We can safely say that Croatia is no longer a hidden secret and that gets me excited because it means that many people will be going to see this gorgeous country and I’m happy to share with you some of the gems that I believe you should make an effort to seeing.
If you ask J, he’ll tell you that I am a sucker for waterfalls. If I see a waterfall I literally turn to mush, I don’t know why I think it’s the Pisces in me (I know where your mind is going … I’m still working on that swimming thing). Croatia, in my opinion, has the mother of all waterfalls due to the sheer number of waterfalls that it has. A 2-hour drive from Zagreb Airport will get you to Plitvice Lakes National Park which was our first stop. You have to pay for entrance and you can get a day pass or a two-day pass and if you take the two-day pass you’ll have the opportunity to take your time.
The National Park can be split into two parts, the lower lakes and the upper lakes. So with a two day pass, you can spend one day exploring one part of the falls say the lower falls and the next day you can do the upper falls. Some of the paths aren’t great for people with difficulties walking so take that into account when you’re planning a trip whether you have a baby in a buggy or have walking difficulties.
Walk along the boardwalks all the way to Veliki Slap, the tallest waterfall in Croatia. Be sure to turn around and look up and see the other tiny waterfalls which surround this beauty, a bit like how you have bridesmaids for a bride
Take your time! This is going to be a lot harder during peak season because of the number of people visiting the parks so get there early or close to closing. If you time it well, you’ll be able to enjoy some peaceful moments on the boardwalks where you’ll find yourself being the only person there. Take your time to look at the different fish that are in the water, they are the reason why you can’t swim in the lakes.
Be courageous when exploring this place. Take the walking trails and walk away from the lakes but keep them close by. Explore the caves but be careful. Slipping and sliding won’t be a good thing in this beautiful place. Trust me.
Take the boat rides that will take you to the uncharted parts of the lakes and repeat. Explore to your heart's content and then get ice cream to reward your hard work :)
A short 2 hour drive away from Zadar lies Croatia’s second gem, Krka National Park. Be sure to not ignore the town of Skradin which is one of the entrances to the park. This village had a beautiful contrast between the now and the then with a clear distinction between the two. This is mainly visible from the houses that are taken care of and those that have been abandoned.
When you get to Krka, it’s so easy to be distracted by the ginormous waterfall which greets you where you are allowed to swim in. Instead of jumping in, take a walk around the waterfalls. There are some defined paths that you can follow and you can find a nice quiet spot to have a lie down away from the busyness of the other waterfall. You’ll also see a range of wildlife like the fish that swim in a particular direction ensuring that they survive through eating and the duck keeping watch of her ducklings whilst they feed.
As you do all of that, you’ll realise the waterfall that you saw at the start where people are swimming, Skradinski Buk is one of the longest waterfalls with an 800m cascade.
If you happen to be lucky and manage to get yourself onto a sailing trip, if Mljet National Park is not on the itinerary, please beg your skipper or add it. That turquoise blue water will surely enchant you. There is so much to see and do in Mljet so I suggest giving yourselves at least 2 days to spend there. It’s slightly larger than normal island so there are a few ways to get around namely bikes (they look more like scooters) and a car. Make sure to research your options thoroughly as I heard horror stories. I only did the half where you’ll find the Roman Palace and the Monastery so my trip up was easy as there is a minibus that will take you to that part of the island.
I hear there are some cliff jumping opportunities on the other end :) However, if you’re like me and you’re not an adrenaline junkie then a 4km walk around the lake will get your heart pumping. There are also some cycling opportunities if you think walking is for wusses.
Whichever way you decide to explore the island, don’t just go through the motions. Read the little plaques that have more information about the surrounding area where you are, take a picnic, smell the flowers and enjoy being in such a tranquil place. Compared to the other two National Parks, Mljet is a lot quieter so it’s easy to get lost in the moment because there aren’t so many people to walk into.
There are so many other amazing places in Croatia and you should head out there to discover them. If you have been what else would you add onto my list? Comment down below
Till next time x