Earlier this year, I did a post on the Northern region of Croatia, Istria (click here to see) as I had just visited for the first time. However, I've been going to Dalmatia (the southern region/coastline of Croatia) for many years now and have lots of tips to share! If you're not sure where to go, what to do, how to get there, what to expect, this may help you! I'm going to be splitting up my Dalmatia posts because there are quite a few areas to cover, and places I visit often that I'd love to share with you. In this post I'll focus on Split and Hvar, as I usually start my trip at these places. Watch out for my upcoming posts on Tučepi & Podgora, and also Dubrovnik & Korčula.
If you're visiting Southern Croatia and arriving via plane, I strongly suggest Split airport. From here, there are cheap shuttles (around 30 Kuna = approx 3 Euro) to the main harbour and coach station. I've been to Split a number of times but never stay too long. The longest I have stayed is 2 nights. Many know it's name and think of it as one of Croatia's main destinations, and its beautiful! But for me, it's more of a transport hub and can easily be seen in a day or two. There are plenty of advantages of staying in Split for longer though, as it offers a generous choice of day trips and excursions.
Split is a big city, so try to stay in the Old Town or by the bus station and harbour. I can suggest this apartment in the Old Town. It's great value, new, clean and in a fantastic location. Click here to see more.
Another one we stayed at a previous year, close to the bus station and a 7 minute walk from the Old Town, which I don't have photos of is this one. Also clean and convenient, but without a kitchen which is fine if you're having a short stay.
What to see in Split
1. Diocletian's Palace and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius.
2. Marjan (Marianne) National Park. A trail surrounded by coastline and hidden beaches :) you can rent bikes here and spend the day exploring. Make sure to pack a lunch!
Excursions from Split
Krka Waterfalls which you can swim in (approx 1 hour by car). Plitvice Lakes. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site - waterfalls, but you can't swim here! (pronounced Plit-vits-seh, takes approx 2 and a half hours by car), Trogir & the Blue Lagoon (approx 40 mins by car, it's possible to go by boat too). There are plenty of tourist information centres and tour groups who regularly organise trips. You can plan this while you're there.
Where to eat in Split
Vegan food place Vege Fast Food - it's very close to the port/bus station so great, quick and healthy between flights, buses or ferries. Also FIGA Food Bar has some interesting and unique dishes.
Like I said I don't stay long in Split so I'm sorry for the lack of photos. Here are a few more from our time there.
The dress I'm wearing is from a small boutique clothes shop in Korčula.
From Split, I highly recommend getting a ferry to Hvar (1 hour journey). You should book in advance to avoid disappointment or paying a high fee for taxi boat. The ferry company is called Jadrolinija. Try to get a morning or evening ferry to avoid travelling during the day.
Bare in mind that Hvar (pronounced with an almost silent v) is quite steep, so try to figure out if your accommodation is too steep for your liking. Staying in the Old Town is probably more expensive and highest in demand, but if you book in advance you should be fine.
I recommend Dink's Place Hostel. It's good value, in a great location and there's also a private room as opposed to a dorm if you'd like some privacy, with a balcony too! Below was the view from ours :)
Near Dink's Place, is an amazing restaurant called Lungo Mare. Here you can find reasonably priced, quality food. I'd eat here every night! A booking might be necessary during August, or you could be queueing for a while. My go to meal is grilled fish (Riba na žaru) with Blitva (swiss chard with boiled potatos, olive oil and garlic). Or deep fried calamari (pržena lignje) with chips (pomfrit).
What to see in Hvar
1. I just love the Hvar Fortress walk. I never go into the Fortress at the top, but even if you don't, you still get AMAZING views above the town. If you're visiting in peak season, I recommend going as early as possible to avoid the midday heat. This time we started our walk at around 8am.
2. Hula Hula Beach Bar (possibly one of the most famous beach bars in Croatia). Near this bar are lots of rocky beach areas with pool rails so you can sunbathe and swim. We came for a swim after the Fortress walk and it was the best reward! So refreshing.
We also met this little guy on the rocks!
3. Dubovica Beach (Do-boh-vitsah). This is a short drive from Hvar Town. We got a taxi here. It is quite a steep and rocky walk to get down here, but it's honestly so worth it. It's a nice escape from the crowds, and there's also a lovely beach bar that serves food and drinks.
What to do in Hvar
1. Rent a boat and explore the Pakleni Islands! If you don't want to rent, they offer return trips right on the harbour, but they usually visit only one or two islands. I've done this a few times now and it's one of my favourite things to do here. The water is incredible, great for jumping, swimming and snorkelling. You can also find yourself an empty beach on a small island, even in a place as busy as Hvar!
2. Excursion to Vis, named best beach in Europe. I haven't been here yet, so no pictures sorry! I've heard it's beautiful and would love to go next time.
3. Jewellery shopping & Art Galleries.
Hvar Town isn't really known for it's beaches, but makes up for it with it's luxurious charm, stunning views and sweet terracotta roofed houses. It's one of the most expensive places to visit in Croatia, and it's known for celebrities stopping by and parking their huge yachts. Lately, Hvar has become a party town, which can be frowned upon by locals. if you do visit, make sure to respect certain rules of the Old Town, i.e. no rowdiness and no walking round in your swimsuit or you could be fined. Remember that this is a place of deep history, culture, and preservation. Which is what makes it such an attractive destination.
Here are some more photos of Hvar
You can also get a ferry to another island such as Korčula, or back to Split where you can take a coach to another place on land. I usually head to Tučepi next, which I'll go into detail on in my next post :)
I hope this was helpful, and please feel free to ask any questions! I'd also love to hear what you guys thought of Split and Hvar.