Day 166-168: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Boarding a plane to leave Greece was probably our most difficult goodbye yet, but once in the air, we’re always excited and ready to embrace the new culture of the next country. Croatia was our next destination, with Dubrovnik as the first stop.
Known for being Kings Landing in the Game of Thrones TV show, the city is a quite a sight. Lucas is a huge fan of GoT and while I’ve never even seen one episode, I could still appreciate the architecture and scenery.
The old city is like an ancient fortress—situated along the gorgeous Croatian coast, topped with red tiled roofs and surrounded by high walls.
We stayed at a guest house in the old walled town and when it wasn’t raining, we walked the narrow alleyways and along the boundary walls for birds eye view of the city and surrounding islands.
One thing we were surprised to find was how expensive Dubrovnik was. Between lodging, food and drink, it was the most expensive city we’ve visited all year.
One recommendation that kept coming up for Dubrovnik was to go to Buža bar through the city wall for sunset. After a little wandering, we found the doorway through the wall that lead to the edge of the cliff. It was crowded with both tourists and locals, and we squeezed our way out onto the edge of a rock with the perfect view for the sunset.
With a beer and wine in hand, we sat and experienced the most amazing sunset we’ve seen on this trip. Words truly can’t describe the feeling in the air as the three masted ship cruised towards the sun.
Knowing that the previous sunset could never be topped, the next evening we hiked up to Mount Srd for an aerial view of the city and the coastline. While the sunset wasn’t quite as good, it was a great hike and the view was worth the effort.
Day 169: Montenegro
Dubrovnik is situated just hours from both Montenegro and Bosnia, so we had to at least take a day trip to one of those countries. Due to weather factors, we landed on Montenegro.
Montenegro was part of the six countries that made up the former Yugoslavia, and they only recently gained their independence from Serbia in 2006. It was a war torn area that is still trying to find its identity, but from the coastline to the beautiful towns it has a lot to offer.
We signed up for a day trip that left early in the morning from Dubrovnik, with the first stop being the small town of Perast. The views of this area instantly brought back memories of Lake Como and Lake Garda in northern Italy.
After a brief stop at a tiny church on an island, we were back on the bus heading towards Kotor.
Kotor was the main stop on the tour, and it did not disappoint. A quick hike up the wall overlooking the old town gave us an amazing view.
The biggest surprise of Kotor were the cats. Apparently they are known for their abundant and friendly stray cat population, which had us stopping every few minutes to swoon over a kitten.
Our final stop of the day was in Budva. After a quick lunch, we spent a few hours wandering around the old town and taking in the bay views. They even have their own island named Hawaii, which costs just $5 to get to (I wish the Hawaii in America was that cheap!)
It was a quick trip in Montenegro, but we are glad we didn’t miss the opportunity to see at least some of this beautiful country.
Day 170-173: Split & Hvar
The next day we boarded a bus to Split, and stayed just one night before catching a ferry the next day to Hvar.
One of the most popular stops out of the Croatian islands, Hvar is known for its nightlife and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately for us, the weather had started to cool off and the perfect beach/boating days were behind us. Still wanting to make the most of our time on the island, we rented a scooter to see what we could find.
Our first stop took us to the town of Stari Grad. Wandering the streets, we were pleasantly surprised by the old town, which had a different feel from what we had experienced so far.
The road traveling through the island gives breathtaking views as it winds through the hills. One of the more memorable scooter rides that we have had on this trip.
The day was completed with a few stops at the pebble beaches, which were beautiful, small, and not very crowded this time of year.
At some point during our stay in Croatia, we both felt that something was off. Months of being on the go with no break or sense of familiarity was finally starting to take a toll. No longer were we feeling excited or inspired to explore somewhere new—we needed to press pause and realign ourselves.
So that’s what we did. Instead of trying to cram as much sightseeing and traveling as possible into the next couple weeks, we picked a few places to stay for a while and rest. I finished both the Italy and Greece videos, and we didn’t research or plan activities for most days.
We stayed at hostels long enough to meet new friends and get to know them for longer than one night. We picked a wedding date, booked a venue and began to plan the details. With summer officially ending, we bought warm clothes and snuggled up to the sound of thunderstorms at night.
While we didn’t see a lot of Croatia during our time there, the long period of rest was just what the doctor ordered.
Day 174-177: Zadar
After leaving Hvar, we chose to split the rest of our time between Zadar and Zagreb.
Zadar is a quaint city with an old town that sticks out into the water. Famous for its sea organ (supposedly only one of three in the world) it boasts some old ruins and amazing sunsets.
One of the more unique features is an olympic sized swimming pool that is connected with the ocean. We spent one afternoon with some new travel friends just lounging while watching the waves crash into the pool and people jumping off the diving platforms.
And of course we had to check out the sea organ, which is a series of holes that when the waves crash into them it forces air through creating musical notes that come out of little openings in the sidewalk. It was mesmerizing to hear the random melody being played by the waves. Next to the organ was a series of solar panels underneath glass called ‘Greeting to the Sun’, which lights up at night with colorful patterns.
It’s amazing how quickly time goes by when you aren’t filling each day with new activities. A short five days after we had arrived, we were on the next bus up to the capital city of Zagreb.
Day 178-182: Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes
Zagreb tends to be a city travelers use as a hub for entering and exiting Croatia, rarely spending more than a day. We decided to spend our last five nights here before continuing on to Germany for Oktoberfest. And are we glad that we did!
The hostel we stayed at was was voted Croatia’s best, with a great social vibe and beautiful patio garden bar. We met several new friends, and even ran across people we had met in Zadar.
Zagreb itself is a newer city that has a distinct modern feel throughout the majority of it. Between the central train station and main square, it felt like any other major city with a grittier, Eastern European feel.
To be honest, I didn’t think much of the city until we went on the walking tour and explored the old city. The stories from our guide and the unique architecture from the buildings that still remain after war and earthquakes instantly changed my perspective.
We even watched the daily cannon fire and saw the ceremonial changing of the guards.
An ornate cathedral (the tallest building in Croatia) stands on one hill, while a unique church with a tiled roof sits on another. This was easily my favorite building from the walking tour (which I’d highly recommend!)
On our last day we took a trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is the second most visited location in Croatia after Dubrovnik. It is a gorgeous preserve filled with lakes and thousands of waterfalls.
With the recent rains, the water was flowing strong and seemed to fall from the foliage at every turn.
We spent five hours and several miles wandering through the trails, seeking out the best views. My biggest regret is not staying in a hotel near the park so I could wake up early and spend a full day there. For both of us, it was the highlight of Croatia.
After spending over two weeks in the country, we have a great appreciation for Croatia and would love to return in the height of summer to experience more of its famous islands.
As I write this, we’re on a bus to Switzerland after a lively few days in Germany for Oktoberfest. We’re about to enter some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, and I’ll be sharing live updates on my Instagram stories and Snapchat! Follow along @jennasuedesign, and soon I’ll be back with another blog recap of Germany and Switzerland.