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48 Hours in Croatia

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As well as recently rising to fame for getting a certain hopelessly-optimistic song out of our heads (sorry, England), Croatia has also been a rising star in travel recently, as more people seek the individual adventure away from the beaten path and pre-planned plastic-beach holidays.

Then again, it’s not just an appeal to hipster individuality that’s drawing more self-driven adventurers to Croatia, it’s also beautiful national parks, historic cultural sites, great clubbing scenes and Adriatic beaches to outshine Thompson Holidays’ Magaluf Del Sol. 

So here I’m going to make a pre-packaged-plan for an off-the-beaten-track holiday for you so we can enjoy irony as well as sunshine – how about that?

Split

Split is Croatia’s second city – think Birmingham but on the Mediterranean, less grey, and far warmer. We’re here for the great beaches, and also the nightlife: Split has a great clubbing scene. Of course, there’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site here, the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, but… I mean have you seen the beach?

Speaking of the beach, though based in Split for the first 24 hours you don’t actually have to stay there. You could, of course, do Split day and night, there’s plenty of variety, but if you can bear to tear yourself away, you could head over to Love Island.

by Yacht Rent, via Flikr

Well, that’s Vis Island, actually, but plenty of people are certainly in love with it. It’s a secluded island about 15 miles offshore into the beautiful Adriatic Sea, with its own fab beaches and beautiful sea caves, accessible by ferry from Split. Swimming in Vis by day and clubbing in Split by night? Yes, please. 

Dubrovnik

Now don’t go too crazy the night before, because the next day it’s time to take our 4.5-hour bus to our next and final destination (more on why we take long bus-rides in Croatia in a moment). 

by Jorge Franganillo, via Flikr

Because clubbing and world heritage sites go so well together, we’re off to Dubrovnik, the Balkan fortress-city built by the Byzantine Empire at the height of the middle ages. The place is steeped in history, but that’s not why we’re here… it’s also King’s Landing, you know, from Game of Thrones.

Television history aside, it’s an incredibly beautiful city, and whether or not you think a day is long enough to see it you can certainly have an explore of this stunning seaside walled city. It also has an international airport, so this can be the endpoint to your trip.

One more thing...

Zagreb: the cultural capital of Croatia further to the north, home to cute cafes, the national theatre and numerous theatre and music festivals throughout the year – for example InMusic festival which despite pulling cool bands and being on a southern-European lake costs about a third of a western European festival like Glasto or Sziget.

by M. King, via Flikr

Now if you’re feeling super-extravagant you can just tack this on to the beginning of the route above, plus about 250 miles of stunning Croatian countryside. Of course, it’s possible to take the train down Croatia, but I’m going to advise you to take the coach. As trains have to stay on a flat plane, they have trouble getting down mountainous Croatia, so you spend most of the time in tunnels. Now, on a coach, however, your trip down the Dalmatian coast is along towering viaducts and mountain roads, all with glorious views over the Adriatic.

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