Are you struggling with ideas about where to spend your summer vacation? Croatia is an ideal summer vacation spot. Located on the Adriatic Sea across from Italy, it is one of the most beautiful seaside escapes.
During the summer of 2014, I spent 2 weeks in a small coastal town called Brela and took some day trips to nearby towns. We stayed in an apartment which is a common way to vacation in Croatia. There are hotels and a hostel in Brela as well. Many people speak English, but we were often mistaken for Germans because not too many Americans have discovered this town. Here are some of the my most fabulous things to do in Croatia.
The water in the sea is crystal clear and seems more salty than any water I have ever been in which makes it perfect for spending hours simply floating or snorkeling. I brought goggles and loved swimming and looking through the water at the fish and even the ocean floor which was visible since the water was so clear.
2. Rent a boat
It is very easy and not too expensive to rent a small motor boat for an hour. The sea is calm and vast and there are not many boats along the small towns. The views of the landscape and villages from the water are beautiful.
3. Take a fishing picnic to the islands
From Makarska, a neighboring town, we took a fishing boat called the Makarski Jadran to visit some of the islands. The crew, dressed as pirates, caught large sardine type fish and served us lunch. We stopped in Vrboska and Jelsa on the island of Hvar then spent some time at the beach Bol on the island of Brac, known for kite and wind surfing.
The path along the sea in Brela is flat. However, it is difficult to hike this trail since the water is so clear and enticing, you feel you must keep stopping to take photos. Venturing away from the sea for hikes past a local market and along the mountainside was a nice way to start the day. The countryside is beautiful and I always felt safe.
5. Visit the waterfalls
We took a bus trip to the Krka waterfalls. Hiking trails around the falls lead to the large beach area. There is also a full restaurant that serves beer and nice lunches. I was impressed that at the park and on our boat ride meals are served on regular plates with silverware. No excessive waste here.
6. Eat well
First of all the produce is so fresh and tasty. Definitely buy some from a local vender. Ice cream or gelato is everywhere. Be sure to have some of that. The seafood is fresh and plentiful too. A popular meal here is the mixed grill. It is basically an assortment of savory grilled meats. The wine was unimpressive but they make good beer in Croatia.
7. Sit in a cafe
People love to sit around in cafes and drink espresso. You can stay at a table for hours and it is perfectly acceptable, which is a good idea when it rains on a summer afternoon. Don’t be surprised to have people smoking cigarettes near you as this is perfectly acceptable.
8. Visit an old town or castle
The history of Croatia is complicated in that it has been taken over by multiple entities throughout the years. We visited a castle in Trogir which had awesome architecture and was now used for cafes and shops. We also visited Split and Diocletian’s palace which was built in 295 AD.
9. Walk the promenade
The towns we visited had a lively social hour between 5-7. People dress up and leave their beach clothes at home. Everyone walks around. Children and adults both enjoy eating ice cream or gelato. The paths are busy with crowds strolling about. Dinner can be eaten later.
10. Watch the sunset
The sun sets over the sea and each night was more stunning than the last. Gazing at the rocky coastline and beautiful clear water was a perfect way to end each day.
I would love to go back and visit Croatia again. On a cold winter day I like to recall how awesome it was to swim in the Adriatic Sea.