Today, it is every bonafide Game of Thrones’ fan’s dream to visit Croatia. It was no different with me and the husband. To be honest though, Croatia wasn’t on our bucket list before we started watching the show way back in 2011. But once we did, we started researching more on the country and its plethora of must-experience sounds and sights and knew that we had to go there someday!
5 years, a business launch and a wedding later, we finally made it to Croatia 🙂 Being the CTP (Chief Travel Planner) between the two, I was super-excited about the prospect of making it to King’s Landing and exploring the fair lands in and around! So I got to work and in about 3 weeks, we had frozen on the itinerary and made all the necessary bookings. Super happy to be sharing it with you guys – my amazing readers 🙂
one week itinerary snapshot
Since we were flying in from Prague and had 1 week left to explore Croatia before our European holiday ended, we came up with an itinerary that we felt would cover all the things we love doing – exploring old cities with rich history, chilling on a beach in a beautiful island and visiting sites that you’ll find nowhere else in the world! So here goes:
- Day 1 – Landing in Split from Prague
- Day 1 to 3 – 3 nights in Split including day-trips to Hvar and Zadar
- Day 4- Bus ride from Split to Dubrovnik with a stop at Neum, Bosnia & Herzegovina for lunch
- Day 4 to 6 – 3 nights in Dubrovnik including a day trip to Kotor, Montenegro
- Day 7 – Fly out from Dubrovnik
It all depends on where you are flying in from. Since we were already in Europe, all we had to do was to fly to Split from Prague for about USD 150 pp. If you’re flying in from India, there are good connections available to Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb from Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore. As always, please remember to check on the visa requirements for your passport. For Indian passport holders, a multiple-entry Schengen visa is required.
things to do
split, hvar & zadar
Split is a must-visit if you’re visiting Croatia. Its location by the Dalmatian coast makes it the perfect spot to venture on boat excursions to the islands nearby. We stayed in the old city within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace – something I highly recommend my readers to do as it is a one-of-a-kind experience. Imagine spending evenings in the palace courtyard being treated to some sumptuous wine, food and serene live music. If that doesn’t tempt you, I’m not sure what will 🙂
The Riva Promenade is right outside the palace walls and is a beautiful stretch to walk around and admire the coastline of Split which is dotted by boats and yachts.
Right on the promenade, you will find multiple companies offering boat excursions to the islands nearby. We chose to go to the Island of Lavender – Hvar and we’re so glad we did. Upon arriving in Hvar, we rented a bike and rode around the entire island stopping to take photographs at wonderful spots around the islands. We ended up spending the afternoon at nearby Milna beach which I highly recommend. But please remember that most of the beaches in Croatia are dotted with stones and pebbles so please ensure that you carry the right kind of footwear.
As someone who is always on the look out for one-of-a-kind experiences, I cannot recommend visiting the Sea Organ in Zadar enough. We bought return bus tickets to Zadar and back from the bus station right outside the old city walls and headed out to experience this architectural marvel. Where else in the world can you sit by the sea and hear the crashing of waves being turned into melodious, soothing music?
neum, dubrovnik & kotor, montenegro
Let’s face it – most of us wouldn’t really plan on visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina unless its a part of a bigger itinerary like it was in our case. We figured that if instead of flying or taking the ferry from Split to Dubrovnik, we took to bus (booked on buscroatia.com), we’d get to stop at Neum and have lunch there before heading to Dubrovnik. Well I wasn’t going to let an opportunity to visit yet another country (even if briefly so and at no extra cost) slide by 🙂 We were in Neum in about 2 hrs and spent and hour having lunch and taking pictures at some beautiful vantage points.
By about 4 pm we were in Dubrovnik right outside the Pile Gate behind which lies the stunning old city of Dubrovnik. Like in Split, we chose to stay in an apartment within the old city walls and we’re so glad that we did. The old city of Dubrovnik is famous for its city walls that take you back in time and offer plenty of dramatic views guaranteed to be etched in your memory forever. We spent the rest of the day walking around the old city and went right up to the harbour. There are plenty of amazing bars and restaurants to choose from within the city walls itself. I strongly recommend Buza Bar – a clifftop bar offering unparalleled views of the Adriatic Sea.
Being the die-hard GoT fans that we are, we also signed up for the GoT tour (many tour operators available right at Pile Gate) slated to begin at 8 am the next morning. After 4 hours of walking around the old city, we’d been privy to all the locations where major GoT episodes like the Purple Wedding, Battle of Blackwater Bay, Walk of Atonement (Cersei’s Walk of Shame) and many many more had been shot. We also walked right up to the tower which is portrayed as the Red Keep (Cersei’s Chambers). This is an experience, I believe, that every GoT fan must absolutely have! 🙂
On our last day in Dubrovnik, we signed up for a day tour (again plenty of tour operators offering day trips within the city walls) to Budva & Kotor, Montenegro. I honestly believe that a visit to the Dalmatian Coast and Adriatic region is incomplete without a visit to Montenegro (even if it just for a day). With over 290 km of unspoilt coastline, Montenegro (literally means Black Mountain), has everything to offer – untouched beaches, VIP locations only for the rich and famous, rainforests, quaint little towns and lots of culture! Fun fact – a part of Casino Royale was set in Montenegro which has propelled tourism to both the Bay of Kotor and Budva.
We arrived in Kotor by about 10 am and after a quick breakfast at one the quaintest little restaurants by the Bay, we headed for a walking tour of the Old City of Kotor. The Old City of Kotor was built in the middle ages between 12th and 14th century. The beautifully preserved medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made it a UNESCO listed ‘World Natural and Historical Heritage Site.’ On a short ferry ride from Kotor lies the coastal town of Budva – the primary tourist destination of Montenegro. Dating back to 5th century BC, it also happens to be one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast and as of today, is highly coveted by the rich and famous of Europe.
After a quick lunch by the Budva riviera, we walked to the old city of Budva which is situation on a rocky peninsula. After a tour of the old city, we decided to take a spend the rest of the afternoon at the beach by the riviera and took a dip in the pristine waters. Highly recommended for water babies like myself 🙂 By about 4:30 pm, it was time to head back to Kotor and from there to Dubrovnik. Our last night in Dubrovnik was spent gorging up some sumptuous Mediterranean food at Restaurant 360.
- A trip to Croatia is an excellent opportunity to explore the Dalmatian coast. Therefore, I do not recommend traveling only to Croatia and back. Make time for at least day trips to neighbouring Slavic countries dotted along the coast.
- If I didn’t have a full-time career, I’d set off on a 2 week long island hopping trip among some of the nearly 1000 islands of Croatia alone 😉 Something you guys can definitely consider doing if you have more time on your hands. There are plenty of companies dedicated to organising such trips. I recommend www.sail-croatia.com.
- If you’re into trekking/hiking (unlike me), you could consider visiting the Plitvice Lakes National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its many lakes naturally arranged in cascades.