When dreaming about a European holiday and writing a bucket list, Croatia normally doesn’t come to mind straight away. But on our recent trip to the land of islands, history and Westeros, we were blown away by how beautiful it was. In fact, we believe it should be on top of everyone’s European Bucket List and here’s seven reasons why:
Croatia boasts a rich and interesting history. From the Romans to the Ottoman empire and even with their more recent conflicts, Croatia has plenty to keep the history buff intrigued and fascinated. Many cities of Croatia, with their preserved monuments are like open-air museums, but there are also plenty of actual museums, galleries and walking tours to immerse yourself in and learn about Croatia’s history; just ask the Information desk of the city when you are there.
The Dalmatian coast is lined with gorgeous islands and crystal clear, deep blue waters. The beaches we visited throughout Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik have been some of the best we’ve seen in Europe. Whilst they aren’t generally sandy beaches, the water is so clear and, when we visited in June, the temperature was perfect for dips in the sea or sunbaking on the shore.
Croatia has a beauty very similar to Italy. There are the cobblestone streets and breathtaking medieval buildings that are still in amazing condition. You can really feel like you’ve been transported to another century when wandering through the narrow passageways. However, if natural scenery is more your thing, Croatia also has you covered, with luscious forests and of course the aforementioned beaches.
4. It’s Cheap!
Europe, in all its beauty, is not always the cheapest destination. Especially if you’ve had to blow up to $2000 just to get there. Once you are in Croatia though, you can enjoy all it has to offer without spending your life’s savings. In comparison to other European destinations, eating out and enjoying all Croatia has to offer is reasonably cheap. For example, one of the restaurants we dined at included two massive meals, sides and drinks for under 159 kuna = €20!!! What you save on eating, can than be spent on day trips to the islands or nearby historical cities.
5. The People
The people of Croatia were some of the friendliest we’ve encountered in all of Europe. Everywhere we went, the locals were only too happy to stop and have a chat and provide local tips (such as when was the best time to see the main sights and avoid crowds, what beaches to see, etc). On one occasion, we thought we were being ‘marked’ for pickpockets, as a guy stood really close behind me when I went to withdraw cash at the atm. He began singing and started to strike up a conversation. A little guarded, we chatted politely, and he then proceeded to tell us which atms didn’t charge withdrawal fees so we can save money before wishing us a “lovely evening”. Even the travel agency went beyond regular customer service and organised to get my passport to me in Dubrovnik (which I, ahem, left behind in Split)!
6. Hidden Gems
I’m sure every country has this, but there’s nothing like wandering through the streets to find some amazing street art or a cute hole-in-the-wall bar that has a lot of character. With all the narrow alleys, you are sure to find these gems wherever you go in Croatia.
7. Game of Thrones
Obviously this doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I’m obsessed, so I won’t even try to apologise for this reason. In case you have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Game of Thrones is one of the hottest TV series (in fact, for the past couple of years, it has broken records for both legal and illegal views). Many of the scenes from the hit show are filmed in Croatia. For the fans out there, little ol’ Kings Landing is based in Dubrovnik. Other scenes involving our favourite Khaleesi were filmed in Dubrovnik and Split. Split also served as the backdrop for Arya’s journey in Season 5. Being the fangirl that I am, it was super fun to walk through the cities and spot some favourite moments and scenes from the show. Both Split and Dubrovnik offer walking tours, or you can also do it yourself with the aid of moviemaps.org
So there you have it, seven very basic, but convincing reasons to put Croatia on your European bucket list. We only had the pleasure to visit Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik, but let me assure you, the other cities of Croatia are equally as beguiling and will be on our future European itineraries for sure! In fact, I’m sure we could come up with plenty of more reasons why you MUST put Croatia on your bucket list! If you want to read more, check out our posts on Split and Dubrovnik.
What would your reasons be?