Split

Split is Croatia’s second largest city and a jewel along the Dalmatian coast. It is celebrated for its cheerful red-tiled roofs, Old Town labyrinth, and the ruins of the 4th century fortress and palace lying within it. Spit is also a gateway to the rest of Dalmatia and the many islands sprinkled off its coast. We recommended spending a few days in Split at the start or end of a longer Croatian adventure.

Split has an international airport just a few miles and short drive from the city. Taxis and ubers are an easy option.

Split is also a three hour drive from Dubrovnik. Renting a car and driving in Croatia is fairly easy, as long as you making a booking in advance. We started in Split, drove 2.5 hours into Bosnia for an overnight in Mostar, and then continued south another 2.5 hours back into Croatia toward Dubrovnik.

While this seaside town would be gorgeous any time of year, it is especially incredible in the warmer months. Avoid the height of the tourist season by visiting during late spring or early fall (May, late August or September).

EAT

Bokeria Don’t miss this restaurant and wine bar serving up Croatian dishes and wines. Make a booking in advance.

Teraca Vidilica Stop at this on your hike back down the hill in Marjan Forest Park. It’s a great place for a snack, beer and view of the city and coastline.

DRINK

Croatian wine is incredible but not yet well known on the international market. According to a wine guide we met, the winemaking industry suffered greatly under the Soviet block, as all grapes produced were used to make one style of house wine. No individuality, creativity or experimenting was allowed or encouraged. However, the industry has more than recovered today and while in Croatia be sure to try the local varietal plavac mali. This small blue grape is the most planted grape used for red wines in Croatia, and it produces the most deliciously smooth rosés and reds.

PLAY

Bell Tower of St. Domnius Cathedral Perhaps the most touristy thing to do in Split, the (somewhat) perilous climb up the steps of the tower is worth it for the view at the top. Go early to beat the crowds.

Diocletian’s Palace This UNESCO World Heritage site is whats left of a Roman emperor’s palace. Today the ruins are the heart of Split’s Old Town, forming a labyrinth of shops, restaurants and bars. Hire a tour guide or use a guide book for a self-guided walk. Major sites within the Palace include the Peristil, the Cathedral of St Dominus, the Vestibule and the palace substructures which today form a marketplace leading down to the Riva. In summer go first thing in the morning, as this area becomes packed with tourists and Game of Thrones fans.

Klis Fortress This ancient fortress sits in the hills above the city. Hire a car or take a local bus to visit. Game of Thrones fans will recognize Klis as Meereen. Recommended by a friend.

Marjan Forest Park This hilly nature reserve rising above the coast is home to medieval chapels and caves, and a lovely walk through pine forests. A hike up offers vistas of the city and ocean below. Bring snacks and water.

Riva Split’s waterfront and harbor area is bustling with boat tours, restaurants and shops.

Sunset Cruise Organize a sunset cruise along the coastline with one of the many kiosks adorning the Riva. Short cruises are approximately 90 minutes to two hours and cost between €20-30. For those with more time, book a half day trip to Hvar or elsewhere.

Zapadna Obala This promenade connects the Riva to Marjan Forest Park and is worth a walk.

STAY

Stay within walking proximity of the Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace. We highly recommend Prima Luxury Rooms, a boutique hotel just minutes from the Old Town.

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Mostar

Bridges and bullet holes. This tiny, medieval city in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina is well known for its iconic Stari Most bridge and blend of Ottoman, Catholic and Orthodox cultures. Damaged during the Bosnia War, it is not uncommon to see buildings still strewn with bullet holes. While many tour companies offer day trips from Croatia, stay overnight to fully do the city and country justice.

Crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina takes time as it is not part of the European Union. We waited 30 minutes at the border on our way from Split, Croatia, and and an hour crossing back in near Dubrovnik. Rental cars can be taken from Croatia into Bosnia if you let the rental company know in advance.

Credit cards are less common here, although most places will accept euros or Croatian kuna. The local currency is the Bosnian mark.

To better understand the Bosnian War and genocide, visit the Museum of War and Genocide Victims in town and War Photo Exhibition right next to the Stari Most.

If it is your first time to the Balkans, check out Tea Obreht's beautiful novel, The Tiger's Wife, set it the former Yugoslavia.

EAT

Restaurant Vrata Orijenta This casual eatery is a few blocks north of the Stari Most on the Bosnian bank. Try the traditional cevapi sandwich.

DRINK

Black Dog Pub Inside a historic old mill, this laid back pub is popular with locals and tourists and has excellent views of Kriva Cuprija bridge.

Caffe Luft This cafe and hookah bar sits beneath the Stari Most and offers excellent views of the divers.

PLAY

Kriva Cuprija Translated to “Crooked Bridge”, it is a smaller version of the Stari Most.

Old Town bazaars A shopper’s paradise.

The Neretva River Icey cold but the most beautiful, crystalline green.

Stari Most Bridge Translated to “Old Bridge”, it connects the Catholic Croat western river bank with the Muslim Bosniak eastern side of the Neretva River. Be on the look-out for the professional bridge jumpers.

STAY

City Hotel An excellent hotel outside the city center. While it is about a 20 minute walk to the Stari Most and Old Town, the walk passes through the modern city where evidence of the war is still visible.

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Dubrovnik

Poised on the southern coast of Croatia, Dubrovnik boasts crystal clear waters, breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea and surrounding islands, rich medieval history, delicious seafood, wine, and the loveliest weather. What more could you want? 

Use Uber! Taxis can be a overpriced and unpredictable. The airport is about a 30 minute drive from the Old City.

If it is your first time to the Balkans, check out Tea Obreht's beautiful novel, The Tiger's Wife, set it the former Yugoslavia.

EAT

Azure Asian Fusion in the Old City.

Lucin Kantun Tiny little place in the Old Town with amazing food. Book in advance.

Proto Delicious seafood in a romantic setting within the City walls. Book in advance and ask to sit on the rooftop veranda.

Takenoko Tasty sushi restaurant with a view of the southern City Walls entrance.

Tauris Kinoba Incredible restaurant serving very fresh fish on Lupanska Sipan island in the Elafitis. Try the sea bass and bream!

DRINK

Buza Bar There are two and both are casual beach bars built into the sea-facing cliffs and walls of the Old City. Cliff-jumping and cocktails, anyone?

Banje Beach Bar Sleek cocktail bar and lounge on the beachfront, just outside the Old City Walls.

Coco Beach Bar A cute shack bar serving up drinks on Plat’s local beach.

Culture Club Revelin Set inside the cavernous walls of the Old City, this club’s party doesn’t start until after midnight.

Pelješac peninsula wineries One hour north of Dubrovnik, this peninsula is dotted with boutique wineries and oyster farms. Book a tour or drive on your own. We loved the plavac at Milos Vineyards.

PLAY

Cavtat This adorable town south of Dubrovnik has a lovely harbor, medieval streets and is a great spot for lunch and a swim.

Dubrovnik Boats The best thing to do as a couple or with a group of friends. Dubrovnik Boats is professional group that rents yachts and catamarans for daylong excursions. We particularly enjoyed our cruise around the Elafiti Islands.

Life according to Kawa Contemporary store selling local Croatian products, food, and drink. A must!

Lokrum Island A great day trip. Hike, hang-out, eat, sun-bath, Game of Throne (GOT) tours. Lokrum can be reached by ferry from the Old Town port (no need to buy tickets in advance) .

Mount Srd Hike or take the cable car up to Mount Srd, a low mountain behind Old Town Dubrovnik. 

Old City Walls Walk the rampart walls during non-peak hours. The path can by extremely busy during high-season.

Ston A town at the Pelješac peninsula’s entrance that is famous for its stone walls, salt and oysters!

STAY

You have options depending on what you prefer. Either stay in Dubrovnik’s Old Town, just outside, or a few miles outside in a coastal village. We recommend staying right outside of Old Town to enjoy the view and avoid crowds. While in Croatia, we have always used AirBnb and really enjoyed the local experience.

If you want to rent a house with friends outside of the action, we recommend Plat. It is 15 minutes by car from the Old Town and 10 minutes to the airport. Cavtat is another great option, which is 25 minutes from Old Town and five minutes from the airport.

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