When people think of a Mediterranean vacation, Greece, Italy, and Spain immediately come to mind. There are even some places that aren’t as obvious, such as Israel - I can say from personal experience. However, today I’d like to add another must-visit destination to this list: Croatia.
A recently independent country with a vast coastline and an absurd number of islands (over 1200!), Croatia is a beautiful destination filled with history, friendly people, water that actually is crystal clear, and food options that will not disappoint. You might have heard of Croatia before as the ever-popular show Game of Thrones (henceforth GoT) did some of their filming there in historic castles left behind by the Romans. You know it’s a gorgeous country if HBO is filming there!
We had planned the full month of May in this as-of-yet mysterious country to us. While we were debating staying in the capital, Zagreb, we decided to stay in Split, a large city right on the water. Michelle’s family had scheduled a vacation with us for a whole week. Michelle’s sister, Yvonne, and her boyfriend were also going to stay with us a bit before and after the week that their family was in town. As if that weren’t enough, my good friend Arjun was also going to come visit for the tail end of our stay in Split. It was going to be a busy and action-packed month!
The first thing we noticed when checking out our new home for the next month was its beauty, focus on the water front, and historic events. The city center is inside Diocletian’s Palace, a massive area with picturesque thin alleyways, more gelateria’s (ice cream shops) than one would care to count, and small shops. This palace is only about a 30 seconds walk to a beautiful and large promenade. Parked boats line the seafront, as well as usually a cruise ship or 2 parked not far off at the port.
One thing to mention is that this is quite the tourist town, especially since GoT became the must-see show on TV. Cruise ships arrive a few times per week at the port, and the town center is immediately filled with people only stopping by for the day. It was amazing to see the complete contrast between the amount of people walking around the city while a cruise ship was parked, and after they left - it was like night and day! That being said, Michelle and I still managed to soak up the best of the city and found some hidden gems that stayed ‘tourist free’.
Truffle pizza (claimed by some to be the best pizza they’ve had in their life), Seafood Pasta, and a massive seafood platter including Seabass, muscles, langoustines, and more.
As Michelle and I travel for long periods of time, we don’t like eating out too often. Luckily, there are plenty of market options right near the city center. The green market is a colorful place filled with booths of any vegetables or fruits you’d like, and even some snails if that’s your thing. On the other side of the Palace, you’ll find a fish market with fish so fresh, you can smell the market from down the road. Just be prepared to gut the fish or de-tail and de-vine the shrimp ;)
Thirty minutes south of Split, and you’ll find yourself in Omis. A gorgeous small town with a gorge splitting it right down the middle. We did a zip lining experience here and it was absolutely breathtaking.
Zip lining in Omis
On our last full day in Split, we decided to take advantage of our limited time and the beautiful weather and did a boating experience. We were on a speedboat that took us to a few different destinations, including the Blue Cave, Hvar, and a shipwreck. Oh, and did we mention a Mojito boat??
With Michelle’s family visiting, we were able to rent a large Airbnb to fit all 8 of us (!) in the neighboring town of Solin. We had an absolute blast getting everyone together for the longest time since a long time. There were plenty of games going around (darts, foosball, Bananagrams, you name it), lots of home-cooked food (thanks to our Primary Meal Architect, Michelle), and let’s not forget a diversity of drinks as well. We also took the opportunity to visit the local Kliss Castle - one of the filming locations of GoT! As usual, the good byes were hard, but our visit to Croatia meant that much more to us since they were there.
All 8 of us in Solin
Not only is the location of Split absolutely perfect, but because it’s less than 250 km East of Italy and its port city of Ancona, we booked an overnight ferry to take us to our next destination, no flight necessary! I highly recommend the overnight ferry method of traveling if it’s plausible at all. Comfortable rooms (as opposed to a plane seat, at least), plenty of space/activity room between restaurants, casinos, and decks, and you can sleep for a whole night and wake up at your destination.
I grew up on the Mediterranean, and I can say that Split, Croatia was a delightful stop that I entirely underestimated. For your next visit to the area, consider Split.Written on July 1st , 2019 by Tomer Shvueli