We visited Croatia in the fall of 2022. Ton and I were really looking forward to seeing a country we had heard so many good things about. The coastline is beautiful and we visited and Plitvice Lakes National Park was magical.
The infrastructure for camping is ok and we never had a problem finding a place to stay even at the end of the season. Places were closing down throughout October, but we were able to always find a place near all of the major attractions. Campgrounds were more expensive than any other country we have stayed in in Europe which surprised us.
The roads were good, but twisty given the mountainous nature of the coast. There toll highways were relatively expensive, but well maintained and lightly traveled.
We enjoyed our visit to Croatia, but I think like Portugal, we had such high expectations that we were always just a little underwhelmed. The Croatians rightly have a love/hate relationship with tourism. It brings a lot of money to the economy, but at a cost for the local people.
Ton– Seafood restaurant in Umag. I can’t remember the name but the food was delicious, the portions were large and it was relatively inexpensive. But what really made it fun was that the people were great. The guy who seated us taught us more about Croatia than anyone we met. On the way out the people who we paid were funny and wanted to talk and teach us about their country. It was a great experience.
Ron-Pizza place in our campground in Zagreb. Our campground was on a lake near Zagreb and it had a very modern looking restaurant attached to it. One night we decided to give it a try and the Pizza was wonderful. Possibly the best we have had in Europe. Because the quality was so unexpected it stuck with me as a highlight.
Ton-Plitvice National Park. This place is incredibly beautiful with hundreds of waterfalls and miles of beautiful hiking paths. It is rightfully famous. What really made it a highlight for me was how well run the park was. It receives thousands of visitors per day but they handle them very efficiently so that everyone can have a good experience.
Ron-Zagreb. I didn’t have big expectations for Zagreb but I really enjoyed it. The street scene was laid back but interesting with nice shops and cafes. We enjoyed just walking around both the old town and the new town. Initially we only planned on one day for downtown Zagreb but extended our stay to three days. Ton was fascinated by the Museum of Broken Relationships and still tells her friends about it.
Ton-The tourism infrastructure is very expensive to use. The campgrounds are good but expensive relative to other countries, particularly when you factor in what the workers at the sites are being paid. We spent more on campgrounds in Croatia than we spent in Spain, France, and Germany. They seem to be gouging tourists a little.
Ron-Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is a beautiful city. One of the prettiest we have visited in Europe. We had been warned that it was being loved to death by tourists and the warnings were accurate. Even though we were there in the shoulder season it was quite busy and relatively expensive. I know I shouldn’t complain about tourists overwhelming a place, since we are tourists, but we felt sorry for the locals who are being pushed out of their city. The government in Dubrovnik is trying really hard to balance the economic benefit of tourism vs the impact of the people who live in the city full time and I really hope they can find a good solution.
Ton-Cats. Dottie our sons cat has turned me into cat person. I was surprised by how many cats there were. Every campground had a small pack of cats who were universally cute as they ran from camper to camper looking for attention and handouts. We probably shouldn’t have fed them but who could resist. In Zagreb there was a whole hillside dedicated to a cat community complete with cat houses! Kotor which is in Montenegro had a several shops dedicated to cats and the town had a thriving cat community in the streets.
Ron-Ston. Ston is a small port town on the way to Dubrovnik. We had not planned on stopping, but a sign a few kilometers out of town got my attention as they claimed to have the best oysters in the world, having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay I had to see these oysters . The tidal flats of Ston have been a source of oysters in this part of Europe for hundreds of years. They were good, but Chesapeake Bay oysters are better! The meal however, was exceptional. In addition to oysters we had a whole fish that was superb. The town is nice and dominated by a wall that surrounds the town for miles. Apparently to protect the oysters from marauding oyster lovers!