Picking a place to vacation can be stressful. Ironic, right? There’s so many options, literally anywhere in the world, and somehow we always find ourselves falling into a pattern of frequently traveled to locations. In the beginning of the summer, you start to see an in flux of vacation photos across social media and the most common question asked during small talk is,“Are you going anywhere this summer?”.
Where to visit and when to go? That’s a good place to start, but possibly the hardest part. Living in Pennsylvania, the summers are great because there are plenty of beaches an hour or so away that you can turn into a day trip or full vacation. Summers are also a popular time to travel, especially with kids, so any destination city will be packed with people from all over with the same idea as you.
It’s become especially popular over the last few years since they started filming Game of Thrones in the town of Dubrovnik.
This year we waited until schools were back in session to take a trip to a place that wasn’t on my radar until recently- Croatia. Some people are knowledgeable of Croatia as a vacation spot for the last decade, but it’s become especially popular over the last few years since they started filming Game of Thrones in the town of Dubrovnik. It’s still nowhere near as well known as Italy, Spain, France or Greece, but give it a few years and you’ll know at least one person who’s visited.
I knew we needed a mixture of historical sites for him, and beach time for me so we decided on Dubrovnik and Zagreb.
Croatia has a long coastline filled with tall cliffs and terracotta rooftops, multiple islands with beautiful beaches, and great historical sites to get your x of European culture and history. When breaking down where to visit in Croatia, there are three popular cities. The first two, Dubrovnik and Split on the coast and third, Zagreb which is their capital city. Based on what you want to get out of your vacation, each place has its unique benefits. When deciding where we were going to visit, I knew we needed a mixture of historical sites for him, and beach time for me so we decided on Dubrovnik and Zagreb.
There was so much to do and see in both cities, that 4 days each was barely enough. Inside Dubrovnik, you have the walls that wrap around the old town.You can spend days trying to cover and see each alleyway filled with different cafes, shops, and bars. Live music fills the streets and it’s almost impossible to pick which restaurant looks best. We ate at a ton of small places inside the walls but two really stuck out in terms of food, service and views; Dubrovnik 360 and Nautika. If I had to choose, I would say the food was better at Dubrovnik 360, but the overall experience was more memorable at Nautika. The night was made by the incredible views of the sea and walls, my drink coming out on rose pedals under a bird cage, each course being paired with a different olive oil native to a place in Croatia, and to the server being the incredibly knowledgeable about every meal, cocktail and wine on the menu. If you’ve got the time, I defiantly recommend visiting both restaurants.
If you’re looking for the best view in town, take the cable car up to the mountain top and watch the sun set over the city.
When you’re ready to relax, you can enjoy one of the many beaches in Dubrovnik or take a boat ride to any of the nearby island beaches.You can also take day trips to see the bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, an awesome way to add two more countries to your trip. We stayed at a hotel ten minutes from Old Town named Neptun that had a great rock beach perfect for watching the sunset. If you’re looking for the best view in town, take the cable car up to the mountain top, or an Uber to save a few bucks and skip the line, and walk out on to the mountain top and watch the sun set over the city.
When you leave the coastline and head for the capital, you won’t believe how clean and colorful the city is. Take a day to walk around and explore.You’ll want to see the Dolac Market, Ban Jelacie Square, shop on Illiac Street, eat on Tkalciceva, visit the Zagreb Cathedral, and ask the locals what festivals are going on nearby.
We chose to spend one afternoon in a cooking class learning how to make some traditional Croatian cuisine. Our instructor was great and taught us how to properly prepare everything from dicing up an onion to cutting the head and scales off a fish. The class ended with learning how to make delicious fritters with skuta that were so easy and so good I’ve pulled the recipe for you.
Add another stamp in your passport and head to Bled in Slovenia for the day.
Once you’ve done everything on your list in the city, you can take a day trip to see one of the most photographed places in Croatia, the Plitvice Lakes National Park, or add another stamp in your passport and head to Bled in Slovenia. Both places will not disappoint. If you visit during the busier months, I suggest booking a private tour so you can do everything on your own schedule and spend as much time as you need in each location to make the most out of your vacation!
If you’re looking for something different don’t worry, there almost 200 other countries out there and I’m sure one of them will be a great t and an amazing new experience. Keep exploring and let us know if you’ve found your own hidden gem worth sharing!
Fritters with Skuta
50 g (1.75 oz.) raisins
3 tbsp. of prošek (Dalmatian dessert wine) 300 g (10.5 oz.) skuta (ricotta)
50 g (1.75 oz.) sugar
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
100 g (3.5 oz.) soft our
Soak the raisins in prošek. Mix the skuta (ricotta), sugar, eggs, cinnamon and grated lemon rinds of lemon and orange. Gradually add sieved our to the mix. In the end add raisins with prošek.
Heat up the frying oil well. Use two spoons to put the dough in oil. Turn them during frying to get an even color. Remove the fried fritters with a slotted spoon and put on absorbent paper to remove the excess grease.