A stunning country that most recently gained limelight for being the setting to the Game of Thrones franchise, Croatia is awash with Mediterranean beauty, good eats and delicious wine. While Dubrovnik is clearly hot shit right now, there is so much more to the country than just Kings Landing (a GOT reference for any non-fans). My friends and I had the opportunity to explore the country before attending Dimensions Festival in Pula, here were some of our favourite places and things to do.
I only spent a short time in Split, so it’s definitely a destination I would like to explore more of. Besides the splendour of Diocletian’s Palace, Split holds a prime position for exploring all the surrounding islands. Many visitors choose to spend their time aboard a boat, out on the sparkling azure waters and coming back to Split to party, which sounds pretty sweet. There is always something to see in Diocletian’s Palace, a hidden alleyway, a boutique store or a secret bar, so make sure you spend a good amount of time in this labyrinth heritage site.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Hvar, especially after I read that it was a haven for the super rich, who pull up in their super yachts to dash some cash. When you get off the boat, you quickly realise that Hvar is a real hotspot for backpackers too. My advice is to stay at Villa Skansi one of the better hostels I have ever stayed at, the guys that run this place are lovely, they sorted me out when my booking went tits up and even looked after me when they found me passed out in the staff room after a night out (perhaps I’ll explain that another day).
My advice for Hvar? Head to Hula Hula Bar during the day for sun, music and ridiculously strong cocktails. The party really gets started here at sundown, so position your self in a good spot early. For dinner head into town and search the back alley until you find Konoba Menego, where the food is served the Dalmatian way, no frills, no fuss just traditional hearty fare, great wine and good conversation.
Finish your night in Carpe Diem, a small island nightclub that you get the ferry to from the main port. Warning: you may get lost, it gets pretty crowded and the drinks are a fair bit pricier than the main island.
Alfred Hitchcock once visited Zadar, stating that the sunset here was the most beautiful in the world. I had the pleasure of staying in Hostel Forum Zadar, a tripped out, ultra modern boutique hostel in the centre of town. Right opposite the Cathedral of St Anastasia, this hostel is clean, stylish and even offers a small breakfast delivered to your room everyday.
For the best views of Zadar’s impressive skyline, head up the Cathedral of St Anastasia (around 10 Kuna). Watch you don’t get caught in the bell tower when they go off as it can be pretty loud.
To see what Hitchcock was on about, head down to the Sun Salutation on the most northern tip of the town. This incredible spectacle can get crowded but it’s well worth experiencing. As the sun sets, the floor lights up in a beautiful array of colours. The Sea Organ, located in the same spot, is an architectural wonder, played by the power of nature. Powered only by the sea waves and air funnelled below a set of marble steps, it’s truly magical to sit here and listen to the gentle sound of this unique instrument. This was by far the most peaceful place I found in Croatia.
From tasting fresh, wholesome fare, to exploring bars and famous attractions; you don’t have to visit Dubrovnik to find a quiet slice of paradise in Croatia.