Best 10 Day Itinerary To Visit Croatia

8 Oct

Visiting The Cute Peoples of Croatia
What began as a simple google search on a lazy Sunday Texas afternoon to find travel destinations soon became one of the best trips we have taken in a long time. This post details our travels in, through and along the beautiful sun soaked coast of Croatia. 11 days could not have been spent any better in a country with sweeping views of calm waters cradled by strong ragged arms of the mountains along the coastline. This is our story of the 10 day trip through the country, true to its motto – is full of life.
Day 1: We boarded in Austin, connected via Chicago, Frankfurt and flew into Zagreb, capital of Croatia. We rented our car through careurope and were off to the Hilton in central Zagreb. Having arrived on a Sunday, there wansnt much open around the Hilton, given it was located in the business district. The hotel staff directed me to super market Konzum that was more or less a Walmart. With food in the system and ready to head out, we ubered it to the historic district.
Our first stop was the musem of broken relationships. Its a funny and quirky museum that has artifacts donated by people who were heartbroken and were looking to share it. While some were funny, others were a bit more serious, nonetheless, you get a chance to read their story. We asked the cashier at the museum for any places we could eat at closeby and she recommended Mali Medo on restaurant row (Ivana Tkalcica). Just as we were about to head out – it started to pour and we mean heavy rain. We braved out the next break and made dash for it, made it to the restaurant and dined on some beer and pizza. We had only read about the coffee culture in Croatia and where people watching was the national past-time. This street really spelled that out for us. Like all other places to follow, one after another in a row, patio seating with a coffee bar in the background, Croatians gather socially, consume coffee, converse and simply watch people go by. It does take a little getting used to, being looked at by almost every person in the cafe, cafe after cafe. Soon we would indulge in this past time – and believe me!! its a whole lot of fun.
Closer to midnight now, we decided to head back and with no ubers or taxis in sight, we decided to take the train. We jumped on the train we thought was the right one but decided to jump off prematurely. Realizing we were lost, we asked a young lady who whipped out her phone and in 3 bits of english, graciously and shyly explained us to follow her on the next train. We were impressed by how unreluctant she was to help us. We made our way to the back of the train and asked another young girl who gooogled it and confirmed our direction. She was smiling unstoppably and a bit conscious while explainig directions and our upcoming stop. We would soon realize, this is normally how Croatians engage with foreigners and it was an overwhelming feeling of cuteness that we felt with each interaction – Hence the title of the blog!!
Day 1:
The next day felt like the start of the vacation, now that the phones were off the grid, we were planning the day’s events in the am. We missed the Dolac (farmers market) due to a late start but heard it was one of the must-dos. May be next time. We head back to the “Statue of ban Josip Jelacic” to check out the cathedral behind it. Our next stop was food. We decided to stop by at Lari and Penati for lunch. Decent place, tried their horse meat salad and pork (that could have been cooked better, but tasty regardless. After the food, we did what any normal couple would do I think, split up and go shopping on Ilica which is their version of main street. There are tons of designer stores, gelato kiosks and every avenue has patio style seating for some kava. One such place was Tesla’s cafe. A very ecclectic place in honor of Nikola Tesla who was born in modern day Croatia. It was that time of the day to head back and start our journey to Zadar.
The drive from Zagreb to Zadar was scenic, especially with the tunnels that you go through. We stayed at Hotel Pinija <link>, We weren’t impressed with the hotel which appears to have discovered the wonders of photoshop when posting its pictures online. Hindsight, we should have booked in Zadar since this was 30 mins further north of Zadar.
Day 2: Got breakfast in the restaurant and hit the road to Plitvice National Park. Plitvice best described is the garden where God probably goes on vacation. We had never seen anything so beautiful. Several waterfalls, in a series, one after another, trying to outdo each other as if it were a beauty contest. This was paradise on earth, literally like the images you see growing up in fictional novels and comics. We decided to do the route that took us through the lower lakes, boat ride to the upper lakes and back. We remember clocking close to 25000 steps that day on our fitbits, hiking through the trailways. Highly recommend it. On our way back we ate at a Chinese restaurant – the only one in plitvice of 3 other Croatian restaurants. We drove back to Zadar to checkout the sea organ which to our dismay had been shipped to Amsterdam for repairs. We then sat by the pier hoping to glimpse the sunset but the cloudy weather prevented it. We grabbed dinner at a fast food joint Nana’s and drove back to Zadar.
Day 3: Breakfast, checkout and we were on our way to Split. A very scenic drive as you drive by the coastline. We decided to take the old non-toll road to make the most of the coastline. Hungry around lunch, we were passing by this place called Promestan and an agri-tourism place popped up. We lunched at Saricevi Dvori. A famer, vintner turned chef. Its the same concept of farm-to-table except that the agriculturist hosts you at their farmhouse with produce foraged from lands you can see right in front of you. We arrived at Le Meriden Split, Lav and boy was there a downpour. We returned the car and walked a couple of blocks to Dicoletians Museum. For you game of thrones fans, this is where Deanerus keeps her dragons. We walked around the palace a bit, waited for the rains to let up, visited the tourism office to figure ferries to Hvar and Vis. We shopped a bit around the old city, walked the streets and caught dinner at Nostromo. Its a restaurant that kept coming up on all online itineraies. This was our first whole grilled fish. The server comes out with a tray of fresh fish and you can pick the one you want grilled. We took a cab back to the hotel and enjoyed the view from our patio until we fell asleep.
Day 4: Today was our day trip to Hvar. We missed our outbound ferry to Hvar on Kapetan Luka’s because it was outside our vacation waking hours (7am). We hung around till the next ferry Jardolinia arrived that slowly trudged its way to Hvar. Once in Hvar, we lunched at Cafe Meneba and then trekked up to the old fort. It was a great view of the islands from the fort, then walked the Riva which is Hvar’s riverwalk. Hvar reminded us a lot of Miami but a little more laid back and European. Back at Split, we dined at Konoba Insula that introduced us to the Brodet – Think fish curry in croatian. Some gelato to top it off and we back in the hotel
Day 5: We arrived at Vis late afternoon, checked into our beautiful Airbnb that was one of those homes you see in the architecture magazines. We decided to stay in the small fishing village of Kut that is a 20 min walk from the port of Vis. It was way more quaint than we expected it to be and we seemed to be one among 20 other tourists on the island besides the locals. We walked down to the Riva and grabbed some dinner at Konoba Vitrika. We made full use of the Patio and looked at the boats dock until it was time to sleep
Day 6: After a long walk in the morning, poolside nap, we set out to explore Vis. Walking down the riva, old cemetery and gelato in hand, we caught some pizza at ( pizza place). Dinner was at Konoba Tezok that had some greek influence on the menu.
Day 7: The next day we rented a scooter and drove to the other side of the island to komiza while checking out some of the beaches along the way including stoncica, Milna, zaglav, sreberna, stiniva. Stiniva also known as green cave was spectacular. The climb down and up was quite strenuous though, especially with bees chasing us uphill. Of the beaches we checked out, stoncica was too small with some floating trash while Milna was basically dirty. Sreberna is what we would highly recommend. Lunch at pojoda was the highlight of the trip with the best Brodet we ate. Dinner at konoba bako was mediocre at best.
Day 8: not having gotten enough of the beach the previous we went back to sreberna beach and lazed the morning out. Guess it was the closure we were looking for to end the best part of our trip so far. We had lunch at another agri-tourism konoba called Golub where the fresh grilled lamb left us craving for more. By now we were on an agri-tourism role and took up the recommendation of our cab driver to eat at Darko’s. We placed an order in ahead of us arriving for a lamb peka. Delicious lamb stew cooked in a broth with fresh vegetables. With heavy hearts we sailed away towards Split, rented our car and drove down to Dubrovnik. This drive is by far the most scenic and should not be missed. The terrain changes rapidly making the drive seem surreal. Also dont be surprised passing through 20 miles of Bosnia. We stopped along the way at Hotel Merlot to grab some dinner.
Day 9: We started the day early and checked out the old city. While there were several Game of Thrones tours online and in the courtyard under the old fort, we took the first one we found. It was a great tour and our guide Ivan was entertaining. Among the famous scenes, we saw the red keep, the pier, the riots scene, Goffreys naming ceremony, Little finger’s power talk with Cersei and ended with the shocking walk of shame stairs by the cathedral. We then walked the city walls and had dinner at one of the local joints. By the way noticed that a lot of extras from the show have now found a new occupation as tour guides. Next time we will probably find one of these folks since they seems quite intimate with the details and side stories that our guide wasnt aware of.
Day 10: Started early with heavy brunch and head straight to the docks to get ourselves on a boat to Locrum island. We saw the monastery that was the filming location for additional game of thrones scenes. We head back to the Cable cars, got ourselved up the hill and watched the sunset over some glasses of wine at the hilltop restaurant. We stopped by Lady Pi-Pi that we had spotted the earlier day with a long line and figured it was as a good place to eat at. They seat outdoors only and cancel if there is rain. As luck would have it, it started raining but the staff noticed we were persistent and let the last 6 of us eat at the chef’s table in the kitchen since everyone left. Life’s lessons: persistence pays. We walked back with a borrowed umbrella from Pi-Pi in torrential rain after a bottle of wine and were soaking wet by the time we came back. Realizing we had a flight to catch in 4 hours since then, we setup close to 15 alarms, actually woke up on the 12th and hopped in a cab, glanced one last time at the magnificence of the fort that withstood weathers of time and but not lost its glory against the morning purple sky. We knew it was time to head back home when a feeling on contenment filled us over and strange sort of numbness took over. I guess our vacation was now full.

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