For some people travel means relaxation and a break from normal life. Laying on the beach with a drink. Reading a book by the pool. Well, for me it doesn’t – even though I sometimes wish that was enough. When summer turned out colder then expected, I started to look for a cheap holiday with sun, adventure, culture and nature. Preferably with hidden, private beaches and mountains. The destination had to be backpacking-friendly and I needed to be back in a week. Unsure on what I would find with my criteria, I looked around and I found… Croatia!
Direct budget flight from Sweden, easy to book accommodation on location and amazing local traffic. This country also seemed to tick off all my wishes, all within a reasonable distance to be able to get through it all in only one week. Ten days later I was sat on a plane to Croatia with my backpack, hoping I would have enough to do to cure my restless legs after a rainy summer. Damn, did I! This is my guide to get the most out of Croatia in one week with a backpack.
1) Go Island Hopping
Croatia has over a thousand islands and many of them are easy accessible by ferries and boats. A perfect day trip (that with pleasure could be extended) is to rent a bike, bring it on the ferry and go island hopping between the different islands. Take your bike across and around the islands to find amazing, private swimming spots and beaches with clear, turquoise water. And, don’t forget – you want to be able to swim everywhere, especially where no one else is. So bring water shoes so you won’t hurt your feet (even though the photo above would look so much better without them!).
2) Climb a Mountain
What strikes you the most when flying over Croatia, preparing to land, isn’t the green water or the thousand islands. It’s the mountains. From all seaside towns you can see the Dinaric Alps in the background. This makes it possible to go climbing in the morning and, later the same day, to cool down by the sea. There are many National Parks in the Dinaric Alps such as Risnjak, Paclenica and Sjeverni where there are amazing opportunities both for walking and climbing no matter if this is you first hike or your hundred-and-something.
3) Visit the Old Towns
This country is full of small well-kept old towns that are smorgasbords of history and architecture. You can find these old towns along the coast, on the hills and on the islands. Many of them are an amazing mixtures of medieval churches and city walls together with Roman monuments and Venetian gothic architecture. A must is to visit at least one of these old towns during your week in Croatia.
4) Go Chasing Waterfalls
Ok, I will try to describe this without getting all overexcited. This is what I first saw when I researched Croatia and there was no turning back. Plitvice Lakes is a national park close to Bosnia Herzegovina that was founded in 1949. You get there easily by bus from most of the cities in Croatia. The park is covered by 16 absolutely clear green lakes and the whole park is full (then I mean FULL) of waterfalls. Imagine when you start to get tired of seeing new waterfalls since you already have like 200 photos. That is Plitvice. I only had one day here, but if you have more time then a week I recommend that you get yourself at least one more day to explore this amazing park.
5) Step into Game of Thrones
If you only knew one thing about Croatia before you read this post, it was probably that it’s the filming location of Game of Thrones. Most of the locations are in Split and Dubrovnik but it doesn’t matter where you are in Croatia. Bus traffic is awesome and it is a small country. So you will be able to do this in one day. There are many guided GOT tours in that you can book yourself on, and otherwise internet is full of information about locations that you can just tap into your google-maps to do it the DIY-way.
6) Explore a Cave
Where there are mountains there are caves. Croatia has several really big and beautiful caves. Some of them you need to hike for hours in the Dinaric Alps to reach, while some you need a boat to be able to access on an island. To step into a cave is something really different. Filled with amazing cave formations that has been created during millions of years it also gives a feeling that time is different in there. The temperature of a cave tend to be the same all year round. so when you get into a cave it can be summer and 25 degrees outside, or winter and -10 degrees but on the inside it is all the same. In the cave there are no seasons.
7) Watch (and listen to) the Sunset
When I got the recommendation to watch the sunset in Zadar, I didn’t really understand the point until I was sitting there around 8 o’clock, watching the sky turn red while listening to the Sea Organ. The Zadar Sea Organ is an architectural sound art that with help of the waves plays amazing music and it is located right by the best sunset watching spot. To sit peacefully and just watch the sun go down accompanied by the music was truly hypnotic – no matter how touristy it might be. The perfect way to finish off an intense but absolutely wonderful holiday, and to say goodbye to Croatia.
Have you been to Croatia, or do you plan to visit? Let us know in the comments!