THE ULTIMATE SUMMER TRAVEL BLOG
Three years ago, I had the idea of travelling throughout the coastal Croatia and write down the ultimate summer travel guide. I have been collecting information and photographs ever since and I think it’s about time I finally share it all. I will divide this blog post into three parts – Istria, Northern Dalmatia and Southern Dalmatia. Croatia is a small country but it’s filled with hidden gems and secret locations. My goal wasn’t to explore them all, but to point out some of them and put them together in this blog post.
My favourite part of Croatia is definitely Istria – a peninsula so different it could be its own little country. Istrian people, food, vine, culture, language, landscapes and cities are all very distinctive and not applicable to other parts of Croatia. It is very well known that Istrians know how to enjoy life and you definitely feel that vibe even as an outsider.
Let’s start with the beach above – Brseč. It is my ALL TIME favourite beach in the world. It is situated near the cities of Opatija and Rijeka and it is accessible by car. Though, I have to say the road gets pretty steep at some point; Leš needed to get out of the car so I could go back up the hill. Make sure to arrive early because only few cars can park there.
If you are up for a nice view and no crowds just follow the path along the cliff and you will find yourself with the most amazing beach sight.
TIP: There are no stores near the beach and this is basically a day trip so bring enough food and water with you.
While you’re in the area, I suggest paying a visit to the city of Opatija – a 19th century seaside resort destination filled with Habsburg villas. It is one of the fanciest cities in Croatia and you will see it especially if you take a stroll down its famous riviera.
Moving on onto my second favourite spot in Istria we recently discovered – Kotli.
Kotli is a Croatian word for really deep natural pools, thus the village name. These particular pools were created by river Mirna softening the ground by falling over high rock formations. The colour really depends on the weather conditions and we had the luck to experience it while it was blue. The depth of each pool varies so you need to be careful if you slip and fall like I did. I expected my feet would touch the pool ground but I was wrong. The whole area is extremely slippery so if you have camera equipment (or anything else that mustn’t get wet) be careful not to drop it or even fall with it into the pools. Also the whole area is cascading so be careful if you go all the way down because it’s a bit harder to find your way back.
The best time to visit is during late summer because when the temperatures are high there’s not much water in the pools! We were there in September!
In the village itself there are just few traditional summer houses and no constant population.
Near Kotli, there is another amazing hidden gem we discovered this summer – Zarečki krov. The colour of the water is very very green so to most people a bit uninviting for swimming but nevertheless extremely cool! It reminded me a lot of Omani Bimmah Sinkhole. You definitely need the car to reach the location, but when you do the parking lot is conveniently a minute away from it. The spots are however limited but frankly it’s not so crowded here so I guess any time is good for visiting.
What I love most about Istria is that everything is an hour away driving. There is no need to perfectly plan ahead each location, you can just go wherever you like whenever you like it!
Our next stop was Premantura. It is the most distant and southernmost part of Istria, situated near city of Pula. Cape Kamenjak just below Premantura is a protected area so if you want to go and explore with the car (highly recommended) you have to pay 70/80kn for the entrance. There are so so many hidden beaches and my all time favourite bar in all Croatia – Safari beach bar. Pictures just can’t do this place justice.
The story about the bar is simple – one man being sick of people built himself a perfect summer getaway. He wanted to connect with nature even more so he started to make lemonades and raspberry juices from his own garden selling a piece to an occasional passerby (they still sell it today and his daughter, who told us the story, works at the bar), but when more people started coming he built a real bar, brought in the food (grilled cheese was eeeeverything) and entertainment pieces like its famous huge swing, table tennis, slides and so on. Now it is basically a heaven on earth with the most perfect summer atmosphere and I can’t wait to go back!
Kamenjak is famous for its clifs where everyone jumps trying to compete in styles or just simply having some summertime fun. Maybe you can see it from the drone photo up above! To explore and experience everything I suggest leaving 2 days for Kamenjak Cape and maybe avoid the weekends even though in high season it’s all the same.
Up next are Marlera, Pula, Brijuni National Park and Fratarski otok.
Marlera is a part of Istria most famous for a Lighthouse Lanterna dating from 1880. You can also book the lighthouse and stay in it, but at least few years ahead since it’s always booked in advance. This is also an area filled with magnificent beaches and a feeling like you are alone in the world. It’s a part of the world where you come to forget everything and let your mind rest in nothingness. The road is unpaved so be careful when driving here.
If you make a stop in Pula there are few musts: Temple of Augustus, Arch of the Sergii and of course Pula Arena.
Just near this ancient temple is a great little coffee place called Cvajner. From the outside it’s just a basic place where you wouldn’t even choose to go but the interior is a whole other thing!
We spent few days at our friend’s house mostly hanging out and exploring unknown beaches around Pula so I don’t really have the usual food and drink recommendations but if you are a foreigner any pizza or pasta (and of course fish) is good (and a very Croatian) option. Make sure to try our local vine like Pošip (dry wine), Muškat (very sweet, dessert vine) as well as our traditional Mediterranean meal – fish and chard (99% of time combined with boiled potatoes) with a lotof olive oil. If you stumble upon meal named Soparnik try it out! It’s baked bread stuffed with a lot of chard, a very tasty traditional meal. If you have extra time, I strongly suggest making a stop in one of Istrian wineries for a true Croatian experience.
As far as the beaches go, we explored Štinjan area because it’s very rocky and remote. You can easily find somewhat 200 metres of unoccupied beach to be alone. You definitely need the car to explore all of these locations.
The most famous beach in Pula is a place called Galebove stijene. It may seem like just another cliff jumper’s paradise but also there is a magnificent cave you can swim over to reach a hidden little beach! The cave is very dark but not scary though. If you have a head lamp bring it with you or if you have waterproof phone you can use it as well.
If you’re looking for a great city beach, I suggest visiting Gortanova uvala.
After exploring coast of Pula we decided to go for a daily trip to Fratarski otok. It’s a well known camping island (yes the whole island is one huge camp) and amazing place for just chilling and relaxing. There are people who live in Pula moving to this island for the whole summer living in tents and going to work everyday to the city and back! The connecting boat leaves every 20 minutes and operates from 9 till 21h every day.
We decided to also visit Brijuni National Park while we are here. We took the boat from Pula and spent the day biking across the island. You can rent the bikes right where you step from the boat. The rent is 50kn for the whole day per person! Take the food and water with you, you’ll be exploring a lot and there are no stores. Regular entrance fee is 300kn for a round trip.
Now that I go through my photos I am amazed by how little amount of pictures I have. We were biking all day and didn’t stop many times. It’s hard to describe Brijuni but the one word that fits perfectly is idilic. There are so many meadows with bunnies freely jumping around and we even saw few deers. There is even a zoo on the island (which used to have elephants!), you can read all about it here. I am still speechless for how everything looks extremely different than the rest of Croatia and actually if you are in this area this is the place I recommend visiting the most!
Finally this year (2019) it was time to visit Rovinj!
Rovinj is in a form of a little hill and you will find so many streets leading your way all the way to the top. Follow the stairs and admire the unforgettable view from above.
Istra’s food specialties you just have to try:
- njoki s tartufima (gnocchi with truffles)
- dagnje na buzaru (Croatian mussels)
- pljukanci u šugu (traditional pasta with beef sauce)
- istarski pršut (istrian prosciutto, served canapé style)
- istarski fuži s divljim šparogama (another traditional pasta with asparagus)
- švoja (grilled sole fish, often combined with boiled potatos and a little bit of salt and olive oil)
We stumbled upon this amazing city beach without previously knowing about it. Can you imagine my face when I saw those arches by the sea.. Just wow!
The beach is located just next to La Puntulina restaurant and you can use their stairs to reach it!
These locations are not technically summer destinations but I think they are worth visiting while you’re in Istria – Dvigrad fortress, a small village called Bale, our very own fjord called Lim (or Limski kanal) and a magnificent 130 metres deep cave called Baredine.
The fortress was once a medieval town but it got abandoned somehow. It’s an amazing place with such a magical atmosphere and I really recommend checking it out!
This summer (2020) we spent a week exploring Lošinj and Cres. They used to be one big island but during the Roman Empire they literally cut them in two to allow boats to pass through. There are two ways to travel to Lošinj with a car; first ferry line is Valbiska-Merag and the second is Brestova-Porozina. There are a lot more options to come if you don’t have a car but you are practically helpless without it.
As you may have already assumed – we decided to camp the whole trip out. Our first (and best) night was spent at beach Stara Porozina. The beach is ideal for camping and I won’t even talk about the view. I didn’t take any photos because it was already sunset time so we just enjoyed the beach while putting up our tent and cooking. If you don’t have much camping experience I suggest you take a lot of Xmas lights with you for the atmosphere. We always bring so much and it’s never enough 😀
The next few days we spent in a little camp in Valun. It’s a nice camp but nothing special really. I found a snake chilling on our tent so if someone’s afraid think twice whether to come hahaha. As soon as we put up a tent we went swimming. The sun was setting and the colours were insane.
While you are in the area don’t forget to stop by the city of Cres. It is small but a very cute little town. Our favourite place was cafe/beach bar called Plavica. We decided to rent a boat and accidentally some guy next to us overheard our conversation and helped us find the boat. Gotta love locals!
We had a cloudy boat day but it was nice nevertheless. I was happy to explore the beaches which are usually difficult to reach by foot. For example, the most famous beach on the island is definitely Lubenice. People usually hike down the hill for an hour and then 1,5h back after spending the whole day in the sun. After seeing the beach, I think it just looks better from above the hill than when you’re there (I somehow didn’t even take a picture). I personally wouldn’t suggest taking the hike, but if you’re up for it take a lot of water. My favourite beach from that day was beach Sv. Blaž. I would come back anytime!
Our best and last stop on Cres was a magnificent beach Koromačna. It is easily accessible by car and we even managed to spent a night here. If it were up to us, we would have stayed here 2-3 nights but there is a little house on the beach and the owner didn’t seem to want us there.
I don’t think there are many beaches like this in Croatia. Reminds me a lot of Portugal because of the caves! It is so easy to reach them, it takes just a 5 minute swim and then you find yourself in a completely different scenery overlooking the beach. It’s just unreal!
Cres is an island which left us feeling a bit bittersweet! It is unexpectedly wild (sheep freely run all over the roads, I almost hit one), people are nice but in a weird way (helpful but at the same time acting as if they’re angry about it), beaches are usually inaccessible, the roads are too narrow and not having a car is just not an option. That is just our opinion based on our experience! I personally know many people who said they LOVE Cres so it’s really all subjective. We were eager to leave so we put all of our hopes in our next stop – Lošinj!
Just as we were arriving the rain started pouring and went on like that for 3 days. We booked a little apartment because our tent was not suitable for rain. Around the sunset time, the clouds cleared up and the sky went crazy! Funny how I memorise my days depending on the sunset.
We took the opportunity to slow down a bit, do some work and explore the touristy part of Lošinj – Veli Lošinj, Mali Lošinj and the famous viewpoint!
At first Veli Lošinj was much bigger than Mali Lošinj (thus the names Veli (big) and Mali (small)) but today is the other way around. Veli Lošinj is actually very small and you maybe need an hour to walk it over, whereas Mali Lošinj needs a bit more time to explore.
The most famous place in Mali Lošinj is Museum of Apoxyomenos – a museum devoted completely to just one statue. It is the only musem in the world with just 1 showpiece. It is also one of the best museums I’ve been to (and I’ve really been to a lot).
While you’re on the island don’t forget to stop by the viewpoint Providenca. You don’t need to schedule your arrival if you’re just passing by, but there are reservations to be made if you want to have a special dinner on the top 🙂 The entrance is either 30kn per person or you can pick a drink and pay for that! My advice is to go just before sunset to enjoy both daylight and sky changing colours when the sun starts setting.
What we loved the most was Čikat bay – a vast area where pine trees meet the sea and there are so many beaches you will find it hard to choose just one! Recently it became a popular destination for yachts and grand hotels but you can still find a place just to yourself. We even camped there for 2 nights hidden among the pine trees!
Take at least 2 days for Čikat bay and try to walk down the riviera to find the best spots! There is something for everyone – expensive hotels and cheaper camps. There are also beaches for kids and many summer activities like water skiing, boat paragliding etc. This was our last stop in Lošinj but we will be coming back because I realise there is so much left to explore.
The location which caught the most attention on Instagram was these little steps into the sea belonging to an old villa Carolina here in the bay. I admit, they’re my favourite spot as well, it’s just such a vibe 😀
Everytime we go back to Istria there is more and more to see. All of these places above are just something we managed to explore in few visits and I can’t imagine what else is there. I will gladly be adding new places as we discover them, but now let’s go a bit south 🙂
You already know Zadar is my hometown and I spent first 18 years of life there. For the past couple of years I started exploring the surrounding area more than ever before and now is the time I show you some really cool spots. I’ll start with Zadar and I won’t be writing much since islands around it are much more interesting sea/beach wise!
The biggest thing in Zadar are definitely sunsets. Hitchcock once said it’s the city with the most beautiful sunsets in the world (he visited in 1964) and we’re so proud of it we even have a huge panel with his portrait and that quote down on the riva (seafront) entrance. Jokes aside, he was right.
The beach above is the only one in the city I’d consider even going during the day (we locals mostly go to beaches around 7pm) and it is called Punta Bajlo. There is plenty of space for hammocks and it could be the only beach in the city with so much shade. Other than that, I love riva as a beach as well! Mostly only those who live in the old city use it, but I grew to love it in recent years too. During the day we pretend it’s a beach and during night it’s the best place in town for a night out and I am not even kidding.
Don’t forget to visit our biggest landmarks – Sea organ and Greeting to the Sun.
As far as the downtown, if you’ve never been, just walking around is an experience. It’s a 2000 year old Roman city and each little corner is a gem! Make sure to walk up the tower for the prettiest view 🙂 Varoš is the busiest downtown neighbourhood during summer, filled with loads of great restaurants and bars.
The best part about staying in Zadar is the connection to all the surrounding islands! Two years ago we have visited Silba which is easily one of my favourite islands ever! It is so small you can’t bring the car and you can’t even use bikes. The best island beach definitely is Sotorišće but make sure to beat the crowds coming early! We even slept one night at the beach to watch the sunrise in the morning 🙂
If you stumble upon a fig tree, don’t hesitate to pick few of them and try 🙂 Grapes, cherries, watermelons, strawberries, peaches and blackberries are some of our best summer fruits. Fruit salads are one of my favourite summer refreshments! While you are in Silba, try to rent the boat and sail around the island. Some of the best bays are accessible only by boat because walking from the centre is just not doable and there are no cars for visitors. Maybe ask a local fishermen for a favour 🙂
Next off, Dugi otok!
Last summer we decided to fully take time to explore this island properly. Its name Dugi otok means long island because it literally is very long (44,5 kilometres)! Since it is one of rare islands in Croatia where you can freely camp anywhere (beside the designated nature park and national park area) it wasn’t hard to chose camping as our island way of life. We spent first few nights in the Kargita camp which I recommend greatly!
Kargita camp is situated just by the Veli Rat lighthouse. The beach in camp is wonderful, just the right spot to watch the sun set. Have you noticed how camps always have the best beaches? After we explored the area around the lighthouse, we continued exploring other places like Saharun, Luka and Verunić. To explore Dugi otok you will definitely need a car because busses are unreliable and not convenient at all. If you decide to go with a car, look up the ferries (not catamarans) and make sure to check the prices for a car plus the number of people in the car! Bikes are also a great idea, but then consider taking less area to cover/explore.
Because Saharun beach is the most famous place/beach on the whole island, we figured it would be the best to arrive around sunset time to escape the hustle. We were the only ones there but the sun is setting on the opposite side of the beach so we couldn’t enjoy the sky changing its colours. Honestly, there are much better places and beaches on Dugi otok, it shouldn’t be imperative to just visit Saharun like many people do. It is highly overrated in my opinion! In Luka we had better luck with pretty sunsets. It is a very small but lively part of the island filled with funny islanders (and our dear friends). If you want a proper Croatian experience spend your day here with locals, you will love it!
Brbišćica bay is a small little beach where we camped for 2 nights. There is no shade so most people bring their sun shaders or simply use old sheets and sticks. It is a beach from which you can swim to both Dragon’s eye and Golubinka cave! We did both, even though you can walk over by the hill if you find your way through the bushes.
We were swimming with air mattresses because it’s a long way and it is nice to rest for a bit somewhere before you reach the cave. Waves can be huge in this area because it’s just open sea all the way to Italy from here. The cave itself is magnificent, unlike the cave in Pula which is completely dark, this one has a little roof opening so it is not scary to go in at all!
Another beach I recommend visiting is Veli žal beach. There is a little sandwich bar serving ice-cream, food and drinks in the shade. The beach is perfect for playing water sports like frisbee or picigin (a traditional Croatian ball game played in shallow water).
Make sure to visit Nature Park Telašćica and National park Kornati while you’re on the island. You can check the pricing here. If you decide to do a boat trip to Kornati, you can check the daily trips in the city centre and book it. The price is around 50 euros per person.
This summer (2020) we went to a beach in a village Vrsi I was longing to see for 5 years now. The beach doesn’t have a name but it’s morphology is quite specific so it is easy to spot it from Google earth!
Rivers can be a great place to for a refreshment during summertime for those who are tired of crowded beaches! Known as a great rafting and kayaking destination, river Zrmanja is popular among all nature lovers and adventure seekers.
I’ll link you the exact location of these waterfalls, but Zrmanja is accessible by multiple entrances so just google the nearest one to you. Click here for a location. Also check out Krka waterfalls for similar experience.
Cetina is a 100 kilometre long river and this year we went to its spring. It is perhaps the most famous spring in Croatia because it’s immensely beautiful and resembles a dragon’s eye (well, some would beg to differ). The water temperature is around 5 to 7 celsius so definitely bring a floaty with you. Best way to find a this location is just to Google it and follow the road because the directions are very different depending where you’re coming from but it’s definitely worth visiting 🙂
Next area we explored last summer is one around Šibenik. Leš and I camped near St. Nikola fort which is not really recommendable to be honest. If you do the same make sure you don’t leave any rubbish and if you see some that’s not yours, pick it up! 🙂 Every summer, we take some time to clean the beaches or forests from plastic and other non degradable waste. If you are coming to Šibenik from Zadar or anywhere more north, maybe make a quick stop to Biograd na moru, Galešnjak, Drage and Primošten! Don’t take a highway and you will pass through all of those places and discover so many little beaches because the road is literally following the coastline.
St. Nikola fort is part of the Venetian Defensive System which Unesco put on its list of World Heritage Sites not so long ago. With its unique triangular shape and sturdy construction, it became the strongest fort on the Croatian coast during the Ottoman Empire.
As we arrived here around the sunset we had just the time to set up the tent and enjoy the view. Early in the morning we got up and went to the city centre to photograph it while everyone is asleep. As a photographer I just adore sunrise light and I always try to seize the day when I’m out exploring!
Unlike other cities along the Adriatic coast, which were established by Greeks, Illyrians and Romans, Šibenik was founded by our own people, making it the oldest native Croatian town on our shore. The cathedral of St. James in Šibenik is an architectural masterpiece of its time, built over almost a century by 3 different architects and today it is one of the best city landmarks in Croatia.
In 2021, we spent two days in Jadrija – a place where Yugonostalgia is not only in your head but very real and all around you. It has been people favourite beach resort since 1920s when it was built to attract foreigners and boost tourism in Šibenik area. Unexpectedly after WW2, Jadrija became a place where local middle working class seem to find their enjoyment and entertainment during hot summer days, making Jadrija a favourite summer spot to locals.
Jadrija is very recognisable because of its colorful cabins which were built for changing clothes, but today each owner made their cabin a tiny little room with everything they need to spend more than a day in the resort. The rooms have a bed and a little kitchen – all fit inside less than 2 square metres.
If you ever visit Jadrija, make sure to try THE best donuts in the area. Ruši is a famous bakery owner who has been making people crazy about this dessert since 1974. The locals say the summer begins and ends with Ruši donuts.
Continuing our journey, we stopped at Rogoznica. It is a small place known for another Dragon’s eye (I think we Croatians named every natural whole in the landscape Dragon’s eye haha). The lake has no visible surface connections with the surrounding sea, but lake and sea water both seep through cracks and channels in the porous limestone. Offering a great summer refreshment, locals spend time here cliff jumping and making up their own little games which is very fun to watch!
After a short but sweet stop in Rogoznica, we moved onto one of my favourite Croatian cities – Trogir! It is the best-preserved Romanesque/Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe!
Just walking around central Trogir is enough to grasp the full picture of how all coastal Croatian cities (should) look and feel like. Trogir is maybe even the best example because they are making enough effort to carefully make new buildings look like the old ones. That is not so common among the other cities and I really think we should strive to preserve our culture and such distinct architectural style without mixing it with too much modern tasteless builds.
While you are in the area, I suggest looking into Yacht week! I personally haven’t experienced it, but it has been a huge attraction among tourists.
After spending a day in Trogir, we decided to visit Čiovo – an island connected with Trogir by the bridge since they are so close to each other. We spent the night camping on the Dimitry beach with a nice view of Split. There are so many little beaches on this island, if you drive long enough you will definitely find the one which suits your needs. I forgot to take pictures of our beach, but we took some island pictures in the morning before leaving!
The biggest city in Dalmatia (and 2nd biggest in Croatia) is Split. I usually avoid it as much as I can because of the unbearable crowds but it is definitely worth putting on your summer list!
The only thing we managed to experience was having an early morning coffee in D16 and it was AMAZING. I also heard kava.family is a great place as well! Other than that we just walked around the old city and took photos. It’s so so calm in the morning I suggest waking up just to feel it. I was afraid of waking up the people but yessss I flew my drone at 6am. The light was just perfect 🙂 The most famous landmark in Split is Diocletian’s palace dating from 4th century. It was Diocletian’s summer house and part military camp. Over the centuries the Palace inhabitants, and later also the citizens of Split adapted parts of the palace for their own requirements, thus the inside buildings as well as the exterior walls with the towers significantly changed the original appearance.
Split is also a biggest ferry port for the middle Adriatic which makes it a great short stop in between islands. In 2019 we went to Brač and Korčula and this year we’ve visited Vis.
I’ll start with Brač. Leš and I decided to spend a week there camping in September to avoid the high season. Since we are not familiar with the area to freely camp on beaches, we went to the Aloa camp and loved every minute of it! Coming from Split, you will need to check out the ferry ticket prices for both a car and people because without car there’s not much you can explore. We arrived to Supetar and then drove for about an hour (depends on the traffic) to reach Bol, the most famous part of the island (where Zlatni rat beach is). Somewhat 10 minutes before reaching Bol, there is a great viewpoint where you can take pictures overlooking the whole area.
The beach we spent a lot of time is the one right to the Dominican Monastery called Martinica. It is a typical Croatian type of beach with tiny pebbles outside and the soft sand on the sea bottom. The colour of the sea here is a deep blue I’ve never seen anywhere else in Croatia! If you dive deeper in the sea you will find a lot of extremely white stone layers called Brački kamen, it is one of the most durable and expensive building materials, only found in this part of the country.
The thing about Zlatni rat beach is it’s a beautiful nature phenomenon but totally ruined by people and need to earn too much money too soon. There is a little to none chance you will be able to spend a day here without reaching deeply into your own pocket. First, there’s a overpriced parking, then there are many beach and food bars, sunshade and chair rent, sea children game hourly rates and so on. They start to charge you for parking at 7am and since we came earlier we thought nobody is going to be there but we were wrong. A guy approached us and charged us for parking even before 7am! In our whole week here, we only spent an hour on this beach and never came back simply because we didn’t like the atmosphere and how we felt there, even at 6 in the morning. We decided to explore the other side of the island – Sumartin.
As the high season was slowly shrinking, the less visited parts of the island have already been vacant. We found this little beach called Prva Vala and spent the afternoon there without anyone in plane sight. So peaceful 🙂
We also spent a lot of time hanging around in our camp. It has a great beach bar and a even better beach! When we weren’t there we would explore the rest of Brač. The place which I suggest visiting is definitely Vidova gora – the highest peek of the island. It is fully accessible by car and it provides a great view of Zlatni rat. A little tip: if you follow the signs along the way, you will see a road leading to another nature and cultural phenomenon – a Brač’s very own little hermitage (desert) called Blaca. It is a manmade stone area dating from 16th century where Glagolitic monks hid from the Turks. Today there is a museum commemorating the past historic event which took place in that area.
More islands to check in the area: Šolta, Hvar.
Now let’s talk about Brela! A small town just next to Makarska, situated beneath Biokovo mountain (check out newly built mountain skywalk). The whole area became famous for its riviera, possibly the most beautiful one on the Adriatic coast. We have visited in the 2019 and the crowds were even bigger than I imagined. Due to that, the rooms are overpriced and it’s just impossible to catch the parking spot. Since we arrived in the afternoon, we decided to stay the night and take pictures early in the morning so we can do it at our own pace.
The morning was so peaceful for a short amount of time because around 7:30 people already started coming to beaches to reserve a spot for the day. Just crazy! We wanted to stay for few more days but we left that for some other summers (hopefully). We continued our way south, Korčula island to be precise, where we spent another week of exploring and enjoying our beautiful sea.
First few days we stayed at Port 9 camp in the city of Korčula. The beach in the camp is better suited for little kids, but if you have a car it’s best to drive further into the island and maybe explore other beaches for a more special experience. Also, it is possible to take a taxi boat from the camp to the city centre or simply to walk half an hour and reach it by foot.
I mixed some photos from the prewedding session I photographed just to show you some other angles I don’t have in my private album 🙂
As I mentioned above, I photographed a prewedding session here on Korčula and while doing that, we stayed at their place in Prižba. They took Leš and me to some amazing beaches we wouldn’t have discovered by ourselves. It is their wish to keep the name of this first beach hidden so I am respecting that by only showing you pictures.
Make sure to finish your day somewhere on the west side of the island for the best sunsets. This was Vaja beach and it has the prettiest sunsets we’ve seen on Korčula.
Korčula is so versatile that exploring the inside of it is equally interesting as exploring the beaches and the sea. If you have time, definitely stop by Blato. In 1911 the linden tree alley Zlinje was planted and it stretches from towns’s side to side. This alley is the second longest linden tree alley in Europe, right after the famous Unter den Linden in Berlin. Also, the streets don’t have names but only numbers instead! If you pass Blato and continue up to the hills, you will find yourself witnessing unforgettable views, especially around sunset time!
The absolute highlight of 2020 was visiting a rather small but a very special island – Vis! Up until 20 years ago Vis was a military base and wasn’t opened for tourism.
The biggest issue here is camping. It’s forbidden but one guy decided to share his private property above Kamenice beach and let campers use it. For us personally it was an amazing experience and one of the best places we’ve ever camped in. However, there are few downsides: no toilet or shower (there is one on the beach), no cooking (fire is forbidden) and the beach bar is very loud all night. It’s free to stay so no complaints here 🙂 Parking lot is somewhat 200 metres away from the beach and you need to carry your camping equipment with you by foot. At least the path has the best views ever!
Komiža is within walking distance and for drivers there is a huge free parking lot just above the town centre. Only about a thousand people live here and they are mostly older generations. Walking down the riva you will find few booking tables for day trips such as Biševo (Blue cave), famous beaches like Stiniva, private boat rents etc. We booked a private boat for 4h with Zdenkica tours and had a pleasant experience. We told our skipper where to go and how long to stay! Biševo cave is included in the price and you get a fast pass as well (as soon as we arrived we were next in line. People usually wait about an hour in the sun).
The cave above is called Medvidina. The name stands for having being the home for monk seal which is unfortunately no longer there. For us it was much better experience than visiting Blue cave (no swimming, just a 10 minute boat ride into the cave).
While we were on the boat we asked our skipper to take us to Stiniva. As I already mentioned it is the most famous beach on the island and I wanted to know why. People say it was previously a cave which collapsed and turned into a beach. If you decide to visit by foot you will need to hike down the steep hill for about an hour and start very early to catch the spot during high season. There is a little cafe on the beach but not much shade. After seeing the beach in person I wouldn’t do the hike. I’m not saying it’s not beautiful because it is, I’m just saying it’s too crowded and Vis has so many much nicer and special beaches. If you have the opportunity visiting by boat is much better option 🙂
Talking about special beaches! Mala Pritičšina or Little Pritišćina is a gem we discovered this year and it’s safe to say it’s my favourite beach as of this summer. We parked our car near Velika (or Big) Pritišćina which is easily accessible (though the road is not paved) but we swam to get to the small beach. I would like to thank Matea for let us borrow her floaty (we used it to carry our photo equipment) because without her we would not be able to have these pictures 🙂
This beach gave me such thrills I totally forgot to take pictures of big beach 🙂 It’s best to arrive from 10 to 16h because of the light. It is also the period in which many boats comes with other tourists but we managed to get an hour just to ourselves. After swimming all the way back we were very hungry so we stopped by the nearest restaurant – konoba Gušti Poje. They only serve fresh sea food so the menu is never the same. You eat what they catch the day before. It’s heavenly!
The next day we explored JNA Submarine tunnel and beach Komarča. They are next to each other so it was really convenient time wise! The whole island is hiding networks of underground passages and rooms, whose former purpose was to preserve Tito’s life. In the event of an attack by NATO or in the event of a nuclear war, Vis was prepared as a place where the army would shelter Tito. During Yugoslavia Vis was an isolated island which foreigners were not allowed to visit. There was no tourism for our people either, because there were more soldiers than inhabitants on the island. It was only in 1992, when the JNA left Vis, that the island began to open to tourists. No one really knows how long the underground complexes are, because the JNA took all the documentation with it. It is believed that there are 37 military facilities, including an underground military hospital and a tunnel for sheltering warships.
Komarča is a little peninsula with not many visitors. If you want to escape the crowds this is the place. We didn’t have the time time to visit other beaches but here’s the best ones you should add to your list : Srebrena, Mala travna, Ruda, Milna and Perna.
The last but not the least – Vis (town). You will probably come here first because of the ferry. Most people go straight to Komiža but I would think twice after spending some time here. It is so so beautiful and I loved it better than Komiža, especially Kut (an old centre).
If you come to Kut don’t skip konoba Vatrica. The food was the best, especially black risotto and fish soup (better than my grandma’s)! Few other recommendations for food and drinks:
pasta with prosciutto and truffles in restaurant Komiža in Komiža
Cukar for all the sweets
Aerodrom gostionica for the wine
bistro Frutarija for all the fresh juices
Mvsevm Vis – best coffee and it is also a marine museum
Ever since I was little I wanted to visit Vis but somehow it only happened now. Spending time here was all I could ask for and I really cannot wait to come back. If it were up to me I’d buy a house this moment because of how much I liked it 🙂 Next up is Dubrovnik!
A city which needs no further introduction. Even if you don’t know where or what is Croatia you have probably heard about Dubrovnik. And for a reason. I might be a little bit biased but Dubrovnik is my favourite city in Croatia. This summer (2020) Leš, my best friend Areta and I spent 10 beautiful days exploring the city and its surroundings. Our plan was to camp but actually we had a little apartment in Mlini (Areta’s friend from high school let us stay in her house). I still don’t know whether it’s better to stay in the centre and not worry about paying for public transport every day or staying outside city centre like we did. It’s maybe best to decide depending on the prices you find in the given moment and just weight it out.
We really took our time to explore Mlini and you should too. Amazing beaches, a lot of shade, beautiful riviera, best views and all away from the crowds. You can always find places to have just for yourself and be at peace. I suggest looking into abandoned hotels when you’re in the area. Creepy but amazing! Speeking of that, our favourite was Hotel Belvedere near st. Jacob’s beach. We found some pretty amazing swimming spots there! You can get there by walking from St. Jacob’s beach which a big recommendation itself 🙂
I suggest walking from this beach to the city centre and stopping by few more great spots on the way – Betina cave, Hotel Excelsior (public beach with stone pool) and closest to the centre is a city beach Banje. This area is filled with loads of beautiful villas so you might want to check them out!
Coming from that side you will enter the city centre through Vrata od Ploča followed by fortress Revelin giving you the best views. Just walking around you will probably follow your gut and go behind small allies. It’s just the best to lose yourself among these streets, you can always find hidden gems and discover something new. One thing I suggest is that you take a walking tour with the guide. We did that too! You learn so much about city history, filming GOT and so on!
Some food and drinks musts: Peppino’s icecream, Bota Šare sushi, Gulozo vegan burgers, Pizzeria Toni makes the best Šporki makaruli (traditional meal in Dubrovnik prepared only for St. Vlaho, the protector of the city), Buža cafe for the best views (and a great swimming spot as well), Cogito coffee.. Just to name a few!
Landmarks to see: City walls of course! This year was a great opportunity money wise. Dubrovnik is well known for its spicy prices because of luxury tourism, but this year brought no foreign tourists so they lowered their prices to be more inviting to us locals. For example, entrance to city walls standard price is around 300kn (50EUR) per person, but this year they gave all Croatian people children prices for 50kn (7 EUR). Walls were built as a protection from enemies and unlike popular opinion they were not built for the purposes of filming Game of Thrones. Haha yes, we heard so many stories about people thinking that!
Anyways, don’t skip Rector’s Palace, Stradun, Lovrijenac, the famous playground, Church of Saint Blaise (the stairs are very famous), Franciscan Monastery, Sponza Palace, Srđ mountain… There is just so much to see! Take a week at least to enjoy it all without pressure.
You will also want to save some extra days for day trips to various locations! We went to Lokrum, Arboretum Trsteno, Cape Prevlaka (the most southern point of Croatia), Cavtat and Pasjača beach!
To visit Lokrum, you just have to be at the boat starting point down at the city pier. We were given the advice to use only yellow boats because their price is the best. They come and go every half an hour which is also very convinient! For those who don’t know, Lokrum is a little island 10 minutes away from the city centre. It is also a place which is known because of the curse! It is forbidden to live on the island and for all those who try they will forever be cursed with bad luck. It is a very special place (bunnies and peacocks freely run around) and they are trying to preserve it as much as humanly possible. I suggest spending the whole day here and discover all this little island has to offer!
If you ever watched GOT, you have probably seen scenes from Arboretum Trsteno. It’s Higharden! Apart from the tv show, this arboretum is an actual paradise. It is the oldest arboretum in Europe, built in 15th century. The family who built it was in close touch with sailors, who they asked to bring plant seeds from all over the world. We came by car but there is also a city bus connection. The entrance was 30kn (4 EUR) per person.
Cape Prevlaka is an interesting spot to visit as well! At least if you have a drone. It’s a little bit underwhealming when you come in front of a huge fortress (which probably has amazing views) but it is currently closed due to long lasting construction work. You have an amazing view over Hercegovina and the road to the cape is soo dreamy – it reminded me a lot of Van Gogh’s starry night because of relentless cypressus trees (my favourite trees in the world).
Cavtat is a little town half an hour drive from Dubrovnik. Many people told me to go because it is even prettier but actually I do not agree. It is different for sure so you just can’t compare those two. We loved little beaches surrounding the city and spent a really nice and quiet afternoon discovering Cavtat. If you have extra time stop by, but if youre schedule is busy I think there is no need to!
Last but definitely not the least is Pasjača – a beach so cool it needed to exist against all the odds. Firstly there was no beach at all, but when people started throwing big rocks from above the cliff, over the time that created the beach. How amazing is that!! We came very early, around 8am and we were completely alone. An hour later a whole other story. There is almost no shade so we didnt’s stay long. If you have anything to cover yourself bring it with you. P.S. Unfortunately it’s a no dogs beach 😦
I can talk for days about everything we saw but I think we really had a special opportunity to visit Dubrovnik and witness it almost crowdless so my experience won’t help you a lot unfortunately. Everything was at least 40% cheaper and everywhere we ate there was a discount with no questions asked. We also had a car which made everything easier regarding day trips and as I mentioned we had free acommodation. I know how it sounds and I believe 3 skies with all the stars had to align to have such experience. Despite the prices and amazing time, there is no denying that whenever you visit you will have an amazing history lesson, learn about this special Croatian culture, your eyes won’t stop seeing beautiful things and you will experience such good things in this big little city! I just cannot wait to come back 🙂
To conclude our 2020 explorations, our friends and us decided to seize Covid prices and book ourselves sailing week! I was born and raised by the sea but I never even thought about sailing. I don’t know why but it’s the same with all people living by the sea. We have our little boats and we often go fishing, but sailing is kinda just for sportsmen and tourists.
Sailing is the fastest way to visit a lot of islands in a very short amount of time but I am a kind of person who needs to stay in one place a little longer than one afternoon to really feel it. I need to walk the streets, meet people, eat local food, take millions of photos and so on!
As soon as we realised the whole trip is going to be jumping from one island to another, the six of us decided at least we could go to Palagruža. It’s the most remote island in Croatia and there is no ferry or any kind of public transportation to it. Also nobody lives there, only 2 lighthouse keepers staying in the lighthouse. It was a perfect opportunity to visit and so we did! It took us 7 hours of sailing from Vis (which is already very far from the coast) but it was worth every second!
After 7 hours of having only endless sea 360 around you, I thought I was imagining when Ifinally saw Palagruža in the distance. It is a very steep, rough and cliffy island but at the same time it’s the most magnificent one we have in Croatia. Mostly because it so far away and inaccessible and you know you there is not many people who’s been here. It felt very intimate and personal.
We anchored ourselves as close as we could to the beach and then we walked up the hill to reach the lighthouse.
Having met the lighthouse keepers, we learned their shifts last one month and they inherit the jobs after their fathers (or close family). They mostly spend time watching movies or reading books. We felt like they really wanted us to stay as long as possible because they liked the company. Unfortunately we could only stay about 2 hours because we needed to get back to Lastovo before dark. I flew my drone and took last few pictures and then we said goodbye and left. I looked back over my shoulder so so many times, I didn’t want to leave! They have a little apartment for rent which we plan to book in the near future. I want to experience spending time here for a week with no internet or other people.
If you want to visit, you can either sail like we did or you can book day trips from Hvar with a speed boat. I am not sure about the prices because 2020 was special regrading that! I suggest whenever you decide to first Google the prices.
Visiting Palagruža was definitely the biggest highlight of summer 2020! During our sailing week we also went to Brač, Lastovo, Mljet and Vis. The boat maximum capacity was 8 people but there was 6 of us (+ skipper). I think we would not have enough space if there was one more person with us (and we are all small people haha) so keep that in mind!
This brings me to the end of this super long blog post but I hope it was worth the effort! I also hope you discovered few new places and learned about a thing or two 🙂 I will always continue to explore Croatia, but maybe not with the same pace like I did throughout the past 4 years because I finally feel this project is now exactly what I wanted it to be. Thank you for being here and for your relentless support. Means the world ❤