Croatia had been high on my list for some time, as one of my best friends has familial ties to the country and always had the most amazing stories and photos. After finally finishing graduate school, I wanted to treat myself to a wonderful vacation, and I couldn’t think of a better time to visit Croatia with my best friend. We took off in the height of the tourist season in August and island hopped our way down the coast, visiting Split, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik and Cavtat. Croatia will be a two-part post, with Monday’s featuring Split and Hvar. Stay tuned on Thursday for the remainder of the itinerary!
With a stunning coastline offering beautiful views and the warm Mediterranean sea coupled with pristine national parks and heritage sites, Croatia is becoming the go-to summer destination for Europeans and international travelers alike. Despite recent historical events including the fall of Yugoslavia, Croatian people have a well-deserved sense of national pride and welcome tourists to visit their amazing country.
There are many international airports in Croatia with Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split offering the most flights. From the US, you will most likely need to connect through another European city but the extra effort is worth it. If you are looking to make a longer trip out of visiting multiple islands and places, try flying into one airport and out of another to create your itinerary in between. For example, I flew into Split and continually traveled south to fly out of Dubrovnik.
Unlike most other European countries, the train is not the ideal way to get around. The bus is accessible from most cities and renting a car is quite common. However, the best and easiest way to get to and from the islands is via the ferry, with Jadrolinija being the biggest provider. The ferries run most frequently in the summer and it is wise to keep traveling in one direction (I only moved south) as the timetables will be most advantageous. The best website I found was croatiaferries.com to help build your trip. If you are traveling in the busy months (July and August), be sure to book ahead!
Split is one of the most popular places to visit in Croatia and features an urban environment along the Dalmatian Coast.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Diocletian Palace takes up the majority of the old town. Built in the 4th century AD, the grounds are now the most visited place in Split with various gates to enter through. If you walk through the Bronze Gate, you will be in the underground basements where you will find exhibitions and craft souvenir stands. On the other side of the basement is the central piazza called Peristyle where you can see two of the original Egyptian sphinxes. Here you will also see the Cathedral of St Domnius where you can climb to the top for some great views. Take your time walking around through all the gates! There is plenty to see.
The perfect place to visit for a drink at sunset (the second floor of Caffe Bar St Riva is recommended), the Riva Promenade has all the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops you would need. Stroll from the east side green market to the water fountains on the west side.
Start the day off with a nice hike at Marjan Hill, a popular recreational spot for locals. The views are worth it at the top and you can relax at the café bar Vidilica for a worthy refreshment.
With so much to do in the town, you forget that Split is right on the water. Visit the many beaches, including the most popular Bacvice.
Eats & Drinks
Grab a pillow and sit on the stairs with a coffee or a drink and enjoy the view of the piazza at Luxor Café.
A modern restaurant with stylish interiors, this restaurant offers contemporary European food.
Just outside the city walls, Paradox is a great wine bar with a charcuterie plate to write home about.
Uje Oil Bar
A newer restaurant to the scene, Uje Oil Bar has the best Dalmatian dishes made with local ingredients.
For the clubbers out there, this is the place to see and be seen.
While I stayed in an AirBnB while in Split, there are many options for lodging. Split has everything from 5-star resorts to “apartment” hotels, which are the most common.
A more lux island, Hvar has upscale beach clubs and yachts abound.
Hvar has a bit more of a party vibe and there are numerous beach clubs to get a lounge chair, enjoy the water while sipping on a cocktail. The two most popular are Bonj Le Bains and Hula Hula.
A climb to reach the top, the views of the island are second to none. Be sure to stroll through the gardens and read about the history on the walls.
St. Stephen’s Square:
The main piazza in town, visit St. Stephen’s many local shops and cafes. You will be sure to find beautiful jewelry and lavender abound. The Cathedral is located in this square as well.
Eats & Drinks
A casual spot, have some of the best fresh fish at Macondo.
Take a water taxi to St Klement and book a table on the terrace of Zori – you won’t regret it.
Take in the views at the Top Bar at the Adriana Hotel.
One of the more popular clubs in town, Carpe Diem is a bit pricey but offers a rowdy atmosphere.
I stayed at Hotel Croatia which I highly recommend to be a bit more secluded from the town.
Have you ever been to Croatia? What was your favorite part? Did I miss anything?
I’d love to hear from you!
xx Jet Set Steph