There’s no better way to really get a feel for a place than by walking through it. Strolling through busy streets and quiet alleys, stopping to check out street vendors’ wares, and sampling snacks that locals love can help you connect with where you are and the people around you. Alas! If time is a constraint and you want to cover as many places as possible, there’s only way that can ensure you get the best experience: a road trip. Especially a road trip through the incredible country of Croatia. Terraced lakes with emerald green waters, old island towns steeped in history, and coastal cities you won’t want to leave – this is a land made up of layers and layers of interesting locales and adventurous things to do. If there’s one place that needs to be on everyone’s bucket list, this is it.
1) A Tiny Town, a Handful of Folks and Giants!
That’s Hum. No, not the sound you make but a town in Croatia. It’s the world’s smallest town and has just around two dozen people living here. But that’s the charm of Hum. Its cobbled streets that go past old stone buildings and its traditional konoba restaurant where herb-infused Humska Biska is served are just a few spots you’ll want to take in when you drive here.
Hum is so charming that it’s hard to leave it behind even if you know you need to stick to a timetable. If a day trip is not enough for you to take in everything in Hum or if you can’t seem to pull yourself away from its medieval beauty, stay a night (or two). Looking out over old buildings with bits of lush greenery, it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the past when giants were said to have built the town!
2) Eden on Earth
You know those adventure films and video games set in an ethereal world where nature is the star? Think Avatar or Uncharted 2. Well, what if you could visit such a place? A couple of hours by car from Zagreb is Plitvice Lakes National Park where terraced lakes and a limestone canyon create an Eden that seems otherworldly. Hiking through this peaceful world not just connects you with nature but makes you feel at one with it. During autumn, the leaves turn color and in winter the snow casts a cold white blanket with silence as its companion.
The hiking trails are something you need to try. If the thought of walking for hours seems intimidating (or dare we say it – boring?), Plitvice will change your mind. It’s just so picturesque and calm that your worries and stress will be swept away. You’ll see time fly and before you know it, you’ve completed the trail!
3) Where GOT Comes to Life!
Game of Thrones has to be one of the most gripping shows ever. It’s easy to get caught up in that world where intrigue, mystery and magic are woven together. While you can’t quite live in Westeros, you can imagine yourself in a part of it – King’s Landing and Qarth, or in our world, Dubrovnik.
Croatia’s tourist hotspot and its Old Town, in particular, are stunning in their beauty. The huge stone walls take you back in time to the early middle ages. Looking out at the Mediterranean Sea, you imagine yourself as one of the GOT royals, wondering who’s scheming to take over the Iron Throne next.
4) Broken Hearts Meet Personal Objects
When you think museums, what comes to mind is probably artefacts and specimens, right? But when you land in Zagreb, eager to start your road trip, you absolutely need to hit it off with a trip to a museum with a difference, the Museum of Broken Relationships. Yes, you heard that right. There’s a place you can go to see the material remains of failed relationships.
As you walk through, you get a sense of the frailty of human relationships, the memories people build when in a relationship, and the remnants of the past. Looking at the collections of personal items gives you a glimpse into the lives of people and you realize just how alike we all are.
You can even send in objects too and be a part of the museum’s collection!
5) Pretty as a Picture!
Every destination has unknown places that people tend to overlook. Maybe they aren’t buzzing with nightlife or maybe they don’t stand out prominently on the map. But on a road trip, you have the freedom to take in these unknown places and maybe even have the best time of your life here. Karanac is one such spot. Small and beautifully preserved, it’s a big leap back in time when traditional villages were the norm. Driving into it from a big city, you’ll notice fields of green and brown and quaint houses with lovely little gardens adding color.
The relative remoteness of Karanac is its allure as it seems untouched by the chaos of modern life. Narrow streets will make you step out of your car and take a leisurely walk. The rural landscape and traditional buildings are not only charming but will spark curiosity and make you want to delve into the history of the place.
Road trips are fun but a road trip to these Croatian gems are another thing altogether. Almost everywhere you look, there’s a picturesque street or a building. The country breathes history and driving through gives you a feeling of being in the middle of the past and the present.