In preparation for our trip I have been researching topics such as potential accommodations, activities, landmarks, and transportation methods for each destination. I figure this will give us a better idea of the daily cost, and therefore help determine how long we will want to stay in each country. It will be interesting to see the difference between the ideas I have researched and what we actually do when we are on the road!
Click the small arrow button on the top left of the map header (left of where it says “Potential Destination”) to expand out additional details about many of the locations and activities described below.
U.S. Visa/Travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/croatia.html
Helpful Web Sites
Our time in Croatia will be divided between Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. Once again, Airbnb seems to be the way to go. I found great places right in the heart of Zagreb and Dubrovnik for as little as $25-35 per night. Split has some great options, as well – one place was only $12 per night with a 4.5 star rating! Many of them look really unique, too, with stone walls and wooden beams. Budget hotels still look pretty pricey, over $100, so that’s a no-go unless we find a last minute deal or something. Hostels will be an option, especially in more touristy Dubrovnik, if we find we are spending more then we anticipated and need to cut back.
Our plan is to take the train from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia, where we will stay for several weeks. From there, one option is to pick up a rental car to continue on to Split. On the way we would visit the Plitvice Lakes (more info below). We’d drop off the rental car in Split (rather than keeping it to get around) to avoid city driving and crazy expensive parking fees. This would be around $115-130, plus fuel costs and tolls.
The other option is to not rent a car at all while in Croatia and take the bus. It is possible to take the bus to Plitvice Lakes and continue directly from there to Split on the same day for only $72. However, we would only have a couple of hours at the lakes due to the bus schedules, which does not seem like enough time, and we won’t want to feel rushed. It is more likely that we would do a round trip bus day trip from Zagreb to the Plitvice Lakes, then take the bus from Zagreb to Split on another day. This would cost around $104, which is pretty similar to the car rental cost.
From Split to Dubrovnik
There is a ferry from Split to Dubrovnik, but unfortunately the ferries don’t run until May (which is after we likely will be there), so we will take the bus again for the travel from Split to Dubrovnik and then into Montenegro. Bus tickets are between $18-22 per person each leg (Split to Dubrovnik – 4 to 4.5 hours – and then Dubrovnik to Kotor Montenegro – 2 hours). We will scope out tickets at the station, as well as on sites such as https://getbybus.com/en and https://www.buscroatia.com
Zagreb – Coffee Culture
Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb is land-locked but with beautiful mountains surrounding it and two nearby lakes. It sounds like a great place to relax, take it slow, and just wander. Coffee is apparently a big thing in Zagreb, as is sitting for hours at a cafe listening to and hopefully engaging in small talk (https://travelhonestly.com/croatian-small-talk). I found this article both amusing and very informative. It talks about the art of small talk in Croatia, including the typical theme of complaining and gossip. I tend to be an advice giver and problem solver, and as my husband can attest to, not a complainer. The main thing I am going to have to remember is not to respond with “ways to fix the problem” or the “positive side of the matter”. According to this article, that will push me out of the conversation in a heartbeat. Good to know!
Speaking of food and drink, there may be other opportunities to tie together what we put in our stomachs with meeting people in Zagreb.
Eat With Locals + LOCAL WINE
How about eating with a local through EatWith (https://www.eatwith.com)! You sign up for a multiple course meal at an area chef’s house, during which they talk about all things Croatia. Or, taking a stroll through Zagreb’s Dolac market and checking out the local goods and produce. And of course we must explore Croatian wine, which is apparently starting to get some notice around the world (https://uncorkingcroatia.com). We may find the opportunity to visit local wineries, but if we don’t there are numerous wine bars throughout Zagreb, including Wine Bar Dobra vina which gets raving reviews. I don’t believe Pete and I have ever had a Croatian wine, so that will be a first.
Museum of Broken Relationships
While most cities have tons of museums showcasing art and culture, Zagreb has one of the most quirky and sure to be entertaining museums I’ve ever heard of – the Museum of Broken Relationships (https://brokenships.com/visit/museum-details). You guessed it, this museum profiles exhibits revolving around breakups and the things left behind. This should be interesting!
Plitvice Lakes National Park
About a 2 hour drive south of Zagreb is Croatia’s first national park, Plutvice Lakes National Park, made up of over 16 lakes that connect via waterfalls and streams, with wooden walkways meandering throughout. The park is divided into the upper lakes and lower lakes, with bus and boat transport available to connect the two areas. There are several entrance points, but it is recommended to go to entrance 2, take the bus to the upper lakes, then once you have hiked down to the largest of the upper lakes a boat will transport you down to the lower lakes for the remainder of the hike. The treat at the end is the tallest waterfall in Croatia, named Veliki Slap. Entrance to the park costs between $9-18 depending on which time of year we are there, plus parking which is about $1 per hour.
If we decide to rent a car, Split is about a two and a half drive from Plitvice Lakes, so we will most likely stay at least over night before catching the bus to Dubrovnik. How many nights will depend on our first impression of Split. Some posts I have read say they like Split better then Dubrovnik because it is less touristy but just as beautiful. Who knows, maybe we will fall in love with Split and skip Dubrovnik!
Split is a coastal Mediterranean city with lovely marinas, beaches, and several UNESCO World Heritage sites including its Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace, which is not just one building but 220 buildings and the cities center (http://www.diocletianspalace.org). There is also a short path I found out about that goes up some stairs/paved paths to what is known as Marjanske skale (Marajan Hill). In about a 10 minute walk you find yourself looking at beautiful views of the city below.
If the weather is warm enough we may have to try Picigin, a water game which originated in Split at Bacvice Beach.
The basis of the game is to prevent a small rubber ball (traditionally made by taking the outer lining off of a tennis ball) from falling in the water by batting it with your hand. You are only allowed one touch. Now how you get to the ball is half the game. It must be done with pizazz, such as flying through the air into an impressive belly flop. Sounds like us playing paddleball at our local beach. Tons of fun!
Dubrovnik – Hello, Game of Thrones Fans!
Further south and close to the Montenegro boarder is one of the top destinations in Croatia, the city of Dubrovnik. This city has many options for sightseeing including walking along the city walls and associated forts, Rector’s Palace, and numerous filming sites from Game of Thrones including Dubrovnik’s old town as King’s Landing, Minčeta Tower where Daenerys Targaryen looks for her stolen dragons, Pile Harbour as Blackwater Bay, and many more. We could also take the cable car up to the top of Srd Hill to get spectacular views of Dubrovnik (http://www.dubrovnikcablecar.com) for around $23 per person.
Although it still may be a little cool when we are in Dubrovnik, getting out on the water may be possible by going on a kayaking tour in the surrounding Adriatic waters and nearby Lokrum island (https://www.adventuredubrovnik.com/package/sea-kayaking-dubrovnik). Another potential outing could be a bike and wine tasting tour in the Konavle valley, which is about 45 minutes from Dubrovnik (https://www.adventuredubrovnik.com/package/biking-and-wine-tasting). And if we are feeling really adventurous we may opt for a more fast-paced bring-back-your-inner-child adventure like a buggy safari (http://www.buggydubrovnik.com). I used to take some corners pretty hard with my Mini Cooper to get some dust flying, so this could bring back some good memories!
Any thoughts about our ideas above, or suggestions of “must see” activities/landmarks? Please include those below!