Are you Croatia-bound this summer? I just returned from a hectic two-week research trip to update Croatia
Traveller and I'd like to share my latest advice with you even before I incorporate it into my pages. First of all, I would get to work booking your ferries to the island now. I was surprised to find a Hvar-Korcula ferry already sold out. That's a popular route but overall I would say that summer travel to Croatian islands can't be too spontaneous.
In the order of my trip:
Once again I was delighted with Zagreb's relaxed vibe and cultural quirkiness. This time I noticed that Teslina street in Zagreb's lower town has become a real restaurant row with
everything from cheap sandwiches to upscale bistros and cafes. I took a spiffy private room in Hostel Moving near Dom Sportova. Although a couple of tram stops from the heart of Zagreb, I liked the low-key neighborhood with local cafes, restaurants and a market. More on visiting
- Plitvice Lakes
Listen up! Plitvice Lakes National Park is crowded! Even at the end of May, there was a line to get in and a wait to board the boat that crosses Lake Kozjak. You need to know that the lower lakes are more crowded than the upper lakes and that the busiest time is between 9am and 2pm. I
recommend visiting in the afternoon and walking the upper lakes before the lower lakes. Doing both lake groups takes about 5 hours but the park is open until 8. If you only have time for one lake group, I recommend the upper lakes as it's more tranquil and you pass closer to the waterfalls. Begin the visit at Entrance 2 and take the park bus to the upper lakes where you can walk down. I recommend a stay in Pansion Danica, a familial guesthouse within walking distance of Entrance I. More on visiting Plitvice Lakes.
News of Zadar's dynamism and and Venetian walls has travelled far now. A great deal of the old town sparkles with newly-renovated churches and monuments. Don't
miss watching the sunset from Zadar's western edge. As the sky darkens, the solar-powered lights illuminate the Sun Salutation while the Sea Organ moans nearby. It's unforgettable. Definitely you should stay in the old
town. More things to do in Zadar.
- Pag Island
There's beauty in the harsh landscape of Pag Island where the sun glints off the rocks and the sea is a blue mirror. You do
need a car to visit the island as public transport is limited except between Pag town in the southeast and Novalja in the northwest. There are great beaches. Simuni is a spectacular cove in the middle of the island but it's worth making the trip to Metajna, where the locals go. The best hotel is the four-star Hotel Luna. For private accommodation you couldn't do better than Donami apartments. More on visiting Pag island.
It's not yet on everyone's radar which makes Sibenik even more interesting to visit. Two of the four fortresses of Sibenik have been restored and the St Nikola fortress is a World Heritage Site. You'll need wheels to visit that one but the other three can be toured in an afternoon. The views from
the top are breathtaking. More on visiting Sibenik.
You couldn't miss Split even if you wanted to since it's ground zero for ferries to all the best islands.
I was surprised how chic and upscale it has become, especially within the walls of Diocletian's Palace. Eat at Olive Tree along Riva. The cuisine is inspired and it's not too expensive given the excellent quality. More on visiting
- Vis Island
This gentle island is about to become massively popular when the film Mamma Mia II comes out this summer. You can see why the filmmakers chose Vis to double for a Greek island. Most people head to Komiza for the famous Blue Cave tour but I prefer Vis town which retains a serene local flavor. Don't miss the Archaeological Museum there and Rukovac
beach a short drive from town. Wheels are essential for visiting the island as buses only connect Vis town and Komiza. More on visiting Vis island.
- Stari Grad,
Hvar's unsung "second city" deserves more love than it gets. The old town has been beautifully restored; there's a local beach a short walk from town and, best of all is a morning bike ride through Stari Grad Plain, a World Heritage Site. Island transport is excellent which makes it easy to stay in peaceful Stari Grad and visit stunning but busy Hvar town. More on visiting Stari Grad.
- Korcula Island
Korcula town is calmer than Hvar town and also boasts striking Venetian architecture. Although there are now plenty of catamarans connecting the island with Hvar and Split, you might want to take the car ferry to Vela Luka and then the bus across the island. It's a modern comfortable bus and the one-hour trip takes you past vineyards, forested hills, olive groves and sleepy villages. It's a great way to see the island. More on visiting Korcula island.
I get a lot of questions about Croatia. I wish I could answer them all personally but I can't. PLEASE if you have questions or comments about the above posts, put them on one of the Croatia Traveller pages I've linked to above or
on the homepage. I'll answer them. I promise! All Croatia Traveller pages have a comments section that I monitor assiduously.
Croatia Traveller E-books all updated!