After receiving an email from one of our followers asking for some help with his Croatian honeymoon planning (excellent choice btw), we decided to use it as the perfect opportunity to start making a dent in our pile of #VanLifeEurope post ideas, which has been growing (at an alarming rate) since our return. I had originally planned to share our adventures kayaking the canals of Venice, Italy, but because we understand the need for solid advice, especially when it comes to planning something as special and timely as a honeymoon, we decided to bump Croatia to the top of our list!
Can we talk about something real quick? You guys have heard about the Adriatic Sea haven’t you? Well, we are happy to inform you that it’s even more amazing than they say. Smooth, silky, translucent, and the color is unmatched. Shades of electric blue, jade green and sparkle (yes, I am using “sparkle” as a color here), every time we stepped in it felt as if every single cell in our bodies was glowing… because they were.
Quick background on how we ended up in Croatia for so long: Due to our Visa restrictions (we had exhausted our 90 days in the Schengen countries), we had to flee from Lago di Garda in Italy, to our new non-Schengen home, hence Croatia. We spent 3 months (69 days to be exact) exploring this tiny, undeveloped country in our #rollinghome because we weren’t allowed to re-enter the Schengen Zone for another 90 days (we visited Bosnia and Montenegro in between). For 2 insatiable adventurers on wheels like ourselves, it was just enough time to see EVERYTHING… twice… and sometimes even thrice. To put things in better perspective, below is the size of Croatia compared to California:
We really didn’t know much at all about Croatia before arriving, which is one of the beautiful things about VanLife. With our home already with us, we were free to revel in the unknowns and embrace where our moments wanted to take us. So, with our Lonely Planet Croatia Guidebook in hand, we set off to fall in love with as much of Croatia as we possibly could.
We finally discovered the town that graces the cover of our @lonelyplanet Croatia guide! We slept in this gem of a spot last night and over breakfast this morning we realized the uncanny resemblance 🙌🏼 Today we edit videos, write post cards and enjoy our #Vanlife by the sea in Rovinj. #officewithaview
NOTE: For the sake of geographical orientation, this list has been written in order from North to South along the coast, all 10 are pictured on the map below 🙂
“Wait a sec… you mean DUBROVNIK didn’t make the cut??” While it’s an important/beautiful/historic place to see, we honestly didn’t enjoy it all that much. It was too touristy/crowded/expensive for our liking, but it’s also important to remember that we were traveling by van so our interests were a bit different (video tour of our Euro van here). Another reason we didn’t add it to our list is because most people already know about it, so why not encourage “our tribe” to explore the lesser known gems and get to know The Real Croatia!BUT, if you are planning to go to Dubrovnik, which you most likely are, we do have 2 recommendations: 1. Find the sign below, grab a drink, get in line and jump off the BUZA cliffs at sunset!
And 2. Hike up Mount Srđ to get a peaceful, bird’s eye view of this resilient city, which we didn’t bring our camera for, so here’s a picture of one of the many Dubrovnik cats sleeping in a flowerpot instead. But trust us, the hike is worth it.
Walk along the cobblestone streets of old town, eat truffle everything, rent bikes and ride along the stunning trail that goes South along the Adriatic towards Skilift Poreč cable park, then continue riding South as far as you can, but be sure to return to town in time for sunset.
PS – This is what black (and white in the back row) truffles look like. They’re DELICIOUS. Eat as much truffle as you can, and buy some truffle olive oil so you can host a Croatian dinner party with friends when you’re back! We’re all about sharing our edible souvenirs:
#2. Walking along the tangled, cobblestone streets of ROVINJ (the picturesque fishing village gracing the cover of our Lonely Planet Guidebook pictured at the beginning of this post):
Tip: Follow the sidewalk just north of town for the best views of sunset + nightfall.
- Bike to Frkanj beach, the 1st ever nude beach IN. THE. WORLD. (If you see a sign that says “FKK” or “Naturist,” be prepared to see skin, which is the norm in Croatia.) Throw up your hammock, swim in the sparkling sea, relax on the sand and let the sweet scent of pine fill your nostrils. The air is one of the things we miss most.
- After you’ve chilled, ride your bikes through the Dundo Forest to Rt Kalifront. Trust us. The water is GORGEOUS and it’s oh so peaceful – remember your goggles!
Today is #worldphotoday which is meant to inspire thousands of photographers across the planet to share a single photo with a simple purpose, to share their world with the world 🌍🌎🌏 For us, our photo is about exploring the lesser known parts of the world, truly getting off the beaten path and allowing your freedom to change you. Sharing this #Vanlife journey has allowed us to grow together in ways we never could have planned or expected. #Trueadventure isn't found on any map📍 #roamtheplanet
- Known as the “Happy Island,” Rab is also the greenest island on the Adriatic + it has over 30 sandy beaches (most of the beaches in Croatia are rocky), giving it one of the most diverse landscapes in the Kvarner region. The best place to view the beauty that is Rab? Hike to the top of Kamenjak for sunset. There is even a wonderful restaurant at the top where you can sit and enjoy the view as the sky transforms into a velvety, star-studded blanket over the glistening town. Tip: If you do opt for the hike, bring headlamps for the way down.
#5. Rock climbing and trekking The Gorge in PAKLENICA NATIONAL PARK!
We had A LOT of fun here. Maybe it was the weather, which provided a much needed contrast to the endless cold of England (video here), or maybe it was the undeniable beauty of the Adriatic paired with the electronic music that pulsed along the coast from sun up till sundown from pirate party boats like the one pictured below:
Another unforgettable Tisno fave: Biking from Tisno to Murter Island and stopping at the famed Slanica Beach for a dip!
Swimming in crystal-clear waters, biking across islands, eating giant kiwis and grilling out every night under the stars… we are feeling very at home in #Tisno ❤️ It will be hard to leave, but tomorrow we're off to spend the week exploring Split and Makarska before making our way to Montenegro to co-lead our first trip with @carpe_mundo ✨ #athomeintheworld #homeiswhereyouparkit #vanlifeeurope #croatiafullofmagic
Now that the crowds are finally gone, to the #NationalParks we go! Yesterday morning we were among some of the first in the park. By 8am we were walking the trails to these absolutely mystifying falls ✨ Fun Fact: #Krka is the only NP in Croatia where you're actually allowed to swim! #croatiafulloflife
This is the only National Park in Croatia that you are actually allowed to swim in (!!) and it’s absolutely stunning. If you want to enjoy this gem with as much peace as we did (notice NO ONE on the bridge), get there early (it opens at 7am).
#8. Hiking above the MAKARSKA RIVIERA:
Bring a picnic and hike to the top of Vošak first thing in the morning (it gets HOT). Take in the views and after you descend, make your way to the magical (MAGICAL) waters of Tulcepi, famous for its white pebble beach + fresh fruit delivery boat?! Scroll down for proof:
Today we hiked up one of the tallest mountains in Croatia! It was tough to motivate ourselves to get an early start, it was really freaking hot and the trail was extremely steep, but in the end, like most of the crazy things we decide to tackle, it was totally worth it 🌟 The view was incredible, the breeze was cool and refreshing and we were happy as can be to be at the top 😂🙏🏼 What's the #greatestchallenge you've overcome recently? #mygreatestadventure
It was also from this magical fruit boat (click on the video below) that we bought and ate the first fresh figs of our lives… we can now say that we have tasted heaven, and it’s ALL worth it.
#9. Island hopping and cave diving off the coast of HVAR ISLAND:
If you’re looking for the real experience of #CroatiafullofLIFE Hvar Island is THE PLACE to be. Named the sunniest place in the country (2724 hours a year), being in/on/near the water is the only option, not because it’s hot, but because it’s so BEAUTIFUL that you really have no other choice.
Rent a boat, take a tour, explore secret nooks. Enjoy as much of the glistening Adriatic as you most possibly can because the second you leave, you’re gonna miss it.
While Hvar is known as the place for “posh yachties” and the “see-and-be-seen” crowd, for us it wasn’t. For us it was a retreat into the unique beauty that this incredible little island has to offer. Consider staying outside the tourist town and explore the idea of staying at a campground. Camp Vira, pictured below, is recognized as the best campground in all of Croatia. We camped, we grilled, we biked, swam and chilled, and we’d go back to do it all over again:
There is something so fulfilling about being able to cook and enjoy a delicious meal with my love in #thegreatoutdoors. Surrounded by stars with the waves gently crashing at our feet and the full-moon rising over our shoulders, we wanted nothing more than everything that existed in this exact moment, on our rock 🌕 #athomeintheworld
#10. Kitesurfing in KOMIN:
Last but certainly not least, this was Drew’s ultimate FAVORITE place in all of our #VanLifeEurope travels this past year (time lapse video here). Not only was the kiting INSANE, but there was an awesome beach bar on the sand + stellar views of sunrise and sunset + wild camping (video here)!:
You won’t find this place in any guide books, and we hope it stays that way. This is a very much locals only place, though they welcome strangers, but if you go, remember, respect the locals… and HAVE FUN!:
Feeling inspired? We hope so. Have more questions? You’re in the right place! If you’re looking for even more insight into traveling Croatia, like maybe how exactly to do one of the hikes we mention, or how VanLife there really works (video here), or maybe even where to rent bikes/kiting gear or what spots in Camp Vira have the best view? Consider connecting with us for an Adventure Consultation! We have a ton of knowledge and would love to help you create an epic adventure of your own. Oh and we liked the picture below too much not to share. #pinkspeedo:
- “Sladoled” is ice cream/gelato.
- There are lots of sea urchins just below the surface of the sea, they’re pointy and they hurt. Luckily, water shoes are all the rage. Get yourself a pair.
- Air mattresses, yoga mats and floatation devices are often used on the beach to help protect oneself from the painful rocks and pebbles that usually line the shores.
- There isn’t much English spoken here, mostly German and Italian, in addition to Croatian of course.
- Carpe Mundo (promo code: ADVENTURE), is an awesome adventure-based travel company started by one of our best friends, that hosts some awesome European/Adriatic trips each summer, check them out! Oh and Yacht Week looks pretty INCREDIBLE too.
- The word for tap water (which is safe to drink) is “voda sa cesme,” pronounced “voda sa-chez-ma.” Most places will give it to you if you ask politely, but don’t be offended if they don’t. Otherwise the brand for water in Croatia is “Jana”: