Tales of a City Girl

Croatia tour – Split; Hvar; Korcula

From my office to schoolfriends, there was rarely an area of my life where I didn’t know someone going to Croatia recently. It was like divorce, one in three people you know were likely to experience it. But unlike divorce, Croatia is something I’d recommend you aim for – although it probably is as money-draining and freeing as a divorce, hoho. Anyway, strange metaphor over (it’s been a long week) – here’s my travel tales from Croatia.

We decided to go for four nights in Split; two in Hvar; two in Korcula and finish off with one night in Split. There are lots of different options for you to enjoy and the islands all have something to recommend them – but the one thing I would not suggest you do here is rest in one place. Croatia is a place to island-hop –all boats are reasonably priced and this way you can experience the different personalities of different places in a relatively short amount of time.

One thing all of Croatia has in common though is beauty. Peppered around are vast national parks, craggy inlets, huge, hulking mountains and the most incredible ocean of a myriad different blues and greens. A sandy beach in Croatia is rarer than Miley Cyrus in a business suit though, so invest in some sea shoes for clambering into the sea. You’ll look like a bit of a dick, but better to keep your feet intact.

If you are looking to get active, there are lots of different ways you can explore too, some of which we chose to take advantage of (with, er, varying degrees of success).

On my favourite day we took a boat out by ourselves with a motor and tiller to carve our own journey around the different smaller islands around Korcula. This would be the one thing I would say you cannot leave Croatia without doing. For just 400 kuna (equivalent of £40) for the day, which included fuel, we jetted around the islands dropping anchor for long, lazy book breaks and pulling up on one island where a ramshackle bar served us icy pints of beer and cheese from Pag, a little island in Croatia. All you need is for one of you going to have a driving licence, and you’re all good to go.

We also tried out mountain biking with electric bikes in the mountains in Hvar, which cost us 250 kuna (£25) each. This, too, was stunning but slightly marred by the chain falling off Dan’s bike, leaving him with a sprained wrist, bruised ribs and all the skin taken off the palm of one of his hands.

Nothing brings a couple closer than crying (me, not him) halfway up a mountain dabbing open wounds with a beach towel. Although this could be viewed as something that does happen with bikes, I’d make sure you’re more than happy with them before renting them.  If nothing else, bike grease and blood is hell to get out of a towel.

There are other ways of getting around in Croatia too, including scooters and quad bikes if you’re feeling brave.

We also took a trip out from Split to Krka National Park, which was spectacular. There are huge waterfalls you can swim up to, and a long forest walk framed with luscious green. Shop around for these tours – they all offer the same thing, the only difference is the size of tour group.

Food in Croatia is middling, I’d say. If you’re a fish fan, I reckon you’d be in culinary heaven – most restaurants serve up local fish every day. I’m a bit more of a food Neanderthal though and the rest of the food tends to borrow heavily from Croatia’s Italian neighbours, although not quite as good. I’d recommend Diocletian’s Palace in Split (the walled Roman ruins with tons of great restaurants inside), any of the restaurants in St Stephens’ Square in Hvar and Maksimilijan Gardens in Korcula. All of these offered us something great, whether it was the food, the atmosphere, the setting or all three. Oh, and avoid spag bol anywhere, I’m pretty convinced it’s horse.

Drink on the other hand is cheap and wonderful. Beer always tastes better when you’re abroad and Croatia is no different.  The most popular local brands are Karlovacko and Ozujsko, both which are brilliant and about on the same price point as bottled water, making it very difficult to care about keeping up with your H20.

There are a ton of great bars in Croatia, but if you’re up for partying, Hvar is the best one, as long as you can cope with the slightly rah stag do vibe down by the harbour. Hula Hula bar is a beautiful huge beach bar where everyone flocks to watch the sun go down and drink iced cocktails. I also hear Carpe Diem, which is effectively a bar island, is pretty good. We chose to go listen to some local music in a pizzeria instead of going there though like two geriatrics. Actually sod it, I’m never going to apologise about an evening eating pizza and singing along to Tina Turner played by two Croatians on guitars.

We used AirBnB for accommodation (does the job) . For ferries, make sure you take a look at Jadrolinija Ferriesand book beforehand.

Image attribution: Dan’s Flickr