Croatia – from North to South, and some countries in between…

Over the summer my family and I went away for a couple of weeks to Croatia, where we travelled from the North to the South. I was so excited about this holiday: I had never been to Croatia before, and the idea of a road trip – stopping at some interesting places along the way – seemed a fun way to truly discover the country.

Istria

We started in an area near the North of Croatia, called Istria –  the largest peninsula in the Adriatic, it lies in three countries of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. It was a lovely area, although seems to be traveled to less by British tourists, and instead lots of German travellers. (Whenever we were greeted by anyone who knew we weren’t Croatian, it was assumed that we spoke German!)

Pula
Pula is the largest city in Istrian Croatia, and is one of Croatia’s important historical cities. It has a rather impressive Roman amphitheatre (I’ve said before that we always have to find a theatre while on holiday!) which was very well intact, as well as other places of interest such as the Temple of Augustus and some fortress walls too. It was an great day out, although very hot and sunny!

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The Lakes

Plitvice
The lakes are absolutely beautiful, and definitely one of my favourite places we visited over the entirety of the holiday. We only spent an one afternoon around the lakes, but in my opinion that was all we needed one – we walked around the bottom lakes first (including a couple of boat rides), and then around the top lakes as the evening drew in. By the end of the day, once the big crowds of people had left, it was vey peaceful – with some long drives of our road trip still to go, this was exactly what we needed.

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The South – Dalmatia Region 

Zadar
Getting to Zadar was the longest drive we made, and a good place to stop off for the night to get between the lakes and the south of Croatia. We were lucky enough to be there at the same time as a festival around the city, so we had some fun walking around in the evening, watching the buskers and musicians perform. Like many of the major cities we visited in Croatia, Zadar also has an Old Town area, with the remains from a Roman Forum and the Church of St Donatus, which was built using material from the forum it stands on (I found this so fascinating that I even fell down a hole and bruised my foot… oops!)

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Inside the Church of St Donatus

Dubrovnik
Probably the most well-known of Croatia’s cities, but we only visited Dubrovnik for one afternoon, which we got to by boat . Although we explored the city for a few hours, I feel like we perhaps didn’t do this place justice – I certainly wasn’t very captivated by the place, and we were  put off by how expensive it is to go along the city walls! (Although if you’re a fan of Star Wars or Game of Thrones you’ll be excited to know that both have been filmed here.)

Elefanti Islands
While near Dubrovnik we were able to go on a boat trip for the day to some gorgeous nearby islands. I would highly recommend this excursion if you are staying near Dubrovnik – it was a brilliant day out, with lots of time to relax on the boat between exploring the islands, and just so much fun (with lunch was provided too!).

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Other countries too?!

Slovenia: Piranho
While in the North of Croatia we decided  to take a day trip over to Slovenia. (We obviously didn’t do as much research as we should have, which resulted in spending 3 hours in traffic queues to get through the boarder!) Nevertheless, once we arrived we had a great time: it was a beautiful place (it looked a lot like Venice, but no canals and fewer tourists!).

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Bosnia and Herzegovina
We stopped along the few kilometres of coast of this country for lunch, while driving from the north to the south of Croatia. I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a special place, but it’s certainly a country that I can say I’ve been to!

We also tried to get to Montenegro but, due to nearby forest fires while we were there, one of the boarders was closed, and the traffic too much for us to want to sit in yet another queue for a boarder crossing.


 

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