Croatia is paradise on the Adriatic sea. We visited Zagreb in 2000 and fell in love with the country and vowed that the Dalmatian coast would be our next Croatian trip. The coastline is extremely popular in the height of the summer and with good reason…Croatia has spectacular sights, plenty of beaches, and fantastic weather. Cities on our agenda included Dubrovnik, Split, Trogir, Senj, Pag, Platvice National Park, Zadar, Sibenik, as well as the gorgeous island of Korcula. Despite all the Dalmatian coast hype, we were not disappointed and were truly smitten by Croatia’s natural beauty. We would not hesitate for a return trip back to Croatia.
Bill and Laverne (Robby’s dad and step mom) came to visit in August ’03, and the Dalmatian Coast was to be the highlight of their trip. They were hesitant about going because the only thing that they knew of Croatia was the war of the early 90s when Croatia fought for its independence from Yugoslavia. On our first day we flew into Dubrovnik, “Pearl of the Adriatic.” As soon as we left the airport and hit the coast, I was out of the car and snapping photos of the amazing crystal clear water. Our hotel was located about 2 miles away from the old city in a great location, overlooking the marina. After checking in we made a mad dash for the medieval walled city. Within the walls the whole city is paved with gleaming-smooth cobbled limestone. We explored the old town and then made our way up to the top of the steep walls. The heat was pretty intense as we walked the wall, but what an amazing view of the red rooftops and white stone buildings tucked within the massive stone walls that overlooked the sea and protected the city from crashing waves below. Two liters of water and three soaked t-shirts later, we climbed back down the wall to find some shade and local cuisine. We made a mistake and had dinner in the old town. It was extremely over priced, the food was non-descript and we learned our lesson.
On day two we woke early and drove down to Montenegro to visit the city of Kotor. See the Montenegro page for details. After a pleasant visit to Kotor, we were on the road again towards the Croatian cities of Ston and Mali Ston (longest stone wall in Europe). From a distance you can see an outline of the wall stretching high along the mountain side. The sun had already set when we arrived, so we just had time to make a quick drive by and headed back to Dubrovnik before dark.
On day three we drove to Mostar, Bosnia. See the Bosnia page for details. After a few hours exploring Mostar, we headed back to the Croatian city of Split, where we arrived just in time for lunch. Split is a gorgeous Croatian city and the views overlooking the water were phenomenal. The major site of Split was the very impressive Diocletian’s Palace complex, which was built in the 3rd century. The palace and its immediate surroundings make up the old town. We attempted to board a car ferry for a visit to the nearby island of Vis, but we had just missed the last ferry for the day. Next on our itinerary was the walled city of Trogir, about 10 miles west of Split. Trogir gets my vote as the favorite Croatian city. It is about half the size of Split with just as much character. In the evening we drove to our hotel in Sinj, about 20 miles north of Split.
On day four we drove north to Platvice Lakes National Park. This place was amazing. It was the highlight of the trip for Dad and Laverne because they really love nature and being outdoors. The park was a series of sixteen lakes lying in a narrow valley that spill into one another forming endless back-to-back waterfalls. The color of the lakes is a surreal aqua-green hue that looks more appropriate in the movies than in real life! After walking and taking a boat ride around all sixteen lakes you climb up above the valley for a birds-eye view of the whole park. Unbelievably beautiful, and to top off our luck, our hotel was conveniently located across the street from the entrance of the National Park.
Day five brought us to the costal city of Senj, not to be confused with the previous non-descript city of Sinj where we stayed for one night. There was a nice marina and old hilltop castle that we spent some time admiring. After Senj, we continued north to the island of Krk. This was a great island to take some nice photos of the waterfront from some high lookout points that offer fantastic views of steep cliffs that that meet the crashing waves of the sea. In the evening we returned to the Platvice Lakes hotel.
On day six we drove to the tiny bare island of Pag. It is well known for a type of cheese that is similar to Feta. It is also renowned for its traditional lace. Next we drove south to the city of Zadar, another coastal city that is fairly modern. Then we found a nice rocky beach to take a quick dip and freeze dry in the wind. Dad and Laverne were not too hip on the temperature of the water, so I have to freeze alone. While the Croatian coast looks irresistibly inviting, it is deceptively chilly even in the summer! But what a refreshing dip after baking in the sun all day long. That evening we drove farther south to the city of Sibenik to our hotel. Sibenik is similar to Dubrovnik, but does not have as much to see. The main sites that we visited were the fortress of St. Mihovil and the amazing St James Cathedral.
On day seven we headed back to Dubrovnik with a quick stop in Trogir and a few hours swimming at the beach. We arrived back to Dubrovnik earlier than expected so we found a restaurant to have a few beers and take in one last evening in paradise.