This summer, we had the pleasure of spending two weeks in Croatia with some good friends. This was my fourth European country in less than a year, while it doesn’t top my list of favorite stops, it was a gorgeous two weeks. If you love crystal clear seas, rolling wine countries, and beautiful, sunny skies, this country could be for you. If you are gluten free and looking for options, this might not be the best stop.
In this post, I will focus on our general itinerary with highlights and reviews, but will pick my favorite locations to further develop in different posts.
Our trip started in Zagreb. Our Airbnb apartment was in a great location, which is always my top priority. Our host was very helpful when one of us lost our luggage and the place was very clean. While in Zagreb, we did not find too many places that noted gluten free on their menu, but we did find some options. There are some gluten free restaurants, but none were close to where we were. As always when I cannot find a restaurant with a gluten free section, I look for fresh vegetables, meats and cheeses… and french fries. I enjoyed Zagreb, in the end, I would have spent more time there exploring out to some of the smaller medieval towns in the area.
After renting a large (rundown) van, and somehow navigating it outside of the city, we started towards the Istrian Penisula — Croatia’s wine country. After a long drive there, with stop in beautiful Opitijia along the Adriatic, we arrived in Motovun. Motovun itself is a beautiful mountain top town, but we stayed in an amazing villa nearby. This Airbnb may forever win best spot ever. When we weren’t driving the country side looking for wineries, we relaxed by our private pool. From the amazing truffles and kind people to our fantastic wine tour, this area of Croatia is a must stop. I will definitely explain more in a separate post.
Our next few days included a lot of driving with some great stops along the way. But Kyle and I decided a new rule of travel after this trip, no less than two nights in a place, otherwise, what’s the point? If you do one night stops, you feel like you are constantly moving, get stressed easier, and most importantly barely experience the city. Our two one nights stops were Zadar and Split. We stopped at Krka National Park (below) between, and would highly recommend that stop! Regretfully it was in Zadar that I ate a meal that would plague me for the next five days. While eating gluten free, fresh fish was often gave me a menu option, but at the same time fish can be risky. For me it was practically lethal. My body couldn’t shake whatever happened.
While I still loved our stay in Hvar, most of the time, I was in bed and only left for a few hours a day. The only day I escaped for longer was on our boat day. We rented a boat with a driver for the day. Not only did our local driver take us to many hidden gems, but he also was friendly and engaging making the day truly unforgettable. We rented our boat through Mario Rent and despite not being able to eat or drink all day, it was one of the best days of the trip.
While in Hvar, we continued our amazing luck with Airbnbs. After days of being sick, we finally realized that I may need a little help to heal. After our second day on Hvar, I really needed liquids. I was pretty severely dehydrated. Our host kindly drove Kyle and I to the island’s EMT station, waited for us, and then drove us home. We were very appreciative as few of the staff at the station spoke English and he was able to translate for us. Another great reason to stay with locals!
Our final stop was in the infamous (and equally crowded) Dubrovnik. I’ve read that traveling in July can be busy, but as a teacher I don’t have much flexibility. Dubrovnik is the only place where I have really felt the reviews of too many tourists were true. But the city was truly breathtaking. While in the city, definitely explore all the little side alleys and make sure to walk the wall! The city feels like you have stepped back in time, but definitely try to see it after the cruise tours have left for the day.
Croatia was beautiful. The people were friendly. The Adriatic Sea and Istrian Peninsula were definitely highlights for us. I’m so glad we were able to visit! Check out specific posts on each stop coming soon 🙂
**Many of the boat day and Dubrovnik photos were taken by some of our lovely travel companions.