Croatia…Full of Life!
My trip to Croatia was one of a kind experience, to say the least. It was a complete departure from the expected touristy spots. I’m so grateful for this opportunity because my best friend is Croatian and has a home with tons of friends & family out there which made my stay all the more special. My BFF is also well connected and knows all the local hot spots so I wasn’t worried at all! But honestly, this trip was filled with all sorts of excursions. I didn’t get a moment to sleep! I may have been exhausted from all the adventures but it kept my mind off of work and all the stress. This trip allowed me to see life through the eyes of local people and how happy they are with their simple lives. Not to mention how kind, generous and loved I felt.
Things to See & Do in Croatia:
Istria is 3 hours from the border of Italy. It’s the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea and is shared with Slovenia and Italy. You’ll notice a very heavy Italian influence all throughout the peninsula. All the pasta is made from scratch and to die for!
Caves in Pula – Rt Kamenjak -Premantura
I took a 1-hour speed boat ride from Fazana port to Pula which is home to nature reserve ‘Rt Kamenjak’ it has some of the most clear blue waters I’ve ever seen. You can swim and dive in the sea caves, walk up the cliffs, and also find a super cool hidden safari bar in a bamboo forest. So many nooks and crannies.
Marina Novigrad Restaurant
For my birthday dinner, a few close girlfriends and I went to Marina Novigrad Restaurant. A definite MUST if you’re a foodie. In my opinion, this place deserves a Michelin star without a doubt. Chef Marina Gaši is definitely not your “typical” chef. After her father died, her mum decided to close up shop so she never thought of working in a restaurant again until her partner and sommelier Davor Buršić suggested that they reopen in 2011. And that’s when she started her cooking career with a simple philosophy – making people feel comfortable and happy. Marina cooks and serves only fish and seafood delicacies, from raw to not-so-classic entrees using mouth-watering spices. She mentors young chefs who have a lot of passion and innovation with food. The restaurant has no à la carte or a fixed menu which was a huge hit for me. The 8-course tasting menu is paired with a different local wine for each course … it was so delicious! Each dish is intricately handcrafted and balanced with flavors and spices you’d never expect and entrees are placed on one of a kind, decorative plates proving that Marina is a true artist. It was a culinary experience I will never forget.
Castle Belaj is a historical XVI century castle estate with an 11 hectares vineyard, two wineries, a restaurant, and events space. It’s the only Château in Croatia with a lengthy history and tradition of winemaking. The restaurant at Castle Belaj is farm to table so you know you’re getting the highest quality meal if you decide to dine here. They produce their own olive oil as well! Everything is locally sourced. It makes me so happy to hear…supporting their own community.
Kali is a village in Croatia on Ugljan island in Zadar County. Beach Bar Mavra, located on the main beach of Kali, is a seaside bar with Mediterranean specialties. It’s the ideal place to be during the day. You can completely relax, enjoy a refreshing cocktail or have brunch with friends. And dinner is always filled with high energy and good music. I had myself a good ol’ time with the locals.
Personally, Zadar is Croatia’s coolest city…in my opinion, it’s better than Split & Dubrovnik. Zadar is much less hectic and crowded and although it’s a lesser-known city it’s just as beautiful and much cheaper. The streets are made up of quiet stone and marble historical monuments with beautiful architecture. And did I mention how lovable the people were?
Sv. Mihovil, Otok Uglian
St. Michael is a fortress on a very steep hill on the island of Ugljan. When visiting you definitely have to wear supportive footwear so you don’t slip and fall! It has been an important military and strategic point from prehistory to the present day. Built-in the 13th Century and used as an observation deck for invasions it has one of the most breathtaking and beautiful views I’ve ever seen on all my travels. While it is incomplete ruins the views are 100% worth it. Enter at your own risk!
I arrived at Taverna Go-Ro by boat. It’s located inside Kornati National Park at a nature park called Telašćica. Taverna Go-Ro is a 35-year-old family-owned business with an English speaking staff, which was a complete surprise to me! In the middle of untouched Mediterranean nature, Taverna Go-Ro is hidden in a quiet bay called Magrovica. The outdoor restaurant is surrounded by olive trees and the aroma of fresh herbs and plants.
They produce their own olive oil and spices in house. With a lot of effort, determination and love the family created their own little world, which travelers from all around the world seek out. You’d never imagine something like this could exist. So desolate. So breathtaking. Although it’s not easy running a restaurant with no electricity and water. It’s still the same today! Solar energy & rainwater runs the show around there. The menu consists of local fish & veggies that come from a nearby farm that they plant and field themselves. And you’ll also find homemade wine which is pricey but worth it. The experience, taste, and aromas of this hidden gem was memorable, to say the least.
Laganini Lounge Bar & Fish House is one of Croatia’s most exclusive beach bar & lounge destinations on the beautiful island of St.Clement. You can easily get there via boat transfer from Hvar. It’s been there for over 50 years & it’s become one of the most prestigious stop-overs for gourmet cuisine and bougie lounging. Other than being known for its exotic seafood this spot is one of the most renowned lounge bars on the Mediterranean with a great cocktail menu. With a gorgeous ambiance, stunning views, the most delicious dishes, and unbeatable staff Laganini is my absolute favorite on the Hvar side. Try the tuna & lobster here!
I know, that was a long-ass list!! But now you’re ready to hit some memorable hot spots!