CROATIA – Complete Guide to a Bus Road Trip

Everybody who has been to Croatia is just raving – about the food in general and the special treats such as extra virgin olive oil and big, aromatic truffles in particular. About the beautiful sceneries and the clear waters that are one of Europes last dolphin refuge. But I was stubborn. When everybody tries to talk me into one direction, I turn my head and walk the other way. My mental age is 13.bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Split
Thank God I knew that Autumn would be stressful with my flat being remodeled. Therefore I renounced from my plans of going around half the globe to Japan. Instead, I bit the bullet: I decided to spend September in Croatia. Since it’s much closer. Since it’s much cheaper. And a teeny tiny bit since everybody who has been there is just raving about it.

Guess what – now I’m one of them! I’m one of those who are raving about Croatia’s food and sceneries and clear waters – and I wrote a complete guide about my trip from Porec in Istria to Dubrovnik, the pearl of Dalmatia as well as all the mesmerizing stops on the way; and I urge you: Don’t turn your head – go to Croatia!

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

Complete Guide to ZAGREB

(Edited November 2018)

Zagreb is home to more than 800,000 people, thus Croatia’s largest city and the country’s capital. However, I assume tourism-wise it’s also the least known and visited place in all of Croatia.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Zagreb

However, it was a pleasant and inspiring starter to my bus road trip along the Adriatic coast.

I must admit, it started with a shock: Arriving at the bus station, I got some Croatian money at an ATM, bought a ticket to Poreč for the next day – which I had to pay in cash. Then I looked for my apartman located about ten minutes away.

After checking in, I took off to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I had read that this is one of the must-see things in otherwise rather dull Zagreb.
On the tram #6, I realized how little touristy Zagreb is: I had some questions regarding my final destination and the ticket I needed – and nobody seemed to speak one word English. There was a survey regarding language skills on the tram and they actually found a guy – crazy little world: an English teacher. Faith was kind.

So that was a little bit unsettling – I don’t want to brag here, but I’m simply not used to not being able to communicate.

What I then saw on my way to the gallery shocked me: Kilometers and kilometers of brutal concrete buildings of the worst socialist architecture you can imagine. Figure riding on a train for half an hour through project buildings – nothing but project buildings. In different heights and various widths – but all of them like concrete bunkers. Surreal. Not the pretty kind of surreal.

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View from the Museum of Contemporary Art. Behind the greenery begins the hell made of concrete.

The venue is….okay. You don’t miss out on much when you don’t go there – unless you’re crazy ’bout concrete – then the ride there and back is your big chance.
Many of the exhibits are rather depressing – which matched quite well with the architecture outside.

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One of the more famous artists – but depressing just the same: Jan Fabre I spit on my own tomb, now if this doesn’t bring you in a buoyant mood, I don’t know what will. 

After taking the tram for another half an hour across the concrete hell, I got to off at the train station – and this is where my guide begins. Because unless you are driving, you will always arrive either at the bus station or the train station – even coming from the airport.

If you’re not as much into walking as I am or if the weather is not hike-friendly, the tram is your best option. It’s a really good system that covers basically the whole city and tickets are fairly cheap. Check – and download – a system map here.

You pay 4 HRK for a ticket that’s good for 30 minutes after validation. You have to buy this ticket – or several of them – at a kiosk. If you buy your ticket from the conductor, you pay 15 HRK – but then it’s also valid for 90 minutes (which you probably never need); this is what I’ve learned from the single English speaker on the tram towards the concrete jungle.

There are also day tickets for 30 HRK and three-day-tickets for 70 HRK, but I wonder when you intend to use them up as an ordinary tourist. However, if you get a Zagreb-Card, public transport within the city is included.

Zagreb has a U-shaped green belt in the city center which makes walking very pleasant. Across the street from the train station, Croatia’s first King, Tomislav, welcomes the visitors – and then you just keep on walking through the parks to the city center.

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King Tomislav, Croatia’s first king from 925 till 928; and no, I did not forget to put a thousand in front of that number.

You’ll see the Umjetnički paviljon, the Art Pavilion housed in a beautiful yellow building from the 19th century.

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Art pour art – literally: Beautiful art presented in a beautiful building

Since they operate as a gallery, i.e. there is no permanent collection, please check what is on if you’d like to visit

Art Pavilion 
Umjetnički paviljon u Zagrebu 
Trg kralja Tomislava 22
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4841 070

During exhibitions, the pavilion is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 8 p. m. (Friday till 9 p. m.)

Next is the Library of Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences and on the same lot the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts with a statue of Mr. Josip Juraj Strossmayer, a cleric and politician from the 19th century.

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The gentleman in white is August Senoa, a Croatian novelist and contemporary of J. J. Strossmayer whom you can see to his left. This part of the green belt is named after him. In the backdrop the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Before you continue your walk towards the center, it’s totally worth it checking out the buildings on the other side of the J. J. Strossmayera street – like the Palace Hotel Zagreb, located in a majestic Art Nouveau Palace – here Croatia is showing more of the Austro-Hungarian than the Italian influence.

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An elegant building for elegant guests.

Even if you’re not a guest, you can enjoy a break in a splendid atmosphere full of old world charm.

Palace Hotel Zagreb
Trg J.J. Strossmayera 10
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4899 600
Email: palace@palace.hr

At the next corner, a great art museum is awaiting visitors: The Modern Gallery introducing Croatian artists from the 19th to 21st century.

Also on display are paintings by Vlaho Bukovac, one of Croatia’s most prominent painters of impressionism and symbolism.
(Photo: Vlaho Bukovac creator QS:P170,Q468219, Vlaho Bukovac – Divan, public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons)


Modern Gallery 
Andrije Hebranga 1
Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 60 410 40
Email: moderna-galerija@zg.t-com.hr 

The Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday 11 a. m. – 7 p. m. (Saturday and Sunday to 2 p. m.)

Back to the green belt, adjacent to the Strossmayer park is the Park Zrinjevac which you should not miss for the collection of busts of famous Croatian people. To be honest, I didn’t know any of these good men, but the artwork is beautiful just the same.

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A park full of celebrities.

On the west side of the park is the Archeological Museum of Zagreb where many epochs of the country’s ever-changing history are covered.

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Yet another beautiful, deep yellow building: The Archeological Museum. In the front, you can see one of the trams that take you everywhere you need to go in the city of Zagreb.


Archaeological Museum in Zagreb

Trg Nikole Šubića Zrinskog 19
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4873 101

The Museum is open from Monday to Saturday from noon to 6 p. m. (Saturday to 3 p. m.)

One more block up the road and you reach the Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića which is Zagreb’s main square.

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Ban Josip Jelačić, the national hero – until today everything is revolving around him on the square that carries his name.

This square is not only the center of all the shopping you can do, here you also find the tourist office where you can get information, a free map – and a Zagreb-Card for 98 HRK for 24 respectively for 135 HRK for 72 hours there.
At least if the weather is not that great and you use the public transport more and visit some of the museums, it’s worth the price. On a sunny day, I’m not really sure.

A great way to get more insight is to join one – or more – of the tours organized by Free Spirit Tours, a project by Wayoudo d.o.o. travel agency. They offer a free walking tour – of course, based on tips – and a range of themed tours. Even if you explore the city on your own, joining one of these tours adds some great background info from a local.
On little tip: On the square is also a small market taking place and if you have the impression that this is a bit of a tourist rip off, it only shows that you haven’t been to other places in Croatia. Take it from me, the closer you get to the coast, the more you pay for….literally everything. So if you have room in your luggage, stock up on souvenirs in Zagreb. I didn’t and I still regret it.

Whether you actually join the walking tour or if you explore the historic center by yourself, there are two central areas.

To get to Zagreb’s upper town where you find most of the iconic buildings like the Lotrščak Tower, from where every day mid-day is announced by a real cannon-shot, and St. Mark’s church with its colorful roof, walk the main shopping street Ilica westwards and turn right into Tomiceva ulica.

The funicular goes up and down, up and down, up and….
(Photo: Zrce.eu Tours UG, Standseilbahn Zagreb,cropped to 4:3, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

This is said to be the world’s shortest funicular ride since it takes only four minutes – and since it’s part of the public transportation system, it’s included in the Zagreb-Card.

But I have to warn you: If you choose to ride over walking, you’ll miss one of Zagreb’s most charming little alleys Zakmardijeve Stube where street artist Boris Bare rolled out a red carpet for you. Walk it, work it, and then climb the stairs to the upper part of town.

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What a lovely – and creative – gesture of Mr. Bare.

Walk the Zakmardijeve Stube all the way to the Lotrščak Tower, from where you’ve hopefully heard the cannon-shot at noon.

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The Lotrščak Tower where the daily midday magic happens.

Yes, that’s right: At noon, there is a cannon shot from the Lotrščak Tower, announcing the mid-day in Zagreb. It is fired daily by a local cannon man – the fellows only job.
 It’s said that this tradition derives from the time when it scared away the Ottoman troops. I find it a very charming quirk that they kept this tradition.

A museum dealing with a topic everyone
can relate to.
(Photo: ProsopeeZagreb ‘s Museum of
Broken Relationships second room
CC BY-SA 3.0)

So you get off at the Lotrščak Tower which – unless the cannon is booming – is pretty unspectacular – but across the street is another quirky attraction, the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Started by artists Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić as their relationship ended, it presents all kind of pieces and tokens from…broken relationships; all kind of relationships, not only between man and women.

While Vištica and Grubišić started the exhibition with their personal items, over the years, many people from all over the world donated their special pieces. They vary from hilarious to extremely disturbing.

After the exhibition, that started out in a container, toured different countries, since 2010, this award-winning collection is housed in Zagreb.

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These are visitors, not artifacts.

My tip: They have a gift shop with very cool, of course, topic-related, gimmicks and souvenirs.

Museum of Broken Relationships
Ćirilometodska 2
10000, Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4851 021
Email: info@brokenships.com

Opening hours: Daily from 9 a. m. to 9 p. m., from June to September till 10.30 p. m.

Only one block up on the other side of the street is another museum worth visiting, the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. Naïve Art, often showing rural scenarios, has a long tradition in Croatia and this museum shows some real masterpieces.

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Eclipse of the Sun by Ivan Generalić (* 1914 – ✝ 1992), a pioneer of the Croatian Naïves

Here, too, you can get some unusual souvenirs like e. g. prints of the paintings on exhibition.

Croatian Museum of Naïve Art
Ćirilometodska ul. 3,
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4851 911
Email: info@hmnu.hr

Opening hours: Daily from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m., Sundays till 1 p. m.

One block further up you’ll finally get to the most iconic building of Zagreb, St. Mark’s church – a house of worship under an unusually colorful roof: The tiles are laid in a pattern representing the coat of arms of Zagreb as well as the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia.

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St. Mark’s church shines brightly in the government district. 

Probably built in the early 13th century, from 1866 to 1882, the church underwent a major reconstruction and this was also when the flashy roof was added.

It is certainly worth it strolling a bit around this neighborhood and paying attention to the wonderful architecture mainly from the 18th century.

Stop for a moment at the Katarinin Trg, named after the Saint Catherine of Alexandria Church which was built in the 16th century and is known for its opulent baroque interior.

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Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

To the right is Gornjogradska Gimnazija Zagreb, the Upper Town High School of Zagreb, founded by the Jesuits in 1607 as the city’s first high school.

As you walk between these two buildings, you get to the panoramic viewpoint of Zagreb – from where you access the old town over a couple of stair flights.

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View across the old town on Zagreb’s highest building.

If you’ve missed Bare’s carpet, now’s the chance to take a close look at this unique piece of street art.

Now that you’re back on Radićeva ulica, you’re in the liveliest part of Zagreb; come back at night for a couple of drinks and friendly company. But for now, walk up to the little street called Krvavi Most, the bloody bridge, named after the former bridge over the Medveščak creek, which gained its disturbing name from the fights between the citizens of the two parts of Zagreb.
Today, you can peacefully cross to ulica Ivana Tkalčića, another hip and trendy neighborhood with lots of bars and restaurants.

From here it’s just a very short walk to the Dolac, the market square. Every day from 7 a. m. to 2 p. m., you can watch the Zagrebians do their grocery shopping at the farmers market. Also, some of the most popular restaurants can be found around this square.

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The Cathedral – illuminated by the afternoon sun.

From here, it’s just stone throw to the Zagreb’s imposing cathedral. It is not only the tallest building in all Croatia but also higher than Notre Dame. Finished in 1217 – which was also earlier than Notre Dame – it is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary; and also to kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus.

The Cathedral can be visited daily from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. ( Sundays only from 1 p. m.)

This is the tour I would recommend. If you can squeeze it in, you should definitely pay the National Theater a visit. It’s said to be Zagreb’s most beautiful structure, built at the turn of the 19th century by Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, hence it deems a bit like the miniature version of the opera house in Vienna. Obviously, the plays are in Croatian, but there are also ballets and operas, so it’s possible to enjoy its splendor even if you are not familiar with the language.

Pride of the city: The National Theater.

(Photo: Diego Delso, Teatro Nacional, Zagreb, Croacia, 2014-04-13, DD 02, cropped to 7:5, CC BY-SA 3.0)

But the National Theater is also a great place for a coffee break: The BisTAČ@HNK is known for excellent coffee and friendly service – on their terrace if the weather is nice. They are open daily from 8 a. m. to midnight, weekends till 2 a. m.

Best place to sleep:


One of the most interesting and alluring Apartman is found in Zagreb, just a stone throw from the train station as well as the bus terminal – where also the airport shuttle goes. And if I tell you that the stop of tram #6 is just two minutes walk away you’ll understand that you can hardly stay in a better location.

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Graffiti by one of Irena’s artist friends, as she put it: a Croatian Banksy

What makes this Apartman such an alluring place are the originals – paintings, prints, graffitis – on the walls; and, of course, the collector and host Irena who is friend with all these artists and generous to share her collection with her guests.

Art Rooms *
Trg Kralja Petra Kresimira IV no. 7
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 99 314 7354

Best place to eat:


There are two dishes you absolutely have to try while in Zagreb.

The first one is Zagorski Štrukli, a dish that in 2007 made it on the list of Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage by Croatia’s ministry of culture. So eating Štrukli, you’re basically on a cultural mission.

The base is always dough and cottage cheese – and then the magic begins.

The best thing is that they come in sweet and savory versions, so everybody finds its piece of heaven.

No matter whom you ask for the best Štrukli, they will either take you to there grandma or recommend

La Štruk
Skalinska ul. 5
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4837 701
Open daily from 11 a. m. to 11 p. m. (Sunday to 10 p. m.)

The other dish is less regional – actually it’s a traditional in all of Croatia and even other Balkan countries: Ćevapi – preferably in a large flatbread, with fixings like Ajvar, Kajmak, and grilled pickled peppers.

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A butter glazed flatbread filled with hearty kebab; but they also have vegetarian options.

Right below the Dolac square are two great options to sample this delicacy – I find they are equally good:

Bistro Na Dolcu
Ul. Pod zidom 1A
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4827 758

PLAC Kitchen & Grill
Dolac 2
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 – 1 – 4876 761

Do you need more detailed info how to get to Zagreb and around in just one day? 

Then go to my post 24 hours in ZAGREB; you’ll find this one and many other great destinations in this blog’s 24 hours in…-section!

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Croatia? 

Then go to the main post and take your pick!


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Complete Guide to POREC

(Edited November 2018)

Poreč, Croatia’s very own Little Venice. Almost as beautiful as her big sister, but definitely as overcrowded.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Porec - Istria
No, this is not Venice – non e Venezia.

According to my guidebook, Poreč is one of ten highlights in Croatia. Well, I disagree (this is what you get from these notorious ten-best-this-five-thousand-best-that-lists), however since it’s only a bit over an hour from Rijeka, it’s definitely worth a day trip.

Listening to my guidebook and longing for the beach, I stayed two nights. Do I regret it? Nope. Would I do it again? Nope.

Poreč could be just wonderful – it is like a small sample of Venice, and actually, Parenzo, which is its Italian name, was the first Istrian city that chose to become part of the Republic of Venice in 1267 – and this lasted for more than five centuries. Only in 1947 the city was occupied by Yugoslavia and got its Croatian name.

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Zuccato Palace – the Venetian heritage can hardly be denied.

Already in the 19th century, it has been a touristy place. But today, there are a couple of very, very big hotels, and every private home that can spare a room is renting an Apartman.

While the beach – which according to international standards does not qualify as such – is not overrun, the narrow alleys in the historic center are packed to the rim.

Like in many places in Croatia, the beach are big rocks. But since there are so many tourists, the big hotels probably thought they make things better by flattening it to some kind of promenade. This might be better for their guests who are lazying on beach chairs. People who do not stay at these places are now lying like on a kitchen floor. Unless you use one of their chairs – for free until they address you, then you pay something between 30 and 40 Kuna.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Porec - Istria
There are certainly more comfortable beaches in this world, but the water is just amazingly clean – and the view’s not too bad, either.

So yes, you can spend a day or two on the kitchen floor next to the wonderfully clean and clear water – but there are far better places in Croatia to do so, I’ll get to them in the following chapters.

However, visiting the historic part built on a promontory is a nice day trip.

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Beautiful mosaic on top of the Basilica’s entrance.

Getting to the most iconic building, the Euphrasian Basilica with the breathtaking mosaics, you just turn right as you get to the center and walk on the coastal promenade.

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I guess it won’t surprise you that the Basilica has made it to the UNESCO World Heritag List!?

The Basilica was built in the mid of the 6th century in Byzantine style and is beautifully adorned with tiles, mosaics, and friezes.

Katedrala Eufrazijeva
Basilica Eufrasiana 
Eufrazijeva ulica
52440 Poreč
Phone: +385 52 431 635
Email: zupniuredporec@gmail.com

The basilica can be visited July and August from 9 a. m.  to 9 p. m. and September till June rom 9 a. m.  to 6 p. m.

The narrow streets and alleys around the Basilica are quite charming with many small wineries and shops selling local handicraft.

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Taverns just like in Italy. Many local people are actually bi-lingual, and the street signs are written in Croatian as well as in Italian.

As you keep on walking around the peninsula, you’ll pass the Park Jurja Dobrile, some posh restaurants, and big hotels before you get to the yacht harbor. From here you can actually take a trip to the real Venice by catamaran. But what’s the point? If I want Venice, I go to Italy. I wanted Croatia, so I turned my back and also left into ulica Cardo Maximus.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Porec - Istria
Why would anyone want to sail away from a place like this? Poreč’s yacht harbor at sunset.

Just ignore that everything is on display to attract tourists. Enjoy the beautiful buildings, turn left into ulica Decumanus to admire the Romanesque House from the 13th century: On the ground floor there is a gallery. The first floor can be accessed by the external stone staircase. The upper floors are housing the Ethnographic Heritage Collection.

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The Romanesque House, one of Poreč’s main landmarks.

Keep on walking down on ulica Decumanus, pass a couple of pasta and pizza restaurants and you’ll get to the cradle of it all, the Roman Forum with the remains of the Mars temple and the Neptun temple. Open 24/7, no entrance fee, perfect photo spot.

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A Baroque Palazzo – the perfect venue for a city museum.

While these are the most prominent buildings, when it comes to breathtaking architecture, there is so much more to see. As you walk back ulica Decumanus, don’t miss the Museo Civico di Parenzo, the city museum. It is located in a Baroque palazzo and certainly interesting if you want to dig deeper in Poreč’s history.

Otherwise, it’s all about walking and awing and being amazed by how much beauty fits into such a small spot.

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Lady of Angels church from 1770. The Baroque structure was built on the remains of a former Romanesque church.

Best place to sleep:


If you absolutely want to stay in Poreč, do yourself a favor and don’t stay at the historic center – unless you are looking for lots of noisy company 24/7.

I stayed at Apartments Oliva and had a bedroom with a kitchenette and a small bathroom. To the next big supermarket and a drugstore, it’s three minutes walk, to the un-beachy beach five, and to the historic city center 10 minutes.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Porec - Istria
View from Apartman Oliva – at the end of the rainbow is not a pot of gold but a beach; fine with me.

Even walking to the bus station was possible – with a suitcase on wheels, but as a matter of fact, the owner had picked me up on arrival and brought me to the apartman.

Apartments Oliva *
Ivana Matetica Ronjgova 4
52440 Poreč
Phone: + 385 – 91 – 728 98 35
Email: martina@donato.hr

Best place to eat:


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Porec - Istria
A very special place to dine.

The food is good, the place is better: Dining at the Peterokutna Kula, the pentagonal tower, is an extraordinary experience mainly for the location and the atmosphere.

You are seated at a medieval – truly medieval, not this fake stuff you get at these amusement thingies – fortified tower – or, if you wish so, on a rooftop terrace overlooking all of Poreč – who cares that the food is a tad bit overpriced.

Actually, all the restaurants in Poreč are.

Restaurant Peterokutna Kula 
Decumanus 1
52440 Poreč
Phone: + 385 – 98 – 977 92 22
Email: restoran@kula-porec.com.hr


Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Croatia? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!


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Complete Guide to RIJEKA

(Edited November 2018)

The other day at a party, I overheard a conversation: Two people were talking about travelling, and the girl said: “You know, I also enjoy just being at a place”.

I’ve found that great – just being. No racing through cute alleys full of historic buildings, no waiting in line at museums, no pushing on boats and squeezing in vans – just being at a place.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Rijeka - Istria
Trg Ivana Koblera, the Kobler square with the unusual fountain.

And this is exactly what you can do in Rijeka, Croatia’s third largest city, before continuing to Istria or to one of the beautiful islands. Just being there. Just walking along the pedestrian street that is called Korzo – an old-fashioned name that makes me smile. Just watch the locals shopping at ordinary stores. Just have a coffee or an Aperol on one of the terraces.
Just be there.

Rijeka’s Past

Rijeka is one of the very few cities in Croatia that has not made it to the Unesco World Heritage list; how refreshing.

However, in the 16th century, the city began to flourish: Fiume, her Italian name, developed commerce, arts, and education – the first high school on the Adria was founded here in 1626 by the Jesuits.

The hegemony of the city altered between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire until in 1919, 2,500 Italian franc tireurs lead by Italian nationalist and writer Gabriele D’Annunzio conquered the city – against the will of the Italian government.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Rijeka - Istria
Yes, the past is alive in Rijeka!
No, they don’t always walk around like this – in September 2018, there was a medieval festival taking place.

Today, this reign is considered one of the predecessors of the Italian fascism – and lead to a harsh Italianization, i.e. Croatian and other non-Italians were forced to assimilate or to leave. The Croatian language was banned.

For four years, Fiume was an independent territory and became Italian in 1924.
This hegemony ended with the end of WWII in 1945 when Rijeka was conquered by the Yugoslav troops and annexed to the Socialist Republic of Croatia.

Rijeka’s Present

Unless you have your own vehicle, you’ll probably arrive either by train or by bus. Both stations are just adjacent to the city center so even if you have just one hour or two, you can enjoy that time since you can leave your luggage. I must say, this is a great advantage of these countries that are not all freaked out because of terrorism – you can leave your luggage unattended; or preferably attended, of course….

If you’re flying in, you’ll notice that the airport catering to Rijeka is actually located on the island of Krk. There is shuttle service scheduled according to departures and arrivals. It takes about 30 minutes, tickets can be purchased for 30 HRK on the bus.

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Never in my life have I seen so clear waters like in Croatia – nowhere.

While there is a lot of beautiful landscapes to enjoy around the city center of Rijeka, my guide focuses on activities within the city limits. However, if you have the time, a trip to the beaches around Opatja, Pula, and, of course, to Poreč will be a great completion.

Actually, Poreč is where I came from when going to Cres. I didn’t even intend to stay in Rijeka, but the bus and the ferry were not in sync which gave me four hours to explore the city.

The first attraction is right at the bus station, it’s the Gospa Lurdska, Our Lady of Lourdes church, built over 30 years in an eclecticism style, i.e. a mix of Medieval architecture and Venetian Gothic.

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Our Lady of Lourdes church – something for the eye while you are waiting for the bus.

Need a break and some refreshments? One block east is the Jadranski Trg, a big, elegant square dominated by the Jadrolinja palace, one of the city’s most representative structures.

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Jadrolinija – Rijeka’s secret ruler.

Since at that time Rijeka was still under the Austro-Hungarian hegemony, the first shipping company founded her in 1882 under the name of Adria was actually Hungarian. The Palace, built by Giacomo Zammatio, is decorated with eight statues by Sebastian Bonomi, representing a ship’s key figures: the master, chief engineer, helmsman, and pilot.

I personally love Jadrolinija – they are reliable, the ferries are comfortable, and the tickets dirt-cheap; and you can easily buy them online.

Jadranski Trg is where the Korzo begins. Like I said, it’s not spectacular, but nice and relaxed with many unspectacular shopping opportunities and cafés and restaurants.

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On Rijeka’s Korzo, shopping becomes an educational walk. In the middle the city tower, a walk-through tower of the former city gate.

Of course, you’ll find in this post many important info and tips to make the most of your stay in Rijeka. However, I recommend you to pay the tourist information office on the Korzo a visit: They’ll supply you with free maps and brochures and additional, updated information on where to go and how to get there.

There is the town hall at #16 and the city clock tower decorating the gate to the Trg Ivana Koblera – a square with more stores’n’cafés.

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Rijeka’s Town Hall on the Korzo, the city’s artery.

Behind this square, you’ll get through a narrow alley to the Roman Arch, the main entrance to the center of the Late Antique command compound of the Roman Tarsatica, an ancient town on whose ruins the medieval Rijeka was built.

Walking further north, you’ll spot the amazing church of St. Vitus’ Cathedral opened in 1638.

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The unusually shaped St. Vitus’ Chapel.

Unfortunately, it’s often closed – but the most amazing part are the engravings in the doors: Like a precious comic book, they are telling stories of Christianity.

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Details of the beautiful doors. As we all know, they didn’t have it that easy in former times….

Right next to the Cathedral is the entrance to one of Rijeka’s quirkiest attractions, a tunnel that spans 350 meters / 1,150 feet from the cathedral to the Dolac Primary School Built from 1939 to 1942 by the Italian military to protect civilians from aerial bombings in WWII, the original writing Riservato all U.N.P.A., Reserved for the Anti-aircraft Corps, can be spotted in various places.
The tunnel was re-opened to the public in 2017 after 75 years. The tunnel can be crossed every day from 9 a .m. to 5 p. m. and entrance is free.

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All bye:myself.

It is a bit creepy since not too many people seem to visit it – I crossed it all by myself….and at the end where two young ladies sitting, looking from time to time at one of the dozen monitors.
I hope I didn’t spoil the thrill and suspense for you by revealing that the whole thing is under surveillance.

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350 meters of suspense: Not sure if I like the idea of being by myself or would prefer other critters with me down there.

Walking in the other direction – eastwards – you’ll get to another beautiful church, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Seriously, guys, I’m not lazy, but the history of this place that actually dates back to the first century is exciting and very long. The leaning tower next to the church is the bell tower and was added in the 14th century.

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I was lucky to have these extras when taking a picture of Rijeka’s leaning tower.

Behind the church next to the Mrtvi kanal, the dead canal, leading to the sea is Fiumara ulica – that’s also leading towards the sea and that you now should walk down to get to one of Rijeka’s most beautiful buildings, the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc. Opened in 1885, the Venetian architecture is certainly striking. But I’m more impressed by the fact that none lesser than Gustav Klimt – yes, the Kiss-Gustav Klimt – along with his brother Ernst helped Franz Match to paint the ceiling.

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Composer, conductor, and director Ivan Zajc looking at the theater named after him.

Adjacent to the theater building is the Kazališni park where you can sit on a bench and enjoy some of the juicy fruits you’ve shopped at the Main Market just next to it. This extraordinary farmers’ and fishermen’s market consists not only of countless stalls on the streets, there are also two beautiful halls designed in classic art nouveau style and completed in 1916.

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Rijeka’s beautiful market: A great place to grab some fresh treats – and some really original souvenirs like truffles, oil, and honey.

Actually, if you intend to buy olive oil and truffles, this market is an excellent stop to do so.

The market is open from Monday to Saturday 7 a. m. to 2 p. m. and Sunday 7 a. m. till noon. The fish market from Monday to Saturday  7 a. m. to 1 p. m. and Sunday 7 a. m. till noon

Beaches

Being at the main market, you’re already practically on Rijeka’s waterfront. You’ll notice that it’s not one of these cute little harbors with boats and sailing ships. Nope, it’s an industrial harbor with regular ferry service to different islands.

However, you can easily enjoy a day – or just an afternoon – on the beach, since the closest, small but nice beach is about 15 minutes away; by city bus that is.

Right in front of the port is a bus stop, and you should be waiting for # 1 taking you to the hotel Jadran. There you have to climb down some stairs – and you can just hop into the water.

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Even though the beach is not world’s finest, the water and the surroundings are first class.

I will not lie to you: While the water is fantastic and clean like basically everywhere in Croatia, the beach – which by the way is called Sablićevo – could be cleaner. It’s not really disgusting, but you have to look for a cleaner spot – especially if you want to stay in the shade close to the steep face.

There are more beaches within reach. Just inquire at the tourist office, they’ll give you a brochure and will be happy to explain how to get there.

Trsat

The outer borough of Trsat is on a mountain northeast of the city center just a short bus ride away. Take line #2, #8, or #8A. Trsat is a great place for hiking, but most people come here for the castle that dates back to the prehistoric times when it was used as a watchtower. Count Laval Nugent bought the complex in the first half of the 19th century and turned it into a family mausoleum.

View from the fortress down on Rejika.
(Photo: Georges Jansoone JoJan, Rijeka027, CC BY-SA 3.0)

A popular pilgrimage site is the Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat, one of the most ancient in Croatia. Pope John Paul II. visited this site in 2003.

Museums

And if the weather happens to be not so very….Adriatic? Well, then you have the great opportunity to visit some of Rijeka’s museums like

The Computer Museum PEEK&POKE
Ulica Ivana Grohovca 2A
51000 Rijeka
Phone: +385 91 780 5709

The museum – a paradise not only for nerds – is open from Monday to Friday from 2 p. m. to 8 p. m. and on Saturday from 11 a. m.  to 4 p. m.

Prirodoslovni muzej Rijeka
Natural History Museum Rijeka 
 Lorenzov pro. 1
51000 Rijeka
Phone: + 385 – 51 – 553 669

The museum is open every day from 9 a. m. to 8 p. m.

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Already the building housing the Maritim and History Museum is impressive.

Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian coast 
Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeka
Muzejski trg 1
51000 Rijeka

The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a. m. to 8 p. m. and Sunday from 4 p. m. to 8 p. m.

Museum of the City of Rijeka
Muzejski trg 1
51000 Rijeka
Phone: +385 – 51 – 336 711

The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m. and Sunday from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m.

I’m not afraid you might get bored.

Best place to sleep:

If I had to give a prize for the nicest apartman on my trip, Jasmin in Rijeka would take it home. I didn’t get the name, though, since I was greeted by a bear of a young man who had just finished cleaning the place – it would truly surprise me if that was Jasmin.

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Apartman Jasmin was the most luxurious accommodation on my trip.

Anyway, the place consists of a comfy living room with a state of the art kitchenette including all the appliances the good wife on a vacation is dreaming of. Bathroom and toilet – all is new and modern and top notch. The bedroom minimalistic chic.

The place is located right on the Korzo which is great since you are a stone throw away from each and every place of interest. Don’t you worry ’bout the noise at night: Rijeka is not that much of a wild party hell – you’ll be able to sleep with the window open although it’s facing the street.

Apartment Jasmin *
30 Korzo 2 kat
51000 Rijeka
Phone: + 385 – 95 – 857 4027

Best place to eat:

Right at the next corner from the apartman is a narrow alley where a very pleasant restaurant is located, offering a wide range of different local and international dishes and drinks at ok prices.

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Pleasant dining in a vibrant setting – just minutes from the apartment.

Conca d’oro
Kružna ulica 12
51000 Rijeka,
Phone: + 385 – 51 – 213 782

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Complete Guide to CRES

(Edited November 2018)

Cres is just a little over an hour from the Croatian mainland and totally worth a visit if you are looking for unspoiled nature, cute coastal towns, and a swim in clear waters.

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Without a caption one could think this is an Italian vilaggio.

Due to its everchanging history, this island deems very Italian, too. But you know what? It’s so delightful that you don’t even care; you certainly don’t care where exactly paradise is located.

Surprisingly, Cres is the same size as the far more famous island of Krk, but only populated by a little over 3,000 people. And also tourism is by far not as massive as on the more popular islands. Only on Cres’ sister island Lošinj, tourism is more developed. That’s the reason why, after having pushed my way through tourist-groups, I stayed on Cres. And in Cres.

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Far more boats than cars.

Croatians are a bit chintzy with names and call a town after the islands where it’s located. So Cres on Cres.

You can get there from Rijeka in a bit over one hour with Jadrolinija and the fare is 35 Kuna – which is really cheap since you are travelling on a very comfortable catamaran. You can buy your ticket online or at the harbor, it’s very easy.

There is only one ferry going from Rijeka to Cres, it leaves at 2:30 p. m. and arrives at 3: 50 p. m. To catch it, I had to leave Poreč on the morning bus around 8 a. m. and had about five hours in Rijeka.

No problem, there is a locker room at the bus station and Rijeka is a really pleasant city.

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Leaving Rijeka to Cres.

Like everywhere else in Croatia, you can rent an Apartman – the one I rented was in a prime location about three minutes walk from the ferry overlooking the small yacht harbor. I could walk from there to the beach or to some supermarkets in a couple of minutes. The owners got out of their way to make me feel comfortable – a perfect stay.

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Cres cannot deny its Venetian heritage.

The Apartman is located on one of the main squares so that there are about five different restaurants as soon as you open the door.

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Home was where the heart is: Apartman Dolores.

You reach a small beach in five minutes. It’s not a great beach – in all honesty, there are no great beaches in Croatia; but it doesn’t matter since everything else is so perfect – but it’s a beach where you can stretch out on pebbles and relax and take a dip in the crystal clear waters.

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The beach around the corner.

Like I said, there are a bit over 3,000 people on Cres island, and almost 2,900 are living in the town of Cres; which tells you a lot about the density of population in the villages.

The most famous should be Lubenice, an untouched place about 20 km from Cres. There is actually a bus going, but only on certain days and at around 5 a. m.

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Up where it belongs: Secluded village of Lubenice.

 
I wouldn’t mind going on a certain day at 5 a. m. to a village up the mountain inhabited by seven women; but I spent only two days in Cres and simply didn’t have the time. I absolutely need to come back with much more time to…..do basically nothing.

Since I didn’t have the opportunity to visit this enchanted village, I at least wanted to see some….water. And there is a lot of water around Cres and it’s crystal clear and deep blue and just amazing.

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Simply blue.

In the harbor, there are tour operators offering trips to a beach below Lubenice. It’s totally worth the 270 Kuna to spend hours on the ship, observing how the landscape around the petrol blue waters changes – amazing.

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A nice day out.

Once you get to the beach, there is a guided tour of the blue grotto included in the trip. You have to swim, though, and the water in the grotto is freezing. But the cave illuminated by some rays of sun is just mesmerizing.

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What are all these people doing here? Suspiciously observed by curious locals while sunbathing.

Also included is a – let’s say not too heavy – lunch on board – choice of fish or chicken, and water, lemonade, and wine.

After about 90 minutes on the beach, the pirate ship heads back to Cres.

They promise you to spot dolphins on the way – and they actually keep their promise: We saw a group of three big, jolly mammals jumping around – the cherry on the cake that was this wonderful day trip.

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There were three dolphins jumping around the Korsar until everybody had a picture.

I went on the a bit silly pirate ship Korsar which is to be found in the harbor. You can get info online, but I have the impression that you get a better deal when booking on the spot. Just go to the small counter in front of the ship.

For me, unfortunately, that was it since I had only three weeks for my entire trip. If I come back to Croatia, and I’m pretty sure I will, I’ll plan at least four to five days on Cres.

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At the end of a perfect day, the sun sets perfectly over the Adriatic sea.

Like I said, I was coming from Rijeka and initially intended to go on to Krk island.
That is possible since from the village of Merag, there is a ferry. However, it is a little complicated and quite time consuming since the buses and the ferry are not in sync. It simply was not worth it losing an entire day getting to Baška just to stay there for two nights.
It might be much easier if you have your own vehicle.

Since for me, it didn’t make much sense, I finally refrained from going there and I went back to Rijeka instead – which was totally fine since during my forced stopover on the way from Poreč to Cres, I fell in deep love with the city and was looking forward to having another stay there.

Best place to sleep:


Apartman Dolores – called after the sweetest owner ever – is located right on the harbor. You walk about 2 minutes from the ferry. At night, you open the door and there are uncountable restaurants. You walk ten minutes and you find yourself on a tiny, but pretty nice beach. Walk twenty minutes and the beaches get bigger but also more crowded. Staying at Dolores’ apartman, you are in the middle of everything and this lady – and her husband – are just the friendliest and warmest hosts you can wish for.

The apartman is pretty spacious with a big bedroom that easily houses three. There is a very well-equipped kitchen with every appliance you might need and a bathroom of a good size.

But besides the lovely owners, it’s the location – location – location.

Get more details, check out availability and Dolores’ rates. *

Best place to eat:


Like I said, you just open Dolores’ door and….don’t look too far, at the next corner of the square is Buffet Marittimo serving basically what every restaurant in Cres is serving – fish and shellfish; but here you get really generous portions at a good price.

Buffet Marittimo
51557 Cres

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Complete Guide to PLITVICE LAKES

(Edited November 2018)

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in my times – oceans, mountains, jungles, and lakes. When it comes to latter, Plitvice Lakes is the winner: The turquoise of the crystal clear waters seems almost surreal.

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If paradise is half as nice….as Plitvice National Park, we definitely have something to look forward to.

In combination with the waterfalls, caves, and flora and fauna it turns the National Park into an enchanted fairyland.

Many people are visiting the Plitvice Lakes National Park on a day trip from the beach destinations of Dalmatia. Of course, that’s possible, but to enjoy this natural wonderland to the fullest, I’d recommend staying for at least two days since the longer hikes away from the day trippers are the nicest part of the visit.

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The water flows from basins on different levels…..

The national park, that spreads over almost 300 square kilometers / approx. 74,000 acres, was founded in 1949. It is world-famous for its sixteen lakes that flow in cascades and small rivers one into another.

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….and in cascades.

The most mesmerizing part of this landscape are the colors of the basins: They change constantly depending on the number of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight from different shades of almost florescent turquoise to deep blue of ink.

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In the larger lakes, the water appears in different shades of blue and green.

I got to the Plitvice Lakes – again: it’s pronounced Plitvitse, neither –tche nor –ke – on the early morning bus from Rijeka. Well, it left early in the morning, I arrived around noon, but that is because there is a connection so that I had to hang around for almost one hour at the bus station in Karlovac.

On this trip, by the way, it was pretty clear that people’s English in not so touristy regions is not so great: Keep your more complex questions to yourself.

Anyway, while the bus from Rijeka to Karlovac was new, big, and modern, the one going to Plitvice had more of a local charm; which is charming, indeed – only a tad less comfortable. And neither the driver nor the conductor were able to understand that I wanted to get off at a stop I showed them on my phone.

Actually, everything turned out fine: There are stops at each of the three entrance gates. If you’ve already booked an accommodation, just ask your host at which stop you should get off. If you are coming only for one day to the park, I assume entrance No. 1 is your best bet. But even if you miss your entrance, there are not that far apart and at each entrance, there are taxis waiting, so there is definitely no need to get as hysterical as I was.

ARRIVAL

Staying in Rastovača is perfect since you don’t lose time: From the bus stop it’s five minutes walking, you leave your luggage and off you go to Entrance No. 1 – there’s a shortcut across the huge parking lot.

If you have the time and opportunity to stock up on refreshments, do so since food and drinks are ridiculously expensive on the premises. Besides snacks, you might want to bring a hat and sunscreen as well as repellent. You don’t need your swimsuit or a towel: Bathing in the lakes is not allowed. Make sure to wear at least sensible sneakers if not hiking shoes.

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The more secluded trails are not so comfortable. Sensible shoes are crucial.

The entrance prices vary depending on the period of time – and, of course, there are a couple of discounts like e.g. for students. Check their page for the period you’re going – you’ll be shocked: During high season, i. e. July and August, you pay more than four to five (!) times the price of the low season which would be November till March.

DAY 1

At the entrance gate are maps suggesting various routes. It’s funny since they rather confuse people than being helpful. My tip: Just go! You won’t get lost, there will be hardly any moments that you find yourself alone in one spot, anyway.

As Rastovača is next to Entrance No. 1, I, obviously, started there. It’s really close to the big waterfall – which actually is very high, 78 meters / 256 feet, but not that impressive or powerful. Plus, it’s packed with selfie-hunters so you might want to continue asap.

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Waterfalls close to entrance #1.

There are wooden walkways along the four lower lakes: Keep walking along the northern shores of Novakovica Brod and Koluderovac, and then you cross and walk along the southern shores of Gavanovac and Milanovac. This might sound complicated, but it’s not: If you stay on the walkway – and you are urged to do so – you get there automatically. At the western tip of the Milanovac lake is another waterfall and then you turn right and walk to the jetty.

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As soon as you leave the beaten trails and the crowds, it’s total serenity.

The boat ride and a panoramic bus – that pretends to be a train, probably that’s supposed to deem more scenic – are included in your ticket. That’s probably one reason why everybody wants to go on the boat – and at noon, the line seemed endless.

I refused to wait in the sun for one hour to squeeze myself with large tourist groups on some boat. Looking around, I spotted a trail at the right side of the jetty. What a discovery since it led me along the northern shore of the largest of the upper lakes, Kozjak.

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Waters, mountains, me – in total harmony.

I did run into people from time to time, but nothing compared to the madness around the lower lakes.

Behind the islet Stefanijin otok is another ferry that takes people across the lake to the southern shore – in about three minutes.

By then I was a bit tired so I just walk all the way back along the Kozjak’s and the lower lakes’ southern shores – and definitely called it a day.

DAY 2

I went back the next day in the early morning – mainly since my bus to Skradin was at 3 p. m. – and took the boat since there was no wait; believe me, it’s definitely not the greatest activity at Plitvice, so don’t be sad if you’d missed it.

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Plitvice at its best: If it’s not blue, it’s green.

So I ended up at the other jetty where I had crossed the Kozjak the day before, but today I kept walking along the northern shore around the upper lakes Burgeti and Grandinsko to the waterfall Veliki Prstavac which indeed looked more veliki – which in Slavic languages means large.

On the way back, I took the panoramic pseudo-train to Entrance No. 1. Another extra that’s totally dispensable but included in your ticket. But to be honest, after two days of hiking, it’s nice to hitch a ride.

CONCLUSION

Although nobody really needs the maps at the entrance for not getting lost, it’s still interesting looking at them just for information where the individual lakes and waterfalls are located.

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Just look how clear the water is!

There is a really good website with detailed info on all the different lakes and things to do; my favorite is the diagram of how the lakes cascade into each other and where the layers of tufa and limestone are.

Best place to sleep:

At Rastovača I did not stay at an apartman but at a guest house – which actually felt like a homestay. They have a small house with a handful of rooms – excellent standard. And I think that they are also renting out some chalets.
They have a big garden where you can relax in a deckchair while kids can run around and climb on some monkey bars. Everything is very family-style and just so nice after all that hiking and awing.

Breakfast is good and plenty and includes many local delicacies. At night, they have a small menu of four or five dishes that come with a soup for starter and a dessert – which I took with me to my room and ate it later in bed since I was so full from the main course.

Get more details, check out availability and Danica’s rates. *

Best place to eat:

What can I say – Pansion Danica, too! The food was excellent and for 10 to 15 bucks for a three-course-menu a good deal. You can have local wine at a reasonable price and, of course, soft drinks. There were even people from other guest houses and apartmans coming for breakfast as well as for dinner.

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Complete Guide to KRKA National Park and SKRADIN

(Edited November 2018)

The Krka National Park, nestled between the hills and mountains of Central Dalmatia, is not very large, but still rich in various types of habitats with many endemic species.

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Center of attention: The Skradinski Buk waterfall.

While around the majestic waterfalls there is no escape from the crowds, along the way from Skradin, the wanderer still can enjoy moments of serenity – and, of course, fantastic views if the grand scenery.

Skradin

It was amazing to see how during the bus ride from Plitvice to Skradin the landscape changed from lush green forests to stark, stony mountains that made you wonder how the plants do survive on the rocks. However, the sights is absolutely exquisite and fascinating.

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What a brave little fellow.

The main attraction of the Krka National Park, the Skradinski Buk is, obviously, named after Skradin, a town with about 4,000 inhabitants.
It is located on the Krka river and since the entrance to the Krka National Park is only a couple of miles away, it’s the perfect gateway.

Besides the National Park, Skradin has a small but pretty posh sailboat marina.

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Skradin with the yacht harbor and the iconic tower clock of St. Spiridon.
(Photo: Jozef Kotulič, Krka13Chorvatsko9, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Walking along the river towards the entrance of the National Park, you will even spot a pretty long and not so bad beach area – actually better than many of the beaches I’ve seen in some of Croatia’s designated beach destinations.

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Take me to the river – to the tranquil beach in the outskirts of Skradin.

Spending a couple of hours stretched out in the sun, taking a refreshing dip from time to time – life can be pretty good in Skradin.

Another nice activity is just strolling through the town, admiring the number of different fruiters and olive trees in the lovely orchards.

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Beautiful old structures surrounded by sumptuous orchards.

There is a medieval fortress from the turn of the 14th century. You can take a walk uphill and enjoy the view – or you don’t. Believe me, you’ll see more impressive sceneries during your stay in Croatia.

The most iconic sight of Skradin is the tower clock, built in 1872. Because of its weight, it was built it was not built next to the church of St. Spiridon.

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Entrance to the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

But there is also the Baroque Catholic Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the 18th century, famous for its pipe organ being part of the national cultural heritage and finally, a teeny-tiny church located right in the cemetery, the church of  St. Jerome.

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Hard to believe that this tiny building is an actual church. St. Jerome on Skradin’s cemetery.

Close to the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and next to the parking lot, you can buy a ticket at the information center – you have to buy it on the same day, it’s not possible to get it in advance.

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Walking back from the National Park to Skradin town – all bye:myself.

Then you can take a boat that takes you to the entrance in about 25 minutes. It’s a very scenic ride – but as I returned walking, I enjoyed the austere landscape without the crowds much more.

Krka National Park

Anyway, Skradinski buk, the big waterfall you can even swim in is one of the most attractive parts of the park. It is a massive, clear, natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. It is the lowest of the three sets of waterfalls formed along the Krka river.

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Part of the system of cascades.

While in Plitvice – despite the crowds – you can walk on secluded trails where you meet like three people in one hour, here you have to follow a trail of wooden planks that are bridging the small lakes and creeks; hence you never walk alone.

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The biggest fall of them all – Skradinski Buk – where people take a refreshing dip.

However, it is beautiful but if I had time to do only one of the parks, I would definitely opt for Plitvice. Also, it is not necessary to spend the night in Skradin as the park is about one hour from Split and buses are going by the hour.
So Krka is definitely an attraction doable as a day trip.

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Yummy regional souvenirs: Olive oil, sundries, and nuts.

A very popular extra-tour is the visit to the island of Visovac also located in the park.

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Extra tour to the Visovac Island.
(Photo: Saxum, Visovac2, cropped to 7:5, optimized dynamic and contrast, CC0 1.0

On the island is the Roman Catholic Visovac Monastery founded by the Franciscans in 1445. Since the iconic view of the island is always from above, I don’t know if it’s worth the extra tour – and the extra fee.

Best place to sleep:

Well, definitely not the hotel that I had booked. Although it seemed to be the first house in town, the service was incredible – respectively there wasn’t any.
While the room seemed to be freshly renovated and – although very small – quite nice, for instance, the breakfast was terrible. Really terrible.

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Renting one of the private sobe, rooms, or an apartman is certainly a better option.

It was interesting to see this phenomenon that I experienced in Cuba: As soon as there are employees, the service goes down the drain. If you stay at an apartman, the host makes sure you feel like a royalty – they get out of their way to make you feel comfortable. But at a hotel – who gives a damn about these tourists?! I get my salary no matter how I treat them.

So I would definitely recommend you book an apartman in Skradin – I only cannot recommend one since I stayed at this service-hellhole.

Best place to eat:

I’ve met these lovely guys at my hotel – the one I cannot recommend – and they said that the food there was really good. Since I personally did not eat there, I cannot confirm or warn you. However, this is the address

Hotel Skradinski buk *
Burinovac 2
22222 Skradin
Phone: + 385 – 22 – 771 771
Email: skradinski-buk@si.t-com.hr

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Complete Guide to SPLIT

(Edited November 2018)

Split is one of these many Croatian cities that has it all: Rich history presented in a well-preserved, breathtakingly beautiful old town. Colorful farmers markets selling fresh produce to restaurants that prepare the most delish meals. Lush woods as well as nice beaches – and all that within the city limits. And a posh harbor – gateway to splendid destinations beyond the sea.

Split – one of Croatia’s most beautiful cities.

However, Split was yet another place I initially wanted to skip. I only got there to spend the night before travelling on to Korčula island. Hence one single day was enough to make me fall in deep love with this beautiful and so special place.

Split has about 200,000 inhabitants which makes it Croatia’s second largest city. Whether you get there by train, by bus, or by ferry – your tour will always start at the impressive harbor front opening to the Adriatic sea.

The harbor front with the city center and the city forest Marjan Šuma in the backdrop.

The part along the Obla kneza Domagoja is beautiful, but very busy: People are pushing and pulling their luggage from buses to ferries and cruise liners – it’s not very serene. It becomes far chicer as you turn left at the corner at the parking lot: Here is a pedestrian promenade – elegant like in the old times. All the big hotels and fancy restaurants have their tables and chairs on spacious terraces, you can hang out here for hours watching people and enjoying the breeze from the water.

Riva, the most elegant promenade. Between the majestic palm trees, you can spot the British embassy.

As you get to the fountain Bajamontuše – you won’t miss it since there is always a group of people waiting to have their picture taken – turn right and walk up a couple of stairs to the Trg Republike. You will notice right away that it is inspired by Italian architecture since it resembles very much St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

The Bajamontuše fountain in front of the Church of St. Stephen.

Parallel to the square’s east part is the Marmontova ulica, a shopping street – quite narrow and lovely.

At least from the outside, this must be world’s most beautiful rehab centre.

Following this street, you’ll get to the Trg Gaje Bulata. For one of the best views of Split and beyond, enter the Benetton store to your right, take the elevator all the way up to their rooftop café – and there you will see…literally. The coffee is good, the view is even better.

There seems to be a rule in Croatia: When it’s beautiful, it has to be painted yellow. This is the National Theater from…1980. Of course, it was initially built in 1893 but in 1970 destroyed by a fire.

Once you’re back on street level, walk on Sinjska ulica to the Park Josipa Jurja Strossmayera. This is a place either to relax or to enjoy some nice museums like the Galerija Umjetnina, the Museum of Fine Art, or the Live Museum Split that presents scenes from the daily life of Roman citizens. Obviously, a place not to miss when visiting with kids.

There are Romans all over the place; adds a bit of Disney-feel to all that history.

Not far from the Museum of Fine Art is the statue of Gregory of Nin Grgur Ninski, Croatia’s bishop from 900 till 929. Due to his pose and his attire, I find he looks like a very angry magician.

Man, he sure seems upset.

Across from this obviously furious guy is the Golden Gate Zlatna Vrata – the main entrance to the 4th-century Roman stone entryway to Diocletian’s Palace, flanked by two fake Roman guards who are happy to have their picture taken with you.

The Golden Gate – with more Romans hanging around.

The Diocletian’s Palace and the Old City Center

The Palace is an antique complex, built for Emperor Diocletian to be his retirement residence. The compound consisted of a Roman villa and palace constructions with military and urban formations as well as sacred architecture. The complex is walled, has four turrets and a couple of overhanging towers along the facade. The actual dimensions can be traced by the subterranean halls.

The Silver Gate on the east side.

After the Roman epoch, it was remodeled to an inhabited fortress – constantly adapted to the needs of the different cultural customs – showing Split’s everchanging history, e. g. Diocletian’s was altered into a cathedral. Today, it forms the major part of Split’s old town on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979.

There is so much to see at the palace that I list only my favorite spots – and cannot recommend enough just walking around with your eyes wide open to see all the small, stunning details.

The Peristyle with the Sphinx

Peristyle was – and still is – the central square of the palace. The most important buildings here are the cathedral and the bell tower.

Today, the good old Sphinx is watching over large tourist crowds.

The Sphinx watching over the Peristyle is about 3500 old and amazingly well preserved.

The Cathedral with the bell tower

The Cathedral of St. Domnius is actually formed from the Imperial mausoleum. It can be visited – there are different tickets, some including the treasury and the bell tower.

The Cathedral and the Bell Tower that can be climbed all the way to the top.

I did not dare to climb it all the way up, but as you can see, even from the first floor, you have great views.

This is the view from the lowest level of the Bell Tower; totally fine with me.

The Cellars

There are stairs leading down from the Peristyle to a subterranean market and to the Palace’s substructures. Actually, the brass gate opening to the Riva used to be the main entrance to the complex. These excavated subterranean remains can be visited.

Souvenir shopping in the basement.

Since this is one of the most touristy places in all of Croatia, you cannot expect the market holding great bargains for you, but the pieces made of semi-precious stones and rocks from the surrounding mountains are really nice.

The Vestibule 

This used to be the entrance to the residential area where only well-chosen visitors were allowed to meet the Emperor.

A Croatian boyband singing in the Vestibule.

Since the Vestibule has fantastic acoustics, you might be lucky and enjoy a  traditional Dalmatian klapa group performing their old songs. Klapa has been part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2012.

Pusti me da prodjem = Let Me Pass

 

Nomen est omen: Since no two adults can walk next to each other, Let Me Pass is probably an often heard sentence in the….Let Me Pass Street.
It leads to the

Old Jupiter’s Temple 

This rectangular temple served to celebrate the Jupiter’s cult. It is built on an elevated podium with a six column porch in early Renaissance style.

A baptist at the batistery.

Today, there is a sculpture of St John the Baptist at the baptistery.

The bell tower under the clock

Wherever you go, it’s just gorgeous at the historic center. This is the Iron Gate on the west
side of the complex.

The iron gate is opening to the west. In the eleventh century, a small church was built above the door.

The Narodni trg with the Old Town Hall

The Nrodni trg, in English People’s Square, was first mentioned in the 13th century. It was the first inhabited area outside the Diocletian Palace.

The Old City Hall – today housing a museum. And more Romans.

On this square, aka Pjaca, is the Gothic Old Town Hall from 1443 which was the seat of the city’s Today it is a museum.

More museums?

For further, more extended information, I recommend a visit to the Muzej grada Splita and the Split Ethnographic Museum Etnografski Muzej Split.

I totally understand if there comes a moment where you’ve got enough of narrow alleys between old rocks.

Therefore I actually enjoyed staying about 20 minutes walk east of the historic center in a residential neighborhood with a large number of modern, trendy bars and restaurants – very non-touristy, very Croatian.

Beaches

On the way, there are beaches like Bačvice, Ovčice, and Firule where you can spend lazy dayz – and wild party nights; at least on Bačvice.

You certainly won’t be the only one longing for a refreshing dip at Bačvice.
(Photo: Zvone00, Bacvice beach full of people, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Forests

A really tranquil place is the on Split’s very west tip Marjan Forest Park Park, the Šuma Marjan. Here you can go hiking and cycling and swimming – there is a beach here, too. But you can also visit landmarks and a couple of old churches – but wait, this was meant to get away from all the cultural treasures; hm, not so easy in Split.

Best place to sleep:

Like I said, my apartman was located about 15 minutes walk from the harbor and 20 minutes to the old town. I liked staying in the area since it allowed me to see a less touristy, really Croatian part of town.
Besides, the young lady that let me in was not only breathtakingly beautiful but also as sweet as can be.

The apartman was one bedroom with a kitchenette and a pretty large bathroom.

Apartments Tudor *
Spinčićeva 7
21000 Split
Phone: + 385 – 21 – 389 247
Email: info@apartments-tudor-split.com

Best place to eat:

On the main street from the harbor eastwards are many different restaurants and bars. I picked Movi and had some black, homemade noodles with a seafood sauce – it was a real feast.

Movi
Put Firula 47
21000 Split
Phone: + 385 – 21 – 571 540
Email: info@movi.hr 

They are open every day from 10 a. m. till midnight.

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Complete Guide to VELA LUKA on KORCULA

(Edited November 2018)

The island of Korčula is much less known and popular as many of its sisters although with over 15,000 inhabitants it is the second most populous Adriatic island. However, in the West, the town of Vela Luka, arranged around a half moon shaped bay, grants total relaxation while Korčula town presents a breathtaking historic old town within fairy tale like fortress walls.

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View of Korčula town from the Uvala Plitvine bay.

Korčula used to be a pretty important spot in her days: Not only came the timber for the wooden walls of Venice from here, it had also been one of the most important harbors to the Venetian fleets.

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Korčula: Name of the island and of a town.

Just like Cres, Korčula, too, is the name of the island and of a town.

Vela Luka

Coming from Split, the first harbor you reach, though, is Vela Luka, a town with 4,000 inhabitants, nestled in a half-moon shaped bay on the island’s western side.

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The bay of Vela Luka.

The many indented coves along the crystal clear waters make it sunbathers’ and swimmers’ paradise.

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For me, one shot of Relaxation on the Rocks, please!

Because of the lush vegetation along the bay, going for a pleasant walk or a sportive hike are great options on how to fill gaps between lazing on the rocks on the shores.

There is, for instance, the Vela Spila, the Big Cave, which it is one of the most important prehistoric caves in Europe. From the town center, it’s only about 2 miles, but you have to hike uphill.

To get more great view of this beautiful island, there is also the Hum Hill – about 2.5 miles southwest from the town center and the slope is twice as high as the one to Spila.

Everything around Vela Luka is just beautiful – so I guess the town itself doesn’t have to be. It’s basically one or two rows of houses along the shore. Only the part in the very center before you get to the harbor is somewhat scenic. Of course, there are supermarkets and restaurants and basically, everything you need; it’s just not that cute. Actually, it’s much less pretty and charming than most other places I’ve been in Croatia; and, however, I do recommend it since there is no nicer and calmer place for a couple of lazy dayz.

However, it might be difficult for people who are not so fit or with small children since climbing on the big rocks can a bit dangerous and there are lots of sea urchins in the water.

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View of Ošjak island from one of the many coves.

Besides the sumptuous landscape, another thing is really striking in Vela Luka, and that’s the many modern mosaics. They’ve been there since 1968 when the International Artist’s Meeting of Painters was held there.

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Some of the mosaics on the shore.

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Even if you don’t intend to kiss: This mosaic marks the nicest place to spend the day by the sea.

Korčula

Now Korčula – the city of Korčula – is a whole different story. From Vela Luka, you can get there a couple of times per day by bus – it takes about an hour and you’ll get to see the entire island.

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Gothic adornments.
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Narrow allow leading to the ocean.

Korčula – the city of Korčula – has an amazing historic old city surrounded by walls. The most spectacular feature is the layout of the streets in a herringbone pattern. This arrangement allows the air to circulate and protects at the same time against the strong winds blowing from the Adriatic sea.

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Entrance to St. Michael’s Church.

The historic part is on a promontory and can be accessed over a wooden drawbridge from 1863.

Within the walls, there are all these cute narrow alleys, but also impressive structures such as St. Michael’s Church located right at the entrance on Trg Antuna i Stjepana Radića, restored in 1615 which is the reason for its Baroque appearance.

But there is also the Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of St. Mark, built in the 15th century – just like the Saint Nikola monastery and the Franciscan monastery with a Venetian Gothic cloister.

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St. Mark’s Cathedral

But you don’t need to look for the most prominent houses since basically every building within the old walls is a jewel – like e.g. the Renaissance Palaces that can totally keep up with those in Venice or Florence.

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Church of St. Peter – and on the wall to the left a map sketching Marco Polo’s journey along the Silk Road.

Talking ’bout Venice – rumor has it that signore Marco Polo was born in Korčula in 1254. Together with his father and his uncle, he was one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road to China. Like I said, rumor has it, but there’s actually no proof.
Notwithstanding, the good people of Korčula would be crazy not gaining profit from this rumor, so they insist and you can even visit a building they claim to be Marko Polo’s house of birth.
I find it pretty unique that a municipality just decides having been some famous guy’s birth place – and upsadaisy – tourism flows.

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The town of Korčula is like a open air museum.

By the way, to get the most scenic view of Korčula – the city of Korčula – I recommend to climb up to the very un-scenic supermarket at the town’s entrance. Take the elevator to the parking level and from there you’ll have the best view of the entire promontory and the marvelous sea and mountains in the backdrop.

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Getting the best view – from the supermarket’s parking level.

So while Korčula – the city of Korčula – is much more beautiful than Vela Luka, I’d still recommend staying at latter. It’s far more relaxing, few tourists, hardly any day tripper, secluded coves and big trees that grant you shade – nothing but the noise of the noise of the cicadas, the gurgle of the sea and the lapping of the waves against the rocks.

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Man, the sea is jammed today.

From time to time, you hear one of the small boats chugging, then it’s just the pretty regular ripple of the water again. Twice a day, at one and then again at half past five, the ferry to Split slides by; this is rush hour in Vela Luka.

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Going to Dubrovnik, the ferry from Korčula island crosses the sea to Orebić. Bye bye, my island in the sun, I’ll be back.

Best place to sleep:

Location, location, location: Although it’s about twenty to thirty minutes walking to the harbor, I loved the location; and Jenny and her husband picked me up at the ferry on arrival and brought me to the bus to Dubrovnik as I left, anyway.

The nearest beach – that is not so nice and in front of a pretty busy hotel – is just across the street. But when you walk for about fifteen minutes along the lovely trail next to olive trees and cactusses and through tunnels of greenery, you’ll get to paradisiac spots where you are all by yourself.

Apartments Jenny *
Ulica 1 Broj 60/1
20270 Vela Luka
51000 Rijeka
Phone: + 385 – 99 – 6631877

Best place to eat:

Actually, I must admit that the best place to eat for me was at the apartman: I enjoyed doing a little Croatian grocery shopping and doing my own cooking at the well equipped kitchen.

Here is how I prepared coffee since I wasn’t able to buy coffee filters at any of the local supermarkets:



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Complete Guide to DUBROVNIK

(Edited November 2018)

Last stop and a grand finale of my bus road trip along the Adriatic cost was Dubrovnik.

 

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Best of Dubrovnik: Architecture, mountains, and the deep blue sea.

However, due to the large crowds and the flaws that come with tourist sellout, it was not my trip’s highlight.

Remember what I wrote about Rijeka? How I enjoyed taking part in the everyday life there? “Just being” – no sight-chasing, no fomo – just being there?
Well, Dubrovnik is quite the opposite. Whereby, you can just be – but be prepared of being bored.

Info, Facts, and Figures

However, I assume that no visitor will ‘just be’, everyone will rush to the historic old town and that, indeed, is a jewel. Just entering the area surrounded by the world famous walls is just breathtaking – I was overwhelmed and almost moved to tears.

 

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View of the historic old town surrounded by the turquoise waters.

This shall pass at about 9:30 a. m. when visitors in incredible numbers conquer the premises and the majestic fortress becomes an entertainment park.

Ivan Gundulić, a famous Croatian poet at the turn of the 17th century, created the beautiful credo Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro – Liberty is not well sold for all the gold.

 

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I’m not sure about this gold-thingy: At least in the morning sun the streets of the old town look as if they were paved with gold.

Well, I have the strong feeling that this ship has sailed long ago for the 43,000 good people of Dubrovnik: Every year, approximately 3 million visitors are conquering the city, concentrated at the historic old town; that means, that every Dubrovniker – from the baby to the grandma – has to welcome 20 visitors, if he likes it or not.
Just like in Venice, the traveller is killing what he loves.

 

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So this picture proves that there are real people living in the old town of Dubrovnik – doing real laundry.

Here too, the cruise passengers are the biggest problem since the float the city in masses all at the same time.

Far more destructive, though, was the Croatian independence war that lasted from 1991 till 1994 when Dubrovnik was under siege by the forces of Serbia and Montenegro.

 

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Boninovo cemetery in Dubrovnik: Graves of Croatian soldiers who died in the Croatian war between 1991 and 1994.

Today, most of the material damage has been rectified and Dubrovnik is the most popular tourist destination in that region; especially after HBO introduced the city even to those who usually are not so much into UNESCO World Heritage Sites; but Game of Thrones does the trick – and the situation not better.

Visiting the Walled Historic Old Town

Everything is happening at the historic city center, of course, way up high on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

If this wall could talk, it probably would be an even more thrilling tale than the popular series: After all, it’s been there since the 16th century. Actually, it’s the wall that gives the visit an even more surreal, theater-like sensation – and at the same time a claustrophobic one.

 

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The fantastically well-preserved wall.

The wall is between 4 to 6 meters /13 to 20 feet thick and runs about 2 kilometers/ 1.2 miles around the historic center. A system of turrets and towers was installed to protect the city and its inhabitants.

There are three gates to access the old town, whereby the Pile Gate to the west is the most important and busiest one. It opens to the Brsalje Square where also the tourist office is located. There, you can get valuable info and a free map.

City of Dubrovnik Tourist Board 
Brsalje ulica 5
20000 Dubrovnik
Phone: + 385 – 20 – 323 887

 

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The Ploče gate in the east. The visit to the wall is also included in the Dubrovnik card.

Ask them about the Dubrovnik card: It comes in three versions – for one, three, and seven days and costs between 180 and 315 HRK. There are nine attractions included – like the wall and some museums – and some free rides on public transport.
Since this is a bit complex – truth be told confusing – please check their website for further information. Anyway, if you buy the card there, you get an extra 10 percent off.

 

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Looking from Fort Minčeta at Fort Bokar to the left and Fort Lovrijenac to the right.

To walk the walls, I urge you to be there as soon as they open at 8 a. m. I visited in September and even then it was very warm – also at 8 a. m. I don’t even want to imagine how it must be in July or August at noon.

Another relevant aspect for being an early bird is the crowds: Most people, especially the day tripper and cruisers get to the old town around ten. So if you have the chance to be first, be first.

The main entrance to the wall is right next to the Pile Gate and so it the Onofrio’s Fountain, built in 1438. The water coming from 16 spouts used to be the main source of water till the end of the 19th – and is still drinkable!

 

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A refreshing drink – for free!

Across the Placa, the main artery is the St. Saviour Church – beautifully decorated like many buildings in the old part of Dubrovnik. Next to this Renaissance building is the Franciscan Church and Monastery.

 

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La Pietà – so painful yet so alluring.

At the eastern end of the Placa are some restaurants where after your wall-tour an overpriced breakfast is awaiting you. More interestingly, this is one of old Dubrovnik’s architectonic hot spots with Orlando’s Column in front of the baroque St. Blaise Church, built in the 18th century and housing an impressive Treasury.

 

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Orlando and Blaise – Dubrovnik’s power couple.

The Orlando Column was erected in 1418 and has been a symbol of loyalty to a handful of various Emperors. These statues are classic symbols for city autonomy – just remember my post on Bremen and their Roland statue – actually, these guys could be twins.

Across the square is a Renaissance highlight, the Sponza Palace from the 16th century. It serves as Dubrovnik’s National Archive.

 

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Sponza Palace and Clock Tower.

On the square’s west side, the clock on the Bell Tower, built in 1444, tells you what time it is and also the phases of the moon.
The adjacent complex consists of the City Hall, the Marin Držić Theater, and the Cultural History Museum at the artistically elaborated Gothic-Renaissance Rector’s Palace.

 

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Marin Držić with his shiny nose and knees.

Poor Marin Držić, whose house can be visited on the Široka ulica 7, the broad street, is sitting in front of the theater and everybody is rubbing his nose and his knees; poor Marin Držić.

After a visit to the Cultural History Museum which is a must not only because of the exhibition, but also for the building itself, you walk towards the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dubrovnik. You can enter for free and admire the works of some great Renaissance painters, but if you want to see the treasury, you need a ticket.

 

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Many treasures, i. a. the triptych of Ascension of Mary by Tizian – and his elfs aka his workshop.

Continue your visit to the west, you’ll get to the Gundulić square – remember? Gundulić is the one that wouldn’t trade liberty for gold. Now he’s standing in the center of a square where every day many of his compatriots are selling regional products like honey, oil, lavender, dried fruits, nuts, and more to tourists. And even if you’re not shopping for souvenirs, you’ll probably shop here since on this square is one of two – very small – supermarkets where you can stock up on water.

 

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Good old Gundulić watching over business.

And water you’ll need since now you’ll do the reversed walk of shame.
What?
The walk of shame – a pretty drastic scene from Game of Thrones that even I have seen on youtube: Some woman, obviously a sinner, has to walk down this street that you are now walking uphill. She’s naked – and I assume you’re not.

 

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The legendary stairs – but this woman is fully dressed.

Up the stairs, there is the Poljana Ruđera Boškovića square with more souvenir stalls – more handicraft, less food – and the St. Ignatius Church.

Coming back down the stairs – of shame – turn left into a narrow alley called Strossmayerova and walking it all the way down to the Ethnographic Museum, make sure to turn your head left and right – not for the traffic but because all the views in these narrow alleys are so picturesque and a major part of Dubrovnik’s charm.

 

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View from the Museum’s window.

A visit to the Ethnographic Museum is nice for the exhibition, but actually mainly for the views from the windows in the hallways; but the exhibition is nice, too, lots of rural appliances and traditional costumes.

For the last part of the tour, walk down the street Od Domina that leads into Široka – where you can drop in at Držić’s house, but actually it’s not that great if you haven’t been a big fan before; and I must admit that I haven’t even heard of him before I visited Dubrovnik.

Once you get back to the Place, walk all the way to the Clock Tower, but now you pass underneath and find yourself in a street with a couple of churches such as St. Nicholas, St. Sebastian, and Rosario as well the chapels of Annunciation and of St. Luke.

 

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A lady wearing traditional attire selling regional handicraft.

From here you have access to the Old Port from where you can book all sort of tours or just sit on the terrace of one of the many restaurants and be happy that you’ve made – you’ve visited one of the most spectacular cities in the world, I’d say.

 

Other Points of Interest


Mountain

 

What’s really not to be missed is a ride by the funicular up to the top of the Srđ mountain. The cable car shuttles between the stop one block up from the northern gate. Here, too, it’s smart to get up early – for the light and the crowds.

 

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Going up.

On the top is the Fort Imperijal from the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, today housing a war museum.

 

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Me – on top of things.

More impressive are the views – of the old town, Lokrum island, and the entire bay.

Beach

 

Just like basically every city along the coast, Dubrovnik has also beaches. And just like basically all these city beaches, there are not that great and quite overcrowded.


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Like everywhere in Croatia: Not so great beach….

 

However, the better beaches are not those close to the old town but those in the neighborhood of Babin Kuk and Lapad. 

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….but incredible waters.

 

I personally would divide my visit to Croatia in a sightseeing part and a relaxing beach part. And latter would take place e. g. on one of the islands and not on a city beach. 
 
If, of course, you have only a very limited amount of time, the beaches at the Lapad bay are an option.


Island

 
As if there’s not enough to see in Dubrovnik, there is, in addition, the island of Lokrum. The isle has a size of less than one square kilometer / 0.31 square mile and is located about 600 meters / 2000 feet from the city of Dubrovnik, therefore, about 20 bucks for a roundtrip seems a bit pricey.

I don’t know how it is if you spend more than just a couple of days in Dubrovnik, if then you feel like getting away from it all fleeing to an island – but even if so, I’m sure there are more beautiful and inspiring places than Lokrum.

However, former Austrian archduke Maximilian would probably strongly disagree since he had a holiday home on the island. There is still a monastery and a botanical garden from his era.


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The former Benedictine Monastery.

Actually, from much earlier times since the Benedictine Monastery was first referenced in 1023. In the 15th century, the Benedictine Monks were forced to leave the island.

Today, a part of the building houses a restaurant and another has been converted into a museum.

Most of the visitors are mainly crazy about the replica of The Iron Throne. To me, it was like monkey see, monkey do since I haven’t seen one single episode of Game of Thrones – neither before nor after my visit.

 
The island is covered in sumptuous Mediterranean plants such as laurel, oak, pines, cypress, olives, agaves, cacti, magnolia, and palms.

There is a beach area and also a small salt lake called Mrtvo More, i. e. Dead Sea. 

Getting there and around:

 
I hope you’re not coming on one of the destructive cruise ships. However, the harbor as well as the central bus stop, the one where I arrived, are in the Gruž neighborhood all the way west. From there, I’d walked to my accommodation which was about 20 minutes but slightly uphill and completely idiotic: If you are too cheap for a cab, which I am most of the time, you can just hop on bus # 5.
Anyway, all the city buses got to the Brsalje square right in front of the main gate of the historic center.
Because of the mountains surrounding Dubrovnik, there is no train service, but, of course, there is an airport about 20 km / 12.5 miles east of the city. A shuttle bus shuttles you for 40 HRK, stopping at the old port and the harbor of Gruž. Their service is in sync with the incoming and outgoing flights – and they have an excellent website you might want to check. You can purchase your ticket online or at their booth close to the cable car station – but don’t expect more info than you find here from the young lady sitting there. Like I said, check their site, it’s very clear and informative.
Getting around is very easy since there are maps at every bus stop showing exactly where which bus is going – in different bright colors so even a total moron shouldn’t get lost.I took it just for a joy ride and to see also some newer stones after having spent two days at the old structures of the historic town. Well, don’t expect much, it’s not really worth it.

However, if you need to do some bigger shopping, there are big supermarkets and drugstores along the street Vukovarska halfway between the old city and Babin Kuk.

Best place to sleep:

 

Difficult to say and depending on what you like.
I personally was gladly leaving the historic old town after a day in the crowds.
I stayed 10 minutes walk from the main gate on the Andrije Hebranga street in the Gruž neighborhood – which also made accommodation a bit cheaper, I guess.

 

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It’s nice to come back to such an idyllic spot after a long day of a touristy craze.

Here, too, the host, Ms Jelka, is cute as a button, but you have less privacy since the two rooms she’s renting out are right in her apartment.
However, it’s squeaky clean and I even had a big balcony with a view of the peninsula of Dubrovnik.

Get more details, check out availability and Jelka’s rates. *

Best place to eat:

 

It won’t surprise you that the restaurants in the historic part of Dubrovnik are not exactly a bargain. However, if you don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet, it’s better to have lunch there than dinner.

 

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Seafood is, obviously, always fresh in Croatia and they sure know how to prepare it.

A nice, relaxed place with good food at reasonable prices is

Konoba Koloseum
Ulica uz Jezuite 6
20000 Dubrovnik
Phone: + 385 – 95 – 535 4150

Open daily from 11 a. m. to 11 p. m.

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Croatia? 

 

 

Then go to the main post and take your pick!


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Disclaimer: Dubrovnik Tourist Board supported my research by supplying me with a Dubrovnik card, arranged a free visit to Lokrum island, a roundtrip to Srd mountain, and access to some attractions and exhibitions.