnik by cruise or on day trips. They will leave at around4 pm and that’s the time when you want to get on the narrow walls. A tour will take about one hour and a half. This is the best place to look at both the old town and the beaches and bars outside the walls that cling on top of the sea. One of the most popular is Buza Bar.
The entire old town is a living museum. Pass through the Pile Gate, walk along the Stradun, the widest street, visit the churches, watch the locals and the tourists, marvel at the fact that there is even a Christmas shop in the old town that, yes, counts the day till Christmas, enjoy a coffee, look for the places where Game of Thrones was filmed and don’t forget that people actually live there. Don’t overdo with the noise and respect their privacy.
Day 8: Dubrovnik
The sad moment has come. Dubrovnik is the perfect place to say goodbye to this beautiful country. Stay as long as you can in this lovely city, buy the last souvenirs, take a minute to remember the best moments of your trip and go back home.
I can’t remember the name of the restaurants where I’ve eaten, but I know some of the dishes that I tasted and would recommend: pasta with truffles, oysters, black risotto, pizza and a lot of seafood. That is fresh and well cooked on the entire Adriatic coast.
You will want a memory from your trip. A magnet might do, but something traditional sound much more appealing. I have a few suggestions that might help you bring home the perfect souvenirs for you and your loved ones without making a hole in the budget.
- The cravat (tie) is a Croatian invention and an element of national heritage. The necktie even gets its own day on the 18th of October.
- Surprisingly, a sort of gingerbread is not only traditional but also inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It would make for a cute and sweet souvenir. Traditionally, it has the shape of a heart, bright red color, and ornaments made out of sugar mixture and mirrors.
- Croatia is one of the most productive countries when it comes to lavender. Due to the Mediterranean climate, it grows in several regions of the country. Decorative bags with purple lavender will get in your way on your trip more often than in Provence.
- Salt is a valuable resource of this country. As you visit Nin, you can check the factory and the products. You might want to grab a jar of bath salt or toothpaste for home. Or maybe some chocolate 🙂
- Rakiya or wine
- If you want something more expensive, but also more unique, you can splurge on lace from the island of Pag or Hvar or wooden toys made at the north of Zagreb. Both crafts are on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
I can’t say enough what an incredible place Croatia is. We definitely want to go back someday. I look forward to experiencing island hopping next time, but I’m really with the road trip that we did. I hope our itinerary will help some of you too.
If you want to read part 1 of our Croatia Itinerary you can check it out here.