MY TRAVEL GUIDE TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE IN CROATIA

Croatia has been on my long list ‘of places I want to go to now pretty please’ for ages.
When I started planning my Europe trip it was top of my list. It takes a good 30 hours to get there from little old ‘I’m so far away from everywhere’ New Zealand so I recommend getting to a few spots and see as much as you can.

I flew from Auckland to Doha (17 hours) Doha to Zagreb, Croatia (6 hours) then from Zagreb to Split (45 minutes).

SPLIT

Split is a port town on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
On my first night I stayed at the cutest hotel Hotel Peristil next door to Diocletian’s Palace, which was built by the Roman Emperor in the 4th century.

PLITVICKA LAKES NATIONAL PARK

This is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia and is famous for it’s turquoise lakes and forests.
One of the most magical places I’ve ever been and have also been Instagram crushing on hard for years.
I used getbybus and pre-booked a return ticket with Promet Makarska. The bus takes you four hours north of Split and drops you outside Entrance 1 or 2 of the National Park.
It’s common to do this as a day trip but as it’s a huge day on the tools (8 hours on a bus) if you have the time stay the night like I did so you have an afternoon and a day to make your way around the park. I’m not great with maps but managed to manoeuvre my way around the whole park and clock up over 30km (wtf I did not mean to walk that far).
I stayed at Hotel Jezero. Got a really good holistic massage in their spa.
I wouldn’t recommend staying in this area for longer than a night. It’s epic but does feel a little airy, is cold and almost like something out of a horror movie, not to put you off like totally go lol

TOPDECK CROATIAN RIVIERA

I travelled back to Split for an 8 day sail from Split to Dubrovnik with Topdeck on their Croatian Riviera trip.
Check it out here

WHAT IS THE BOAT LIKE?

I was on board Pape Priv which is the premium option. It’s so worth it, the boat is epic and has:

  • Multiple decks for sunbathing and lounging

  • Aircon

  • Wifi

  • Spacious rooms with good storage. Doubles for couples and twin share. Each room has an ensuite with an enclosed shower

  • Fresh towels and bedding throughout the sail

  • The food is next level. There are chefs on board that make you breakfast each day, a three course lunch and dinners on some evenings

  • The best boat crew and Topdeck trip leaders that are experts


DAY 1: SPLIT TO MILNA

Say doviđenja (goodbye) to Split for the next 7 days as you set sail and head to the first destination, Milna. Milna is a really cute village on the western side of Brač with a population of 800.

Highlights & Must Dos:

  • Wine and olive oil tasting

  • BBQ dinner on board to get to know your shipmates

DAY 2: MILNA TO HVAR

Hvar was one of my favourite stops on the Croatian Riviera. The island which boasts that it’s the sunniest spot in Europe features beaches, inland lavender fields, 13th century walls and a hilltop fortress.

Highlights & Must Dos:

  • Walk 15 minutes to the Spanish Hvar Fortress for the best views and ‘gram spot

  • Check out the Renaissance-era Hvar Cathedral

  • Wander around, take in the scenery and the sparkly water

  • We had dinner at a family run restaurant Đorđota Vartal

  • Epic night life. We went to Caffee Bar Sidro and Kiva

DAY 3: HVAR TO KORCULA

Next stop Korcula, the home of Marco Polo and cute cobblestone streets. Fun fact, Korcula is only 32 kilometres long and 8 kilometres wide.

Highlights & Must Dos:

  • Walking tour of the cobblestone alleyways

  • Have a cocktail at the top of a cathedral tower. Book in at Massimo Cocktail bar as seating is limited

  • Have a picnic on the waterfront

DAY 4: KORCULA TO DUBROVNIK

Game of Thrones lovers I’m sorry your show had a rubbish ending but you’ll be fangirl or fanboy heaven in Dubrovnik, one of the biggest tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea and one of my favourite spots on the trip.

Highlights and Must-Dos:

  • Wander around Dubrovnik Old Town

  • Do a Game of Thrones Walking Tour- visit iconic spots like Kings Landing and The Red Keep.

  • Walk along the top of the cities 1,930 metre long city walls

  • Hike 45 minutes to the top of Mount Srd. Well worth it for the views and the best gram spot over Dubrovnik, don’t worry I got ya covered. You can also catch the cable car if it’s running.

  • Plenty of food and drinking spots - we had dinner at Mex Cantina Bona Fide which was super yum

  • Party in a castle at Culture Club Revelin - one of the top clubs in Europe

DAY 5: DUBROVNIK TO MIJET

Mljet National Park is the oldest protected marine area in the Mediterranean Sea. Surrounded by bush and bright blue and turquoise water, lap up this natural paradise.

Highlights & Must Dos:

  • Pay the 100 kuna (NZ $22) entry fee to access Mljet National Park

  • Swim, walk around, hire bikes and make your way about the Great Lake and Small Lake

  • Catch the boat to the islet of St. Mary home to one of the oldest churches in the Adriatic and Benedictine Monastery

  • We had The Captain’s Dinner on board Pape Priv

DAY 6: MLJET TO MAKARSKA

Makarska is such a picturesque place to arrive in by boat. Get out on the decks and take it all in.
The town has a seafront promenade and riviera beaches with plenty of space to lie and and lap up the sunshine while staring at the epic surrounding hills.

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Highlights & Must Dos:

  • Wander around the township and markets

  • I was living the lush relaxed life in Makarska and got a massage and then parked up on the beach and alternated between reading my book and going for swims

  • The famous pirate party happens here. We started our festivities on the boat and let’s just say the shot bell was ringing non-stop

  • Party in The Rave Cave, which opens especially for the Croatian summers. I can only tell you it looks epic from photos I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard as Belly didn’t make it to The Rave Cave and instead woke up the next morning fully clothed in her pirate get up and sandals still on

DAY 7: MAKARSKA TO SPLIT

Our last full day and evening on the Croatian Riviera trip. There’s an optional activity of going ziplining and we had lunch on board for the final time with plenty of time to take in the beautiful sights as we made our way back to Split.

Highlights & Must Dos:

  • Wander around all of the old buildings and alley ways.

  • Park up at an old styled cafe and have an iced coffee or cocktail and people watch in the courtyards

  • Walking tour through Diocletian’s Palace and the basements, which is where the dragons are kept on Game of Thrones

  • Zara in Split is so chic and cheaper than NZ, Australian and UK stores

  • We got some delicious poke and acai bowls at Maka Maka

DAY 8: SPLIT

We had our final breakfast on board and said goodbye to our epic group. I went to Split airport to head to my next destination, Greece.


THE BENEFITS OF DOING A TOPDECK TRIP

  • The Croatian Riviera is a next level trip I got to see so much of Croatia by doing it

  • Affordable as and great value for money

  • Travelling with like minded people, everyone looks out for each other and you and can make great new friends

  • You can do a trip as a couple, with friends or as a single it caters for everyone

  • The best trip leaders

  • Your days are planned for you taking you to to the top places in each destination and there’s still enough free time

  • The food IS SO GOOD

  • Plenty of date options for trips, Croatian Rivera runs weekly during the European summer period. Find dates and info here

MY TRAVEL TIPS

  • Download a currency converter app on your phone. I use the free ‘xe currency’ app to work out how much things cost in different currencies. It’s super easy to use on the go.

  • Get cash of an ATM once you arrive. In some countries you can use your card easily but in Croatia cash is a must. Try to get it out in one lump sum at the beginning to avoid paying lots of ATM fees.

  • Wear a small handbag with a strap you can put across your body. Keep your essential items, cash, phone, lip balm (girls gotta have well looked after lips) in there. Backpacks are ideal for anything else you might need for the day

  • It’s probably common sense but carry hand sanitiser on you (Palmolive Japanese Blossom is my fave) and make sure you use it or wash your hands every time before you eat

  • Make sure your passport is safe. Check where it is everyday. Keep it on you and then hidden in your luggage during your stays if it’s safe enough (use common sense)

  • Be safe! If you’re travelling solo don’t wander around at night or get drunk on your own. Keep someone posted back home of your whereabouts (Hi Dad)

  • For Europe while the weather in peak may be what you’re after it’ll be hella busy. Consider going at the start or near the end of the season, the weather is still lovely

  • When you arrive in Europe use your NZ body clock to your advantage and get up early to go sight seeing. Around lunchtime and in the afternoons places get packed

MY TIPS FOR LONG HAUL TRAVEL

I’m not at expert level yet but I’ve worked out a few things that will help you get through your long flights

  • Smash the waters hon. Like litres of it. H20 is your travel bestie

  • Liposomal vitamin C is your new BFF. Take these throughout your flight and every day on your travels

  • A lot of people dose up on sleeping pills but for a natural alternative that won’t leave you feeling super groggy, load up on a high dose Magnesium and Melatonin. Try to get as much sleep as you can

  • Don’t wear make up on your flight, keep a nice clean and moisturised face

  • Pack your toothbrush and toothpaste so you can freshen up and avoid that grim cotton mouth feeling

  • Wear comfy as clothes. Activewear and trackies are ideal

  • I’ve toyed with the ideal of letting myself get kankles because A. they apparently don’t hurt and B. all of the lols BUT wear long socks to keep the leggies looking chic and in tact

  • Pack spare underwear and socks, your hairbrush, essential toiletries, face wipes for a stripper shower aka a nice wee freshen up in the bathrooms during your stop over

  • Make sure you’ve downloaded lots of podcasts, Netflix shows, your music and have a good book to keep you entertained

  • When you get up to go to the bathroom have a wander to stretch your legs and stretch

  • Once you arrive at your destination DO NOT NAP. Stay up and keep yourself busy, go for a wander until it’s bedtime. This will help you adjust asap and avoid feeling super jetlagged. The same goes for when you come home, a firm NO napping policy. Stay awake until bedtime, even if you can only manage 7pm