Last year our destination was Croatia. There were a lot of firsts for us on this trip. Renting a car for the entire time was one and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. We covered over 100 miles with most of it being coastal highway with amazing views of the Adriatic.
The little Ford Fiesta wrapped around the windy roads for 10 days for under $300. The rental company brought the car to the Split ferry port and let us drop it off at the Dubrovnik airport - no extra charge. The Croatian landscape could not have been seen the same way from a train or plane. Amazing.
Let me back up for a minute. We actually started this trip in Italy. We then took a train from Milan to Anacona and jumped on an overnight discount ferry - which is one of those firsts I mentioned. These ships are huge hauling cars, large cargo and passengers. We had a shitty little room with bunk beds and dirty sheets and some passengers just slept on the deck in chairs. Don’t let that happy selfie of us mislead you. It was a nightmare and I was totally sleep deprived when we arrived in Croatia… but I did get to shower and brush my teeth in privacy. There was one fun little bit - I found out my name means Soup in some foreign language …
The ferry was taking us to Split where we would pick up our car and head to our first stop - Plitvice Lakes National Park - about two hours north. It was one of the most beautiful places we had ever been - full of waterfalls, caves and lakes. The lake water is this amazing blue. I took over 200 pictures here because every turn I was even more awestruck.
We had such a perfect time here. We stayed at a B&B that was so cute and allowed me to catch up on the much needed sleep. They also served us a homemade dinner that may have just been one of the best meals I’ve ever had - all for $40! I should also mention staying at Plitvice Miric Inn was only $60 a night!
We stayed in Plitvice for two nights then we headed west to the coast. The island of Rab was a little under three hours away. The views of the Adriatic was breathtaking. We took the Fiesta on its first ferry ride to get to the island. It was a quick ride - just about 30 minutes. A car is really needed for this island as our hotel was about 30 miles away from the island’s ferry port.
The island of Rab is very interesting. When I read about this stop it mentioned the sandy beach. Sandy beaches are not common in Croatia - they are mostly rocky which is why the water is so crystal clear. But the sand was appealing. When we first arrived at the beach we stopped in for a beer across the street. What we saw was really strange - people clearly standing at least a couple hundred feet out in the water. What we found out is the water at the sandy beach is very shallow and as a result very warm. Kinda creepy really. Rab’s Old Town was quaint with cobble stone streets and nice little shops. The best part of this stop was a boat ride we took out to a little island where there was a restaurant and beautiful views.
Our next stop was the famous island of Hvar. The drive along the coast from Rab back to Split, where we would catch another ferry, was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The pictures just can’t do it justice. The water on the Adriatic is calm making it so majestic. There are very few waves - and the ones I did see were created by boats.
We didn’t spend any time in Split other than the port. It has a lot of history and some beautiful landscape.
The ferry ride was a bit longer to Hvar - I believe a couple hours. But we had some beers and enjoyed the deck where there was a ton of sun with more views.
The island of Hvar was the original draw for me to go to Croatia. I’m not too proud to admit that I read Jay Z and Beyonce have spent a lot time here and off I went to research what it was about. Getting off the ferry I saw first hand why the rich and famous would want to come here.
The “beach” experience in Hvar is much different than you would expect. You are hanging out on large concrete slab where chairs and bar service are provided in most areas. But once you see the water and feel how crisp and refreshing it is - you don’t miss the sand.
The old town area where there is an active dock had excellent food and great little shops. You also get to see how the 1%s live - in yachts on the water. It had me dreaming …
When we were ready to leave Hvar, we had to drive to the other end of the island to catch our last ferry ride back to the mainland. It took a couple hours but the views were worth it!
Our final stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik, the most popular tourist destination. This drive was interesting as it took us through a slice of land owned by the Bosnians. They got this small piece of coastal land as part of negotiations to ending the war. Apparently they were not happy as upon entering the 5 mile strip we had to go through customs and upon leaving we had to clear customs again. Silly but yet intimidating.
The best part of our stay in Dubrovnik, even though it was cut short due to some random changes in our flight back to Italy, was the day we spent on a boat we rented. Another first. You have to have a skippers license to operate a boat in Europe so we hired a guy and he was perfect company. The boat came with a full fridge and sleeper if you wanted to take it overnight. It was gorgeous out on the water where it is known for caves with crystal clear water.
Our skipper dropped us off in Old Town which is a historical site that surprisingly survived the war. It was really hot and humid that day otherwise we would have ventured up the stairs to the walk the wall of the city.
Croatia is not an expensive place to visit. The dollar does really well there. See the world!!!
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”
— Danielle LaPorte (via setbabiesonfire
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