I spent my twenty-fifth birthday on a yacht in Croatia, surrounded by good people and great vodka.
The trip, offered every week and every summer by Sail Croatia was an incredible vacation full of breathtaking islands, gorgeous architecture and a stunning voyage along the Dalmation coast line. www.sail-croatia.com
There’s a few different trips that you can choose from with Sail Croatia and my friends and I decided on an itinerary that started and ended in the beautiful port city of Split.
Along the way, we stopped to party on gorgeous islands, (Hvar), spent a day bicycling around one of Croatia’s national parks, (Mljet) and took a day trip into Bosnia & Herzegovina. Over the course of the week, Croatia proved to be a country rich in culture and natural beauty, with a terribly sad history but also a bright future. I encourage you to spend your time and tourist dollars in this stunning country, but also to take the time to learn its history and see how much agony they went through from ’91-’95. I would have been 4 years old when Croatia began it’s war of independence, and its amazing to see how much they have survived and celebrated since.
Travelling by sail was a unique way to appreciate Croatia’s Mediterranean culture and if you aren’t keen to party for a week and sleep in a tiny sweaty bunk, I’m sure there are other options than sail Croatia.
But whatever you do, and however you do it, make sure that you find these places along the way.
Split: was one of my favourite cities in Croatia and will be yours too.
It has a beautiful long promenade (the Riva) lined with ships ready to set sail, has delicious outdoor restaurants that decorate historical squares and live music playing on every corner. Split is one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever been to – its downtown core a maze of old stone passageways that lead to churches, monuments and markets.
Being here in July is sheer joy. It has all of the things that I look for in a city: history, character, kind people and is port side. Split is lively and energetic and has the kind of history that stares you in the face and makes you take notice.
The picture that I took above is of the Riva in Split, and getting there from anywhere in Europe is probably your best fare. When you arrive, don’t be weary of the suggestion that you should take the local bus into town. It’s simple, cheap and straight forward.
Stay: Design Hostel Goli & Bosi was great value, amazing location, clean modern and new.
Hvar: is a gorgeous little island off the Dalmatian Coast and can be reached from Split for a day trip. It’s high season is in the summer when all of the Sail Croatia boats stop there, so if you’re looking for a quieter scene I would go before or after.
party: Carpe Diem bar and Hula Hula bar are the two best places to spend your money on over priced drinks. The scenery alone is worth the Kuna (Croatian currency), as well as the older European men who bounce around in speedos when they shouldn’t.
Hula Hula Bar is about 15 minutes walk from the centre of Hvar town and is literally nestled on the water. Carper Diem Bar is equally beautiful but a bit more posh. Picture white cabanas, cocktails and great euro trash music. Doof Doof Doof …
Mljet: I didn’t have many thoughts about Mljet before we got there, but when we did it took my breath away. Mjlet is one of Croatia’s National Parks and is home to a beautiful lake and St. Mary’s Monastery. Spending the afternoon here and keen to stretch our legs, my friends and I rented bicycles for about 10$ and wandered aimlessly around the lake for hours.
Admission into the National park is 20$ but worth much more than the twenty you spent on a cocktail the night before. I felt so much joy chasing my friends around this quiet and beautiful island where just over 1000 people live and very few seem to visit.
Dubrovnik: is well known as the highlight of any trip to Croatia and it really doesn’t disappoint. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, both old and new Dubrovnik are historically rich cities melded together by a massive wall that encircles the old city and offers stunning views of the rest. For almost 2 kilometers you can walk along the high fortress of walls, gazing down upon both towns crowded with burnt orange roof tops and flanked by the sparkling sea.
I’m almost always a fan walking tours and history – and although we did participate in the Dubrovnik tour, I remember being distracted every other stop by gelato, jewellery and art from the street sellers. Doing the tour is a great way to learn important history, but I think I would have preferred sitting down with a good pamphlet/wikipedia and some ice cream instead. You don’t need someone to tell you how special this place is.
Dubrovnik will forever be etched in my memory because it’s where I celebrated my 25th birthday and is where I unwittingly set the ideals for my next 25 years. But thats another story, for another page.
Go: spend the 20$ CAD to walk the city walls for hours, it touristy but worth it.
also take the cable car to the top of Mount Srđ, for forever views of Dubrovnik. The welcome photo on my home page is from the top of that Mountain and its worth the 20$ CAD.
Party: parrttttyyyyyyy!! please consider that I spent my 25th birthday here so I cant really relay many specifics 🙂 but I do remember partying in a cave and partying in a castle and im pretty sure these would both be easy to find.
need to know Croatia
the Way – I should mention that its quite easy to jump on a bus or rent a car to explore Croatia, but it truly is spectacular to approach most of these cities from the Sea. I also can’t imagine a cheaper way of doing most of the major Croatian cities for as cost efficiently as Sail Croatia: 500$ for 6 nights accommodation on a boat and transportation across the country.
the Weather – When I was in Croatia in July it was disgustingly hot, which probably had something to do with being in a tiny cabin beneath the ship and being on the Sea. That being said, I think its hot anywhere in Croatia at that time of year, so seriously pack light clothes and sunscreen. One sweater for night time is all you need, maybe.
the Food – seaaaaa foooood.
How could you not? The whole Croatian experience is highlighted by its Dalmatian Coast and aquamarine water. Squid is a very popular Croatian dish, as well as fish soup and seafood risotto. And it is from this belief, “that a fish should swim three times: first in the sea, then in olive oil, and finally in wine” that makes Croatian seafood and the whole experience so fantastic.