Oh Croatia, Croatia, Croatia, where do I even begin… It feels like a lifetime ago that we were there yet it’s still so clear in my mind – the warmth of the sunshine, the crystal-clear waters and the friendliness of the locals – it really is a holiday that I am always going to remember. Jordan and I were incredibly lucky to get to create our own itinerary with TUI, based on their recommendations and what they offer as a holiday provider, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities they gave us.
The trip we planned would be perfect for a honeymoon and could be extended to include more or less days in some of the towns and cities, or a couple just wanting to see different parts of the island. We were away for a total of 5 days and 4 nights, but I could have stayed for much longer, and it was the most beautiful country I have ever been to.
I could write a million posts on our time there (and I’d have the photos to go with them) but I’ve decided to split (no pun intended) it into three parts – our time in Split, including the day trips we were taken on, what we got up to in Dubrovnik, and the best places to eat and drink in both.
So first things first, how to spend three days in Split.
We flew ridiculously early from Manchester airport, so much so that the sun hadn’t even started to rise, but the flight was quick and easy, and we landed in Croatia at 9:45am. We had a taxi arranged for us to take us to our apartment, which was about a 25-minute drive. The weather was perfect too – blue skies and not a cloud in them – and was already about 25 degrees that early in the morning.
One thing I really loved about Split was that the centre was completely pedestrianised. Our driver pulled up in a car park and walked us to where we were staying, whilst giving us a bit of history about Split in the sunshine.
The apartment we stayed in was basic but had everything we needed, including a kitchen, dining room, and the beloved air-con: They even left us a bottle of wine, which was very sweet and a homemade liqueur, which he insisted on us trying at 10:30am – something I wouldn’t recommend if I’m honest… We unpacked a bit, had a lie-down, and then headed out in search of food.
The location of the apartment couldn’t have been better. As soon as we walked out of the door, we were pretty much in the main square (Piazza Del Popolo) which was full of bars and restaurants, but far enough away that it wasn’t too noisy.
We walked through the Diocletian’s Palace and down to the Riva promenade, which was beautiful and full of lovely places to eat and little market stalls all along the front. It didn’t take us long to find a bakery which had delicious sweet and savoury treats in, and we picked up a traditional Croatian wrap and ate it whilst watching the boats come into the harbour.
Wandering aimlessly through a city is one of my most favourite things to do, so we spent the next couple of hours doing just that, taking in the beautiful architecture and marvelling at how clean the streets were. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan too, there were loads of walking tours you could do. We ended up spending some time at the Bacvice Beach, where the water was warm enough to swim in and it wasn’t super busy either.
After an ice cream stop at one of the city’s many parlours, we headed back towards the apartment to have a drink before getting ready for dinner. It was still really warm at this point, which is one of my favourite things about European summer nights and the city was coming alive.
We had a really lovely dinner and then headed back to the Riva promenade for a gin and tonic before heading to bed, as the 3:30am start time was really beginning to take its toll and we had a full day of activities planned the next day.
We were up early on the second day as we were on a full day excursion to Krka National Park as well as visiting a couple of other towns and cities. We met Pelican Tours by the bronze statue of Split (at the end of the Riva port) at 7:45am and headed off in a minibus just before 8. There were about 16 of us in total on the tour, which was the perfect number for getting to know everyone.
The first town we visited was Sibenik, which is the oldest fishing port on the Adriatic coast. Our tour guide, Marco, took us to the port and gave us a brief history of how this town helped Croatia’s sea trade and still does to this day. We walked up into the old town, and to the Cathedral of St. James, which is the only cathedral in Europe to be made entirely out of stone.
After a bit of free time, where we got a coffee and had a wander around, we met back at the bus and headed off to the National Park. The drive was about 20 minutes, and once you are in, the views were breath-taking.
Our tour walked together along the wooden paths to the viewpoints to take in the sheer magnitude of the waterfalls. We then had three hours in the park to explore, go in the water and have some lunch. After our free time, we met the rest of the tour and took a boat ride to Skradin through the lakes of Krka, and it was magnificent and one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen.
When we were off the boat, we had a quick look through the shops, before been taken to Sladic for a wine tasting in a local vineyard. We were there for about 2 hours and sampled enough wines to get you merrily on your way, and a cheese delicacy too before been taken back to Split. The tour guide was absolutely wonderful, and I would 100% recommend going to the Krka park as it was one of the most unbelievable places I have ever visited.
Our third and final day in Split was spent on a catamaran trip with Summer Blues which took us all over the place. We started off with coffees on board and were taken to the island of Solta for a swim break for a couple of hours. The waters were the clearest I’ve ever seen, and the sea temperature was quite mild and pleasant to swim in. As we sailed away from the port, you can really see the beauty of the city with the mountains in the background.
The next stop we had was to Hvar, which was stunning. It had a completely different vibe to Split and it although architecturally it was similar, the bars and restaurants were different and it felt more like a holiday destination. We had about 3 hours on the island which was enough time to walk up to the castle, explore the old town and get something to eat and drink. As we didn’t spend the whole day there, Hvar is somewhere I would love to go back to and discover more of because it was so picturesque.
After our time in Hvar, we got back on the boat and were served lunch whilst we were taken to the nearby cluster of islands, which were also part of the city. We had another swim break here and they also provided lunch and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) which was included in the price.
The last island we went to was Vis, which had a rocky beach that some people decided to swim to, whilst the rest of us enjoyed the cocktails and cakes that they provided. The weather was gorgeous and sunny for the whole day and it was great to see some of the other islands that we wouldn’t have had a chance to otherwise. When you start to head back, they play music and some (slightly jollier) people were dancing in the middle of the catamaran – and luckily none of them slipped!
It’s not often that a place really gets under my skin like Croatia did, but I loved absolutely everything about our three days in Split, and it just made me want to explore more of the beautiful country. I could not be more grateful for the experiences we were offered when we were out there, and the tour companies were all fantastic.
Split is a fabulous place to start out your journey of exploring Croatia, and Tui fly there 2/3 times a week during the summer months and once a week during autumn and winter. September was the perfect time to visit, and I would go back in a heartbeat.
I’ll be sharing what we did with our two days in Dubrovnik later in the week so make sure you head back for that one.
Have you been to Split? What did you think?