This summer I returned to the life of a tourist and finally made it to Croatia! I have been dreaming about discovering the beautiful beaches of Dalmatia for ten years now so it was about time. We had 12 days to see as much as much of the country as we could. I had done some research into what to see - and learned pretty fast that there's waaay too much! Luckily Croatia (especially the coast) is quite compact and the roads are in good condition so we got into our rental car and set out from Split with as little planned as possible.
Our first stop was Zadar, most known for the rather new Sea Organ that attracts visitors to the town's seaside promenade. But there's also a beautiful 3000 year old city to roam around in. Beaches line the city right outside the old town and the place is bit more quiet than say Split. Great restaurants and comfy guesthouses are all around!
A little tip: if you're coming to the old town from north (by foot) then walk to the end of the pier (across the bay from the tip of the old town peninsula) and wait for a guy in a row boat to come pick you up. Saves a bit of walking and it's quite fun, will set you back only 5KN per person.
From Zadar it's not a long way to some of the amazing national parks, such as Krka or Plitvice. We headed to Plitvice, known for its crystal clear lakes and waterfalls - and probably the #1 tourist destination in Croatia. We didn't want to rush so we got us a room in the closeby town of Jezerce. That meant we had two days to discover the national park! Plenty of time to walk around all the lakes.
The upper and the lower lakes have a bit different landscapes, both with many stunning big & small waterfalls, lakes and ponds, forest trails and rocky hills. Depending on where the sun is coming from the lakes can seem blue, green, gray or anything in between, with water so clear you can see right to the bottom no matter how far you are.
Come to Plitvice early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid most of the tourists. You can see enough in one day but in two (or more) you won't get bored either - hiking shoes are highly recommended as you will walk a lot. There's no swimming in the lakes but you can rent a row boat or use the complimentary hydro-energy powered boats. Entry to the park is 110KN/day, 180KN for 2 days.
From Plitvice we started to make our way to south, stopping by in the former capital of Croatia, Knin. Located on a high hill, roughly in the middle of Croatia, Knin is a small city with not that much see, expect for the impressive fortress at the top of the hill. Drive up there for lunch was worth it, there's a nice, rather cheap restaurant with amazing views. From the fortress (20KN) you can see all around the surrounding hills and valleys. We had the whole place to ourselves when we were up at the fortress, right in the middle of high season, so this might be the best bet to avoid the crowds!
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