And in particular, in Central Dalmatia!
With over 1,000 islands, the Dinaric Alps and historic cities such as Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia is a destination that you’ll no doubt have considered visiting.
If you’re anything like me the hardest thing you’ll surely come across is figuring out what you’ll have to leave out of your action-packed itinerary! It’s the dreaded scenario, far too little time and too much of a country to explore.
The dread of every traveller across the globe.
We’ve all been there, wishing we’d booked that later flight, hoping that the gate gets changed and we miss the flight. Actually, scratch the latter, that fills me with sheer dread and panic.
Anyway, you get the picture of how I felt when we visited and sadly had to leave beautiful Croatia.
I’ve decided to share our itinerary of some of the most memorable things to see for a great taste of Croatia. We filled our five days with lots of places, an island hop, a little wine and lots and lots of fun.
Day 1: Arrival To Croatia, Exploring Historic Split
1.) Explore The Beauty of Split
We had decided that Split would be a great place to start our exploration of Croatia and boy were we happy with our choice.
We decided to dedicate two days to Split – one on arrival into the country and one before departing back to London. Our first 24 hours in Split was everything we’d wished for! We stayed at the Cornarro Hotel which was smack-bang within the beautiful historic centre and was a plush palace that we hardly wanted to leave.
One of the things we realised straight away was that it’s probably a good idea to just put the map away and allow your self to get truly lost in the windy streets of Split. Embrace it, enjoy it (that’s what I’m saying anyway after a good 40 minutes running around not knowing where I am or which way to walk) :-). Seriously though, it was a great way to explore the city and it’s hard not to bump into all the sights you’ll want to see.
The historic centre is small enough to explore in a day and a perfect way to find new sights to enjoy – such as the oldest jeweller in the city, still owned by the same family and still painstakingly handmade right in front of your very eyes.
I even found the cutest little book shop in all the land… it’s just a shame I can’t read Croatian.
Day 2: Island Hopping To Solta, Cave Exploring & An Epic Quad Adventure
2.) Visit The Croatian Islands
Waking up at 6 am is never fun – no matter how much you sugar coat it but at least the reward was well worth the red-eye and coffee high that seemed to have me buzzing all morning! 🙂
After leaving our hotel at 7 am, we headed straight for our departure ferry from Split port to the stunning, Solta Island. At this time of the morning, everyone looked half asleep (me included), but the sunrise over the Adriatic Sea was a spectacular sight that’s worth any excruciating 6 am wake-up call.
After a 30-minute ferry ride, we arrived at Rogac Port on Solta (a relatively small island) a few kilometres wide but brimming with life and colour. As soon as my sailing legs allowed, I hopped off and we headed straight towards one of the islands most iconic exports… A honey farm!
3.) Taste The Sweetest Honey In Europe!
Tvrdic Honey farm is the perfect place to get up close and personal with the traditional ways in which Croatians make honey.
One of the best things about this family-owned business is there stewardship and understanding of bees – it was great hearing a whole load of wild tales about bees pre-20th century in Croatia and how lucky we are to be eating such a pure honey today… and they are not wrong!
This organic honey was so delicious I had to grab a few jars for my hand luggage home.
4.) Visit Towns That Time Forgot
After eating my weight in honey (by 11 am), we decided to wander around the local area, where visited some of the smaller and unbelievably quaint hamlets of; Maslinica, Stomorska, Gornje Selo. The towns still look like they did over 200 years ago.
A great sight to see in a world filled with glass and metal buildings!
5.) Visit A Family Owned Winery
After our wander around the small towns (1 pm), we’d worked up a ferocious appetite! It turns out that honey doesn’t fill you up for too long at all… it just gives you a sugar rush for hours and sticky lips for the whole day.
In light of my upcoming hunger monster, we decided to visit Kapja I bokun vine tasting venue in Gornje Selo. Not only did we learn and try some of the traditional family wine – we filled up on freshly caught anchovies, morning baked bread and the juiciest olives I’ve ever tasted (see more here).
It was a great way to finish our half-day on Solta Island. Full, sticky and very very sweet! Ha!
6.) Explore The Caves Of Vranjaca
After a little rest and recuperation on the ferry back to Split, we drove to the magnificent Vranjaca Cave, about 1 hour or so from the very centre of Split.
The caves themselves are magnificent – they’re so unassuming from the outside except for one cavernous hole with a rather long staircase. After about 15 minutes of descending it was easy to see what all the fuss was about (see more photos here).
What a remarkable place (just watch out for the sleeping bats on your way down).
7.) Test Drive Your Skills On A Quad Adventure
If that wasn’t enough plans for one fun-fuelled day, we even crammed in a thrill seekers dream tour… a 30km quad adventure! A 2.5 drive to inland Dalmatia across the field, rocky terrain and mountains that make up this beautiful area.
It was a great way to see so much more of the countryside… and totally off-road too!
By 8 pm we were totally zonked and ready for Bed-fordshire ;-).
We decided to stay at Hotel Sv. Mihovil and fell asleep faster than any fairytale sleeping beauty. It was bliss! Zzzzzz
Day 3: Visiting 5 Springs, Eating Frogs Legs & Sinj
8.) Explore The Stunning Beauty of Central Dalmatia
After a relatively late snooze (until 9 am), we headed straight out for another action-packed day. We knew we wanted to see and cram in as much as we could while on our Croatian adventure so we decided to join a Dalmatia Explorer tour, totally off-road and a perfect way to see areas of the country that are off-limits to other motors.
Our main focus this morning was to see the world-famous five springs that central Dalmatia has become so famous for.
With a little knowledge in hand and our tour guide eager to show us, we headed to; Cetina, Rumin, Ovrlja, Ruda and Grab. The springs themselves are pristine and thankfully protected – making this water an option to drink right from the source.
You couldn’t actually see the bottom of the springs, that’s how far down they actually go. I had a good ol’ gulp of the freshly surfaced water and even filled a little in my water bottle – straight from the source.
You can’t get fresher than that!
9.) Try Frogs Legs In Sinj
By the afternoon, we’d once again worked up the hunger of beast and decided to go explore one of the nearest towns, Sinj where we finally got to try frogs legs at the local restaurant of Ispod Ure. I
‘d always been curious about them, especially as everyone I know that’s tried them describe it as an ‘oily chicken’… and you know what, they’re right! That’s exactly what it tasted like to me! Well worth a try and a meal of choice of locals in Dalmatia! What a perfect way to finish day three.
Day 4: Exploring Makarska & Biokovo Park of Nature
10.) Walk The Promenade In Makarska
The next morning we woke up bright and early at 8 am and left our hotel straight for the Makarska Riviera.
It was about 1 hour or so for the transfer and a great way to enjoy a sunny morning on the coast! The riviera is beautiful in the morning sunshine with the dramatic Biokovo National Park behind, Makarska really is a unique place to explore.
11.) See The Views Atop Of Biokovo Park of Nature
After a little brunch in a harbourside cafe, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the clouds, well, almost! It was time to head to the very top of Biokovo Park of Nature for some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen in Europe.
It took around 40 minutes to drive to the very top, but once we were there – wow! I think we stayed for a good hour just admiring the views and watching the fog roll over the edge of the mountain top.
We even found a few odd roaming goats…
And a stunning scenery that was magical!
Day 5: White Water Rafting, Omis & Diocletian’s Palace
12.) Go White Water Rafting In Omis
Our final full day in Croatia was filled with adventure, we’d decided to start our morning super early with a transfer straight to Omis, where we plucked up the courage to go white water rafting in the Cetina River. I was so excited!
For safety reasons we were not allowed to photograph during the more intense rapids (apparently our instructor thought I’d lose concentration… he was right! :-)), but we did get some shots floating across the river in the pristine Croatian wilderness. It was an epic experience and one I’m itching to do again.
What you can’t see (and I didn’t notice until after taking this show below) is that we were stood right next to a rather scary looking sea snake! *gulp*
But with views like this, a snake or two was totally worth it! 🙂
At the end of our white water rafting, we came across the cutest waterside cafe and as a reward to completing such a task – who was I to refuse a celebratory red wine or two and a
not so little feast! 😉
13.) Explore The Beauty Of Diocletian’s Palace
After eating my weight in carbs (which I conveniently forgot to document), we headed back on the road to visit Diocletian’s Palace …aka home to DAENERYS TARGARYEN! Any Game Of Thrones fan will fall in love with this palace as it is a major set in the HBO show.
Obviously, that’s just one (very current) part of its history and it was eye-opening to get an insight into the turbulent past and influences that this area of Croatia has seen over the last 1,000 years. It’s an absolutely stunning piece of history to explore and one that ended our trip on a total high!
I had such an amazing time and experienced so much in Central Dalmatia.