The Republic of Croatia is a country in between central and southeast Europe, bordered by Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia. Croatia is unique for its medieval styled buildings and museums in its capital city of Zagreb, while other cities are decorated by 16th-century Gothic and Renaissance architecture, art, and design. Although Croatia has a very rich history and several museums to showcase it, it is also known as the most popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean. There are several national parks in Croatia, all of which are strictly protected and maintained to upkeep the country's natural beauty. Its beautiful geography, clear waters, and a comfortable, warm climate make it the popular vacation destination that it is. Nathan Ziemanski traveled to Croatia for a summer vacation with his family and he was generous enough to document his trip for us! Keep reading to discover his personal recommendations and travel tips.
Bather: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Nathan: My name is Nathan Ziemanski. I’m 19 years old and I’m from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I’m currently studying Computer Science, Business, Marketing and Design at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver. When I'm not in school I like to spend my time with friends playing sports like beach volleyball, soccer, and basketball. I also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and of course, I love photography.
B: Where did you go? Any reason for your trip?
N: My family and I traveled to Croatia. This was a meaningful trip since my sister and I had both been attending school away from home. Our family only had a short time to spend together in the summer and we decided to head off on an adventure to somewhere none of us had been before.
B: How did you get there and how was the journey?
N: The first leg of the journey took us from Vancouver, British Columbia to Munich, Germany on a 10-hour flight. After a bumpy ride, I had some time to recover and then we were on the short flight to the coastal city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. We were met by a driver who took us to our apartment and on the way gave us our first glimpse of the beautiful country we were about to experience.
B: Where did you stay?
N: While in Croatia we explored 4 main places. First, we spent time in Dubrovnik, one of the most prominent tourist destinations. It is known for its unique Old Town which is fortified by a 16th century stone wall.
Next, we boarded a ferry that took us to the island of Hvar, a beautiful summer resort destination in the Adriatic Sea. We rented a car here which allowed us to explore the island, its beautiful beaches, and small towns.
We then left Hvar on a short ferry ride to the city of Split. Split (along with Dubrovnik) is known as one of the locations for the filming the popular HBO series "Game of Thrones". It boasts the ancient Diocletian's Palace, erected by a Roman Emperor back in the 4th century.
After Hvar, it was time to venture away from the coast and visit two of Croatia's beautiful national parks. A short 1.5-hour drive took us to Krka National Park and then in another hour we were at Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
B: Take us through your day-to-day. What did you do mostly on your trip? What activities did you do?
N: Days were filled with exploring local areas on foot, eating great food, swimming at beaches, riding scooters and boats to see the sights, and of course, capturing it all with my camera.
B: What was your favourite thing to explore?
N: The boat expedition that took us from Hvar to neighbouring islands to see the Blue Cave, Green Cave, and Stiniva Bay and Palmizana was a highlight for sure. The limestone caves were stunning and the water was some of the clearest you'll ever see.
B: What beaches did you go to? Did you prefer one over the other(s)?
N: In Dubrovnik, we visited Banje Beach, Lokrum Island beaches, Buza Bar (not really a beach but amazing cliff jumping site) and Sunset Beach.
On the island of Hvar, we visited a beach in Zarace and one in Stari Grad.
We were taken to our favourite beaches while on our boat tour. One of the stops, Stiniva Bay, was voted the "Most Beautiful Beach in Europe" in 2016. While in Split we enjoyed taking our scooters to Kasjuni Beach and Bacvice Beach.
B: Favourite meal or restaurant?
N: At Lacroma Restaurant on Lokrum Island (a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik) I had the most amazing tuna steak I have ever eaten while being visited by wild peacocks and rabbits who roam the restaurant grounds.
B: What are the top three areas of Croatia visitors have to see? Why?
N: 1. Hvar: a small island with lots to explore, easy to take boat tours to other nearby islands, amazing yachts to see and restaurants to enjoy in the main port.
2. Plitvice Lakes National Park: Considered one of the most beautiful national parks in the world.
3. Dubrovnik: After the war in the 1990's Dubrovnik has been restored which has allowed it to become one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean region. You feel the charm and the deep history of the area when visiting this city thought to be found in the 7th century.
B: Tips when traveling to Croatia?
N: 1. Be prepared for the heat and lots of tourists if you go in July or August...also make sure your accommodations have air conditioning!
2. Stay near the coast where you can enjoy the water and the beaches if you travel in the summer months.
3. Be aware that most beaches in Croatia are pebble beaches. The lack of sand is not a bad thing... it means that the water is amazingly clear.
4. A car is not needed when in cities but is important if you want to explore further.
5. Bring your camera!
Want to see more from Nathan?
Follow him on Instagram @nathanziemanski and also check out his YouTube showcasing his trip.