May 15, 2006 8:23 AM   Subscribe

CroatiaFilter : I'm going to Croatia in July and need tons of info , help !

Hi folks , i'm going to Croatia for a month , i picked up a ticket to arrive at Split and from there i have no idea where to go , Dubrovnik sounds quite nice and parts of Bosnia are interesting too , i'd like to know good places to stay , how much cash i'll need , methods of travel etc ...all help gratefully appreciated !
I'd rather ask people on mefi with direct experience than read lonely planet.
posted by sgt.serenity to Travel & Transportation around Croatia (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The entire Adriatic coast is gorgeous. You could spent your entire time simply hopping from village to village. One thing I will caution is outside of the major towns you are really going to need to know the language. We were fortunate to have a friend who is native to the region and speaks fluently show us around. I can't imagine having done it without the guidance.

That said, Montenegro is fantasitc as well as Dubrovnik. Split is fun for a little more cosmopolitan feel. And really everywhere in between. I just don't think you can go wrong.
posted by JpMaxMan at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2006

I just got back (yesterday). We had a lovely time.

Check out tripadvisor's Croatia forum - extremely helpful info.

Okay, let's see. Dubrovnik is lovely - definitely do that. Walk the walls. Do a walking tour too - there are two right now that I know of, a general introduction (1.5 hours), and a speciality walking tour on the defenses of Dubrovnik. We did the general tour only, but liked it. Supposedly the second oldest synagogue in Europe is in Dubrovnik - worth seeing. And there's a gallery for female war photojournalists - worth checking out. The only real downside to the city is that it us uber touristy. We called it "Epcot does Dubrovnik." (Plus, more expensive than other parts of Croatia.) If you can splurge on the Grand Villa Argentina, do it - 10 minutes outside of old city, but close enough. Gorgeous, gorgeous views, beautiful rooms, sumptuous brunch included every morning, beautiful outdoor pool right next to the Adriatic, etc. It cost us about $250/night for pretty much the cheapest rooms available. If you're going budget, you probably want to try to stay in the old city or nearby, rather than Lapad - seems too distant. Bus, ferry & airport are not convenient to the old city.

The island if Mjlet, nearby, is supposed to beautiful. If you're into SCUBA, there's a 3rd century roman wreck off Mjlet that is supposed to be worth seeing. Also supposedly good for hiking and biking. Much of it is a national park.

You could do a day trip or longer to Montenegro while you are in Dubrovnik.

Islands are lovely too. We did Hvar, which is supposed to be happening and beautiful old venetian town, and Vis which is supposed to be less touristy, more isolated. We loved Hvar, lots of sunshine, very pretty, lots to do. Rent a boat, if you can, and see other nearby islands and inlets. That cost us 300 kuna for a day - about $50. Renting a car can be fun on Hvar too - you can drive to other towns besides Hvar town. That's a little more pricey. We stayed with Jadruga B..., the one private room recommended by Lonely Planet - very nice and clean, beautiful views, hike up from the town. Really should reserve with her in advance. It was 200 kuna per night for a double with bathroom, but that was low season. About $40. I can't remember the name of the place we liked best to eat in Hvar, but it's in Lonely Planet and it's a place that specializes in meat, I think. Extremely cosy, off the main plaza.

Vis was nice, but nothing was happening because it was too early. Lots of yachts go there. We ate at Konaba Kantun, right on the main street in Vis. One of the highlights of our trip. It was expensive ($120 for two), but we also drank lots of the best wine we had in Croatia. Ivan is the owner - friendly, smart. There's another restaurant right next to Konoba Kantun - not as good. Ivan has a wine bar attached to his restaurant - it wasn't open yet, but he showed us a peek, and it looked enchanting inside - lots of green. There's the Blue Grotto near Vis - supposedly gorgeous cave. We didn't go bc it was about 200 kuna, but probably should have bc we were bored on Vis otherwise. I would recommend Vis when it's a little busier. Oh, worst. tourist. agency. ever. (Ionos).

We skipped Split, but I've heard good things. We spent only a week, and we felt that the 4 days we spent on the islands were too much. We would have rathered spend some time in Zagreb, and some time in Plitvce (?) national park.

Private homes are a great way to stay in Croatia. We averaged 200 kuna per night for a private room with a bathroom, and balcony, sometimes kitchens. They were clean and comfortable and the hostesses were friendly.

ATMs and internet cafes were just about everywhere, but don't count much on using your credit card. Might work, but might not.

We decided Croatia was infinitely affordable, but not cheap. I think we spent about $2000 for the 10 days, but we did splurge a lot.

Food - lots of great, fresh seafood, not lots of variety, though. We self-catered breakfast and many lunches by buying local bread, cheese, prsut, etc. Risotto is just like rice pilaf, not italian risotto.

Jadrolinja is the main ferry company - very cheap transport ($8 for a pretty long ride), and the people working for them are usually quite helpful. Buses were easy and cheap too. The train from Zagreb-Split wasn't too expensive either.

posted by Amizu at 9:31 AM on May 15, 2006 [2 favorites]

I am leaving for Croatia on Wednesday for a two week trip. I am starting with 4 days in Zabreb then flying to Dubrovnik for 10 days. From all the research I've done, including speaking to people at work who are from Croatia, Dubrovnik is the place to go. I plan on using it as a base of operations from which to visit Hvar, Split and any of the many islands on the Dalmation coast. From what I can tell, you could spend a week simply checking out Dubrovnik and the few islands off its shores like Peljesac and Mljet and still not have enough time.

Since it is relatively easy at this point in the year to find private rooms cheaply, I have not booked any hotels in Dubrovnik. I'll be staying in private apartments that I found through the local Dubrovnik tourist agencies like Gullivar Travel. I'm paying about 50 bucks a night for a one bedroom with a bath. What I will do is spend a few days in Dubrovnik proper and then start taking the ferries up the coast to Hvar, Split, etc. I'm going to keep it to one or two day excursions and find lodging on the islands the same way I did in Dubrovnik, then come back to Dubrovnik and book more apartments as needed. I'm not sure how well this will work when you are going in July, as that is the heavy season, but in May it is no problem.

I've been told by my Croatian friends that there is a bus or train that goes from Dubrovnik to Mostar in Bosnia and that this trip and the city are amazing. Mostar took a lot of damage in the war but it is a very old and unique place. I may do that. Most of these kind of things you can book through the tourist agencies in Dubrovnik or simply schedule yourself.

The impression I got from all of my research is that it's relative easy to simply show up in Dubrovnik and tour around. The country is highly focused on tourism now and there is a lot of english spoken (despite what was said above by JpMaxMan I've been told this isn't a problem) and their infrastructure is well organized and hits a lot of nice places. Ferries to most of the islands will be running full tilt in July. There are ATMs in the major cities so access to cash is not a problem.The only thing you may have to contend with that I will not will be the crowds.

Good luck and have a great time. I can't wait to leave.
posted by spicynuts at 9:35 AM on May 15, 2006

Amizu...if you have the contact info for your room on Hvar, I'd like to get it from you. My email is in my profile. Sorry to hijack the thread for that!
posted by spicynuts at 9:39 AM on May 15, 2006

Spicynuts: just to emphasize, I'd consider Dubrovnik a major town. Some of the most gorgeous spots are the little fishing villages sprinkled up and down the coast, however. We had a car and drove for some amazing scenic views. Though, these little villages are where you will have more difficulties if you don't speak the language. Now, don't get me wrong, I've gotten far in life with the language of pointing; it's just a word of caution take it for what it's worth. You konw your own comfort level in a foreign land.
posted by JpMaxMan at 9:42 AM on May 15, 2006

The Croatian coast is long and varied, so don't limit yourself to one area. I was there in December with Croatian friends, who basically walked around in a stupor until somebody said "Let's go to VIS!" and off we went. There we would meet some other friend who invites us to another island, and off we went. Every place was different. Hvar is for tourists. Vis is great but you can eat for a lot less than $120 a nite! (The ?? Konoba about 100 meters around the end of the Quay... about $25 a full meal.... also lets rooms...) Split actually isn't so bad, it's just that you will see scads of transiting tourists there. Trogir is only a half hour north of Split, take the bus.

The basic rule is: the local Croats are great folks, love to meet foreigners, and often speak English. So the tourist resorts are worth a pass. Eat lots of squid and drink Travarica. Oh, and you can eat the squid guts...
posted by zaelic at 9:45 AM on May 15, 2006

Point taken, JpMaxMan...I think I was referring for the most part to the general tourist destinations like Hvar, Split, etc. I don't want to hi-jack Sgt. Serenity's thread though with my own concerns, although I think all of this info is helpful for anyone going.
posted by spicynuts at 9:47 AM on May 15, 2006

I second Hvar. It's a nice, relaxed island. Lots of good food and beaches (most of them seemed to be nudist). I recommend hiring a boat.

Also check out the town of Primosten. There is a great place in the centre where an old couple sell wine by the glass from big barrels and everybody sits around on the street happily getting drunk.
posted by echelon at 10:03 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Defo hit Zagreb, sgt., it's a wonderful wee city. Some vague drivelling about what to do there.
posted by jack_mo at 5:36 PM on May 15, 2006

The place we loved for dinner on Hvar was Konoba Menego, 742036. So cozy. Amazing ambiance. Eat in the upstairs nook.

And the place we loved to stay in Hvar was the Jagoda & Ante Bracanovic Guesthouse, 741416 (home), 0915203796 (cell), Definitely best to reserve in advance.
posted by Amizu at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: oh this is some rare advice guys , thanks ever so much !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2006

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