Suddenly it seemed like everyone was going to Croatia.
To be fair, my friends and I had been thinking about traveling there for three years. But we prioritized Greece. Then South America. Then Africa. Finally, this year, it seemed like the time to go to Croatia.
And seems like everyone felt this way (I blame Game of Thrones).
When my friends and I travel, we typically prefer to go to places that are slightly less popular, but we had heard so many amazing things about Croatia that we couldn’t ignore it for one more year. We opted to go in late June, which turned out to be a perfect time to go as we just missed the busy season which comes around in July and August. Places we visited were crowded, but we were warned that it would definitely be worse in a few weeks.
Croatia is large and the hardest part of planning our trip was deciding where we wanted to go with the 10 days of our trip. We narrowed our plans to the Dalmatian Coast, leaving out Zadar, Zagreb, and Istria. Our itinerary would be much more doable in a short amount of time and minimize lots of crazy travel.
A few things to know when planning your trip to Dalmatia:
- There are not currently any direct flights to Croatia from the US. For our trip, we flew into Split and out of Dubrovnik. Most people visiting Dalmatia do the same (though possibly in the opposite direction depending on itinerary).
- You won’t need a car in Dalmatia. It’s actually very easy to travel by ferry. If you can charter your own boat, however, that sounds like a pretty awesome way to get around. The ferries are limited to the major islands, but you can take day trips to some of the smaller islands. You can buy ferry tickets online or at kiosks near the harbor and in main areas of town. If you can buy your tickets in advance, definitely do so. During the high season, the ferries can sell out. Jadrolinija and Krilo are the two main ferry lines.
- It is worth staying in the old town/city centers when in Split and Dubrovnik. Though they are crowded with tourists, it is very nice to be in the heart of the history and you can get around easily. This is probably more important for Dubrovnik.
- Croats are very friendly! Everyone speaks English! We never really had a language problem, especially because we stuck to popular tourist areas. Not sure if this is the case in other parts of Croatia where they might see fewer tourists.
- Cruise ships are the worst. They dump thousands of tourists in Split and Dubrovnik during the day and you have to do your best to plan around them. This is the major benefit of staying in the city center as you can sightsee early or late in the day to avoid both the heat and the tourists.
- Water shoes are recommended! Many people suggested bringing water shoes because the beaches are rocky in Croatia. We ignored these suggestions. We should have listened. Indeed the beaches can be rocky, but what is worse is that the bottom of the water is very rocky too. We wound up wearing our flip-flops in the water to make it easier. There are stands in the cities where you can buy water shoes, towels, etc. I would recommend buying water shoes at one of these places, then tossing them at the end of the trip. Same goes for towels! I bought one for 50kn in Split and used it throughout the trip, throwing it out when I left.
- It seemed that most of the lodging options in Dalmatia were either large hotels or apartments for rent. Not a lot of B&Bs or smaller scale hotels (outside of Korcula, we stayed in rental apartments).
- Rakije is the liqueur that Croats will offer you at all of your meals. Sometimes at the beginning, more often at the end as a digestive. There are various flavors of rakije, it is typically homemade. Some flavors are really tasty, some are a little strong. You have been warned.