“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”
As a keen traveller I absolutely love this quote and would choose a travel adventure over anything materialistic any day. So on this basis being a graduate in debt this Summer myself and my best friend I met on my exchange in Australia went on a long holiday to Croatia, because why the hell not?! Croatia is such an up and coming travel destination and after hearing lots of good things it definitely lived up to expectations. We had around 11 days and decided to travel around the Islands off Split, read on to see what we got up to!
We flew into Split with easy jet at the crack of dawn meaning we arrived into the beautiful city with the whole day to explore. I had booked us into an Airbnb for our first evening so our lovely host Nino picked us up from the airport and drove us to his place in the city which was great! The city is so beautiful with all its history so it was lovely just to walk around and explore its fortresslike complex with the stunning Diocletian’s palace at its centre. In the Afternoon we headed along the front and went on a walk up the Marjan hill where there is a stunning viewpoint, a must do in Split!! Here there is a sweet little cafe where we indulged in our favourite treat, iced coffees. There is lots of woodland and walks around here so its a lovely place to explore with beautiful scenery and is extremely peaceful. Due to not having much sleep from our early flight we didn’t go out tonight so we brought some local food from the market and cooked dinner in our Airbnb. In the evening we went for a walk to Bacvice beach to watch a beautiful sunset, perfect way to end a great day!
This morning we headed into Split to book onto a ferry to take us to our first Island, Hvar. We booked a midday ferry so we grabbed some lunch and an iced coffee whilst we waited. The ferries between all the islands were so easy to book onto and were pretty quick bearing in mind how reasonably priced they are (roughly around £5-8) which was great. Upon arrival we headed straight to our hostel, The Green lizard, which we had booked into just that morning on hostelworld. We had a 7 bed mixed dorm for about £11 per night which was pretty good! The place was really homely and had such a nice communal kitchen/open area outside with a stunning view of the sea. This afternoon we headed down to the beach and caught some much needed rays before the sunset. In our dorm we met two lovely girls from Cambridge who were at the end of their travels around Europe so this evening we all went out together to some bars which was great fun! The night escalated quite quickly and we ended up on a boat to a little ‘party island’ where the famous Carpe Diem bar is which was pretty crazy. You arrive to huge draped red curtains that you walk through then inside the decor is pretty impressive with lots of outdoor sofas etc. Somehow we managed to bag free VIP entry which was pretty swanky being behind the DJ so we all had a great night! It was quite expensive entry (about £20) but we did go on a night with a special DJ set so I still think its definitely worth a trip.
The next day we walked to the other side of the Island to a gorgeous beach and spent the day sunbathing and swimming followed by some cliff jumping which was fun! I would definitely recommend walking further to beaches on Hvar as it’s such a popular Island the beaches are very busy particularly as they are quite small and rocky! After a beautiful walk along the coast home we got some local food and all cooked dinner together which was lovely! Then after a few drinks out at our favourite ‘Kiva bar’ it was time to hit the hay!
A must do in Croatia is definitely to hire a boat and go and explore the islands. So today we hired a little croatian boat for around £15 each (including fuel) and explored the Pakleni islands. But before we headed off I had to take a mini driving test around the marina which was a tad nerve racking driving so close to multimillion boats but don’t worry we survived. It was such a nice day boating around the islands mooring up when we pleased and diving/swimming off the boat with music and food (of course). Heading home at sunset we went back to our hostel and cooked a group dinner. A group of boys from Bath University had arrived in our hostel so we all had a few drinks then headed to Kiva bar for many tequila shots and dance offs, yes I did the worm and have the scars on my knees to prove it.
On our final day in Hvar we went to a lovely cafe for some juices so we could book our transport and hostels at our next destinations. We all booked onto a day boat tour to the blue caves for the next day. Erica and I paid half the price (around £25) as we were going to be dropped off at our next Island, Vis, from the tour. After a successful travel admin session we headed to the beach for a couple of hours to work on the tan, that’s one of the main reasons you go on holiday right?!
For our final evening all together we decided to go out for dinner which was lovely. I had a cuttlefish black risotto which was really nice, I am a fish lover so whenever I’m on holiday I always like to try a different fish thats local. After doing what girls do best, filling our stomachs, we headed back to get changed to head to the famous ‘Hula Hula beach bar’ for a breathtaking sunset. For what I envisaged to be a fancy few cocktails and a dance with the sunset turned into a more heavy drinking session resulting in a group of us swimming to the blow up trampoline in the sea…only on holiday hey. It was such a fun evening with an amazing atmosphere, definitely recommend a trip here but if you fancy more of a chilled vibe definitely go in the day time!
Up super early we headed to our boat tour to bagsie the sun loungers on the top deck for the day! We headed off for a beautiful cruise to our first stop at the Green cave where we were able to jump off the top of the boat then swim around the stunning cave. On the way to the famous Blue cave we were given lunch of a tuna steak which unfortunately wasn’t the tastiest of meals but it was mass catering on a boat after all! When arrived at the blue caves after purchasing our entry tickets (£6) we all got put onto little boats and drove for five minutes along the coast to this tiny hole in the cliff face which much to our surprise we were going through to the cave. After crouching our heads down we were in and it was stunning! The sunlight from outside reflects onto the sand to create this amazing aluminous blue effect throughout the cave, very hard to capture in photos but you get the idea.
At the end of the tour we were dropped to the South of the Island Vis at Stiniva which is a pretty old fishermans village. After an explore and a drink in a cafe Erica and I said our goodbyes to the girls and we got a bus to the North of the island which was about a half an hour journey costing just £2.50! In Vis town we had booked an Airbnb right on the seafront which was perfect. We soon headed out for a long walk to explore the town stopping every 10 seconds for a photo because it was just that beautiful! Later on we headed to a pizzeria where I indulged in a 4 cheese pizza…guiltyyyy. Whilst watching the sunset we walked around the other side of the town and climbed up the hill attempting to find the heritage Fort George but not knowing where we were going and the darkness looming, it ended in a failed attempt.
On our full day in Vis we decided to go further afield and explore the Island. People commonly hire cars, mopeds or bikes to get around but as I was not feeling my best today we decided trusting myself on a motorbike wouldn’t be a very good idea so we went for the mountain bikes (£1o for 6 hours). We soon realised motorbikes probably would have been a lot easier after sweating our way up all the hills, but had to burn off that 4 cheese pizza didn’t I. It was so beautiful cycling through all the wineries and along the coastline especially as the roads were so quiet! After a few stops on the way we cycled to Milna to Zaglav beach and we were not disappointed. It was so quiet and the waters were crystal clear so relaxing here a few hours was only a pleasure. Cycling back into Vis town there was a steep windy descent where we enjoyed the most tremendous view of the town.
In the evening we decided to head out for a walk to try to find Military tunnels in the cliffs that had been recommended to us and then a take two to find the Fort George for sunset. After a long walk around to look for the tunnels we realised we didn’t have enough time to get there before sunset so instead decided to head straight to the fort. Here came a huge Bear Grylls adventure. In order for us to get up there for sunset in time we couldn’t go all the way back along to the road then up to the fort so we decided to just go directly up through the mass foliage and when I say mass I mean chest height bush and brambles. After stumbling across a sheep carcass, head butting a branch, falling off an old stone wall and bleeding legs looking like I had been in a cat fight, we made it and it was so worth it! We explored around the Fort and found this little bit at the top where no-one was and sat on the edge of the walls for an hour watching the colours of the sky change. Definitely up there with the best sunsets I’ve seen. On the way back home we grabbed an ice cream as they looked just too tempting, hugely recommend the ice-cream in Croatia!!
This morning we were leaving Vis and heading to our last Island, Brač, so it was up early to catch a ferry back to Split as you can’t get a direct ferry to Brač from Vis. Luckily as soon as we got to Split the ferry to Brač was just a 20 minute wait so it worked perfectly. Although the ferries are very reasonably priced some routes only run once/a couple times a day and are often early in the morning so planning ahead is needed. We got the car ferry across which is the most regular ferry to Brač but it goes to Supertar instead of the more popular destination of Bol where we were staying. Upon arrival we found the buses to Bol and booked in for the next one in a few hours (£5 or £6.50 return). Today was our one bad day of the trip with lots of rain so we decided to get a croissant and grab a coffee from a cafe.
In a break from the rain we headed for a walk around Supertar looking at the old heritage buildings and the coastline where lots of children’s activities are including a inflatable obstacle course ‘aqua park’ in the sea. The break from the rain didn’t last long so we decided to go to a restaurant on the front and grab some food. I had the best tomato soup I’ve had in my life and yes I know thats a claim and a half but it was just great and even had rice in it too which I’ve never tried before. We then got our bus which was pretty cramped and sweaty as the big buses weren’t running so we were all squished into a minibus but it was a quick journey so it wasn’t so bad. Unfortunately, the rain came with us to Bol so we turned up to our Airbnb looking like drowned rats. Here we had our favourite accommodation of the trip with our host Sandra. It was a beautiful little house with cute rooms and a terrace with a beautiful view of the sea. The bad weather decided to stay so apart from an evening walk around the town we couldn’t do much else!
This morning we got up early ready to climb Mount Vidova Gora which is the highest view point of all the Adriatic Islands and it is even said you can sometimes see Italy from the view! Off we set to reach the 778m high summit which isn’t really that high considering but a very long windy rocky route set us 11 miles back. The view at the top was stunning, you could see Hvar and Vis which was great to put where we have been in perspective. You could also see the famous Zlatni Rat Beach, known as the Golden cape, which gave us motivation to terrain down to go and cool off in the water.
Finally arriving at the famous Golden Cape we were in heaven to be lying on the beach and swimming in beautiful waters. The famous beach is a natural phenomenon with the beach extending almost half a kilometre into the sea. Amongst the stoney beach there is a famous shell here called the Opercula which is the shell of the sea snails and is known as the “lucky stone” by the locals. Our Airbnb host Sandra kindly gave me one of her Opercula’s to wish me luck! Bol is a very popular resort so the beach was very busy and had lots of beach bars and live music playing so its a busy vibe. Tip for beaching here is to check the flag to see the direction of the wind as to which side of the cape to sunbathe on for shelter.
After lapping up our last bit of sea air, sunbathing and swimming we walked back to the town through all the market stools to have dinner on our terrace. Flying home from Split late the next morning we headed to get our boat tickets for the early morning leave but were given some bad news that due to strong winds the boat might not be running and we wouldn’t find out till the morning. A tad panicked we thought of a plan B to get a taxi to Supertar where we arrived to and get the more regular ferry back to Split so panic was over. Tonight was our last night of our holiday so we headed out for some cocktails at Varadero cocktail bar right on the waterfront which I would definitely recommend!
Up super early all packed and ready to unwillingly start our journey home we headed off. Luckily the boat was running so back to Split then after a last mooch around, last minute souvenir present buying and you guessed it, an iced coffee, we got the airport bus to the airport (£4 and about a 40 minute journey). Unfortunately our flight was delayed by about an hour but my University friend was flying in for a holiday at the same time we were there so I surprised her at arrivals for a quick catch up which was lovely! After some perfume smelling, alcohol admiral and chocolate fantasising we were on our flight and heading home (queue the tears).
Having not yet gone interrailing I absolutely loved going to Croatia and feel we sometimes neglect Europe as holiday destinations and seek places further than what we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. It is super easy to travel around and very affordable even though prices are on the up from previous times due to its increasing popularity as a destination but your pockets can still stretch further. This was my first trip using airbnb and I would thoroughly recommend it being easy, affordable and adds a cultural feel to your accommodation. There are many other places in Croatia I would love to go to for example Dubrovnik, Plitvice lakes and Krka National Park so I will definitely be back!
Have you ever been to Croatia? If you haven’t and your thinking of going for your next adventure, GO.
Thought I’d end the post with a picture of the crystal clear blue water because I don’t know about you but thats where i’d rather be right now…