Dubrovnik (Day 1 to 3)
Getting to Dubrovnik: There was not direct flight from Singapore to Dubrovnik during my travel, hence I arrived in Dubrovnik airport from Istanbul. From the airport, you can Uber to the city centre which is less than 30 minutes by car (21km), rent a car or take a a bus service. There is no train service, and the roads are generally one lane each way and do expect traffic congestion.
What To See? I spent 3 days in Dubrovnik, which was enough for me to cover the key sights, including one full day trip to the neighbouring Montenegro. The key sight of the city of Game of Thrones is the picturesque old town, which can easily be covered in a day even if you want to take it slow.
If you only have time to do one activity, the walk on the city wall is a must and it is absolutely beautiful. The walk along the city wall is best accessed from Pile Gate, which is where most people enter the old town as the bus stop is right outside. Budget at least two hours for the trail, as there are plenty of turns and corners along the way for picture moments.
Stradum Street is the main pedestrian and commercial street which runs through the old town.
Other must see prominent sights in the old town include the likes of St. Blaise Church and Dubrovnik Cathedral. For me, wandering aimlessly in the small lanes of the old town which pack loads of restaurants and souvenir shops is equally rewarding and charming.
Otherwise, you can take an easy stroll to the most popular Banje Beach located right outside the old town. If you have more time to spare, there is the option of a cable car ride to SRD hill for a panoramic view of Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, the cable car wasn’t functioning during my time of visit.
With the ticket for the city wall walk, you are also eligible for a free entry to Fort Lovrijenac, one for the sights where Game of Thrones was filmed as well. That aside, the fort offers a splendid view of the old town from another perspective.
Needless to say, Game of Thrones fans will be excited about every scene in this city.
Must-Eats: In terms of food, Cogito Coffee is the best artisanal coffee for me and I returned twice for it. For gelato, Peppino’s is my top recommendation for gelato where the pistachio is one of the best I have had.
Should-Stay: I had a few nights at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, which is just a short 10 minutes bus ride to Dubrovnik Old Town. The hotel facilities are awesome as there is a heated indoor pool, outdoor pool, jacuzzi, gym, restaurants and a sea view from the balcony of my room.
Dubrovnik to Split (Day 4 to 5)
Getting to Split: You can rent a car, take a public bus or ferry from Dubrovnik to Split and chose the fuss-free public bus option. Do note that the two cities are literally split by another country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hence there are border checks if travelling by land.
What To See? The old town is the main attraction of Split and it is easily covered in a few hours, given that it is not as huge as Dubrovnik old town. There are a few highlights such as the Diocletian’s Palace and the Cathedral of St. Domnius.
For a good view of Split, head to Marjan Hill which is a good walk from the old town. It takes less than thirty minutes if you start walking from Riva Promenade and head towards Veli Varos. Follow the steps and signboard to Marjan Hill and you will hit Vidiloica Cafe in less than thirty minutes, where you can get a good view of Split old town and the surroundings.
The most popular beach here is Bačvice Beach which is about fifteen minutes walk from the old town.
For day two, I went for a full day Island tour which include a few stops on the nearby islands in the Adriatic Sea like Hvar and Vis. The blue hue of the sea took my breath away.
One of the main highlights for me is the island of Hvar, a beautiful and popular island about 45 minutes away from Split by speedboat. There is plenty to do on Hvar itself, such as climbing up to the fortress which gives an awesome view of Hvar, or simply wander along the picturesque alleys.
If you love your coffee, Kava 37 is a must try on Hvar.
Must-Eats: Italian food is a common sight in Split and two restaurants I would recommend are Bokeria Kitchen and Villa Spiza. Both serve good Italian good, where the former is more chic and contemporary in ambience while the latter is a hole-in-the-wall concept at very affordable prices by Split standards.
The best coffee spot is D16 Coffee in the old town, while the best gelato I had is from the relatively new Gelateria Emiliana (go for the hazelnut and pistachio) right opposite Bokeria Kitchen.
Split to Sibenik via Krka National Park (Day 6)
What To See? After three nights in Split, I rented a car from Split and managed to stop at various sights along the way. The first stop was Klis Fortress, another attraction near Split which was featured in Game of Thrones Season 4. From the fortress, I was able to get a view of Split old town even though it is quite a distance away.
I made time to stop at Trogir for a few hours, a quaint small town with a compact old town by the promenade. No regrets heading up to Karmelengo fortress which is probably the spot for the best view of Trogir.
From Trogir, it is a short drive to Krka National Park, one of the two most popular national parks in Croatia after Plitvice Lakes. Krka is a huge national park and you can easily spend up to five to six hours here, depending on how comprehensive you want to cover.
I went straight for the most popular waterfalls, Skradinski Buk, where most park goers will take the leap of faith and head down to take a dip! Skradinski Buk is best accessed by parking at the huge Lozovac car park.
Finally, it is a short fifteen minutes drive from Krka to Sibenik. Sibenik’s main highlight is the old town which can easily be covered in a few hours.
The UNESCO World Heritage St. James Cathedral is one of the main highlights of the old town. Otherwise, a good view of the old town would be St. Michael’s Fortress or the much higher Barone Fortress. I chose to take it slow, and I really enjoyed walking in the lanes.
If you have more time to spare, head to the other UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. Nicholas Fortress which is located on a separate island.
Should-Stay: It was a memorable stay for me at D-Resort Šibenik though it was only for a night. The four years old luxury property is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which offers a great view of Sibenik old town from my room’s balcony. Facilities include an outdoor pool, indoor jacuzzi and fitness centre.
Sibenik to Zadar (Day 7)
What To See? A stay at Zadar isn’t absolutely necessary, but I included it just to take things slow. Zadar is a very small city where the sights in the old town and vicinity are easily covered in two hours. The main highlight is the Organ of the Sea right beside the sea, where music is made naturally from the sea waves. Seeing and hearing is more believing in this case from my mere description.
Zadar to Zagreb (Day 8 to 9)
What To See? The only highlight for my drive from Zadar to Zagreb, which takes approximately four hours without stopping. A good mid-point break for the drive and an absolute must if you are into nature is a stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park, the most popular nature park in Croatia. Plitvice is mainly divided into upper lakes and lower lakes, and a good estimate is at least three to four hours to take in the sights of both parts of the lakes.
From Plitvice, it is about two and a half hours onwards to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. I had two nights in Zagreb and the city can be easily covered in one full day.
What To See? Take the funicular to the Upper Town area of the city where Lotrščak Tower is, which gives a good view of Zagreb, including of one the city’s landmarks, Zagreb Cathedral.
Some highlights of Zagreb for me are St. Marks Church, and a walk through Tunel Grič, which was constructed during World War Two period as part of a city shelter.
Must-Eats: For fine dining experience without breaking the bank, head to Dubravkin Put for lunch, a spacious restaurant on the Michelin Guide surrounded by lush greenery as it is located in a quiet park. Another restaurant I tried was the One Michelin starred Noel, which has various types of influences in its dishes like Italian and Japanese, while using Croatian ingredients most of the time.
If you love coffee and have only time for one, my favorite in Zagreb is Cafe U Dvoristu. Lovely space in the city centre, and the coffee is one of the best I had in Croatia.
Should-Stay: A good value option in the capital is Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Centre, which is walking distance to Upper Town.
Ranted by The Ranter