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Croatia - just the sea? Trogir, Plitvice Lakes, Zadar, Krka, Sv. Jure and surroundings 2021-2023

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I think this will be my first blog post. And I originally wrote it according to my first trip, but currently as I'm finishing this text, I have already planned I don't know how many trips to Croatia and I always discover something new there. Croatia is not only the sea, but also beautiful nature and interesting history. It's not my first trip in my life and it's not my first visit to Croatia, but it's my first visit in this way. Since this visit to Croatia, I have decided that I will travel the world with the intention of staying a little longer in a given location and trying to see everything there is to see.


And so here we are, Trogir and its surroundings. I went to this place by complete accident. My sister travels quite a lot and we wanted to go to the sea (as I was previously in Omis, which is a short drive from Trogir). When I was looking for accommodation, she told me that a friend of hers had a house for rent in Trogir. It was still Covida time, but we had our documents in order and we were travelling in a few days.


The journey from Zlaté Moravice to Trogir took about 12 hours at that time (so far I always travel via Austria and Slovenia, as I have the motorway all the way and it's more relaxing for me). (Update June 2023 - I tried going via Hungary and I remembered why I go via Austria and Slovenia). We stood at the border for a few hours just for document checks thanks to the Covid pandemic.


We arrived at our accommodation at 4am and in 4 days we went home. But what I have to mention is that there was almost nobody there. The beaches were empty, the cafeterias on the beach closed, plenty of room to park. Judge for yourself.


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So what is this blog about?


About how I arrived in the same accommodation 2 weeks later. The accommodation is right by the sea, on the opposite side of the island of Otok Ćiovo, so you have absolute peace from cars, a view of the sea, a "beach" under the windows... what more could you ask for.


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I made a post in the "travel buddy wanted" group to see if anyone would join me on the trip. A dude wrote me there, we had a little chat and we were ready to go. We went for 8 days, in those 8 days we went through Split, the Sea Organ in Zadar, Plitvice Lakes, Mt. Sv. Jure (2nd highest mountain in Croatia), some sightseeing around Trogir and I think we visited Omis.


If anyone is interested in the accommodation I stayed in, I can forward the contact, Prices in season are about 140 euros per night, it is a 2 room apartment plus living room connected to the kitchen. The apartments on the ground floor have a bit bigger terrace, but they don't have such a good view anymore. The owners are absolutely great people. There are two different apartments in the gallery, they are separated by photos from the balcony.

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Boat cruise - Blue Cave, Monk Seal Cave, Komiza, Stiniva Cove, Budikovač island, view of Pakeni islands, Hvar town

This type of trip is very popular here. Since we were staying near Trogir we chose a company that took us already in Trogir (most start in Split). A short 30 minute ride on an "inflatable boat" for 14 people took us to Split, where we boarded the other tour participants. The price of the tour was 137 euros per person + 12 euros for the entrance to the blue cave.


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You can also find companies that offer a trip on a serious boat with food and toilet. We unfortunately had to endure (the first ride takes about 3 hours to the blue cave). Don't forget your goggles, sunscreen (SPF 50 is fine) and warm clothes - they will lend you windjackets if needed. Don't refuse them.


So in about three hours we were at the dock to transfer to the boat to the blue cave. It's a very pretty natural phenomenon that is not always accessible in all weathers. It also depends on the tides and the height of the waves. The cave is entered through a small porthole where you have to lower your head. As the cave wall is not completely connected to the seabed, light is reflected from the seabed under the cave wall and this creates a blue to green light effect (depending on when you arrive in the cave). From what I understand from the guide, this was the first tourist attraction discovered in these areas and that's how tourism started here (I'm really not sure if this is true). Don't forget to drop a small tip in the money box to the guide on the boat, they really try to make a nice atmosphere.


After some 15 minutes we left the place and crossed to the town of Komiza (about 15 minutes of sailing.) I have to mention that our skipper was a bit of an adrenaline junkie and we always arrived everywhere earlier than the other boats and overall our tour ended an hour earlier and that was only thanks to the fact that he rode that boat as much as he could.


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We had about an hour layover in Komiza - perfect for breakfast and coffee. I managed to get about two drone shots and off we went. I recommend eating at this restaurant. If you just want drinks, they won't let you stay there, you have to eat there too. But the food looked delicious and if I could eat everything, I would definitely eat there (I will mention for the first time that I have many food intolerances, including gluten, egg, and milk intolerances, as well as many common foods like tomatoes, etc.).


From the town of Komiza we moved to the natural "garages" as they were called by our guides, they are naturally created holes in the rocks, which supposedly served as a shelter for boats from bad weather.


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The next stop was the blue lagoon. A nice natural scenery on an island where nothing actually exists. No toilet, no bar (although it looks like there will be something there soon). Trash was piled on the ground (people, really clean up after yourselves). From above, the whole place looked beautiful. The water was clear and the seabed reflected nicely.

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The blue lagoon was followed by the town of Hvar, a tiny but beautiful town. At this point, if you're not wearing SPF 50, you'll be sunburnt and you'll regret your decision not to wear sunscreen. Here we ate at a restaurant recommended by our guide, apparently we get a 10% discount because of it. Even with that discount, it's quite an expensive restaurant in terms of price/quality ratio.


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As we were leaving Hvar town, the skipper warned us that it was going to be a bit "bumpy and wet". I decided to close my eyes for a while. After a while, I felt a sudden change in direction and when I opened them, I swear I saw bigger waves than the boat itself. All I will say is that the nurse said to stop and she got out (in the middle of the sea). I myself thought either I was going to end up in the water or all my personal belongings. Eventually we approached Split (hello) and met dolphins along the way. The skipper stopped the boat for us to take pictures of them.


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Plitvice Lakes

The first time I visited them, I hardly met anyone. (Update June 2023 - it was mega crowded, I recommend to enter via Entrance 2, although you will walk the whole lakes - we are talking about route F - and then you will get to the biggest waterfall, but there are fewer cars and there are enough tickets on the spot as well. Be careful of the commute in the car, if you go from the south on the highway, the nearest gas station is about 40-50 km from the exit and doesn't have a toilet.)

Take note that drones are not allowed there, but you can take as many photos and videos as you want.

They are beautiful natural lakes. All information about admissions and prices are on their official website.

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Photos from 2023

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Take three hours to walk along this trail, I recommend to eat before entering the trail (in this restaurant) because the buffets don't have much choice of food anymore. Also take water, it is already quite expensive in the buffets.


In 2022, I also visited Krka National Park. For myself, I referred to it as "bonsai Plitvice", or even the cheaper Plitvice. There are nice waterfalls there too, but smaller. The route is also shorter, but otherwise it's similar. If you don't want to spend a lot of time travelling inland but want to see a nice park, it's worth a visit.


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Sv. Jure

An experience of a lifetime. I originally found this site through Instagram, I tried looking through the hashtags to see where people were tagging themselves. And I found SkyWalk. A little google and today I can write about this experience. It was about a 2 hour drive south. It's Biokovo national park. You can drive up to the very top, but I recommend only driving if you have a small car. The road is narrow for two cars side by side, there will always be someone backing up (either you or an oncoming car). The climb takes some 2 hours to the very top. They allow you to be on the skywalk for 15 minutes and at the very top as well. Well, at least when I was there (2021). Count on the fact that the entrance to the park is controlled and they let you in at certain time windows. I'm going there again this year (2023) and on 4 wheels, we'll see if I can make it happen :)






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Trogir

This historic city boasts a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a bit of a shame that most of the historic part is actually just restaurants. On the other hand, everyone can find a place to eat here. I recommend walking all the streets and don't forget to go up the church tower, where you can see the city from above. Trogir is right next to the island of Ćiovo, where the accommodation mentioned above is also located. It's a pretty island, it's possible to watch beautiful sunsets from it. The island is connected to the mainland by two bridges, where quite often there are quite long queues (in high season). There is no extra charge for the bridges. On the island you have to expect many one-way streets, narrow roads and you have to pack a big dose of patience for the tourists walking on the roads. The main beach tends to get really crowded in the summer, and there is paid parking along the beach. I'd recommend going to the beach on the other side of the island, they're not quite as top notch (especially the lack of buffets etc) but it's not as crowded. There is also a nude beach (unofficial) and places where people go to get nude. There is also a viewpoint in the middle of the island that I'm going to visit this year (2023). I definitely recommend going to see the chapel on the other side of the island and the view of Split at night.


I recommend eating at this restaurant.


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Memorial to the fallen soldiers in the Civil War

This memorial offers a view of both Trogir and Split. Whenever I am in Croatia, I always visit this place. And it always scares me to think that 20 years ago people died needlessly just because of hatred and disagreements. It is located here.

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Omiš

Although I mention this city only in this part of the blog, it was the first place I visited in Croatia. It was back in 2019, but definitely worth a visit. It's a smaller town than Trogir (the historic part) and it's noticeable that it's not UNESCO listed (cables and air conditioning on the facade, more extensive renovations, etc.) There's a river that runs through the town and spills into the sea. The sea tends to be hot, but because of the river you can feel the cold currents. The beach is really big, but it also tends to be crowded. It is already more or less sandy (compared to Trogir where there are only rocks). I had the feeling that there are also less restaurants compared to Trogir, but on the other hand, Trogir doesn't have such beautiful rocks in the background. The parking in town is also pretty good (huge parking lot).

I recommend to go up to this small castle, there is a beautiful view of the whole town, the river, the beach. There is an entrance fee, but it's free within half way. It's a nice view from there too, but, when you're already there...




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Split

A city that was built around Diocletian's palace. In front of the main entrance to the historical part there is an original model of this palace, also a sketch of how Split used to look like. In Split, I toured the historic part, paid for admission to the turret, the tomb, etc. Last time I eavesdropped, the sphinx on hl. courtyard is over 3000 years old and comes from Egypt. I absolutely do not recommend parking at this location in Split. It's a terribly small parking lot, and it's also very hard to get out of. But if you have something small like a Fabia, it's not that much of a problem. I personally always park here, it's a bit further, but the arrival and departure is absolutely great.


For a few euros you can buy tickets to the tower from where you have a nice view, see the tomb (or whatever it is), the cathedral and the baptistery. I think kids under 12 get in for free (I'm not sure about the age limit, but I know it was pretty high).


I definitely recommend going to eat at Terminal F, it's an interesting place for the younger generation, with fast service, pretty good street food style food. It's also the unofficial liaison for Ultra Music festival goers. So if you are in Split on 7,8,9 July you will see a lot of people with festival wristbands there.





Zadar

Zadar attracts people with its location of the historical part. It is also interesting that some of the buildings are really old. Actually, I didn't study what's what, so I'll just add here a picture of a very old building. And a video of that sea organ. Definitely everyone should stop by this town. There's also a more modern attraction there called "Salute to the Sun".


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Ultra Europe festival

And why do I go to Croatia every year? I loved the Ultra Europe music festival that takes place in Split. It's an electronic music festival where you have the opportunity to see live artists like DJ Tiesto, Hardwell, Carl Cox, Martin Garrix, etc. The festival is attended by about 160 000 people. During the festival period (7,8,9 July) Split is extremely crowded with tourists, the traffic is really busy from Trogir to Omis and it is better to avoid this date if you are not going to this festival. Prices are going up - either for transport or in restaurants.


But if you want to go to the festival, here are some tips. Buy your ticket as an Early Bird or then as a ticket package where you pay for (about) 4 tickets and one is free (like a bunch of friends). I'd recommend booking accommodation at least 4 months in advance (but count on the host to cancel, it happened to me). I don't recommend staying far away - I stayed in Trogir my first year and spent ungodly amounts of money on taxis, and it still took an awfully long time to turn up and down. Luckily there were several of us, so the taxi ride didn't hurt that much.

Entry to the festival is controlled, so if you buy tickets and end up not being able to go, there's no official way to pass them on to someone else (that's why you have to pay insurance on top of your ticket, for example). I don't recommend buying tickets second hand, I saw a guy with my own eyes not being allowed into the festival. There is also a tactile entry control - don't try to smuggle anything in. Food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic is available in the area (for money :) ). You can only carry cigarettes if they are still unopened. The festival always starts at 19:00 and ends at 05:00. It's not a festival where you sleep (although they do offer a hybrid camping option).

I recommend going before 22:00, as you can be stuck at the entrance for up to an hour after that time. There are a lot of parties with alcohol before you enter the festival, and trust that a lot of people will offer you. So don't leave anything to chance and bring something and offer someone there too :)