Craggy limestone karsts of the Dinaric Alps butting up against the crystal clear water of the Adriatic Sea make for one of the most stunning backdrops I have ever seen. Croatia’s history and culture have also been influenced by Roman architecture and the casual way of Mediterranean life. Enjoying the coast, enjoying the food, enjoying meeting a friend for coffee in the middle of the day.
Our arrival to this gorgeous country, as well as our home base for three weeks, began in the city of Split.
Split is a port town with numerous cruise ships and ferries entering and exiting all day. It has a historic old city center – Diocletian’s Palace – which is one of the oldest preserved Roman Ruin in the world.
Inside the main entrance to the palace there are lots of vendors selling local art and other souvenirs. Once you exit the old palace you are in a maze of narrow alleys that make up the old city. There are quaint little restaurants serving some of the freshest seafood you can find.
There are numerous places to stay in the old city, but it can get quite loud and very crowded when the cruise ships dock, so Trav and I decided to stay about a ten minute walk from the city center. (You can read about our accommodations here.)
One of the main reasons we decided to stay in Split was because of the easy access to the islands. Croatia is comprised of over a thousand islands and islets and two of the most popular islands are off the coast of Split, Hvar and Brac.
After exploring what Split had to offer, we decided to rent a car and take a road trip down to Dubrovnik and then take the car to the island of Brac so that we could explore without the hassle of the bus.
We started our scenic road trip down the Dalmatian Coast to Dubrovnik which is about a four hour drive. The first stop was the charming little coastal town of Makarska. The limestone mountains end where the town begins; which, makes for a striking landscape and the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch and a hike before continuing south.
A short hike around the side of Makarska reveals a nice lookout of the town and it’s very own “love locks” bridge.
We left Makarska and continued down the coast. Driving a coastal route is exciting and unpredictable because we find the weather is always changing. When we were in Makarska it was gloomy and misty. A few hours later the sun is out and sparkling its diamonds on the surface of the sea.
Fields of crops and vineyards display Croatian agriculture at its best.
The city of Dubrovnik is unlike anything we have seen. The old city is surrounded by a fortress that you can actually climb on and walk the perimeter of the city.
Because we were only in Dubrovnik for three nights, we decided to stay in the old city so that we could be in the center of all the activity. Steep stone stairs with guesthouses and restaurntants on either side can be found within the old walls of Dubrovnik.
Along the coast, near Dubrovnik, there are quite a few dilapidated hotels that were abandoned after the war. They are eerily beautiful in their ruined stated which was only enhanced by the rain.
We mistakenly found the abandoned Kupari Resort by following a sign that said “Beach” with an arrow. We drove down the narrow road with overgrown palm trees and fauna and thought we were definitely going the wrong way when we drove up to this beautiful, once grandiose resort.
I enjoyed exploring this hotel the most because of the amazing neoclassical architecture and random decaying furniture inside.
We drove back to Split and decided to take the ferry to the island of Brac. The ferry leaves right from the port in Split and takes about one and a half hours. The ferry pulls up to this view.
Then we drove to the south side of the island to one of the most beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and a couple of sailboats floating in the distance.
After spending the day at the beach we walked around the small village of Bol and had some of the best fresh calamari and fish while sitting next to the water.
Exploring Croatia was one of the best experiences Trav and I have had – from the amazing coastline to the friendly people and fresh food. We can’t wait to go back and see more of this gorgeous country!