I’ve been on a lot of road trips with my parents…Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National park, Glacier National Park, Italy, Ireland and Australia to name a few. But my recent road trip with both my parents and Wes down the coast of Croatia tops them all.
Originally, when we started planning to meet my parents in Croatia we all thought we wanted to do a sailing trip to many of the islands that Croatia has to offer. After much research into all the different sailing companies, we decided that there wasn’t a perfect sailing trip for all of us to do together. We realized that a road trip would allow us to see a larger amount of the country (including a trip to Plitvice National Park) and be able to hop over to a few islands using a the ferries. So the decision was final we would take a road trip starting in Poreč, a small town in the Istrian Pennisula, and travel all the way down the coast to Dubrovnik and then back up to Split.
After a long day of traveling (while being sick), including a metro ride to the airport in Madrid, a two hour flight from Madrid to Zagreb, a four hour bus ride from Zagreb to Poreč and then a short car ride from the Poreč bus station to the hotel we finally met up with my parents. Although, feeling slightly nauseous and tired I was ecstatic to see my parents! The last time I saw my parents was when Wes and I stopped in St. Louis in early May before we continued our road trip out west. Needless to say it was a wonderful reunion and I was just so excited for our 2-weeks ahead. We didn’t waste any time before we dove into the Croatian cuisine, something I had been dreaming about (after over 40 days in Spain, I was desiring a little variety). We headed down to the hotel restaurant, found a perfect table underneath the umbrellas outside and started our Croatian journey sipping on sparkling wine, eating delicious risotto and then ending with a crape filled with cherries and ice cream. It felt like pure luxury, something we haven’t experienced the entire time we have been gone. I could barely eat because I was battling that nasty stomach bug that I told you about in my last post, but I didn’t care because I was just so happy to be sitting in beautiful Croatia with my parents and my wonderful husband.
The next morning we woke up and realized that we were right on the water and we got to see just how beautiful it was. We enjoyed breakfast outside, which became a regular occurrence wherever we were. We actually decided we ate almost all of our meals outside the entire time we were in Croatia. Wes and I have gotten quite used to eating outside after spending the summer in Europe and have a feeling it is something we will greatly miss when we return to the States. After breakfast on our first day we headed out on our first adventure to visit a cave and then to explore some of the neat little towns found within the Istrian Peninsula. We all hopped in our rental car…a minivan to be exact and off we went, sounds easy right? Well it’s Europe, so of course our minivan was a manual but no worries my dad had it under control. I give him some major props (not sure when he last drove a manual), despite a few random stalls he managed to get us down the coast of Croatia with very few hiccups. I know I couldn’t of done it.
Now I know that I can’t share every moment of our road trip with you because my stories would go on forever. So I thought I would share with you why I would recommend taking a road trip in Croatia.
– The drive is absolutely breathtaking, it felt like each part was more beautiful than the next. There are beautiful mountains throughout the country that you weave in and out of during your drive.
– The views of the sea and the islands dotting the sea from the high coastal highway are incomparable. During the section of our drive from Orebic down to Dubrovnik we drove along a highway with the sea directly below us, but we were up extremely high. Although I was slightly nervous with my dad zipping around the corners, it was truly incredible.
– You can discover and wonder around charming, little Croatian villages/towns throughout the Istrian peninsula. We ate delicious pasta and pizza at a restaurant right on the sea in a little town called Rovinj, strolled along the tiny streets of Grožnjan and woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the sea in Opatja. There are so many uniquely whimsical towns in Croatia and we loved stumbling upon them.
You can visit Plitvice National Park. Although it’s hard to pick my favorite thing in Croatia, if you asked me right now I would say it was our time spent hiking and exploring Plitvice. I will vividly remember a specific moment while in Plitvice for the rest of my life. Just after we saw the biggest waterfall (which was spectacular), we came across a bridge and realized that there was water flowing over the bridge and that we should probably take off our shoes to cross it. Together with my mom, dad and Wes we began to slowly walk across the bridge. We stopped in the middle of the bridge, enjoyed the cool water running over our feet and saw the most perfect rainbow coming out of more waterfalls. My description doesn’t give justice to the moment, because it’s hard to describe exactly how I felt. I felt so alive, I felt like my heart was racing with joy, I felt like this was one of the most beautiful moments of life and I felt so thankful I could share with three people that I love so much!
– There are many wineries throughout Croatia and if you have a car you stop for a tasting. We stopped at a small family owned winery Yukas in the Ston region just about one hour north of Dubrovnik. We were able to do our tasting while sitting outside among the many fruit trees on the property. We tasted fruit liquors, wines, cheese and olive oil. It was a truly authentic experience, the owner conducted our wine tasting and his niece took us through the liquor tasting. The wines weren’t the best I have tasted but it was more about the experience.
– You can still go to the islands. We dropped off our rental car and took the ferry to the island of Hvar (spent one night), then took another ferry to the island of Korcula (spent one night). We were able to still get a taste of the islands without taking a Croatian sailing. After our two nights on the islands, we picked up another rental car and drove down the rest of the Croatia coast to Dubrovnik.
– Having a car allows you to be on your own schedule and provides a lot more flexibility than a bus tour or a sailing trip. This created a very relaxed feel to our trip because we weren’t rushed to get somewhere by a certain time. We could stop and take pictures as frequently as we liked. We could also sit and enjoy breakfast and/or lunch for as long as we liked.
– Although, there are areas that have frequent tolls the highways are very well taken care of. There are also very few cars on the roads and therefore we hit absolutely no traffic. It actually felt like there were more tour buses on the road than cars.
Croatia is an idyllic destination and a perfect country to take a road trip in. I could go on forever about how much I loved this country and wonderful it was to have my parents traveling with us for 2-weeks. I am so very thankful that they came to visit and that Wes and I were able to experience such a wonderful journey with them!