Croatia is one of Europe’s best kept secrets. I heard whispers of it years ago, snippets of its inviting blue waters, hauntingly beautiful mountains and enchanting countryside – and perhaps equally enticing, it was supposedly beckoning at a fraction of the cost of the Italian/Grecian/French coasts. Some are scared off – for example, when I announced to my sister that we were going on vacation there, she promptly replied “But there’s a civil war going on there!” Let me state now for the record – the war is OVER. The Dalmatian Coast is calling you. Don’t hesitate, just go.
Airport: Split Airport Perhaps as part of its emergence, Croatia does not always have time to meet the demand it’s invoking throughout Europe. This is partially reflected in Split airport – it’s tiny and CRAMMED full of people. Quite honestly, it was close to hell on earth as we all sweated together upon arrival, shoved into a line of 500 people waiting to have their passports stamped….and equally horrifying upon departure where we simply sat in the middle of the floor for lack of a better place to sit. This is time when it is essential to remember the airport is NOT a destination.
Where We Stayed:
Marmontova Luxury Rooms Marmontova 5, 21000 Split
We arrived late and booked a night at Marmontova before sailing off to Brac island and the village of Milna. This was also, for posterity’s sake, our first boutique hotel. And they hooked us from the beginning. Straight up – it’s a small hotel of around 10 rooms (if that). What they lack in grandiosity, they exceed in personal service, charm and perks. Yes, the front desk is essentially housed in a glorified closet, but there are fresh pastries and fruit available at all times in the hall. Staff will fix you a cup of coffee in the morning, help you book ferry tickets and see to your every want. Rooms are comfortable and have character that can be so hard to find elsewhere. Breakfast was not included, but there were so many bakeries and cafes on the street – it would’ve been superfluous anyhow. A note to those with ambulatory concerns – there is no elevator to the hotel and it is a walk up 5 flights of stairs to get there. While our driver carried our bags, this could be a deal breaker for others.
Bajamontijeva 5, 21000 Split
On our return from Milna, we slowed our pace and took Split in – for all it was worth. Happenstance (and booking.com) led us to Villa Split – and we were enchanted. I remember we were some of their first guests (they had been open around a month, if memory served me correctly) and the experience literally blew us out of the water. Rooms were small, but well with a fun/functional decor in the heart of the old city. When I saw “heart” of the old city, I mean a street so narrow you can touch both sides when you stretch your arms out, so old and quaint that the sky is just a sliver between the ancient buildings. It was one of the coolest experiences just walking there. It’s family run and they went the extra mile for EVERYTHING – they met us at the ferry because the location can be hard to find. They personally drove us to the airport. They came up with lists of the best seafood restaurants to try – painstakingly marking each and every noteworthy restaurant on our map so we would not miss them. They were everything you hope a boutique to be…. and more. What we did: Diocletian’s Palace
Croatian Maritime Museum