I’ve had a cheeky love affair this European summer. And admittedly I’ve fallen harder than I should have, absolutely ignoring a fact I was well aware of, our relationship could be little more than a summer fling. With that being said, my love for her will last a lifetime. Her name you ask? Croatia.
Croatia can best be described as an endearing Mermaid, clutching weary travellers into her elegantly perfected bosom and never letting them go.
From the quirky streets of Zagreb, the breathlessness of Plitvice to the magnificent coastline and her isles. Her beauties are sure to have you in a constant state of arousal. Sprinkle the landscape with a few locals and their customs and suddenly any thoughts of departing this magnificent land become thoughts of throbbing pain.
Here, in no particular order are five things I did in Croatia that I recommend you ABSOLUTELY AVOID doing if you ever want to leave.
Mirogoj Cemetery – Zagreb
So cemeteries aren’t on your standard ‘must see’ tourist lists. Given that there’s nothing standard about me this fits in perfectly. This place has an aura about it. The magnificent mossy vine covered entrance structure is a portal into a trip through the afterlife. Exploring the pebble covered paths is a humbling experience, causing plenty of deep contemplation and providing the soul with food for thought.
Plitvice Lakes National Park.
I’m going to let the images do the talking here. By far the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen. And probably will ever see. There’s a (slim)chance of seeing wild bears too. Plitvice lakes are absolutely surreal.
Sea organ – Zadar
Some genius has carved sound generating organs under the water, powered by the tide, providing a soothing sound while sitting on the promenade, watching the sun set and indulging in a cocktail or two. Right next to the Sea Organ is a ‘light salutation’ which harnesses the suns solar energy by day to create a magnificent light show by night. Zadar has plenty more to offer too, walking through the gates of the old town here is like walking back in time. The towns Roman roots stand proudly and magnificently intact. Strolling her polished streets you’ll soon fall in love with the bustle created by all her happenings, from cafes and restaurants to markets, bars and even a club set in the local park. Zadar has it all.
Deep Makarska – Makarska
One for the night life enthusiasts. A club. In a cave. On a beach. Pretty self explanatory. Wicked nights are had here. Packs out every Thursday during high season as the Sail boats pile in for an evening of unprecedented debauchery. Good times. Get a pirate or sailor ensemble to fit in with the ‘cool kids’.
Hire scooters – Stari Grad
Hvar is a well known party destination. But on the same island, there’s a small town named ‘Stari Grad’. It’s one of the oldest towns in Europe, and taking a light hearted walk through its cobbled streets will not disappoint. On top of that, scooter hire is available for about 30 euro a day. In Croatia you can legally ride 50cc scooters with a car license. So grab a few mates, because this is the best way to explore the island from head to toe. She has many little towns and lookouts you and your newly formed ‘Scooter Squad MC’ can terrorise.
Tips to remember
Before you arrive, there are some things to note. Although Croatia is part of the EU, they still use their own currency(Kuna), bus connections are always quicker and cheaper than trains for domestic travel, and be prepared to drink lots of Rakija(aka Grappa).
Peak season are Spring/Summer in Croatia, and the coastlines are the place to be during this time. If you’re coming by land be prepared to be blown(away) by the view you receive coming over the Dinaric Alps, spanning down the entire Croatian coastline. There’s nothing else quiet like it.
When booking a bus from say, Zagreb to Split or vise versa, take caution as the time table will indicate there are several connections that day but travel time will vary greatly, from a direct route being 4.5hrs to the ’scenic’ option taking double(and costing more).
For those on a budget, Croatia sadly isn’t as affordable as she was 5 years ago. That being said, do some research, remember sites like ‘airbnb’ and ‘blablacar’ and try to eat and drink where the locals do. It’s still possible to navigate Croatia on a shoestring budget, I’m your living testimonial.
Food to try, Cevapi, Burek and my personal favourite, Blitva (a delicious chard and potato combination).
So pack your bags, tell mom and dad you won’t be home for a while and fall in love with this breathtaking country as she sweeps you off your feet.
Patrick is the Founder & Editor of travel blog A Broke Idiot Abroad. Daring to poke his fingers in places I never knew existed, his path and stories are far from ordinary.
He’s always looking for more broke idiots to contribute to his wonderfully scandalous tales. Check his blog out here.
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