This is a three-part series highlighting offbeat honeymoons. Our lovely intern, Karah recently married the love of her life and has been discussing the process of planning, packing, and now will be presenting the actual honeymoon and her recommendations. Be sure to check out the first (the planning) & second (packing essentials) parts of this series in case you missed them!
Well, we are back from our Croatian honeymoon and starting to get settled into our married life! You guys, what a trip! It was truly nothing short of amazing. The offbeat experience was everything we had hoped for and dreamed of. From the food, to the wine, to the picturesque views, my word. It was incredible.
I found myself in awe almost the entire time. I feel so content, and I feel more well-rounded, and I most importantly feel that the trip grew us as individuals and as a married couple. There were some bumps in the road, there were tons of laughs, many nights of being too full of pasta, and memories we will hold dear for the rest of our lives. It was an absolute dream, and blessing to be able to travel with my best friend, my dear husband to a place we'd never been. We may be a bit biased but we strongly believe that this beautiful place is strongly underrated. Croatia will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
Anyways, I have so many thoughts and pointers that I'm ecstatic to share with all of you! I hope this post sheds light on the beauty of Croatia, but also opens your minds to possibly jetting off to a place that's not so typical, and exploring that, and being open to the adventure - whatever that may bring! Let's start this post with all things lovely about Croatia!
For starters, the food was absolutely incredible. And I mean, incredible. Our first night’s meal consisted of glasses of wine and a charcuterie cheese, meat, and olive board. We ate in amidst of thousands of years old buildings, and the service was impeccable & sweet.
The rest of our days were an array of different spreads. They consisted of fresh fruit smoothie bowls, along with omelets, tons of homemade bread with sweet jam, honey, and olive oil (oh my goodness, the olive oil has my heart), fresh seafood, Greek & caprese salads, pizza slices bigger the size of my face, handmade gnocchi (which I’ve been craving this ever since), and plenty of macchiatos to go.
Everything tasted fresh and wholesome, and that’s simply because it was. They fish off of the sea in front of them, they harvest the olives in their own backyards, they knead their own bread every early morning, and they reduce the usage of – if any – growth hormones in their meats, and avoid the use of pesticides in their produce. Amazing.
I’m an American girl through & through, but I would love to see America step its game up in the food department. Needless to say, our hearts and bellies were always full.
The Vast History
The history. Oh my word, the vast history in this place. We found ourselves walking through buildings, and cities, and churches, and homes that were built literally over thousands of years ago. As history lovers, I was in awe and so was my husband (so cool to call him that now!).
So many people, voices, moments have shaped these places and I felt suddenly so small and grateful to reflect on how our world used to be and how we should be thankful for how we live today. I loved that we were able to easily pop in to view the historical sights & learn a bit about this beautiful country’s history.
Most of the time the sights were completely free to enter, at no cost at all. Some tours, or extra special buildings did cost money but it wasn’t much (maybe a few dollars). One of those being Diocletian’s Palace underground tombs located in Split, Croatia. Ahh, a must see!
Out of our experience, the official tours led by a guide are a bit overrated and take up much of your day. We would suggest entering all of the free areas you can, and if anything that costs money catches your eye to then purchase the tickets and walk the buildings on your own.
Most places have English signs explaining everything the tour guides will tell you anyways. Side note: English is WIDELY spoken, so you’ll be just fine if you don’t know the Croatian language! We chose to learn a few simple and polite words such as, "thank you", "hello", "goodbye", "yes"... words like that. I think it's a great way to connect with the people who reside there. Looking back, I wish I had learned more beforehand.
The oh-so-beautiful beaches of the Adriatic Sea. The calmness of the sea, my goodness. Pictures will never do the color of that water or the beauty of those views enough justice. However, if you look up pictures of Croatia or even just look at the pictures I have provided here, you’ll get a glimpse at just how beautiful this country, it’s land, and it’s views truly are.
There were a countless number of times where we would stop on any of our walks and take a few moments to look out across the horizon of the sea in admiration. What I loved about Croatia is that you could stop and swim just about anywhere you desired. You didn’t have to be at a designated beach to feel safe enough to jump in. It was lovely, private, and freeing.
We did however spend lots of our time beach hopping, in designated beach areas filled with beachfront clubs, bars, and water activities. A blast? Yes. Just make sure to bring some water shoes.
Most of the beaches are made of pebble, which means sandy beaches were far and in-between. I loved that though. I was excited that the beaches and scenes differed from any of our previous Caribbean vacations.
Tip: make sure to bring converted cash to the beach! Lots of beach bars only accepted currency and declined cards.
Our Homes Away From Home
Those of you who read the first part of this series might be wondering about our thoughts on staying in the AirBnB’s versus a resort or hotel. Our take: the only & best way to go! It should go without saying that you will save SO much money if you choose this route. We saved literally thousands of dollars, and still had our dream honeymoon without the glitz and glam of a resort.
Our first home was wonderful, and our hosts were beyond welcoming. This made for an easy transition for us into Europe. They coordinated a three-island tour for us, greeted us with warm pastries and glasses of wine, gave us beach towels to use during our stay, cleaned our room while we were out during the day, and gave us goodbye snacks on our final night in Dubrovnik. They even drove us to our ferry on the morning of our departure. So quite honestly, I viewed this particular AirBnB host and home to be of an even higher caliber than a resort, and at a much more reasonable price.
We ended up hopping up the coast to three different cities, so of course we had more than one experience, more than one home away from home. Each one we loved for different reasons. Maybe it was the location, or the décor, or the hospitality. No matter the place, we enjoyed all of our stays and will gladly be booking AirBnB’s for our next vacations abroad.
Tip: If you head to Dubrovnik, Split or Zadar, Croatia, stay just outside of the city center. You’ll be just far enough away from the busy streets of tourists, yet close enough for a quick walk into the town.
Some things to keep in mind:
Our experience was nothing less than amazing. We ate, we learned, we explored, but along with that came a learning curve of how we might do things just a bit different next time and things we think we did just right. I jotted down a list of things to consider:
1. Don’t rent a car – If you plan to hop from town to town like we did, there are plenty of cheaper options such as taking a ferry or a bus to get where you need to be. We didn’t use a car for ourselves once.
2. Always have cash on hand – we learned this the hard way. Just always keep a little of the local currency on hand. Most places do accept major credit cards, but some only accept cash.
3. Apply for a travel credit card – no fees for transactions, and you earn points back on any travel related expense. We have a visa through US Bank and never had a problem.
4. Exchange money when you arrive – Do not exchange money in the states before you leave, you most likely won’t need it as long as you have a credit card or USD on hand. It’s much cheaper to convert there if you ever need to.
5. Download a language swap app – even though most places do have English translations for most things, some places don’t. For example, our bus tickets were completely in Croatian, so it was helpful to have an app on hand.
6. Stay a bit outside of the touristy part of town – I can’t stress this enough. I truly think you’ll be happier staying in a home that doesn’t have people bustling right outside of your front door at all times of the day. Plus, you’ll get tons of walking in and won’t feel as bad indulging in all of the amazing food.
7. Stay in an AirBnB with a clothes washer – Lifesaver! We were there for 12 days, so having a washer was wonderful. Side note: most people air-dry everything there, which I was obsessed with.
8. Ladies, get a gel mani & pedi – I loved not having to worry about my nails chipping from being in the water all day, or with all of the activities and walking we accomplished. Splurge a bit, you won’t regret it!
9. Bring your own cocktails for your days out or nights out – Anything goes here. We found out that we were able to walk around with cocktails to-go from local bars and restaurants. So instead of buying our drinks every time, we ended up just packing little mixed drinks ready to go for our days at the beach, or nights on the town. It’s completely normal to see people walking around with two beers in hand, exploring the towns!
10. Juice, soda, and tonic are more expensive than the drink themselves – yes, this is true. Also true for water. Ask for tap water to save money (it’s free and safe to drink). The juice however is incredible and freshly squeezed everywhere you go – totally worth the extra $$$!
11. Buy beach towels – they will not only be incredibly useful on your trip, but will double as a souvenir. We used ours every single day!
12. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - the locals are lovely & kind. They are excited to tell you about their town, the secret places that most tourists don’t know about, and what restaurants are truly worth checking out.
13. Don’t be alarmed if parts of the towns look a bit drag – a little over 20 years ago, Croatia was involved in a war from which they are still recovering. You’ll see snippets of graffiti, and sometimes buildings that look run down.
14. Indulge & enjoy – Drink the wine, eat all of the bread they offer you, and eat a slice of pizza bigger than your face. As noted, the food is incredible and you’re on vacation. Enjoy the moment, and walk the bread off later while you head to the beach.
We loved every second of this once in a lifetime journey. From our delayed flights, to the perfect cuisine, to the apartments we called, "home", for 12 days. We feel so content and so full. Full of food, full of experience, full of love, and full of the travel bug. We miss you already, Croatia!
To read more about why my husband and I chose Croatia for our honeymoon, head back to the first part of this series! It's full of tips, tricks, and a little insight on how to start planning for your offbeat honeymoon!
If you've read the first part & have your plans set, be sure to read the second part to get all my tips on what to pack!