Travel to Croatia - any tips?

So the wife and and I are (hopefully) heading on our first post-Covid vacation the first 2 weeks of July. Kids are off at camp, so it’s just the old people.

At the moment, we are booked with the following itinerary:

  • Fly to Dubrovnik, 3 nights
  • Ferry to Korcula, 2 nights
  • Ferry to Split, 4 nights, probably a day trip to Trogir
  • Fly to Zagreb, 2 nights
  • Fly to Frankfurt for a 9 hour layover before final leg back to Canada

Has any one that has done the Dalmatian coast have any tips? We had a car booked, but I dropped that in favour of taxi/Uber/ferry/whatever.

We have hotels booked for everything but Split, but everything is changeable assuming we keep the flights as is.


no advice, but envious!

I can send the kids to stay with you instead of going to camp, or is that not the part you are envious about? :sunglasses:

No, I’m good, thanks!

Take swim gear, you are going to want to get in the water. Also take water sandals, the beaches are rocky and there are plenty of urchins, but don’t let that stop you, the water is beautiful. In Dubrovnik, head to the Lapad bay if you want to experience more beach time, and you can also get a half day boat tour of the Elaphiti islands from there.

Ferries are the way to go along the coast. Our ferry stop at Korcula and it looked nice, but we didn’t get off there.

Four nights in Split is probably too much, I would recommend one of two options. First, spend two nights in Hvar, and then two nights in Split. Second option is to spend two nights in Split and then rent a car to go to Krka and then Plivice on your way to Zagreb. Along the way you’ll see little roadside grills that are open for lunch, could be lamb, pig, or fish for the day and they really are worth the stop.

We went to the Skradinski Buk waterfall at Krka, there are a couple of small towns nearby with hotels. There is a place to swim at the base of the waterfall that is very nice. At Plitvice, the waterfalls are really something to see, but I don’t recall anyone swimming there, they are probably trying to keep the water pristine. We stayed at Hotel Plitvice there, it was also very nice.

My family has enjoyed Croatia a lot. Very friendly people, usually willing to make conversation, and very responsive and appreciative of positive opinions about their country. Don’t stay in the tourist bubble, get out and about and meet some folks. As an icebreaker, try complimenting their football team and their performance four years ago. (You’ll see the distinctive team gear for sale everywhere.) Do not ask them about Serbia and their history with their neighbors unless you’re prepared to navigate a prickly subject.

I see you’re down in the southern half of the coast, between Dubrovnik and Split. I personally prefer the coast a little farther north, around Zadar. It’s less touristed and resort-y, and noticeably less expensive as a result. It sounds like your itinerary is pretty well set, but if you decide you like Croatia and want to go back, there’s a lot more to see outside the usual destinations.

As far as things to do, if you can find time, a ferry trip out to the islands is recommended, even if it’s just a cruising tour without landing. The terrain is phenomenal and breathtaking, with incredible views everywhere. And if you’re interested in getting out into nature, Krka National Park is an hour from Split, and is fantastic, well worth the visit.

Regarding what to eat, as you’d expect from a country with a long coast, the seafood is great almost everywhere you’ll be going. Further inland, there’s a great tradition of meat, but on the coast, fish rules.

You’ll find the food vaguely familiar, Mediterranean in character, while still being its own thing. Visually, it will strike you as simple and rustic, but the flavors are strong and hearty. The trick, again, is to get out of the tourist bubble. Go to a small neighborhood and find a hole in the wall with a wood oven on the patio. Look for the word “peka,” which refers to an enclosed vessel used for hot-coal cooking. Some peka places will ask you to make your reservation and place your order in advance, because they will serve only the freshest possible octopus or fish, and they will procure only as much as they have reservations for. Even if you don’t find a convenient place offering peka, don’t be surprised if the “menu” is the waiter holding out a tray of just-caught fish for you to choose from.

If you see anywhere offering Pag cheese, try it. It’s a local specialty produced on one of the Dalmatian islands, and it’s delicious. Also, Croatian wine is pretty good, underrated on the world stage in my opinion. If the opportunity to taste some comes up, definitely grab it, and plan to take some bottles home with you. Ditto the locally made olive oil, which is absolutely world-class but doesn’t get the same level of attention as the Greeks and Italians (or even the Spanish).

Very envious of your trip. You’ll have a great time.

Thanks to @Dag_Otto and @Cervaise for the suggestions!

I was there last fall (part vacation, part belated funeral) basically going in the opposite direction. Zagreb → Baška → Split → Dubrovnik

We did the Dalmatian coast road from Split to Dubrovnik. I was a very nice drive, but do mind the Neum Corridor if you go that route – not a big hassle, but have passports on hand. It sounds like you are avoiding that by doing ferries instead, though.

Oh, something I meant to mention but forgot about — the ancient Romans were all over Croatia, and they left behind some spectacular ruins. I thought every one of the archeological sites I visited was well worth the time, and my kids really dug the experience. Plus, while Croatia is fairly well-touristed by European standards, you won’t be jostling with the additional American crowds like in Rome or at Pompeii, which makes sites like this even more enjoyable.

I understand that the bridge bypassing Neum is opening shortly after we are there.

Yeah, when we were there it looked like it was all done except for the road surface.

Dang, do you work for the Croatian Ministry of Tourism or something? Great post, I’m just about looking at air fares.

Heh, no, we moved from the US to Europe about five years ago and have been maximizing our travel opportunities ever since. Our kids will be visiting their 20th country in about a week.

I’m sitting in the Frankfurt airport waiting for my flight home. The itinerary ended up being:

Ferry to Korcula
Ferry to Split
Day trip to Trogir
Fly to Zagreb

We enjoyed everything. I think if I could have changed it, I would have dropped a day from Split in favour of Plitivice and added a day in Zagreb.

We were planning on spending our layover in Frankfurt for 4-5 hours, but with a late gate arrival and a VERY slow line at the EU border, we gave up and just hung out in the lounge.

Croatia was beautiful and well worth the visit.

Glad you enjoyed the trip. If I had seen the April post, I would have advised you to visit Vis. And go sailing in Korcula. Maybe for your next trip? (Or for anyone who stumbles across this thread later.)

Glad to hear your positive report. It’s a terrific destination and I’m happy you had a good time. We’re thinking about going back again next year.

What were your food choices like? I feel like food is one of the best windows into a culture, so I’m always curious about what people ate.

My wife is vegetarian, so that did limit our choices. We had more pizza then I would like, and coming from a city with really good pizza it was disappointing. That being said, 80% of the restaurants were pizza/pasta/risotto.

We had a great meal on Korcula at a place with about 14 seats. It was a Croatian tapas type place with small plates. Great cheese, smoked tuna, and marinated anchovies. Also a good meal in Split less than 50 ft from our Airbnb with mussels, prawns, and fresh tagliatelle. Had a good beef stew in Zagreb. We also ate Indian and Asian food, both were good.

Nothing really to add for the OP. On one of our trips to Hollywood to attend 2 Price is Right tapings, my wife and I became friends with a couple from Montana. Like us, they have attended tapings hoping to be one of the selected to “Come On Down!”. About 2 years after meeting, they sent an email telling us to make sure we watched a specific taping of the show. We saw them in the audience during the intro and sure enough, he was selected as one of the first 4 contestants. It took till the 5th first bid before he got up on stage. He played Flip Flop for a trip to Croatia. He won the game. The only issue for them is Covid hit just about the time of the showing of that episode and they still haven’t made the trip. They have till 2024 to make the trip. They hope to go next summer.


Kidding. Thanks for reporting back.

Did you make it out to Lapad bay or the Elaphiti islands in Dubrovnik? For some reason I think of old town Dubrovnik as a small super clean idealistic version of Venice, but it is small. But there is a bit more to explore outside of the walls.

Did you get much swimming in?

While I always wanted to get on a small sailboat in Croatia, I found that sitting outside on the deck of a ferry to be pretty enjoyable. More than it should be, but perhaps that’s due to me living in a desert. Anything water related is a bit of a kick.