Trip Highlights: Croatia
Croatia, abundant with Mediterranean charm, is truly a hidden treasure as a great vacation destination. From its old world Eastern European cathedrals to its more modern metropolitan cities, from over 1,000 scenic islands to its stunning lakes and waterfalls, Croatia offers a truly unique and eclectic experience.
Although it is becoming more popular each year, it is still less traveled than some of its better-known neighbors. Because September is considered “off season,” we found this to be the best time to visit, allowing us to enjoy the country without the crowds typically found in more popular European destinations.
Croatia’s capitol city, Zagreb, was the meeting point for this year’s adventure. For the first two nights, our hotel was located in the city center near the very lively and historical Ban Jelacic Square. The square’s abundant restaurants, with their beautifully appointed patios, beckoned us to sit and soak in the surroundings with the gothic spires of the Zagreb Cathedral towering above.
Our four-star hotel was among the more unique establishments in the area. Located just two and a half hours from the beautiful Plitvice National Park, is rated in the top 10 of the most beautiful Unesco Heritage sites. A myriad of crystal clear lakes, the color of turquoise, fall and tumble into each other. The entire park was lush and beautifully trailed with boardwalks that allowed access to every water feature.
Our next destination was the city of Split, home to the Diocletian Palace, built in the 4th century, and considered to be the world’s most complete remains of any Roman palace. The palace has been transformed into a beautiful residential complex, and is home to world-class restaurants and shopping. Our beautiful five-star hotel was located just a few minutes from the busy city center. Both the palace and the city center are situated on the edge of the spectacular blue Adriatic. The entire promenade is lined with palm trees and outdoor seating with beautiful views of the ocean.
We spent the next seven days island hopping aboard a pristine 42-passenger ship. Every morning we gathered for breakfast in the ship’s dining room catching up with our new friends from far away places like Canada, South Africa, Nova Scotia, and England. After breakfast our crew unloaded our bikes and our cycling guide explained what to expect on our ride that day. This year we introduced the option of the E-Bike with a pedal-assist system, allowing those less-than-avid-cyclists on our tour to enjoy the same experience as the rest of the more seasoned cyclists in our group. After our rides, we ended the day with a refreshing swim in protected inlets specially scouted for us by our captain. Our crew was terrific, attending to our every need, and making us feel comfortable and right at home on the ship.
Fortunately, Croatia has done an incredible job maintaining and sustaining all of their valuable natural resources. Wherever we went we were met with beautiful views and inviting waters. One of our favorite parts of the trip was our time exploring the islands on our itinerary. Some of the best vantage points came from impressive fortresses built at the highest point on the island, providing spectacular 360° views. We also visited many great restaurants, and entertainment and shopping areas as well — each replicating the island’s unique history and charm.
We ended our adventure in Dubrovnik, considered to be one of the best medieval walled cities in the world. This city offered everything we desired. We spent time within the fortified Old Town Square, visiting museums, walking atop the walled city, shopping and enjoying the local cuisine before retiring to our beautiful five-star hotel for our last night on this amazing Croatian tour.
Croatia offers excellent experiences and services, provided by friendly and warm people who spoke English with ease and eloquence. They genuinely welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home in their wonderful country. In addition, we found the cost to be relatively inexpensive and overall a good value. We are looking forward to our next trip to Croatia. We hope you’ll join us!