Over this summer my family and I went away on holiday for a couple of weeks to Croatia, where we travelled from North to South. I was so excited about this experience: I had never been to Croatia before, but the idea of a road trip, stopping at some interesting places along the way, seemed a brilliant way to truly discover a new country.
We started in an area near the North of Croatia called Istria – the largest peninsula in the Adriatic, and lies in three countries of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. It was a lovely area that 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 were German!)
Pula is the largest city in Istrian Croatia, and was a great historical city. It has a rather impressive Roman amphitheatre (I have 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!
The lakes are absolutely beautiful, and definitely one of my favourite places we visited over the holiday. We only spent an afternoon around the lakes – we walked around the bottom lakes first (including a couple of boat rides), and then around the top lakes towards the evening. By the end of the day, once the big crowds of people had left, it was gorgeous and peaceful – with some long drives of our road trip still to go, it was exactly what we needed.
The South – Dalmatia Region
Getting to Zadar was the longest drive we made, but 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, which made it really fun to walk around in the evening, watching buskers and musicians perform. Like many of the major cities we had visited in Croatia, Zadar also had an Old Town area, with historical monuments including 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!)
This was yet another impressive city, which we got to by boat to visit for the day. Although we explored the city for a few hours, I feel like we perhaps didn’t do this place justice – I certainly wasn’t captivated by the place, and we were a bit put off by the price to go along the city walls! (Although if you’re a fan of Star Wars or Game of Thrones you will be excited to know that both of these have had scenes filmed here.)
While near Dubrovnik we were able to go on a boat trip for the day to some gorgeous nearby islands. I would highly recommend a visit to these islands if you are near Dubrovnik – this was a brilliant day out, and so much fun (and lunch was provided too!).
Other countries too?!
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!).
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 forest fires while we were there, one of the boarders was closed, so the traffic was too bad for us to want to sit in yet another queue for a boarder crossing.