“Travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape you”
If you already read my overview of Croatia in the previous post, then let’s dive into specific things to do and places to eat in each of the cities we visited! We have spent a cumulative total of one month in Croatia in the following cities:
- Dubrovnik (read more on Dubrovnik Has Become One Of Europe’s Most Over-Priced Cities)
- Plitvice Lakes (read more on my Comprehensive Guide To Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park)
In this post, I’ll review each town, including a few things to do and where to eat!
Things to do in Split
Walk Along the Waterfront and Marvel at the Expensive Yachts
When you’ve been traveling and spending every minute together for six months straight, sometimes you start inadvertently matching…
Who wore it best? 😉
Visit Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace was built for the Roman Emperor in the 4th century A.D.
Forming about half of the old town of Split, buildings and restaurants are now built into and within the walls, making it a lovely old town to wander through and be transported back in time, yet juxtaposed with the modern.
Take a Walk or Bike Ride Around Marjan Park
Covered by a dense pine forest and surrounded by the sea, this park reminded us of the Croatia version of Seattle’s Discovery Park. You can easily spend an entire day exploring this area and still not soak in everything there is to see. This is a popular spot for rock climbers, bikers, runners, swimmers and dog walkers. There are several beaches great for swimming, and even some bars right on the shore. (Click on each photo to enlarge it.)
Places To Eat In Split
Name of Restaurant: Trattoria Tinel
What we Ordered: Dalmatian-style Swiss chard with potatoes (don’t worry, you won’t find dog in your dish!), mixed meat platter, and sea bass filet with vegetables.
Our Star Rating (out of 5 stars): 4
The sunsets were gorgeous.
Name of Restaurant: Step-By-Step Health Food Bar & Restaurant
What we Ordered: Wraps & chai tea latte
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 3
This place advertises healthy, natural and organic food, so we decided to give it a go for lunch. The wraps were underwhelming and lacking flavor, however, we enjoyed the chai tea latte (one of the first I have seen in all our time in Europe!) They use the Tiger Spice chai powder, and normally I don’t like powdered chai, but this one was good. I would recommend to come here only for a beverage because the ambience is nice, but I wouldn’t recommend it for food. If you order food, choose something other than the wraps.
Several of the blogs I read, stated that Trogir’s Old Town was voted the best city-island in the world by National Geographic in 2015. We don’t have much to report here, as we only spent a few hours walking around and having lunch. It was a quick stop on our way from Split to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The photo of Sasha on his phone below is a common scene as we frequently consult Google and TripAdvisor for reviews on where to eat. We ended up dining at the restaurant right behind him, called Don Dino, which was pretty good but very pricey, as all restaurants are on the coast.
Though we spent the most time in Pula, we only visited the city once, as we spent all our time at the sea, worshiping the sun and soaking up as much as we could before we return to autumn in Seattle. We just so happened to be here during the dates of Outlook, a music festival that had its opening night at the amphitheater. In the below photos, you may think that we flew back to Rome to take a photo of the Colosseum, but this is, in fact, right here in Pula! Daytime and night time photos juxtaposed.
Where to Eat in Pula
Name of Restaurant: Kantina Bar & Restaurant
What we Ordered: Fish soup, seabass filet with vegetables, and smoked ahi steak. They start you off with a complimentary amuse-bouche of sheep’s milk cheese and truffles with balsamic glaze from Modena, Italy!
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 3 (could have been a 4 if the food wasn’t so salty. The flavors were present but the salt dominated.)
Sunset Swimming in Pula
Yes, it’s completely acceptable to be topless at the beach in Croatia.
Day Trips from Pula
How to Visit Kamenjak
Kamenjak (pronounced “kahm-en-yahk”) is a beautiful nature park on the peninsula of Premantura and lies on the Southernmost cape of Istria. With its interesting coastline, its rounded coves make for excellent swimming holes and are great for cliff-jumping enthusiasts.
Located 20-minutes drive from Pula, Kamenjak is easy to get to by car. You must purchase a ticket prior to entering, which can be done just outside the park. Signs are well-marked to point you in the right direction. Cost is 40 kuna per vehicle ($6.40 USD) and is good for one day. There is also a three-day pass (but no two-day oddly enough). There is plenty to do once you enter the park including bike rentals! There’s a great place called Safari Bar that serves beverages in the middle of a random forest that actually feels as though you’re in Africa! There are swings and even a self-cranked merry-go-round with rope swings for kids.
Take your pick, they’re everywhere! The first place we stopped (pictured below) was too crowded, so we simply drove down the coast a bit further and found a more secluded spot.
Where to Eat in Kamenjak
Name of Restaurant: Konoba Ancora
What we Ordered: Seabass with veggies, and mussels
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 4
ROVINJ (pronounced row-veen)
We preferred Rovinj over Pula because the town is so adorable! Located right on the sea, it reminded us of Portovenere in the Cinque Terre region of Italy. There are cute shops selling artisan goods that line the cobblestone streets that are very difficult to walk in slippers (flip flops), high heels, or when wet.
Where to Swim in Rovinj
We planted ourselves at Baluota Monte Beach, a nice rocky “beach” at the end of the town. It can get a bit rough during high winds, but there is a sectioned-off area for swimming and even ladders to help you get into and out of the water.
Where to Eat in Rovinj
A highly rated restaurant is called La Puntulina, situated right on the water with these sea views:
However, because we visited on a Saturday evening in early September and didn’t have reservations, they were full and it was far too windy to sit outside, so we took a few photos and kept walking. I’m not sure we would have been willing to pay such high prices anyway (average main for one person was around $40 USD, which is typically how much we spend for nearly our entire dinner.) However, if you’re not traveling on a budget and money isn’t an issue for you, then give it a go, but make reservations first!
We found a highly rated restaurant on both Google and TripAdvisor just about one hundred meters down the cobblestone alley. Though they didn’t have an ocean view, the ambiance was lovely, quiet and quaint, and the service was very friendly. We were seated straight away.
Name of Restaurant: Santa Croce
What we Ordered: Istrian pasta with shrimps, mushrooms and home made sausages (left) and Sasha ordered the anglerfish covered with black truffle sauce with a side of Dalmatian-style Swiss chard (right) – this is a separate order as everything is a la carte.)
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 4 (again, too salty)
If you don’t know what an anglerfish looks like, consider yourself lucky. Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t Google an image before our meal, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have wanted Sasha to order it! These fish are straight up Jurassic looking!! They have no bones, which was probably our first sign that this was an alien fish…
You’ll even be charmed and accompanied by local kitties, posing themselves in front of pink flowers, knowing full well that they are beautiful feline models and that you love them.
The last week of our adventure was planned fairly last minute, flying by the seat of our pants and making plans solely based on the unpredictable September weather, as we wanted to keep chasing the sun. When we found out that it would be rainy in Pula on our last night, we shifted and booked an Airbnb in Zagreb, the country’s capital, and spent our last night there instead. We arrived late in the evening and had to leave the following afternoon, so the only things we did in Zagreb was eat, visit a museum, and get a Thai massage. Zagreb is the foodie destination of Croatia and finally the first place I ate a meal that was not too salty!!
Where to Eat in Zagreb
Name of Restaurant: Pod Zidom Wine Bar & Restaurant
What we Ordered: Baileys shot on ice served up in a martini glass for that classy look (only $3 USD!)
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 5!!
Beef cheeks with Roman gnocchi (left), and poached seabass with white wine foam (right)
Name of Eatery: Amelie
What we Ordered: lemon merengue pie (outstanding) & chocolate gelato
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 5
If you have a sweet tooth, this place is for you! This is the only place in Croatia where we found legitimately good-tasting and authentic gelato using natural flavors, and it was just a minute walk away from the restaurant we ate at for dinner!
Name of Restaurant: Mali Bar
We dined at this tapas restaurant for lunch and it was the best last meal we could have asked for in Croatia!
Here is the exterior. It’s a bit hidden, set back off the street, right next to a sex shop….but don’t worry, it’s not sketchy. 😉
The interior is adorable. When we visited for lunch, they were playing Frank Sinatra-style music.
What we Ordered: Chinese noodle soup with seaweed and mustard seed, prosciutto-wrapped sheep’s milk cheese and rocket, and Scottish smoked salmon with pancake and horseradish cream. For dessert (not pictured because we demolished it before realizing we hadn’t taken a photo…oops), we ordered the apple cobbler with blueberries and vanilla ice cream.
Our Star Rating (out of 5): 5
Probably a 3 out of 5 stars, but only 30 kuna per person (under $5 USD) and barely anybody goes there, so you get the place to yourself. Some interesting photography exhibitions, and the highlight is a three-story winding slide as the exit!