Lets start by saying that Croatia is a MUST SEE for any self-respecting Antipodean visiting Europe, especially if you are in a camper van! The food is amazing. The beaches are phenomenal. The water is sooooo clear and the people are lovely. The 10 days we spent in Croatia were a real standout; from camping and skinny-dipping on deserted beaches to enjoying some of the best seafood on the busy streets of Split, we had an absolute blast. Keep reading for details of our favourite #funfinds and tips on where to go on your adventures of Croatia. Note, this is a reasonably long post as there were so many cool places.
Entering Croatia from Slovenia the first place we visited was Porec; which has a beautiful old town located on a peninsula extending into the Adriatic Sea. The old town, consisting of tight cobbled streets has numerous galleries full of beautiful paintings, sculptures and prints of yachts on the sea, etc. After wandering around the old town we found ourselves at a bar called ‘Caffe Bar Corner’, where we enjoyed delicious local craft beers.
Pula is located at the base of the northwestern Croatian peninsula. It boasts a Coliseum, with almost fully intact external walls, which you can view the Adriatic Sea from. It’s a little bold to say this, but it possibly comes close to being as impressive as the one in Rome (not quite).. The old town is also pretty cool; you can visit the local churches, which are famed for using “Sea Organs”, which function using sea wave movement from holes located under marble steps at the sea edge! A cheap and cheerful snack at the local bakery worth sampling is the meat Burek, it’s similar to a sausage roll, but skinnier and wound into a spiral.
One of our spots for the evening.. just after Pula
The coastline from Pula to Rijeka is steep and the highway is typically 100m above the water allowing for beautiful views across to the Croatian islands.
The coast from Rijeka to Zadar
After Rijeka the coastline is a lot flatter with the road often winding along right next to the crystal clear blue water. We spent a couple of days along this area of coast and enjoyed camping, skinny dipping and relaxing on deserted stretches of coastline without spotting another person. This area is pure magic.
The landscape in this area is dominated by limestone cast, which makes for a amazing contrast between the bright blue sea & rough desert like wilderness.
The mussel dish we made, yum!
Close to the town of Seline there are a number of mussel farms, we brought this 3kg bag of fresh mussels for around 4 Euros. They were delicious when cooked with a range of fresh produce from the local market in Zadar!
A cheeky ring workout over looking the water was in order, most days!
Primosten, originally an island with a draw-bridge to gain access to the mainland is now a peninsula with a short causeway providing access. The town is relatively small and can be circumnavigated in around half an hour.
The old guy in the Gelato shop on Mala Raduca (main land street) makes one hell of a gelato, and has a few tricks up his sleeves… Watch out!!
Here is his creation!
Its quite built up from Primosten to Split, and the sea is not as bright blue with a little bit of pollution clearly entering the fray. We gave up on the dream of freedom camping for a few nights and camped in the town of Stobec outside of Split. From here it was possible to bike into the city centre. Biking is a great way to see the city, from Stobec you pass areas of poverty, small farms and run down buildings, showing that not all of Croatia is beautiful beaches.
Split by bike…
Enjoyed some local beers by the busy seaside of the split port.
Restaurant Sperun, best tuna fish ever! We had a fish broth too with mussels & two different types of fish which was tasty.
Plitvicka Jezera National Park is a famous for a series of 16 terraced Waterfalls that extend into a limestone/Dolomitic canyon. The National Park was a lot more touristy than we had expected, we had to again abandon freedom camping and stayed at a camp ground run by a local lady. This turned out to be a great predicament however, as the Lady who ran the camp made her own Plum spirits.
After a half hour of signing in we were glad we had parked the van first, as several shots of Plum Grappa would have made parking difficult!
Despite the Throngs of school kids the waterfalls in the national park were mind blowingly beautiful.
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and is located in the north of the country away from the beaches. Catholicism must be quite strong in the capital, we spotted a number of real life nuns kicking about the city, and the church was something else!
Other than seeing the church in the centre of town along with the typical sights of the city including a great market called the Dolac market, its worth going for a hike up Sljeme Mountain. We did the Bikčevićeva Trail, it’s a steep little punch up native forest surrounded by birdsong.
Driving from the coast in the direction, east; it’s quite common to come along odd building riddled with bullet holes and endless towns that hug the highway, there is not a huge amount of highlights to comment on from the Northeastern part of Croatia. We did stop at Nature Park Pupak where we found a nice little ride from the town of Velika to Janovackov Jezero.
We didn’t make the time to do justice to a sailing trip through the Islands; however I, Hana has previously partaken in the week of ‘Yacht Week’ & the islands to visit are Hvar & Solta, along with a day adventure to the blue caves!
Check out Croatia, you won’t be disappointed!