Low-cost Croatia: 7 days in Dalmatia

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Who said that Croatia can? drive only by car? Last summer we wanted to dispel this myth and organize a holiday in Dalmatia by moving only by public transport, to contain travel costs and with an eye to eco-sustainability. We did not miss anything: history, culture, crystal clear sea ... here is our one week itinerary in Split and its surroundings.

1 day

Here we are, traveling before dawn to reach the Florence airport. Destination? Split, in the heart of Dalmatia! The flight lasts just an hour, not even the time for a little nap that we are already? arrived. In Split we try to withdraw, unsuccessfully, some Croatian kunas, at least the ones we will need to pay for the apartment where we will stay. Split airport is not? great, but? very chaotic and stormed by tourists, so? at the ATM c '? a crazy line and we decide to try somewhere else. Upon exiting the airport, we find Marjiana, the owner of the apartment we booked in the city, waiting for us. The apartment ? big and c '? everything you need for our week in Croatia ... also? close to bars, supermarkets and the bus stop, essential for our trip as we decided to move only by public transport. Once settled, we take a walk and immediately go to enjoy the beach, 10 minutes walk from our apartment and practically in front of the Raddisson Blu hotel, visible already? from afar. The water of the stony beach of? Njan? crystalline and around c '? many people, can you? relax quietly. In my opinion there is not? comparison with the popular Bacvice beach, more? central but really too chaotic and definitely overrated.
In the evening we go for the first time to the center of Split with bus number 3, and take a walk in the heart of Diocletian's Palace, which encloses the beating heart of the city. Narrow alleys, ancient buildings, souvenir shops, crowded restaurants ... Split smells of history and life. We have a fish-based dinner in a typical restaurant and enjoy the evening under the lights and warmth of Dalmatia.

2 day

On the second day we immediately set off to discover the surroundings of Split. From the central bus station we take the ride to Trogir and in less than an hour we reach this wonderful town, whose historic center? protected by UNESCO. The center ? very nice, all paved in white marble and full of monuments and palaces. After a visit to the Cathedral and a tour through the alleys of the city, we set off towards the Camerlengo Fortress and the port, where a gentleman convinces us to get on the motorboat to Okrug beach, on the island of Ciovo. Trogir, in fact,? a small natural island, which acts as a "bridge" between the mainland and Ciovo. Okrug? cute and the sea? gorgeous, but the beach? crowded. Probably? the beach that I liked least among those I saw in Dalmatia, there were really too many tourists and? it was difficult to find a free square even just to hang out the towel.
After a couple of hours of sun and diving, we take the motorboat (they go up and down continuously) and finally the bus to Split.
If you want to visit Trogir, I highly recommend arriving by public transport and not by car: c '? just a bridge connecting Trogir and the island of Ciovo to the mainland, and how can you imagine, the traffic? literally a nightmare! You risk being bottled up for an hour just to cover a few kilometers, not to mention the parking lot ... a mirage. Much better the bus: you may not avoid traffic, but at least you will save the time of searching for parking.

3 day

On the third day we try our luck again with the Split public transport, but this time it goes a little worse. We want to visit the Klis Fortress, about half an hour by bus from the center of Split. We wait for bus 22 near the National Theater ... we wait ... and we wait ... until? don't we begin to think that it probably won't come? never. When we are about to give up, there he is! Bus 22, "only" 40 minutes late. Finally we go up and in 30 minutes we are at our destination. The fortress ? very suggestive: ? a fortification built on natural rocks, it seems one with nature, on the hill overlooking the town of Klis. The sight ? really breathtaking, and for a Game of Thrones fan like me it is quite impressive to know that some of the scenes from Meereen were shot here. Too bad for the somewhat precarious security conditions, in some places the fortress seemed even unsafe, and in general not? highly valued for tourism. About an hour later we take the bus back to Split and stop in the city? to better admire the Diocletian Palace and its beauties: the undergrounds (also here some scenes from Game of Thrones have been shot!), the Cathedral, the promenade along the harbor and ice cream as if there was no tomorrow. Stupendous.

4 day

On the fourth day we decide to dedicate it completely to the sea ... finally, you will say! We decide to go to Punta Rata, or the beach of Brela, one of the most? famous holiday resorts along the picturesque Makarska Riviera. The beach ? gravel and the American magazine "Forbes" has counted it among the 10 pi? beautiful in the world. I don't know if I agree with a title like that, but? certainly a remarkable beach: crystal clear seabed, lots of vegetation and perfect photos with the Brela Rock, the boulder covered with pine trees, symbol of the country and protagonist in postcards of Dalmatia. The beach ? crowded but not in an exaggerated way, can you? stay sheltered in the shade of the pine trees (or rent a sunbed and / or umbrella), do water sports and eat a nice ice cream by the sea. Surely this? was one of the most? beautiful! To reach Punta Rata from Split you have to take the bus to Makarska (there is one every half hour from the central station) or Dubrovnik and get off at the stop for Brela. The stop actually? ? in the middle of the state road and you will NEVER recognize it since you don't? well signposted, so I recommend that you ask the driver to let you know when you arrive! Once you get off you will have to walk down a small road that goes down towards the coast and walk about twenty minutes until? you will not see the unmistakable boulder ... at that point you will have arrived! To return to Split, just wait for the bus at the same point you got off, but on the other side of the road. I advise you not to rely too much on the timetables they will give you at Split station why? As you may have guessed, Croatians have their own conception of punctuality, at least as far as public transport is concerned. Potr? it even happens that the bus does not stop why? too full, but don't worry, with a little patience it will pass? what else will you do? go up, they won't leave you on foot! :)

5 day

The fifth day we decided to dedicate it to the visit of one of the most? beautiful cities Croatian: Dubrovnik, the so-called "Pearl of the Adriatic". And with good reason. Unfortunately we only stayed one day, but if we could we would have stayed much longer ?! To get to Dubrovnik we took a very early bus from Split central station, which in a little more? of 3 hours takes you to the bus station in Dubrovnik, outside the old town. To reach the center c '? a half hour walk, or you can take another urban bus right in front of the station, as we did. The rides are very frequent and the bus takes about 10 minutes. Once you arrive in the center of Dubrovnik, you will find lots of small local agencies that organize walking tours for tourists, many even themed. We choose to join a Game of Thrones (and daje!) Themed tour which, with the excuse of seeing the locations of the TV series, will take us? to explore some of the points pi? interesting places of the city: the Stradun and the alleys of the old town, Fort Lovrijenac (splendid view over the typical red roofs of Dubrovnik!) and other beautiful views. At the end of the tour, we visit the Cathedral, the port, and we get lost in the alleys and shops of the center ... it's very hot, but? it was worth coming this far. In the late afternoon we take the bus back to Split, satisfied with our trip.

6 day

Unfortunately we are now almost at the end of the journey ... so? let's try to make the most of the last few days! On the sixth day we rely on a local Split agency, the Sirena Travel Agency, to visit the Krka e? Ibenik National Park. Both can also be reached independently by public transport, but to move between one place and another we would have had to change too many vehicles, wasting a lot of time, so we decided to rely on an organized tour for 250 kuna (about 33 euros, entrance ticket to the park not included). The visit to the park? free and lasts about 4 hours, more? which is enough to explore nature through the route marked on the map. Tourists are many, but the place? cos? enchanting and full of greenery that the crowd does not disturb ... on the contrary, it seems to be in an enchanted garden from a fairy tale. Here you can spot wild animals, observe many species of different plants, streams, but above all the scenic Skradinski buk, a complex of waterfalls about 45 meters high which has become the symbol of the park. Do you know that you can? to swim near the waterfall too? So bring your swimsuit! ;)
Once the visit is over, we leave for? Ibenik, less than half an hour by bus from the park. Here, too, the guide leaves us time to visit the center of the charming town on our own: unmissable the Cathedral of San Giacomo, considered a world heritage site. by UNESCO, and a walk through the narrow streets and typical shops. Furthermore, if you are a Game of Thrones fan (again!: D) you will recognize the Cathedral of St. James in some scenes set in Braavos. After the long day we return to Split, tired but happy with the beauties we have seen!

7 day

On the morning of the last day we decide to go to Salona (Solin in Croatian) to visit the ancient Roman site, where you can see the remains of the ancient city, including the aqueduct and the amphitheater. To reach Salona it takes about 15 minutes by bus; after that ?, from the stop c '? a walk of about 10 minutes on foot in the Croatian countryside. The signs for the historic site are there, but will it seem to you? to be lost or to have taken the wrong road since the site seems practically abandoned and left to itself. In fact, there were very few visitors, and by the way all Italians. Old Salona? very interesting but I advise you to go there only if you have several days available in Split, otherwise you can avoid.
Useful tips: I had read that the entrance was paid, but once there there was absolutely no one to provide tickets or information. I recommend checking the tourism office website to see if things have changed or not. As for the bus to Salona, ​​arrange the bus stop with the driver. suits your needs: it seems a bit absurd, but in Croatia, for what we have seen, it works like this!
After visiting ancient Salona, ​​we took the bus back to Split and headed to Diocletian's Palace to enjoy our last evening in the city. and buy some souvenirs. A must? Lavender-scented sachets, one of the strong points of Croatia (or rather, of the island of Hvar!).
The next morning our host Marijana takes us back to the airport ... happy with our trip but aware that Dalmatia still has much more to offer us! We will be back soon! :)

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