Croatia is a Balkan country south of Austria. It’s a small country of 4 million inhabitants and cities with medieval architecture. Games of Thrones was shot here.
- Currency is Croatian Kuna (HRK), which is about 1/7th of a US Dollar.
- One can use a Schengen visa to enter Croatia.
- Public toilets are expensive. Almost all restaurants provide free access.
- Tap water is drinkable.
- Public transports between cities and even to the islands are pretty good. Use www.azk.hr for finding and booking local buses.
- Most people speak English in tourist cities.
The language seems to be harder than German
- Thanks – Hvala
- Hello – zdravo
Where to spend time
There are four major medieval-styled cities in Croatia; Zagreb, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik. The last one is famous for the Game of Thrones. All except Zagreb are on the coast, known as the Dalmatian coast. Apart from these, there are several islands of which Hvar is the most famous. There are two famous national parks – Plitvice and Krka. If you are on a long trip, do all of them, but if you have time constraints, I would recommend choosing either
- Zagreb – Plitvice – Split or,
- Split – Krka – Dubrovnik
One can call (1) or (2) a half-split journey, and the combined one is a full split journey.
Day 1 – Zagreb
I spent a day in Zagreb, starting with Free Spirit’s walking tour, which gave me a good idea of the history and the culture of the city. A good tour guide would not forget to mention to you that Nikola Tesla, a Serbian, grew up in Zagreb, Croatia and that ties were invented in Croatia.
Afterward, I had Strukli, a local lacto-vegetarian dish, which I would recommend if you like cheese.
Then I spent the day checking out the upper town, which gives a good view of the city, Cathedral from the inside (it’s free unlike in Vienna and Budapest). Every day at noon, a cannon is fired, in memory of the cannonball, which landed on Ottoman Pasha’s plate, and he decided not to attack. While I wanted to check out the Museum of Torture, it was closed for the day. I checked the horseshoe parks, they are underwhelming, and I won’t recommend it.
Day 2 – Plitvice Lakes
I took an early morning, 5:45 AM local bus from Zagreb to Plitvice, it reaches at 8 AM before the hoards of tourists arrive. The park is mesmerizingly beautiful. The entry fee is 100 Kuna. There is a standard luggage storage room available for free; the security is non-existent since they hand you to the key to use the room. There are several trails inside the parks. I did the longest 18 km one. However, I would recommend a shorter 8 km since it covers all the scenic sections of the longest trail and substitutes mostly pleasant ones with a boat and bus rides. Then, I took a 4:30 PM Flixbus from Plitvice to Split for the onward journey.
Day 3 – Split
Split is a city built out of a remnant of a Roman-era castle with pre-Christianity temples converted to Cathedrals. It’s a charming city. While it will be expensive, I would recommend taking a hotel/hostel inside the castle boundaries. Free walking tours are illegal in the city! I would recommend doing the tour on your own, as suggested here.
Day 4 – 6 islands tour
I did the famous 6-islands tour, which covers the island Blue cave, Seal monk cave, Green cave, Stiniva beach, and finally stops at the island of Hvar for lunch. I would highly recommend this tour for the Green cave and the Blue cave. The blue cave is sometimes closed due to the bad weather, which was the case when I did the tour. If you are short on time, this tour is a great way to explore Hvar for a few hours.