I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 7 Travel Bloggers Said

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 7 Travel Bloggers Said

Croatia is a travel hit in the world! It was hard not to notice many articles being published around the blogs, renowned travel magazines suggesting locations one should visit in Croatia and a total hype being built around my beautiful home country. And now it is confirmed – the year 2016 was the best year for Croatian tourism

I wanted to start a year in that tone so I asked fellow travel bloggers about their experiences in Croatia. How can you get a better feedback than to ask a traveler directly about the places they visited, what they liked the most and what maybe was not that good? 

If you are deciding which places to visit in 2017 or planning your Croatian adventure, definitely continue reading!


Favorite Stop on the Mediterranean Cruise

The final (and my favorite) stop on a Royal Caribbean cruise around the Mediterranean four years ago was Split in Croatia.  From the moment I could see the shore from the ship, I found Split to be an incredibly beautiful city. Set among the 1700-year-old ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, Split was best viewed by climbing the Bell Tower of St. Domnius for a picturesque, 360° view of the city below. 

The historic narrow streets (fantastically pedestrian only) were busy and vibrant in the high season as I wandered them, perused markets and consumed coffee and gelato along the Riva. Croatia is underrated as a destination – gorgeous to visit with beautiful beaches and the value of the local currency (kuna) makes it economical to visit. One day was simply not enough and I will return.

 
I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Sarah in Split © Sarah Sees The World

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Split from above © Sarah Sees The World

Croatian coast exceeded our expectations

Traveling up the Dalmatian coast in Croatia for ten days remains one of my finest travel memories. Even though I had high expectations prior to the trip, Croatia managed to exceed them. The stone walls and orange roof of Dubrovnik had wowed us; cycling around the Mljet National Park was an epic adventure, coupled with dips in the gorgeous lagoon.

Then we went onto the historic Split and sat under the Peristyle of a former Roman Emperor that lived thousands of years ago, sipping a cocktail and swaying to live music. We swam against the current of the Skradinski waterfall in the Krka National Park, grabbing each other in case one of us got wash away during our group photo. We took a boat trip to Hvar, admiring the stunning Adriatic Sea from the Spanish Fort. We braved the rain to Plitvice and was rewarded by the misty, out-of-this-world sceneries.

Last but not least, we visited Zadar, with its Roman Old Town blended with the modern seafront, watching as the sun set over the horizon and the Sun Salutation started glowing with the Sea Organ humming in the background. Our trip to Croatia had truly been a dream, one that I would never forget.

Nam from Laugh Travel Eat | Facebook | Pinterest 

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Hvar © Laugh Travel Eat

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Greeting to the sun in Zadar © Laugh Travel Eat

Active holidays in Paklenica National Park

My visit to Croatia involved traveling to the Paklenica National Park which is known for climbing and hiking.  The park is near Zadar and an easy place to get to via public bus. Within the park, you can easily stay in one of the comfortable mountain guesthouses where meals are included while you’re afforded with such lovely mountain views.

I hiked up the highest peak of the Velebit mountain range which took 11 hours.  The effort was worthwhile as I was spoiled by the spectacular mountain ranges.  While most tourists spend their time in the cities by the port, spending time in the mountains of Paklenica is definitely an authentic way get to know Croatia.  No need to do a tough hike like I did or rock climb as you can easily do a restful stay at the mountain guesthouses and enjoy nature without the crowd – a definite must do in Croatia.

Marinel from Brown Gal Trekker | Facebook | Twitter

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

NP Paklenica © Brown Gal Trekker

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

NP Paklenica © Brown Gal Trekker

A day trip to Elafiti Island from Dubrovnik

If you are staying in Dubrovnik there is one day trip I can highly recommend you take and that is to visit the Elafiti Islands. The Elafiti Islands are an archipelago of 13 large and small islands only 4 to 8 nautical miles west of Dubrovnik. We hired a boat and skipper for the day to take us on a sailing trip around the islands. We stopped at each of the 3 inhabited islands – Kolocep, Lopud, and Sipan.

We spent most of our time on Lopud which has a beautiful beach and a shallow bay to swim in. Get there by golf buggy as the bay is found on the opposite side of the island to the harbor and the path is rather steep. The golf buggy drivers are waiting to take you to the beach for a small charge. Once there we hired a sunbed and umbrella for a few hours.

Enjoy the views as you sail through the beautiful Adriatic waters. It is a beautiful trip and an unforgettable experience!

Tracy from Tracy Travels in TimeFacebook | Instagram

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Elafiti Island © Tracy Travels in Time

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Elafiti Island © Tracy Travels in Time

Fun on a Marco Polo’s Island

Marco! Polo!  Not just a fun game for the pool, but also a famous explorer!  Korcula Island is actually where he was born!  I took a ferry from Split for a week of scuba diving!  The diving was interesting, but the water wasn’t as clear like it was in the Caymans (Where I learned) or as much wildlife as the Great Barrier Reef, but I did see my first octopus! I’d say the most interesting part of the dives was a floating restaurant that had sunk! Of course, all I could think about were dinglehoppers like in The Little Mermaid.

The island was small and easily navigable.  You could rent scooters to go zipping around the island.  It was possible to get water taxis to take your across the Bay, or you could just walk it.  The land was basically a U-shaped bay, and the walk took maybe 20-30 minutes.  Along the way were fun little shops, restaurants, and even a little grocery store!  Hindsight, I might go down to just 3 or 4 days of diving and explore the island more, but it was a lovely time on a not well-known island.

Carly from Flight of the Educator | Facebook | Instagram

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Korcula Island © Flight of the Educator

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Korcula island © Flight of the Educator

Magical Plitvice Lakes

Ah, Croatia! I don’t know how to begin how much the country beguiled me. In all honesty, I’ve read tons of articles about Croatia and its growing popularity, and I was questioning if it is that beautiful in there. I gave it a try nevertheless, and I was in Zagreb at first, such an underrated city by the way, and I took a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park – just wow.

I was blown away at how beautiful the landscapes and nature of the country and as well how nice the locals are! Apart from these, Plitvice Lakes is like a dream, which I didn’t know I have, come true – the place is magical, and I was in awe of its beauty. No words can describe it! Also, have I not mentioned about Croatian food? No? Well, it is delish. I will surely come back that’s for sure, and it will be soon.

Evan Kristine from Pretty Wild World | Facebook | Instagram

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Plitvice Lakes © Pretty Wild World

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Plitvice Lakes © Pretty Wild World

Croatia is much more than sun and sea!

Croatia has long been in our hearts; it’s such a beautiful and diverse country. We’ve explored the coastline, traveled into Istria, discovered waterfalls in national parks and have sought out lesser-visited destinations in the interior. Our most recent trip took us to Zagreb, the capital city, and Osijek, a city in the eastern region of Slavonia.

It wasn’t our first trip to the thriving city of Zagreb, but it was our first time to the award-winning Advent in Zagreb celebration. The month-long festivities occupied squares and lanes all around the city. Holiday fare – sausages, fritules and piping hot mulled wine – were served from wooden huts and musicians and DJs took to the stages to provide a merry soundtrack.

When we weren’t perusing the Christmas markets, we were retracing our steps to some of the best sights of the city, like St. Mark’s Church, the Zagreb Cathedral, Maksimir Park, and the Dolac market. We were excited to see that the craft beer scene, which just started taking off in Croatia a few years ago, was alive and well. We sampled local brews at newly opened establishments and visited a few of our long-favorite spots.

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Advent in Zagreb © Jetsetting Fools

I Have Been To Croatia And I Loved It!, 6 Travel Bloggers Said

Kopacki Rit © Jetsetting Fools

Unlike Zagreb, it was our first time visiting the city of Osijek and the Slavonia region. Located near the borders of Hungary and Serbia, Osijek is the 4th largest city in Croatia but sees fewer visitors than the cities on the coast. The reason for our wintertime visit was to attend the Osijek Advent festival. The event in Osijek felt more intimate than in Zagreb, like a small-town affair. There were nightly musical performances, plenty of mulled wine and wood burning stoves to keep attendees warm on the crisp nights.

During the day, we spent time sightseeing and biking through the city and then went further afield to discover the surrounding area. We got a good dose of nature in the swamplands of Kopacki Rit, tasted locally produced wine from the wineries in the village of Zmajevac and experienced rural life on a farm in the small town of Bilje. The scenery was stunning, but the real highlight for us was the local cuisine – and we ate our fair share of it! The hearty meals were rich in flavors – and traditions. Among our favorites were River Fish Stew, Goulash, locally raised cured meats and cheeses and farm-fresh roasted turkey and pork.

We look forward to a return trip to the Slavonia region to see the beautiful landscapes in another season!

Sarah from Jetsetting Fools | Facebook | Instagram

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Village of Rastoke, where time has stopped

Village of Rastoke, where time has stopped

Story about old road

It is summer again and we are travelling to the coast. Probably we woke up somewhere in the middle of the night to avoid the traffic. I am a kid, maybe 7 or 10 years old and I do not understand why being stuck in the traffic is not fun. We are taking one of two roads, two old roads built back in Napoleon era, depending if we are going to the ferry or not. Maybe the bridge is not repaired still. It was demolished in the war and there is only one-way pontoon bridge. There are only two roads and a pontoon bridge, but two roads are bustling with life. Those roads are alive. 

While driving, we are playing games. Often I am trying to guess where are from cars which are passing by. Every few kilometers along the road I see a restaurant or guesthouse. We often stop to freshen up ourselves, stretch our legs or grab a coffee and juice for me. It is already afternoon and the smell of baby pork or baby lamb are calling us. They are slowly roasting on the spit in almost every restaurant and few can resist them.

It takes hours and hours for us to arrive, but we see and learn so much while travelling. These trips are my first contact with geography and demography of Croatia. First time I learn about foreign cities because I see cars with different licence plates. 

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Rastoke © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Small village of Rastoke © Mexatia

How highway almost ruined everything

Croatia changed a lot in past 20 years. We got highways and fresh built toilet stops and expensive Marché restaurants. As the result, first few years after the construction, old road almost died. Traffic was mostly redirected to a new and modern road and all that restaurants were left empty. Each time you passed, you could notice more closed and ruined objects. You could see how the road was losing it, soul. 

Ten years after this road has a special charm. The trip takes longer than if you take a highway, but not much longer. Traffic is none to moderate and drive is pleasant. Some objects along the road survived and you can still smell the pork slowly roasting. For the amount you would spend on tools, you can have a fantastic traditional lunch. You can stop and grab a coffee and stretch your legs in a family owned restaurant, not the chain owned one. And you can visit so many interesting places on the way to your destination.

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Rastoke © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

Unique watermill village of Rastoke

Right before the plains are replaced by forests and mountains, that is where unique watermill village of Rastoke is located. Popular mostly among locals, Rastoke are often called Plitvice’s little sister and they certainly deserve more touristic attention. Here river Slunjcica overflows to river Korana, creating beautiful waterfalls, cascades and lakes making this location just perfect for watermill village. 

My grandpa was born in a village approximately 10 km away from Slunj and Rastoke. I still remember the stories how he and his family walked every day to Slunj to school. From time to time they went to Rastoke to get flour. Of course, they were making their own bread and this small village was significant for their existence

Luckily, its significance is getting noticed. Last few years more and more people decide to stop in Slunj and Rastoke on the way to or from the coast. Beautiful traditional houses and mills are getting restored while many households turned to tourism, agriculture, and gastronomy

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

Why we loved restaurant Petro in Rastoke

We stopped by on a day when Jaime run a marathon. His first. He was not in the mood to walk around Plitvice Lakes afterwards (or walk at all hehe) so I am sorry to say we did not explore Rastoke as much as we should. In order to save few kuna, we parked on public parking right before the bridge (if you are coming from Slunj, it is located on a right-hand side). You should keep in mind that parking in Rastoke is quite expensive and limited.

During our short walk, we discovered some beautiful mills, small waterfalls, and charming wooden houses. Soon we stumbled upon a lovely restaurant Petro where our dog Lota was more than welcome. We found a table on the terrace and ordered few local specialties. The restaurant was traditionally decorated and attracted my attention while we were waiting for the meal. 

Are you traveling with a pet? Read our advice here.
Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

What should you eat in Rastoke?

To begin with, in restaurant Petro our attention was immediately caught by a unique appetizer named “Hunter’s Tale” (Lovačka priča in Croatian). Bear, deer, and boar prosciutto were served with different types of local cheeses and pickles. When platter arrived, first we loved it looks and then we adored the taste as well. We never tried anything alike so it was a great decision to order this wonderful meal. It literally made our day and we shared it in a second.

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Hunter’s Tale Platter, Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

For the main dish, Jaime and I were craving fish. Rastoke is known for serving fresh trouts so we did not need to think much. Grilled trout was simply delicious and served with baked potato (which lacked some seasoning though). Dad decided to take veal under the bell served with potatoes, which is as well Croatian specialty. Especially relevant is that all dishes we ordered were fresh made and very tasty. Together with drinks, the total bill for three persons was 400 kn (almost €55). With our bellies full and happy, we were ready to continue our trip back to Zagreb. 

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Fresh grilled trout served with grilled potatoes, Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Rastoke village, where the time has stopped

Veal under the bell with potatoes, Restaurant Petro, Rastoke © Mexatia

To conclude, did you ever visit this wonderful village of Rastoke? It is probably the cutest little village you can find on your way to the coast.

 

More from us about Plitvice area: Plitvice Lakes – story about love and marathon & Dreamy places where to stay around Plitvice Lakes.

 

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Village of Rastoke, where the time has stopped | Mexatia.com

 

Plitvice Lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice Lakes: Story about love and marathon

Last year, still with all four feet firmly standing on Mexican soil, we already started to daydream about places we would explore once we arrived in Croatia. We had a wedding in front of us and our photo package included engagement photo shoot as well. Having those photos taken in Plitvice Lakes seemed like a brilliant idea and a perfect destination for our first day trip in Croatia. 

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Story about love

It was early October and weather was perfect – partly sunny, not too cold and not too hot. Two hours ride from Zagreb were quite pleasant, only if we remembered to compile some nice music CD because radio signal was nonexistent in some parts of the road and iPod was left at home. We parked at entrance 1, got the tickets (110 kunas for grown-ups in October, during high summer season they are much more expensive) and walked our way to lakes. 

There is small, but very useful map printed out on tickets. If you check it out, you will find out there are plenty of walking trails all around the lakes. You can choose from the ones 2 hours long up to 10 hours in the park. Some routes consist of walking only, but some are a mix of walking, boat and train ride, which are included in entrance fee as well. We chose exactly that kind of route, 3 to 4 hours long. This is what is so great about Plitvice – it is suitable for everyone, no matter what your age or physical condition are. 

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Next four hours we spent exploring one of the busiest and the most stunning routes around the upper lakes. The magical combination of perfectly turquoise water, wooden paths and unique vegetation, made a perfect setting for our pre-wedding photos. We used every opportunity to hug, squeeze and take amazing photos within such a beautiful scenery. Since we were there with a photographer, we were kind of attraction ourselves and some Asian groups even wanted to take photos with us!

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Put Plitvice on your *must see* list because…

Plitvice lakes are true must see location when you are in Croatia. They are indeed a unique combination of water and karst forms incorporated into the wild forest. When numerous visitors and scientists realized nothing similar exists anywhere else in the world, UNESCO declared lakes to be part of their World heritage list in 1949. This 16 fairy green lakes are the result of a game of water, permeable and impermeable rocks and living creatures and they are the second most known destination in Croatia, after Dubrovnik. 

If you explore the area carefully enough, you will be able to discover different sorts of living animals, a real jungle, the biggest waterfall in Croatia and your inner peace. We sure did.

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Story about marathon

This spring we came back. Jaime started to run more seriously and he applied for Plitvice marathon. Yes, he chose one of the hardest trails in this area to be his first full marathon. I did understand him; it was a challenge and it was the unbelievable attractive challenge he just could not resist to. It was the first weekend in June and we reached Plitvice shortly after 6 am. Jaime, dad, Lota the dog and me. We were chilling until 9 am when the race started and Jaime began his 42 km long adventure. Luckily, it was nor hot or cold and you could feel rain in the air. Everybody who was running said they would rather choose rain than hotness, so I dare to say weather conditions were perfect for a long race.

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Lota in Plitvice © 3sporta.com

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Jaime running © 3sporta.com

While he was running, three of us explored Plitvice. I must mention Plitvice are pet-friendly and dogs are more than welcome, of course, if they are well-behaved and on a leash. Lota enjoyed the long walk and she seemed quite interested in different waterfalls and butterflies flying around. During 3.5 hours she did not show any sign of tiredness or that she had difficulties with overcoming paths (of course we did not walk all the time, she had plenty of water, we took rest and rode the boat). 

This time, we started from entrance 2 and chose the completely different area to explore. We needed to be back in finish line in four hours so three hours long trail was perfect for us. Again there was the combination of walking around two smaller lakes, seeing some incredible scenery and taking a boat and train in the end.   

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Plitvice lakes © Mexatia

Apply for Plitvice marathon because…

Two hours and 15 minutes later, Jaime sent me a message he just completed first 21 kilometers. That was more 20 minutes slower than his usual time and I knew the race was hard. I just hoped he would finish it without getting injured or lost. And he did! Also, during the whole morning I was observing how everything was organized and I did not find even one fault, as a visitor. Later Jaime agreed that everything  was organized perfectly, the only omission was a car that strayed on a racetrack somewhere at the west side of Plitvice. He was noticed early enough so everything went well.

Anyhow, we came back to finish line maybe half an hour before he came. The rain was slowly starting when we saw him in the distance. Thank god, he was ok! He ran next to me without even noticing me and continued to finish line. He did it, he finished his first 42 km! I was so proud he made it. As we entered the changing tent, the downpour started. What a perfect timing, ha? 🙂 We are coming back next year, that’s all I need to say.

Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon

Jaime finishing the marathon © 3sporta.com

See more of Plitvice Lakes in our Facebook album HERE, it is marvelous!

 

If you decided to visit Plitvice, check out our list of dreamy accommodation around the Lakes.

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Mexatia.com | Plitvice lakes: Story about love and marathon