Croatia: Coast vs City

Admiring the beauty of the old town.
Admiring the beauty of the old town.

Dubrovnik

Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik, by far the most expensive and most touristy place we’ve visited so far. Hotel, hostel and restaurant prices all dramatically increase in this coastal town. However, let this not put you off the beauty of the city. The old town is the real attraction to see; you can walk around the old city walls (for a price, of course) and look into the old town which has been so well preserved. Grey houses with terracotta roofs, to look over them and their matching style and colours is really something. When you look away from the old town you are greeted by the gorgeous blue sea with islands in the distance. It was a windy day when we went but the views are truly wonderful, and the old town retains its charm and history despite being a tourist hot spot.

After Dubrovnik we headed up to Bosnia and Hercegovina for some time before returning to Croatia and making our way towards Split. We went through knee-deep snow villages in Bosnia, and by the time we ended up back on the Croatian coast, the sun was shining with about 18 degrees.

Admiring the view from the belfry
Admiring the view from the belfry

Split

Split is cheaper than Dubrovnik. It caters to tourists and has cafes with coffee getting more expensive the closer you are to the sea-view, but in general in March, it didn’t feel like a very touristy place. There was a football match on at the local stadium so there was a real buzz to the town. We made the most of our time there by walking around the old town (yep, another one), and for me the highlight was visiting the Cathedral of St Domnius and going up the belfry for stunning views across the city and sea.

As the sun was still shining late into the afternoon, we headed to Marjan; a nature reserve full of trees, trails, and lovely views. We rented bikes and had a lovely cycle around, taking in the scenery and enjoying the fresh air. We only spent one day in Split but it was enough before heading up to Zagreb.

Zagreb

Many streets to explore in the capital
Many streets to explore in the capital

In most countries we’ve been to, the capital city is usually the most expensive place. Croatia, however, differs to this general rule as Zagreb has reasonably priced accommodation, food and attractions. We only had one full day there and I really wish we could have stayed longer. Zagreb is a lively, thriving, western-like city with culture, green space and history mixed into it.

It has a great atmosphere, great beer, and some great buildings and exhibitions to see. There is a lot to see in the city but I will share two of my highlights. Firstly, Lotrscak Tower: from the top you can look out over the city and see the cathedral, the town and the excellent architecture of some of the buildings. A wonderful view and away from the hustle and bustle of main roads and trams.
IMG_0649My second highlight of Zagreb is the Museum of Broken Relationships. The guy at our hostel said that if we go to any museum, it has to be this one. The museum contains people’s possessions, along with their stories, from past relationships or loves. Most are about boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands/lovers, but some are also about family, children, and people who have died. It’s very emotional but so interesting and so real because you walk around and know this is reality; everyone has their own stories. This one on the left was one of my favourite, a guy from London who had a relationship with a girl from Australia but she had to go back. I adore his reasons for wanting her to stay and wonder where he is now.

With more time and more money we’d love to have visited Hvar Island and Plitvice Lakes National Park. The Croatian coastline is superb and I know there are more places than Split and Dubrovnik that make wonderful holiday and weekend destinations. But if you like cities, Zagreb is well worth a visit. I feel it’s a somewhat underrated capital city and should not be forgotten when people talk about this country.

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