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My trip to Croatia - Some thoughts

I am hoping that this post will help future travelers in their travel prep to Croatia. We just spent 2 weeks in the Balkans travelling through Dubrovnik, Split , Havar , rijeka , Bosnia Herzegovina , lake plitvice and Zagreb.

Dubrovnik is a perfect example of how to loose a perfectly awesome destination, start sending 4 cruise ships a day there.

As long as you want to stick to the beaches during the day time it's a great plaace to visit. Don't even think about going to the old city during the day time when the cruise ships are in town.

If you want to walk the walls, be there sharply at 8 AM when then walls open.

The supply and demand equation is so heavily skewed in favor of the supply that the prices in Dubrovnik are jacked up big time. Be prepared to spend at least $150 a day for a family of 4.

We drove to Bosnia and Herzigovina. Uneventful. Enjoy the wines in Herzegovina. Great wines there. The city of Tribijine quite nice. We drove to Mostar. No one tells you this but the roads are windy, the destination is worth the journey. When is Mostar go the Muslim side and talk to people. You will find the war scars are very much there. On the plus side everything is half off in Bosnia.

Split: Cute little city by the sea, walk around the castle there. Good restaurants.

Havar: OMG, it has fallen to drunk brits and americans. I did not find Havar to be a family friendly place, specially in the night time. The beaches are pebbly. Not impressed at all. You are paying a lot for crazy town.

rijeka : Cute little city by the sea. Go there and have fun.
lake plitvice: Much ballyhooed but I was not impressed. It was a good hike but it was a hike on thin planks fighting 20K tourists.
Zagreb: Loved it. Good restaurants and bars. There is a good cocktail bar called Tesla. Go there( in my opinion).

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
1819 posts

Thanks for sharing your trip experiences, shanda72. We visited way back in 2004, and haven't made it back (yet), but we sure didn't encounter cruise boat hoards back then. My understanding is that places like Venice, Italy have now been similarly affected,

Split was one of our favorite places on the trip -- as well as Trogir. just west along the coast, where we stayed 2 nights. The restaurants were phenominal, and we even came across a roadside fruit stand, which yeilded some treats. Plitvice was magical but I can imagine what lots more people could do to a visit.

Glad you had some real enjoyable times, which hopefully offset some of the less-enjoyable bits. Glad that the big city, Zagreb, isn't too big now.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3080 posts

shanda72, I've only been to Croatia in May and October, when it is far less crowded than in the summer. I know that summer is the only time some people have to travel, but I would never want to visit Croatia in the summer, having heard too may stories like yours about the crowds. I HATE crowds anyway. Why do people want to visit Croatia in the summer - for the beaches? It seems like the worst possible time to go.

In May and October, the roads aren't busy - driving is very easy. You'll still have tourists during the day in Dubrovnik especially, but it is much more quiet at night, when Dubrovnik is really lovely - few people and the towns glistens. Plitvice has plenty of tourists even in spring and fall but, from the stories I've heard, it's not nearly as bad as in the summer. i still recommend getting into the park when it opens at 7am, so you can enjoy the park for a few hours without too many other people. When I visited in May 2015, I had to wait at the boat launch at P3 in the upper lakes section for about 10 minutes because I was the ONLY person on the boat waiting to cross to P2! They didn't want to take just one person across, but finally they did. Try to imagine how lovely Plitvice is in the morning when you are the only person on one of the boats (besides the driver).

Posted by paskillv
1 posts

Thank you so much for your posting, although we have 5 nights ahead of us, 2 in Dunrovnik and 3 on Hvar...that said, ANY up to the minute insights on places and things you DID like i.e. restaurants, kayaking, walking tours, anything to make our upcoming trip more enjoyable given the time of year?

Posted by shanda72 OP
12 posts

@paskillv
So here is my list of things I did and enjoyed. In Dubrovnik, after having walked the walls, we had beer at this bar Cafe Buza. AWESOME. If you enter the old city through the "Pillar Gates( where the buses drop you off)" what I noticed is that the right side of the city has most eating places and the left side has the bars etc. Don't go for the first place explore before you commit to dining.

Havar: We I would certainly recommend getting a car. Havar has some nice wineries you should consider visiting. There is a bar called Dubovica Beach Bar. This place is in a lagoon and takes about 20 mins hike to get there. In my opinion well worth the effort.
Havar also has some lavander fields worth a visit.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3080 posts

So here is my list of things I did and enjoyed. In Dubrovnik, after having walked the walls, we had beer at this bar Cafe Buza. AWESOME.

I think you mean the Buza Bar, a popular bar in the wall on the ocean side, with amazing views of the sunset - and you're right, it's just the perfect place to sit and take in the view. I don't drink, so I didn't even sit down - just stood for a while. I'm told they really don't care if you even buy anything or not and can sit there as long as you like, though that sounds like it would be rude. Just follow the signs to the Buza Bar or ask someone.

If you enter the old city through the "Pillar Gates( where the buses drop you off)" what I noticed is that the right side of the city has most eating places and the left side has the bars etc. Don't go for the first place explore before you commit to dining.

I stayed close to the Pile Gate (outside of it) and found it an excellent place to stay - no hills to deal with and, as you say, close to the local bus stop, which I used a few times. And plenty of places to eat and drink right inside, though the city is small so it isn't hard to get to just about any of the numerous bars and cafes right inside. I actually took pity on an adorable calico kitten I ran into right inside Pile Gate back in 2009 and even fed her for the three days I was there. When I came back to visit in 2015, she was still there, all grown up! (You'll see lots of stray cats in Dubrovnik, but people do seem to look out for and take care of them.)

Posted by Emily
Vienna, Austria
2938 posts

Just to clarify and avoid confusion, it is Hvar (not Havar).

Posted by Anu
114 posts

shanda72 : I was planning on visiting the park in August and I wanted to know what time did you go to the park. One of the main reasons my husband and I planned the trip to Croatia was after seeing pictures of Plitvice National Park , I was hoping to go in the evening and in the early morning in order to beat the crowds. Atleast thats the plan right now .
Did you like any restaurants in particular in Split and Zagreb ? I will be going to these places as well.

Posted by Barbara
Brooklyn, NY
878 posts

Thanks for the good words about Rijeka, that is where my husband grew up and we are there now visiting family. Unfortunately we have to visit in the summer cause I work in a school, and we have to visit Dubrovnik cause we have family there. That said, we are going to Korcula and Vrnik for a fews days so that should offset crowded Dubrovnik. We will bypass Plitvice because we went there in the 70’s when we were practically the only people there. Don’t want to ruin our memories.

Posted by Paul-of-the-Frozen-North
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
1025 posts

Unlike many, our favorite bar/coffee place is the Buzz Bar (this is the actual spelling, not a mistake - it's different than the Buza Bar on the seawall), which is not on the walls, but has cheap wine in the afternoon, and inexpensive coffees. It's not crowded. It's on the side of the Strada away from the seawall, the uphill side, on the first crosspassage.
They also have cats. Note, however, that many places in Dubrovnik have cats.

Thanks, Emily, for the spelling correction. Most people do not realize that there is a desperate shortage of vowels in the Balkans, so that many words are 3-4 short. Although there is a shortage, it's not helpful to add them in.