It’s your first time travelling alone, and you’re completely unprepared. With no research, you’re prone to panic about missing out, hesitant as to what is there to discover on the Adriatic Coast? Let me show you what I’ve done, and would recommend for you, as I found myself flying into Croatia in the exact same situation!
◊ Lose yourself in the ruins ◊
…at Diocletian’s Palace. Take a stroll through some of the most valuable, surviving buildings of the Roman Era – the Old Town, open to the public for free, and the underground open from just 22 Kuna (student rate)! Not only is the palace filled with history but will surely excite the GOT fans (hint: dragons).
◊ Enjoy a post-swim sunset moment ◊
Bačvice Beach was the first of my beach finds, and probably the least exciting. You will enjoy it if you’re into crowds, Despacito playing in the background and a good sandy beach. Nonetheless, it’s a good place to start discovering the coast, especially for the ones with sensitive feet 😉Finish the day off with a walk by the ferry port, to catch a picturesque sunset.
◊ Have a feed at a vegan cafe ◊
Cheap, quick, healthier, vegan. I recommend the seitan burrito and the falafel wrap at Vege Fast Food for a quick pick me up if you’re around the bus exchange area of Split city centre. Prices range at around 30 Kuna.
◊ Spend a day in nature ◊
A walk around the perimeter of Marjan Park is simply a must. Especially with all the perks for pedestrians and cyclists (…and [secret] beaches galore!). The Marjan Park specifically appealed to me as it brought me back to my childhood years, as I would hang out at the forest ‘beaches’ by the lake in my homeland – Poland. What beaches can you find here?
P r v a V o d a
A tiny, hidden, mixed surface beach on the north of Marjan Hill calls at a name of Prva Voda, seemingly popular with the locals – mainly due to its inconvenient location – which in my opinion just adds to its charm as it doesn’t get crowded.
B e n e
A concrete-type natural pool, popular with tourists and resort guests (at a first glance) – holds a whole new face once you step past that face and discover the backstage (heading East) of mermaid land and private spots – sometimes ‘reserved’ by nudists. Accessible by bus no. 12 leaving from Riva bus stop (11 Kuna).
the ‘s e c r e t b e a c h’
In between Prva Voda and Bene, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a secret, quiet little treasure (with no name?). I couldn’t believe in what I was seeing (the vibrancy of colours was on another level! 😍). To get to the beach, hop on the bus no. 12 from Riva and keep walking straight once hitting the roundabout at Bene beach.
K a s j u n i
On the south of Marjan, you’ll stand upon Kasjuni. A beach with bars, parking, comfy sunbeds and a hella great view of the Marjan Hill. The views are real but be aware – the beach isn’t very spacious so it can get crowded, but despite the demand for a place to chill, people still decide to flock like mad! Easily reachable by bus no. 12 (11 Kuna).
◊ See Split from above ◊
If you’re anything like me and love a cheeky viewpoint, you won’t want to miss out on both of these locations. Let’s start with the most convenient: the Marjan Park/Hill – the perfect place for a ‘side’ view of Split, and a little bit of a sunset along with a romantic atmosphere (I can imagine many proposing at the highest viewpoint). There are three viewpoints along the path, and you can pick up a map to guide you at the visitor centre (Riva waterfront).
But if Marjan isn’t enough and you’re looking for a kick-ass, adrenaline-filled hike up the ruins of a fortress, with risky winds and shocking views – Klis Fortress (Meereen in GOT) is the place to be. Accessible by bus no. 16 and 22 (20 minute bus at 13 Kuna), the entrance to the Fortress costs 40 Kuna and it’s a self-guided attraction. There is however a sad realisation: the GOT exhibition at Klis has been hit by lighting and completely burned down (let that sink in) (what a shame…).
◊ Get in touch with nature at Krka ◊
Okay, I may have lied. Out of all the things I haven’t had planned for this getaway, Krka NP was something I have dreamt of checking out since Instagram made me realise such place exists. The power of social media, right? Damn right. Krka is a national park of exceptional beauty with phenomenal travertine waterfalls, clear blue waters, spectacular views and opportunities to plunge in (don’t forget the perfect Instagram shots!).
If you’d like to visit (and trust me, you will), the excursions are priced similarly, at around 200 Kuna (I found mine for 190 Kuna) – this included return transport to Krka along with an hour trip to Sibenik. The entry to the park costs 110 Kuna for students and 180 Kuna for adults, and is not included in the cost (which, let’s face it, is a little disappointing) but I considered the experience worth every buck! The walk around it will take you approximately an hour considering the crowds (especially at the first bridge point) – make sure to leave plenty of time for swimming!
◊ Walk in the footsteps of Arya Stark ◊
(Game of Thrones fans, assemble!). Šibenik, a.k.a. a little taster of Dubrovnik is a quaint town, which also played a part on the screen of GOT (Braavos). Making you think ‘are you really in Croatia or on set of GOT?’. Now, Šibenik isn’t exciting only because of the film tourism but mainly the four fortresses; Barone, St Michael’s, St John’s and St Nicholas’ Fortress – I have unfortunately visited none 💔 – but the narrow streets, tunnels and seaside hang-outs of Sibenik have stolen my heart from the get go, and you could definitely use a whole day to explore it further.
◊ Visit Italy, in Croatia ◊
Trogir, a magical, labyrinth-style town on a peninsula, only an hour bus drive away from Split, will take you back to another era of 13th and 15th century architecture and quiet cobbled streets.
Generously decorated with flowers, packed with Mediterranean restaurants and Venetian accents, it’s a town you can appreciate the beauty of for two hours, a whole day, or a few days if you’re into a low-down, quiet, fairytale-like feel. Trogir is easily accessible by bus no. 37 (direction of the airport) from Split (21 Kuna).
For the week, I decided to stay in the 101 Dalmatinac Design Hostel, in the area of Brda (walkable distance to Split city centre, or a 5 minute bus journey) for a cost of approx. £20 per night/six bed dorm room. I haven’t regretted my decision AT ALL as the hostel was clean, had an interesting design and was a great place to meet fellow travellers. One thing I was slightly grumpy about was the temperamental air con, which forced me to move to a downstairs bunk (which is not a big problem if the bed below is empty).
How to get there
I flew Belfast > Split directly with EasyJet, for a price of £130 return. The public bus from Split airport to the hostel (bus no. 37) cost only 17 Kuna (bargz!). Don’t overspend on a cab – the buses can get you practically anywhere in the city, just do your research or ask a local.
Oh, Croatia. You’ve spoiled me with your sunshine, and hurt me with your rocky shores, but you’ll always be my first. What can I say about solo travel? I was in my habitat. I had time to spend on my own whenever I chose, appreciating the opportunities I have. I had new friends making me laugh, watching the sunset, swimming in the deep end and putting up with my unusual photo requests (thank you, homies!). Will I do it again? A big and loud HELL YES! Hvala ti, Croatia!
Remember to keep thriving for more,
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As always, all views are my own.