Top four places to visit in Croatia

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Seeing our parents again for the first time in a year (Carmen’s parents) and 18 months (Dave’s folks) has been really great this past week. It had me reflecting on the last time we saw them as I dug up fond memories in my mind.

Last time we saw Dave’s parents was when we met them in Croatia in May 2013. We’d gone to the Mediterranean country for our honeymoon a year earlier and had one of the best summer holidays we’d ever had.

Dave’s parents love coming to Europe but they often just visit Italy, but this time we managed to twist their arm to throw Croatia in there too.

We couldn’t wait to go back. What we love about Croatia is that you get the beautiful Med coastline without the insane crowds of Italy, and inland the landscapes are breathtaking.

Split, Croatia Double-Barrelled Travel

At a restaurant in Split

Here’s our rundown of the top four places to visit in Croatia.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes isn’t just one of the best places I’ve visited in Croatia, I think it’s one of the best places I’ve visited in the world.

Many tourists are missing a trick by sticking only to the coastline of the country, when the best part of Croatia is inland. The rolling mountains with its prized valley complete with huge waterfalls falling out of the cliff sides makes you think for a moment you’re in the movie The Land Before Time rather than an Eastern European country.

Visiting Plitvice Lakes is a stunning day hike where you walk along boardwalks and through overhanging trees, turning corners to be confronted by the most pristine waterfalls you’ll ever see.

The water is the clearest of blues and all different shades from sky blue to teal to aquamarine.

Go early to beat the crowds and avoid the worst of the sun. You can’t swim in the lakes as it’s a protected UNESCO site, but the hike is well worth the trip.

Dave admiring the view of  just one of the lakes...sublime

Dave at Plitvice Lakes

Dubrovnik

It’s the old favourite and some might even say it’s a bit too touristy these days. But it’s a spot that you shouldn’t miss on your visit to sunny Croatia. With its tumbling cliffs and cobblestone town that’s pedestrian only, Dubrovnik is the most romantic spot on the map.

Walk around the walls during the day and watch the waves crash below. Paddle out around the point in a kayak and to a hidden cave before taking a refreshing dip.

Shower and scrub up, donning an evening dress to listen to the live jazz that plays in the cafes as you sip a glass of wine in the old square, the stars above you and the warm breeze on your skin.

It’s magic.

Carmen and Dave on Dubrovnik City walls Double-barrelled travel

Me and Carmen on the Dubrovnik walls

Zadar

Zadar has more of a laidback vibe than Dubrovnik – there are less tourists and you can really get a sense of how the locals live.

Sunset isn’t to be missed down by the seafront, where the sun hits the water sending the last day’s rays of red fingers spreading across the sky.

And if you think the sunsets are out of this world, you wouldn’t be alone – Alfred Hitchcock was once quoted as saying Zadar had the most beautiful sunsets in all of the world.

As the sun goes down, take a seat and watch the performance, while you’re serenaded by the sea organs that play from the waves hitting the windpipes underneath the marble steps along the jetty.

It’s something else.

Sunset in Zadar Double-Barrelled Travel

Sunset in Zadar

Split

Go to Dubrovnik for its beauty but come to Split for its food. The markets lining up the road from the port deliver the freshest seafood and the hardest decision you’ll face on your trip is whether to choose from the prawns or the large mussels.

We hired an apartment with Dave’s parents that was opposite the market and spent a morning strolling around, picking out the freshest fish for our lunch.

We brought it back and cooked it, creamy smells wafting through the apartment, across the high ceilings and along the wooden floorboards.

It was one of the highlights of the trip – sharing a meal with family. And these are some of the fondest memories I have from our time in Croatia with Dave’s family.

Have you been to Croatia? Where was your favourite place?

Strawberries for sale at Split's green market

Strawberries for sale at Split’s green market

Are you longing for summer right now? We know you can’t all be in sunny Australia, and so we’ve decided to team up with Cosmos, who are giving away an amazing holiday as part of their  ‘Where’s Santa Been?’ campaign.

For a chance to win, visit their Facebook page for details.

We worked with Cosmos on this post, but as usual, all our opinions are our own!

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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