Croatia – The land of 1000 islands
Croatia has so much to offer – beaches, historical sites, national parks, great food and their own wine, and GOT sites for those who are fans. And Croatian coast is speckled with islands. They are all different in size and character and it is recommended to go on island hopping.
Where to stay in Croatia
We stayed in a little place called Stobrec just outside of Split. Split is a beautiful coastal town with an amazing historical old city. And as you may know, Game of Thrones was filmed in Split, among several other places in Croatia. Split has beaches, marina, old town and of course many tourists. Its location makes it super popular. The nearby located islands such as Trogir and Hvar, but also only a few hours drive to Dubrovnik and Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, makes Split one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. There are tons of things to do around Split – such as a trip to Blue Lagoon, diving, kayaking, cycling among several activities. If you are a GOT lover you might want to go on a walking tour of GOT locations. To make your planning easier you can find activities and book your tickets HERE. We wanted to do a Blue Lagoon tour and get our tickets on the spot but ended up with nothing, as it was sold out.
Hotel in Split
We booked our hotel through TripAdvisor – Ark Beach Apartments. This 4* hotel is a family run hotel and has only 15 rooms. Its location is perfect if you want to stay close to the sea. It took about 10 min to walk to the centrum of Stobrec where there were restaurants and few convenient stores. This hotel has also a pool. For a deeper review of the hotel read here.
The pool was nice and it was just a few steps down to the sea. But the best part of the hotel was the host. The hotel is family run and the whole family was really sweet. They go really out of their way for you. If you want to stay out of the worst tourist jam I can really recommend this place. We had a two room apartment with a balcony overlooking the sea. Although you don’t stay in your apartment while on vacation it is lovely to have a beautiful view to wake up to.
Stobrec used to be a fishing village but is now an administrative part of Split. It had quite a few restaurants in the centrum, a little church overlooking the sea and a sandy beach. It took 5-10 min to walk to the bus station that took us to the city of Split. The bus ride took approximately 10 min.
When it comes to beaches they are different from the ones you are used to in Spain, France or Italy. The water is so clear it’s unbelievable. There were mostly pebble beaches in the area we stayed at and luck of sand is the reason the water is so see-through. If you move a little further out to Podstrana you will find luxury resorts, yacht rentals, and Casino. There is a water activity “park” off the beach as well – which is a huge fun for older kids.
The best part of staying in Stobrec is that you are off the tourist trail, but still very close to everything.
Old town Split
I love old towns and their history and Split old town is perfect. It’s ancient architecture and the narrow streets are amazing. The drawback is all the crowds and heat. If you have the chance to go off-season, do that. There are so many ways you can explore it. See this guide for things to do in Split.
Split is the largest city on the Adriatic Coast and the second-largest in Croatia. Its location made it an attractive target for the Romans, Venetians, Austrians, French, Italian and Yugoslavian empires. Due to the influence of different cultures and religions Split’s old town has an amazing mixture of history and architecture. If you want to go on walking tour in Split Old town you can book your tickets here.. I always try to book my tickets online before I go, that removes the possibilities of trips beings sold out (as I have experienced before).
Sites such as Diocletian’s Palace and Mausoleum, the Grgur Ninski Statue and the Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius justify its position as a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Old Town in Split has many restaurants and is a great day trip destination if you stay outside the city.
Split to Mostar day trip
During our 10 days, we had 2 days of bad weather so we decided to go on a road trip. Split is located about 2 hours drive from Bosnia-Hercegovina’s border which made it easy to go on a day trip to Mostar. Our host at the hotel was very helpful with the car hire. The agency he recommended delivered and picked up our car at the hotel, which was very convenient.
The drive to Mostar was very pleasant and scenic on both sides of the border. Remember to bring your passport for customs as you will be crossing borders. It can take up to an hour to get through the customs depending on the queue. Although it rained a lot the day we went and was only +14C, Mostar was a nice experience and I would definitely recommend it. The old town with its street sellers was very charming and the food was ok.
I love history and architecture and Mostar had both. The city was totally destroyed during the Balkan war but is now rebuild and Bosnia-Herzegovina is becoming a larger tourist attraction. The river under the bridge comes down from the mountains and holds about +7C. The bridge is a huge tourist attraction – be aware of that! During summer you can see free divers jumping off the bridge into the cold water – that’s 24 m down – crazy, but fun for tourists. Since it was raining that day there were no jumpers 🙁
Croatia is still a lot cheaper than its big brothers and sisters – Spain, France, and Italy. But it also has a younger vibe. Croatia produces its own wine, which they are very proud of and the food is amazing. The country has a great tradition of barbecuing the food and it tastes great. There is a lot of meat and fish on the menu, especially catch of the day is always a great surprise. As I mentioned in the beginning – research the stuff you want to do in advance and pre-book your tickets. It makes your stay so much easier and comfortable. Let me just tell you that I learned my lesson, at the price of missed Blue Lagoon 🙁 And if I should mention one thing that disappointed me it was the pebble beaches. Luckily none took a shot of me when I was trying to stumble across the hot sharp stones, moaning like a crazy lady, trying to get to the beautiful clear water. Once I was in the water the stones were slippery and I had to watch out for sea urchins, at least you could see them rather clearly 🙂 So, bring your bathing shoes! (is that even a thing?)