20th Jun 2017

The moment I think of Croatia, I begin to visualise a paradise of cerulean blue sea, balmy air with a tinge of sea-salt in it and golden beaches. There was nothing more quiet and blissful than enjoying sunsets in Hvar or kayaking solo in Dubrovnik. Be it medieval towns, UNESCO sites, rich culture or pristine beaches, Croatia is a perfect holiday destination for those who want an escape from routine.


Enveloped by the Adriatic sea and palm trees, Croatia has enamoured me with its mountainous landscapes and weird, yet beautifully shaped islands.

There are no ‘most beautiful islands’ or ‘best beaches’ in Croatia. Each island is special for its own adventure and vibe, making it confusing to plan your island hopping holiday. Also known as the land of 1000 islands, it’s impossible to cover all the destinations in one short trip. To help you shortlist, here’s a personal guide to spend 8 amazing days in Croatia!


When to visit

The best time to visit Croatia is during the “shoulder-season”. That includes the months of May-June, and September-October. It’s moderately touristy and ideal for water-sports and sunbathing. The temperature is anywhere between 25 to 30 degrees and one can enjoy breathtaking sunsets.

The peak season of July-August is busy with a throng of tourists. Accommodation price is at its peak just like the soaring temperature. But you can experience the best Croatian nightlife during these months.


What to pack

Just pack your essentials- toiletries, sunscreen, maxi dresses, loose cotton shirts, comfy shorts, flip-flops/trainers and a swimsuit.

Where to go

Day 1

A city that’s a juxtaposition of Astro-Hungarian architect with modern art and pop culture, is often missed by tourists. It’s definite that Zagreb doesn’t make to a traveler’s wishlist, but the city has more to offer than one can imagine.

Photo of Zagreb, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Trg bana Josipa Jelacica is the main city square is a favourite place of tourists and locals who want to unwind after a long day. The square is always buzzing with live musical performances or flea markets, creating a social hub for the tourists. If you have enough time, climb up the Observation Deck ‘Zagreb Eye’ for a panoramic view of this city.

• Britanac Square is famous for its open-air flea markets. Every Sunday, with sunrise, you’ll see garden-red umbrellas sheltering the vendors. Featuring home-grown fruits&veggies, customised jewellery, antiques, old books, clothes, and more, this market beautifully captures the culture of Zagreb.

Day 2

• Museum of Broken Relationships defines any form of relationship as a ‘personal chaos, global battle’. This place will make you laugh, cry, wonder and, leave a longing feeling in your heart. The museum displays a collection of objects that are now, mementos of a failed relationship. From Uno cards to an axe, you’ll be amazed by stories of people from all over the world. Special tip: They have beer as cold as your ex’s heart. Which makes it even a better reason to visit this place.

Photo of Museum of Broken Relationships, Ćirilometodska ulica, Zagreb, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Maksimir Park is the oldest public park in Zagreb and a gem tucked away from tourists. This park holds a special place in my heart for I had spent one of the most peaceful evenings wandering around there. Designed like an English park within forest interiors, Maksimir flaunts creaks, 5 lakes, meadows and a rich flora and fauna. You can also visit the Maksimir Zoo inside the park.

• Zagreb Cathedral will amaze you with its intricate carving and baroque marble altars. To reach the Cathedral, you’ll have to climb stairs or take the funicular to reach Dolac in upper town. If you’re around there before 5 PM, don’t miss out on the farmer’s market that exhibits fresh produce and homemade artefacts.

Photo of Zagreb Cathedral, Zagreb, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Tkalciceva Street offers an eclectic variety of culinary delights. From bars to pizza parlours and bakeries, Tkalciceva has it all. It’s a perfect place to enjoy your evening while sipping on wine and listening to live music.

Evening at Tkalciceva Street.

Photo of Tkalčićeva ulica, Zagreb, Croatia by Riya Dosani
Day 3

If you believe that fantasyland exists only in your dreams and imagination, you’ll be surprised! A slice of heave or Eden’s paradise, Plitvice Lakes cannot be described in words. It’s a renowned UNESCO world heritage site that flaunts waterfalls, emerald lakes, lush greenery, caves and wooded trails. Spectacular and intoxicating, one must visit this Croatian jewel!

Photo of Plitvice Lakes National Park, Plitvička Jezera, Croatia by Riya Dosani

How to get there

The best way to reach Plitvice Lakes is via bus from Zagreb, Split and Zadar. I decided to take a day trip from Zagreb.

Where to start

You can enter Plitvice from Entrance 1 (lower lakes) where you can enjoy panoramic views of the waterfalls, walk on the trail and even take a tour of the caves. Another way to enter is through Entrance 2 (upper lakes). Meandering in upper lakes is an experience on its own. You’d practically be walking through the falls and in the heart of Plitvice.

Tip: Multiple guided tours available, but it’s also easy to find your way around with the help of a map and signboards that are placed at regular intervals.


What to carry

It can take upto 5 hours to cover the entire Plitvice. It’s best to travel light and comfortable. And of course, a cap and sunglasses are a must! You can also stay the night in Plitvice. From B&B’s to luxury resorts, pick your choice of accommodation as per your budget.

Day 4

Breathtaking and magnificent, Hvar will transfix you to a spot and leave you speechless with its scenic views. I spent 2 nights on this island and it wasn’t enough, even though all I did was just relax and watch the dramatic sunsets. Sizzling night-life and pebbled beaches are the heart and soul of Hvar. From flamboyant to relaxed, Mediterranean lifestyle, Hvar is a destination of all age-groups.

A view of mesmeric sunsets in Hvar Town.

Photo of Hvar, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Stari Grad is one of the oldest town with a history of Greek settlements dated back to 384 B.C. It’s also a UNESCO World heritage site and you can find the central ferry port out here. Starring local restaurants and cafes, Stari Grad is a beautiful sight in the evenings.

Stari Grad

Photo of Stari Grad, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Fortica Spanjola has a conflicting past like most of us. The fortress lived through the persecutions from Turks and yet, it stands strong today. You can get there on foot from Hvar Town’s harbour or by car. It’s best to get there early morning or right before sunset to avoid the crowd and sweltering heat.

Way to Hvar Town.

Photo of Španjola, Fortica, D116, Hvar, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Wine Tasting tours in Hvar are as popular as the beaches. Whether you’re a wine lover or just a novice in wine tasting, this Dalmatian island is renowned for its indigenous wines. Unfortunately, I was in short of time and didn’t get a chance to visit. But from what I’ve been told by tourists and locals, a tour to these vineyards are not to be missed.

Day 5

• Beaches & Sunsets in Hvar are so surreal that you’d want to savour every moment spent gazing into the horizon. Pebbled beaches, turquoise water and the flaring hues of the sun are a delight to look at, especially when all you want to do is just relax. I visited the Mekicevica Beach- a small pebbled beach under a hilltop is an ideal place for those who want to enjoy a quiet, Mediterranean summer.

Mekicevica Beach

Photo of beach Mekićevica, Hvar, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Blue Water Caves tours are widely advertised in all of Hvar. But after taking opinions from locals, I decided to opt out for the lack of time. Daily tours are available to Blue Water Caves after which you can also stop by at the Pakleni island. Be sure to check the reviews and compare the costs before booking a tour.

• Nightlife in Hvar is all about getting drunk, bar hopping and dancing the night away to a mix of Spanish and English songs. Yachts, beaches, rooftops or local bars, one can never be out of options to party in Hvar. From Kiva bar to Carpe Diem and Hula Hula, there’s a bar for every kind of pocket.

Day 6

A period fantasy drama with a gripping story, Game of Thrones has always left its Dothraki fans wanting for more. As most of you’ll already know, chunks of the episodes were filmed within the city walls of the Old Town. But the history of Dubrovnik goes centuries deep. An island with innumerable burnt-orange rooftops and mazes of cobbled streets was once the target of bombings during the Yugoslavian war. Since then, the ancient buildings and heritage sites have been carefully restored to retain the antiquity of Dubrovnik.

Photo of Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• City Wall is the limelight of the Old Town. Spanning 2km in length, the wall was built in the 9th Century B.C. In the 14th Century, the fortresses were bolstered after the approaching threats from the Turks. Looking over the glistening Adriatic on one side and lanes of sun-kissed terracotta roofs on the other, none can resist these breathtaking views. The entrance fee starts at 100 Kn and it’s ideal to get there early morning.

View of the Adriatic from the city walls.

Photo of Walls of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani
Photo of Walls of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani

Game of Thrones tour is one of the top things to do during your stay in Dubrovnik. Stone-built fortresses and cobbled streets have provided a perfect backdrop to showcase the King’s Landing. Multiple guided tours are available at varying prices. Although I decided to pass on them and walked by myself, which isn’t tough because all the spots are closely located and cannot be missed. Just pick a G.o.T tour booklet from your hostel and you’ll easily find your way.


• The old town is the best place to wander around to spend a relaxed evening in this Dalmatian city. Buy a gelato and just get lost in the narrow alleys which are lined by lamps, cafes, souvenir shops and local restaurants.

Get lost in the cobbled lanes of Dubrovnik.

Photo of Dubrovnik Old House, Palmotićeva ulica, Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani

Old town, Dubrovnik.

Photo of Dubrovnik Old House, Palmotićeva ulica, Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani

Nishta is a 100% Vegan restaurant in Dubrovnik. One of the most delicious burritos I've ever had.

Photo of Dubrovnik Old House, Palmotićeva ulica, Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani
Day 7

Day Trips to Split/Montenegro/Lokrum/Bosnia and Herzegovina are all available from Dubrovnik. I decided to visit Mostar on my 2nd day and, although it’s a neighbouring city, the charm of Bosnia is as unique as Dubrovnik.

Stari Most- A 16th century bridge in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Photo of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Riya Dosani

View from the Stari Most bridge, Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Photo of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Riya Dosani
Day 8

• Kayaking and Cliff Jumping are two water-sports activities that are usually missed by tourists. Kayaking through the turquoise and deep blue waters of Adriatic was a surreal mix of adventure and peacefulness. The tour costs approx 200 Kn and takes around 1-1.5 hours in total. But I recommend renting a kayak for yourself for a better experience. Head over to Buza Bar for a nice beer and free Cliff Jumping.

Kayaking at Dubrovnik.

Photo of Buza Bar, Crijevićeva ulica, Dubrovnik, Croatia by Riya Dosani

• Cable car to Srd hill will take you to the Museum of Croatian War of Independence, with a small entrance fee. Exhibiting missiles used during the Yugoslavian war, and over 500 showpieces, brace yourself to take a step back in time.