Drink the coffee; it is good and affordable. Outside of tourist resorts, Croatian cafes rarely sell cakes or anything at all to eat [but bakeries generally have excellent cakes you can buy and eat with your coffee]. Buy a coffee and you can linger and watch the world go by as long as you like.
The coastline of Istria is beautiful but take the time to explore inland. We walked the 10 kms St Simeon Path that winds steeply down from the stone village of Gračišće to a stunning waterfall that falls into a turquoise blue pool and then climbs through woodland back up the hillside. We also cycled along the some of the Parenzana cycle trail around Motovun, a wonderful walled hilltop town with stunning views.
Paklenica National Park is a fantastic place for walking and climbing but it is also popular and it is worth turning off the main valley route where you will quickly find solitude. Mala Paklenica is a narrow gorge where the walking is more difficult but worthwhile and just outside the National Park there are scores of other walking and cycling opportunities. We followed the trail to see the mirila above Starigrad, fascinating engraved stones up to 300-years old that mark the places where bodies were laid down to allow the bearers to rest during the journey from their mountain hamlet to the cemetery.
Krka and Plitvicka National Parks both get very busy with coach loads of tour groups, as well as individual visitors as seeing the waterfalls is an understandably popular activity. It is worth arriving as early as you can to miss some of these crowds and enjoy the views in tranquillity. We arrived at Krka at 09.00 and enjoyed the early morning peace before the rush.
Don’t miss Zagreb out of your Croatian itinerary, it is a pleasant and lively city that is easy to walk around. The city has plenty of green spaces to relax in, more cafes than you will ever need and for lunch you can visit La Štruk and enjoy a baked cheese štrukli – this is the only dish the restaurant serves and it is delicious and filling. For culture we visited the unique, heartbreaking and sometimes amusing Museum of Broken Relationships.
Camping Slapić near the small town of Duga Resa is an idyllic spot to relax. There are cycling and walking routes from the site or you can just sit and watch the clear waters of the river pass by. The Croatian campsites we stayed on were generally of a high standard and well run.
Veliki Tabor sitting on a hilltop north of Zagreb is everything a European castle should be and it will charm you.
In a previous post I mentioned how gorgeous it is around the village of Samobor so I couldn’t miss it out of this post too.
North-east of Zagreb we were enchanted by the city of Varazdin with its garden-cemetery and pretty historical centre and castle. This is certainly somewhere that needs a campsite so that visitors can stay longer.
Croatian people will be so happy if you learn just a few words of their language. Just being able to say hvala [thank you] and dober dan [good day / hello] will get you a long way.