13 Must-See Day Trips from Melbourne – Victoria, Australia

13 Must-See Day Trips from Melbourne – Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is absolutely awesome in and of itself, but the extensive amount of day trips from Melbourne make it that much more incredible. While the culture, coffee, bars, history, laneways, and food make the city great, the amazing amount of natural beauty surrounding the city render it a fantastic base to travel or to live.

I spent the second year of my working holiday visa living in Melbourne and leading walking tours around the city each day. As it was literally my job to know the city and its surrounds, I have helped thousands of travelers plan their Melbourne trips. I would like to think this makes me pretty darn qualified to recommend the best Melbourne day trips (and general Melbourne tips!) to you as well.

If you are looking for other tips on Melbourne, I’ve got you covered as well – just click the links below! But for day trips from Melbourne, read on. I’ll give my best tips from my experience on these days trips, recommend to stay more days when applicable, let you know where would be best to rent a car and drive, and always link to the most trusted day tour provider I have tried and tested myself.

 

Heading to Australia? – Don’t forget to obtain your visitor’s visa beforehand.

Great Ocean road Melbourne day trips

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Great Ocean Road

What it is: Gorgeous Rugged Coastline road trip

How far from Melbourne: The Great Ocean Road starts at least 1.5-2 hours from the city, and is will include at LEAST 3 hours of driving.

How to Get There: Follow signs to Geelong and join the Great Ocean Road just past Anglesea

Recommended Day Tour: Great Ocean Road Day Tour with Go West Tours

The most popular and important day trips from Melbourne are to the Great Ocean Road. If you haven’t heard of this Melbourne day trip by now, you’re missing out! The Great Ocean Road is perhaps the number one option for a day trip, as it allows you to experience the rugged and beautiful Victorian coastline.

The Great Ocean Road gives you an entirely different perspective on the region than you can get in the city. You’ll drive through quaint little beach towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, get to search for wild koalas climbing gumtrees out in the country, experience the sheer power of mother nature through powerful waves crashing on distant rocks, and view famous natural landmarks you may have seen in guidebooks and on Pinterest.

There are important Great Ocean Road trip stops throughout the entire journey, which your driver will be very familiar with. Perhaps the most famous stop on Great Ocean Road day trips from Melbourne is the Twelve Apostles. This landmark used to have twelve standalone cliffs out amid the waves on the shore, but today there are only seven remaining. Either way, it’s a gorgeous must-see sight in Victoria.

My other personal favorite stops are London Bridge (a beautiful sandstone rock out in the ocean that used to be connected to the land) and the Loch Ard Gorge. You’ll see all these stops on a tour from Melbourne, and can see even more if you rent a car.

Must See: Memorrial Arch, Teddy’s Lookout, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge

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Dandenong Ranges – Puffing Billy, Belgrave

What it is: Beautiful mountain ranges (with a steam train) just outside the city

How far from Melbourne: about 45 minutes

How to Get There: Rent a car and drive east, or take the train to the base of the mountains

Recommended Day Tour: Dandenong + Puffing Billy Half Day with Autopia Tours (Dandenong Ranges Only) or Puffing Billy + Healesville Sanctuary with Bunyip Tours (Dandenong Ranges and Aussie Wildlife Experience)

The Dandenong Ranges are a bit of an undiscovered gem in my opinion. It’s not one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne, but really should be due to the remote beauty of the mountain ranges.

Within the Dandenong Ranges you can find all sorts of undiscovered gems. The beautiful town of Belgrave is home toe some amazing eateries and the famous Puffing Billy train, which is a decked-out steam train that serves meals and provides amazing views to patrons riding it through the mountainous region.

You can explore some gorgeous small mountain towns and explore lots of different forest hikes and mountain trails. There’s a gorgeous botanic garden area called the Alfred Nicholas Gardens as well, for any plant lovers out there.

Perhaps the most famous viewpoint of the Dandenong Ranges is from Sky High, a restaurant at the top of Mt Dandenong. Here you can try different types of food and telescopes looking out over the land, towards the city and other mountain regions of Victoria. Spot wild kookaburra as you hike to Burke’s lookout, which has a pristine view of Melbourne’s city skyline on a clear day.

Must See: Puffing Billy, Sky High, Burke’s Lookout

penguins parade phillip islands day tours from melbourne

Phillip Island – Penguins

What it is: An island inhabited by hundreds (thousands?) of indigenous (tiny!) penguins

How far from Melbourne: About 2 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving southeast

Recommended Day Tour: Moonlit Sanctuary + Penguin Parade with Bunyip Tours (allows you to see other Aussie wildlife with lunch in one day)

Phillip Island is one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne, and rightfully so! Although kangaroos and koalas are definitely very exciting, one of the most local wildlife species to view in Victoria is the ‘little penguin.’ They used to be called the ‘fairy penguin,’ but they have been aptly renamed because they are, well…. little!

When visiting Phillip Island, you can experience what they call the ‘penguin parade’ as dozens if not hundreds of these lil’ guys pop out of the water at dusk to make their homes on land for the night. You’ll sit in a stadium-like area to make sure their habitat is respected while still having a great vantage point – or you can pay a bit more to stand inside a building with a glass window to be even closer to them!

This happens at sunset, so it depends on the time of year that the penguin parade will happen. Some Phillip island day tours are half-day, but some are longer and include a visit to a wildlife sanctuary to view other types of classic Aussie wildlife. Many tours stop at the Moonlit Sanctuary about half way between the city and Phillip Island.

Must See: Penguin Parade

grampians national parks in australia

Grampians National Park

What it is: Bushy + Rocky Mountains with waterfalls and rich aboriginal culture

How far from Melbourne: About 3 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving northwest up the M8

Recommended Day Tour: Grampians Day Tour with Autopia Tours takes you to all important POI’s and the cultural center!

The Grampians National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty in a more regional part of Victoria. Due to its distance, it’s recommendable as a weekend trip but still doable to see its main sights in a day trip from Melbourne. Day tours from Melbourne to the Grampians will leave the city very early, but they will be worthwhile to experience main viewpoints, hikes, and waterfalls.

The Grampians are known for their extensive wildlife and mountain regions. You can walks to high vantage points over the valley with many hikes of varying difficulties throughout the park. There are also some famous waterfalls that are popular to visit, namely MacKenzie Falls.

It’s highly advisable to visit the cultural center when visiting the Grampians, as well. The local aboriginal tribes have an extremely  rich culture full of fascinating legends on how the area came about. You’ll learn all the different theories on colorful animals and regions while educating yourself on the historic culture of indigenous Australians.

Must See: MacKenzie Falls, Hall’s Gap, Boroka Lookout, Cultural center

yarra vallley wine tasting day trips from melbourne

Yarra Valley

What it is: Wine Region with scenic rolling hills

How far from Melbourne: About an hour

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving directly east

Recommended Day Tour: Yarra Valley Gourmet Tour with Go West Tours – wine, fruit, cheese, AND chocolate!

The Yarra Valley is an absolute must for those who love wine, alcohol in general, and/or rolling wine regions. Generally less than an hour outside the city, the Yarra Valley is a stunning departure from the city bustle and easily done in a simple day trip.

The Yarra Valley is pretty special because there are over 150 wineries dotted through the countryside. While exploring these wineries, you can also visit a fresh dairy (helloooo, fresh cheese), a famous Gin Distillery called Four Pillars, a cider brewery, and the famous Yarra Valley chocolaterie. In other words, there’s plenty of wine, and also variety as well!

Many day trips from Melbourne to Yarra Valley will visit at least 3-4 wineries as well as a selection of other venues to change it up a little. Check on the itinerary of your tour of choice to make sure it visits all the stops you’d like to see! My personal fave is the Go West tour linked above, which visits plenty of wineries AND places to taste fresh fruit/juice, cheese, AND chocolate!

Must See: a few wineries, at least! Also a few of a dairy, chocolaterie, gin distillery, and cider brewery.

mornington peninsula Arthur's Seat melboure day trips

Mornington Peninsula

What it is: A scenic peninsula south of the city with beach towns, farmland viewpoints, and more wine.

How far from Melbourne: Between 30 mins and 1.5 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving directly south. Public Transport can only take you to the northern end of the peninsula.

Recommended Day Tour:  Peninsula + Hot Springs Tour with Hide and Seek (for adventurers – includes viewpoint, 5 mile hike, and then hot springs!) OR Mornington Peninsula Day Tour with Bunyip Tours for those who prefer strolling along beaches (Sorrento/Portsea included) and tasting wine! Both tours are fab.

The Mornington Peninsula may not grace the top of the lists on places to go from Melbourne, but it’s yet another lesser-known gem in Melbourne tourism. The peninsula faces the Port Phillip Bay on one side (calm waters and pristine beaches) and the open ocean on the other (heavy surf and rocky areas).

Between the two bodies of water are rolling hills of farmland, sheep/cows, small beachy towns, and beautiful viewpoints overlooking the coastline. Arthur’s seat is a famously touristy part of the peninsula, with a cable car going up a scenic beachside hill. There are dozens of wineries to visit as you make your way around, one of the most incredible of which is a winery/restaurant/sculpture garden called Pt Leo Estate.

Sorrento and Portsea are well-known beach towns on either side of the thin tip of the peninsula. Mornington is a trendy beach town on the bay side of the peninsula, and Arthur’s Seat overlooks most of it all! There are lots of gorgeous walks to do along the cliffy coastlines, and once you’re finished, you can dip in the warm waters of the amazing Peninsula Hot Springs.

Must See: Arthur’s Seat, wine tasting, bush walking, hot springs

There are SO many day trips from Melbourne - it would be a shame to miss out on the rugged coastlines, mountainous national parks, diverse wildlife, amazing views, wine regions, and relaxing getaways accessible from one of the best cities in the world. #melbourne #melbournedaytrips #australia #greatoceanroad #yarravalley #phillipisland #grampians #twelveapostles

There are enough Melbourne day trips to explore for weeks! Check out 13 of the best destinations to visit from melbourne, from beaches and coasts to wildlife and mountains. #melbourne #melbournedaytrips #australia #greatoceanroad #yarravalley #phillipisland #grampians #twelveapostles

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Daylesford/Hepburn Springs and the Macedon Ranges

What it is: A relaxing mountainside getaway

How far from Melbourne: About 1.5 hours

How to Get There: Rent a car and drive northwest – there are a few day tours but mostly private/wine tours

Recommended Day Tour: Private Daylesford Tour with highly acclaimed Melbourne Private Tours, or a weekend trip.

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are known to be a relaxing getaway from Melbourne. Daylesford’s most popular feature is why it’s called a ‘spa town:’  pools of mineral hot springs at Daylesford Day Spa. You can visit hot springs, explore galleries in the quaint town, and dine lakeside at some highly acclaimed restaurants.

Although possible as a day trip, I would highly recommend Daylesford area as a weekend getaway from Melbourne because there’s so much to see (and luxurious accommodation as well)! The area is also a popular wine region, with dozens of wineries possible to visit in the area. There are tours that run through the wine region from Daylesford if you decide to stay longer.

Nearby, you will find the beautiful Macedon Ranges. If relaxing isn’t your thing (or before you unwind in the hot springs) there are plenty of trails to hike in the area. Check out Mount Macedon for the most incredible view, or many more trails and tiny country towns as well.

There aren’t too many Daylesford day tours from Melbourne, but check this private tour if you have a group, or book a wine tour from Daylesford itself.

Must See: Hot Springs, Lake Daylesford

healesville sanctuary koalas australian wildlife

Healesville Sanctuary

What it is: Sanctuary to experience Australian Wildlife

How far from Melbourne: About an Hour

How to Get There: Rent a Car, Take a Tour, or take a train and one bus.

Recommended Day Tour: Healesville Sanctuary + Puffing Billy Combined Tour by AAT Kings

Healesville Sanctuary is one of the most popular places for visitors to experience Aussie wildlife. It’s not a complete trip down under unless you get to experience some kangaroos and koalas, is it?! Healesville is a perfect destination to combine with a trip to the Dandenong Ranges or with Yarra Valley, and many day tours do so.

You can feel content that the animals are kept in a natural bushland setting and allowed to roam freely. Spend a few hours exploring many different species of marsupial, mammal, reptile, and bird, and see if you can find on you’ve never seen before!

If you’d prefer just to see the sanctuary, you can rent a car to drive there and schedule a sanctuary tour with a ranger which allows you even closer access to the animals you want to get up close and personal with.

Must See: Aussie Wildlife!

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Ballarat + Sovereign Hill Day Trips from Melbourne

What it is: An inland Gold Mining Town

How far from Melbourne: about 1.5 hours

How to Get There: Rent a car, take a day tour, or take a direct train

Recommended Day Tour: Sovereign Hill + Ballarat Tour from Melbourne with Gray Line

Visiting Ballarat is like stepping back in time. See, Ballarat was the epicenter of Victoria’s massive gold rush in the mid-1800’s, and there are still many remnants of this rich history there today.

Sovereign Hill is an actual replica of what the gold rush town may have looked like all those years ago – complete with gift shops, craft stores, restaurants, and even gold panning opportunities! You can also visit an old mine and experience what it may have been like.

The Gold Museum is a fascinating look back into the gold rush period, and you can also visit the Eureka Center to learn about a rebellion in 1854 that shaped the future of Australia. There are lots of trendy eateries in the Ballarat CBD, and you must also take a walk by Lake Wendouree for a bit of peace and quiet. See my Ballarat Travel Guide for an in-depth look at visiting the area!

READ
Things to do in Ballarat: A Ballarat Travel Guide

Must See: Sovereign Hill, Gold Museum, Lake Wendouree

Wilson’s Promontory National Park Day Tour from Melbourne

What it is: A seaside national park with wildlife, coast, and forest

How far from Melbourne: Under 3 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving southeast.

Recommended Day Tour: Wilson’s  Promontory National Park Day Tour with Bunyip Tours

Wilson’s Promontory is another gorgeous area of nature in Victoria, and one of the most rugged day trips from Melbourne. It’s a National Park with gorgeous viewpoints looking down pristine coastlines, complete with hiking trails that could take you for miles and miles.

There are dozens of beaches in what is actually the southernmost point of mainland Australia. The famous ‘squeaky beach’ actually has sand so white and fine that it squeaks when you walk on it!

It’s a huge area, but the day tour will take you to all the best bits within one big day. You’ll see some of the best viewpoints such as Mt Bishop and empty beaches, but perhaps one of the biggest pulls of this day trip is the wildlife. ‘Wilson’s Prom,’ as they call it for short, is inundated with local kangaroos and other marsupials, so make sure to keep your eyes out!

Must See: Squeaky Beach, Mt Bishop

 

my hotham clouds sunset

Mount Buller

What it is: One of the closest skiing mountains to Melbourne

How far from Melbourne: About 3.5 Hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour, rent a car, or take a coach

Recommended Day Tour: Mt Buller Day Tour with Gray Line

Many people are unfamiliar with the beautiful ‘Victorian Alps’ region. Mt Buller would also be much better as a longer trip, but the area is so worth checking out as a day trip if you don’t have much time.

Mt Buller is an alpine terrain park where you can adventure to your heart’s content: skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and more. You’ll have about 5 hours free time on Mt Buller day trips from Melbourne, which surely is plenty to try out a few runs and more. You can also reserve snow gear as well, if you are so inclined. Day tours will also stop in quite a few other small towns and scenic viewpoints to round out the journey.

There’s also a great alpine village in Mt Buller if you are not quite the skiing type but want to enjoy the area. Visitors can enjoy many different food options alongside walks and viewpoints. There are also sled dog tours!

Must See: Mt Buller Village Square, Mountain Vistas/Snow

Silo Art Trail

What it is: Massive murals painted on country silos

How far from Melbourne: Between 3 and 5.5 hours from beginning to end

How to Get There: Rent a Car and Drive!

Recommended Day Tour: You’ll have to rent a car and do this one yourself! 🙂

There are various parts of rural Victoria whose silos have been graced by the mural art of some incredible artists. These silos can be visited in order on what is known as the Silo Art Trail. Visit the silo art trail website to view a map and learn about all the official locations of these murals.

This silo art is actually known as Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery. It’s a brilliant way to get more people to visit the smaller country communities, and an incredible style of art not very attainable in other parts of the world.

To create these artworks, well-known artists met with the local indigenous communities of the areas and created artworks that represented unique stories about that town and its people. If you’d like to get out a bit more into real country Australia, and see how the farmers live in more remote corners of the state, this maybe the the Melbourne day trip for you!

Must See: Each silo that is part of the trail!

view of melbourne from the you yangs regional park

Geelong + You Yangs Regional Park

What it is: Beachside city and bush walks

How far from Melbourne: 1-1.5 hours

How to Get There: Rent a car or take the train

Recommended Day Tour: You’ll have to rent a car and do this one yourself! 🙂

Geelong is the second largest city in Victoria. It’s located in the southwestern part of the Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne is at the northernmost part). Geelong is much more laid back than Melbourne, and is defined by its beautiful botanic gardens, seaside paths, restaurants, museums, and galleries.

A great day trip from Melbourne would be to mix in a visit to Geelong with a stop at the nearby beach, Torquay, and a beautiful mountainous regional park called the You Yangs. Torquay area is roughly considered the starting point of the Great Ocean Road, and usually has lots windsurfers and people on the beach.

The You Yangs regional park is the perfect place to have a classic Aussie bush walk. The park has a few large hills with trails throughout. The trails are only mildly challenging. But, they present incredible views of the surrounding farmland and also of the Melbourne city skyline.


 

There are still more places that are possible as day trips from Melbourne, but by this point we have stretched to the point of Melbourne weekend getaways. All of the destinations above are fine as day trips, but many would be preferable as weekend trips so that you can spend more time and make the most of your time there.

So if you’d like to keep reading about other places to visit from Melbourne, but this time for places you should visit for LONGER than jsut a day trip, stay tuned for my upcoming article on Melbourne weekend getaways…. coming soon!

For now, give this article a pin if you enjoyed it!

There are enough Melbourne day trips to explore for weeks! Check out 13 of the best destinations to visit from melbourne, from beaches and coasts to wildlife and mountains. #melbourne #melbournedaytrips #australia #greatoceanroad #yarravalley #phillipisland #grampians #twelveapostles

 

 

September 17, 2019 0

The Most Unexpected And Astonishing Landscapes To See In 2019

The Most Unexpected And Astonishing Landscapes To See In 2019

Traveling the world and seeing its diverse landscapes with your own eyes is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Our world is home to such natural splendor, some of which, unfortunately, will not last forever. 

People are often unaware of the unexpected and astonishing landscapes in their own back yard. Here are some of the must-see places you should add to your travel list for 2019.

malibu california

Malibu, California

Hearing the name “Malibu” often brings a specific image to mind: incredible mansions resting on cliff tops and Malibu villas overlooking scenic beaches. While the area has an aura of wealth and luxury, with many superstars making their homes in the area, it’s a place worth visiting to take in the many beaches along the coast and watch the sunset.

Explore the sea caves at El Matador State Beach, a secret gem that’s usually free of tourists. Lounge in the sun at Malibu Lagoon, where the turquoise water laps against the golden sand. Grab a bite at Paradise Cove, the restaurant that got its name from the beach on which it resides. This stretch of sand is surrounded by towering rocks and has been featured in a variety of movies, including Monster in Law, X-Men, and Lethal Weapon 4.

banff alberta

Banff, Alberta

Banff is located in Alberta, Canada at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Both the township and the national park in which it rests share the name. The Rockies overpower the horizon and bathe the area in their majesty. Towering trees make up the forested area, protecting the turquoise glacial lakes that are colored by the minerals in the runoff from the mountains. Lake Louise is particularly spectacular, with opaque turquoise water that is reminiscent of a tropical beach.

Banff is home to amazing wildlife, as well as hot springs for those who want to soothe their aching muscles under the stars after a long hike. There are various accommodation options, from camping in designated areas in the forest to staying at the luxurious Fairmont Banff Springs, an homage to Scottish castles of old.

norway

Sognefjord, Norway

Sognefjord is just one of over a thousand fjords in Norway but is perhaps the most mesmerizing. As the longest fjord, many of the other incredible fjords in Norway are subsets of this 127-mile long waterway which is nearly a mile deep at some points. One of the smaller fjords encompassed by Sognefjord is Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO world heritage site. The best way to see these astonishing landscapes is from the water.

Sognefjord is accessible via train from Bergen, one of the popular Norwegian destinations for travelers. This coastal city has the vibe of an old fishing town, with colorful houses along the water. Choose your travels wisely: the fjords are easier to navigate in the warmer months, but the aurora borealis is more visible during the winter.

huacachina, peru

Huacachina, Peru

Peru is home to many astonishing landscapes. Machu Picchu is one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world, the Nazca lines are one of the planet’s greatest mysteries, and the Amazon rainforest to the north is one of the most incredible places on Earth. Not only does Peru have breathtaking sights to behold, but it also has a lot of unexpected gems, like Huacachina.

Huacachina is a desert oasis near the city of Ica. This lagoon is surrounded by small hostels and hotels, as well as a variety of clubs and eateries. The real attraction to Huacachina is the towering mountains of sand. Go with a guide on a dune buggy for the feeling of riding a roller coaster without tracks. Grab a surfboard and sled down the dunes for an unforgettable feeling of exhilaration and adrenaline. 

tanzania

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti in Tanzania, Africa, is at the top of most adventurer’s bucket lists. Browsing through pictures, it’s not hard to see why. This vast landscape is home to “The Big Five” which includes elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. It’s also known for its enormous migration of wildebeest, zebras, antelopes, and gazelles. The Great Migration often includes over two million animals in total.

An African safari will change you. You will see astonishing sights that can never be truly captured in a photo. You will have a different experience than your predecessors, as everything that happens is up to the wild. This is an ecosystem that is changing rapidly due to poaching and the shifting environment; make 2019 your year to go.

There are places in the world where magic exists. It’s not party tricks or wand waving, but a deep, primal feeling that changes within you when you see them. 2019 and beyond promise to make for great travel. Why wait?


Thanks for the guest post, Wendy!

Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

September 15, 2019 0

On Joining the Corporate World and Working Full Time… for Three Months. Here’s What I Learned

On Joining the Corporate World and Working Full Time… for Three Months. Here’s What I Learned

So, as you guys may know, I did the damn thing. I worked a full time job. I moved to Melbourne to have a little bit of stability in my ever-changing and international life, and about 5 months into my yearlong visa, the opportunity arose for me to take a full time job position.

The position was for the tour guiding job that I was already working. I had been leading walking tours of Melbourne for 4 months, and the growing company shifted to have the need for a few full time positions, one in marketing. The skills required were basically everything I already do for my blog – copy writing, web design, social media, customer communications, blog posts, affiliate marketing, onsite and offsite SEO. The position was basically made for me – a well versed blogger and experienced tour guide.

 

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melbourne tour group

A few of my tour groups through the months

The Job Begins

It was perfect. It’s like the position was made for me – putting together the two things I really did best and had the most experience in – guiding tours and marketing. I was actually staying put in one place for a WHOLE YEAR – so what better time to try this whole ‘full time job’ thing a try?

I have always been decidedly anti-9-to-5. Not wanting to join the corporate rat race was the reason I moved abroad and started my blog in the first place,  and built a life that went against societal expectation and showed everyone else that it CAN be done. I lived the entire gamut of life experience, from working sailing tours in Croatia to events in London to driving Lyft in California to waitressing in Sydney to hostessing a catamaran in Panama to taking photos for adventure tour companies – and blogging the whole way through.

But the one thing I actually had NOT done, that would actually really round out my quest for having the widest range of life experience possible?

Working a full time job.

Although always the devil to me, I figured that I had to maybe do it myself to truly understand it. I could accomplish 6 months working full time to have yet another new life experience, and most likely figure out that it was always what I had imagined it to be anyway (something along the lines of imprisonment. No offense to people who work full time and love their jobs; I respect it more than anything, I really do).

So I set out to do it. I arrived in the office; I signed the contract; I was given a company computer (ooooh, aaaah) along with my special tour umbrella, name tag, money wallet, card reader. It was so official. I was excited.

I was the perfect person for the position and I was going to use my skills to help a small company grow. I really had a say in things; I used my creativity to help create policies to be used in the future; I wrote a whole new website and designed some of it too; I helped develop and implement the entire email marketing plan, and much more.

I did tours each week too, and I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and showing them around the city I love. I took groups around the hidden bars of Melbourne, showcasing some of the coolest parts of this city and showing people a great time. It should really have been a ‘pinch me’ moment – I had an awesome job.

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The moment I point out something cool and the whole group turns to take a photo

Reality Sets In

I’m not really sure when things turned south, but they did. The fact that the company was so new meant that there weren’t many policies in place. There was no approval process for requesting leave, the schedule changed at the last minute each and every day, and timings changed without notice, making it hard to plan anything at all.

Requests for time off and appointments quickly got lost and forgotten, last minute changes lead to stress and rescheduling, and it was hard to ever plan a day trying to know what I would be doing. I would plan on an office day and get changed to tours, with my computer in tow for no reason, or vice versa. More often than not, office time was substituted for constant tours depending on what needed to be done, and exhaustion set in speaking front of and leading big groups of people constantly.

Work quickly piled up with minimum time to accomplish things in the office, accounts and processed for keeping track of numbers changed time and time again, and issues in developing processes started to become obvious when blame was shifted for different shortcomings. It was a very new company (I was the first full-time hire) so changes were absolutely to be expected, but it quickly became difficult to maintain physical wellbeing… and soon, mental, too.

Leading tips-based tours (free walking tours) also had its stresses – its hard not to feel down after making terrible money, no matter how much of a reflection it is on the people tipping rather than the quality of the guide.

Being on my feet all day with tours left me exhausted at home and unable to keep up with my ultimate passion – this blog. Changes in schedule interfered with my attempts at planning a regular gym or fasting schedule, which are also things I consider very important. Wanting to still make the most of weekends also left my blog in the dust, and I started to feel guilty if I wasn’t working all day and coming home and working even more.

Needless to say, it built up.

Part of my brain was saying, ‘Are you kidding me, Kimmie? Stick out working full time for SIX MONTHS of your life – this is a fantastic job that you enjoy and is perfect for you, just suck it up and do it.’

But, the other part or me was screaming for a bit of freedom, to not be slave to wherever I was needed at that moment, to at least know what I was to be doing, or to have time to be myself and pursue my own passions as well as be of service to a company I truly supported. Anxiety began to build more and more before tours, and I felt less and less like myself.

It took me a near breakdown to realize something my partner had gently been trying to tell me for weeks – this job has been negatively affecting my wellbeing, and causing me negativity and anxiety far outside working hours that had started to impact my life. I can talk specifics with anyone who is curious, but I’ll leave it here for the purpose of this post.

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Bar Tour group selfie at my favorite bar, Little Lon Distilling Co 🙂 

The Decision is Made

I felt so silly to admit it, kind of like a metal basket case – why couldn’t I just get myself together?! This job should be awesome. It is really that hard? But he was so right -I came home crying for one final time after another stressful shift change that impacted another of my attempts at making plans for my health.

The regular salary and job security was absolutely incredible – two things I have hardly ever had in my life. Hell, I haven’t stayed in the same workplace OR country for more than six months since I graduated from uni. A stable salary and security should be cherished… but really though – at what price?

It was at that point I realized, lack of this is something I thrive on.

Part of the definition of who I am is leaping before I look. This is how I have always been. I have NEVER NOT figured it out – moving to multiple new cities alone and finding my footing, traveling with far less money than I need, finding ways to make money on the road.

I am not financial stability. I am not paid time off (although I was REALLY excited for that 😛 ). I am not ordered around by anybody. I never will be. That’s not where I thrive. I, Kimmie Conner, am: following my passions into the complete unknown, doing everything for myself and no one else, the creator and purveyor or my life and dreams. I am doing things for the experience, to understand more and more about this life. I am imperfect but always myself. I am serendipitous and unsure, a feather in the wind without a propensity for rigidity.

I am the blissful feeling of freedom knowing I can do whatever I want, not knowing which avenue my next paycheck is coming from but knowing I am living my life to the fullest and squeezing every ounce of experience out of everything while I’m at it.

I thrive in not knowing what’s next, but only if it is self-inflicted. I’ve realized that the complete unpredictability of that job is what drove me away, but quickly realized that it’s because the unpredictable force was external. If I have control over my own unpredictable life, I find it more of a challenge and less of an imprisonment, being at the whim of an untamable force.

I am so thankful to have the experience of working full time. After all, I am after the widest possible range of life experience. I simply now know (as I had really known the whole time) that it is not for me. I knew it when I was a little wide-eyed college student, watching everyone jump straight into the corporate world. Me? I decided myself to move to London because, well, why not?

I truly think that I could have actually lasted 6 months in a full time job (lol, laugh at me all you want) if it had provided the stability that I expected. I came to  Melbourne for some stability; I accepted a stable job for, well, stability too. The fact that I got the opposite was just not what I really needed at this point in the progress of my life, blog, and visa.

AfterlightImage 7

Photobombing a group cheers

The Positive from the Negative

I, however, have taken so much away from this experience – I think it was actually one of the grandest learning experiences of all the weird/random/wonderful sh*t I’ve done over the years.

I learned what it’s like to be a part of a supportive team in a corporate environment (sheesh, never though I would say that).

I learned so much about productivity and work ethic and became much better at staying on task (MUCH better than I am, alone in a cafe, trying to get my blogging done).

I learned the ins and outs of a small business and the insane amount of work that goes into its growth (so many things, huge and small, that you wouldn’t even fathom).

I refined my tour guiding skills and became absolutely awesome (if I do say myself) at leading short tours around the city. I helped hundreds if not thousands of people have the best possible time in my favorite city.

I learned more about customer communications – wording things for the best outcome, making sales, and making people from all different walks of life laugh at my silly dad jokes.

I learned all about what it takes to create a successful email marketing campaign and laughed many automations. I wrote copy for and helped design and format an entire website. I wrote blog posts and implemented affiliate marketing tactics into all of the above.

I helped create processes for different parts of the business that will (hopefully) be used for years to come, when more and more people come through and take my position and when more and more people are hired into the company.

I met fascinating people from all over the world and fostered great relationships with partner businesses in the city (e.g. bartenders at our bars – I’ll be back!)

I learned that my personality and tour guide mode can still be activated no matter how I feel – it’s like flipping a switch. 😛

I learned that Melbourne really is the most awesome city in the world, and I am so thankful to have been able to explore it every day for my job. I can’t wait to continue discovering more hidden gems and write about ALL of it on here – you already know I haven’t had ANY time for Melbourne blog posts thus far, but now the time has finally come!

I truly have never felt more happy or free than I did when I sent my final email with my notice (sorry mum and dad). It’s like all of a sudden I came back into myself again – my good old, funemployed (in the ‘real world’) self. I honestly didn’t realize how much anxiety I was pushing down until I took that big breath after pressing send. I had reached my breaking point and had been pushed too far, and it was time for me to say no. And god, it felt good to take my power back and stand up for myself.

The rest of that day/the next was full of what I would consider a minor spiritual overhaul – I felt how I can only imagine ‘regular people’ feeling after they quit a damaging job of ten years (apparently 3 months is like that for me… what can I say? :P). I felt happy; I felt aligned again for the first time in a while. I truly felt like myself after not even realizing I was missing. I took solace in the unknown and knowing that I would and will figure it out.

AfterlightImage 8

Group by the river

So what’s next?

Well, in true Kimmie fashion, I DON’T KNOW! And I feel absolutely great about it. Isn’t that wonderful?! I mean, to you it might be silly, but to me it’s wonderful… and that’s okay.

In all honesty, I probably won’t ‘work’ (in the hourly wage sense of the word) for at least a month or two. During the past few months my blog has reached record numbers in traffic, advertising income, affiliate income, and user sessions, and I haven’t even had the chance to foster it or really work on it at all. My blog is my true end-goal, passion, and career choice, and its not going to continue to support me if I don’t support it.

So yes to working full time… for myself. I’m considering looking at a few coworking spaces in Melbourne, ticking off more of the thousands of Melbourne cafes, and/or making myself a more rigid schedule of working at home. Blogging hardly feels like working to me – building my own dream (rather than someone else’s) can happily take up all the time in my world.

I can definitely afford more than my rent from my blog’s income, but it’s just not at the point yet that I can trust it to support me in such an expensive city. But hey, good thing I have saved up TONS from working full time – I have plenty to survive on and much more.

So, yes, I do intend to work (for someone else… ugh 😛 )  again in Melbourne before my visa is up in December. In what respect, I’m not totally sure. I might do a few days a week in an office admin job I did in December which is open again, which was (quite boring but) very easygoing/fun/well-paying.

Now that I have more free time, I can reach out to and take more press trips even mid-week, which would be a lot easier for lots of tourism boards in the area rather than just on weekends. I hope to accomplish some more blog and brand partnerships in the next few months around Victoria.

I’m open to whatever opportunities may arise for me in this weird and wonderful life. I have plenty of savings from this strange full-time salary I have been receiving, plenty of free time to build the blog income up, and a completely open mind to get even more new experience while I have the right to work in Melbs.

So yep, that’s it. Laugh all you want, but yes, I lasted A MERE 3 MONTHS in a full time position, and the verdict was what we all knew it would be – YEAH, NAH. Not for me 😛

If you know of any interesting jobs coming up in Melbourne, please get in touch! Either way, I’ll be blogging full time and I know something will always pop up into my universe and everything will work out. As I know well about my life at this point, it always does.

🙂

September 13, 2019 0

5 Ways Traveling Can Help Your Career

5 Ways Traveling Can Help Your Career

For many, traveling is all about dipping your toes in the sand, reading a good book, and forgetting about anything work-related. That’s the point of a vacation, right?

Even though your vacation could be a time to disconnect, there are still plenty of ways you can enjoy your vacation while helping to advance your career. It doesn’t matter if you’ve settled down at a job or are on the job hunt, traveling can not only help you relax but also help you career in the long-run.

Fly Solo

For some, the idea of traveling solo sounds like the worst experience possible. There’s no one to talk to, no one to go out with, and it may not seem near as enjoyable. Plus you won’t be able to split food or drink costs

But there are a number of perks to flying solo. You can stay at that cool museum all day if you want, sleep to whatever hour, and go on the same tour three times in a row. 

The pros and cons aside, traveling solo gives you a certain sense of grit and determination you may not have while traveling in a group. You’ll have to prove to be self-reliant, figure out problems on your own, and much more. 

A solo trip may give you that extra bit of confidence and lessons in overcoming difficult moments and failures. 

The one downside to traveling solo is the safety issue. Women especially should be careful when traveling alone, depending on destinations and areas of course. 

Better Empathy

Unless you’re taking a road trip an hour away from home, your new destination is going to present you with people that are completely different than you. They grew up in a different culture and experienced different things in their life.

Traveling to new places is going to open your eyes to just how big the world is and how different people react to different situations. Through this, you’re going to build up more understanding and empathy to people who have walked different lives. You’ll be able to return home with a wealth of experiences in your back pocket and a better understanding for people’s issues.

Gizo solomon islands drone photo Orovae cottages from the sky

Control the Unexpected

Every traveler has a story to tell about a flight being canceled or being lost in an alley in a new town. You could have every bit of your trip planned out, but there’s always going to be some unexpected occurrence that throws you off.

While you’re traveling, your only option is to fix the problem. You don’t have a home to fall back on nor can you simply leave the situation. Are you just going to stay in the middle of nowhere because you can’t find your hotel? 

Nope! You’re going to have to learn to roll with the unexpected and solve the issues. 

Of course, there are always positive unexpected occurrences too. Maybe you planned on turning in early but your hostel neighbors are having a part. Why not embrace the unexpected and make the most of it?

You’ll Learn to Let Go

Upon arriving in a new city, your first stop may be a tourist information booth where you can pick up a map and get some pointers. You may spend the whole day following the map, going from place to place until you have seen it all.

You know what’s also great? Putting the map in your back pocket and just going wherever the streets take you.

In your day job, you might be caught up in lots of little things that stress you out over time. Eventually, you’ll learn to prioritize and not focus on the small things that ruin your day. You’ll learn to let go and focus on the bigger picture, not letting small bumps in the road distract you from where you want to go.

Better Communication

All of the above benefits mean, at the end, you’ll be a better communicator. You have gone to plenty of different places, met different people, and gone through various experiences. 

ALong the way, you’ve learned to communicate and work through difficult situations with all sorts of different people. You might have had to do most of it in a different language. When you come back, you’ll be a better listener and communicator, effectively passing off your points while being an open ear to others.


Thanks for the guest post, Clarissa! 

Clarissa is an enthusiast for all things outdoors, although she doesn’t get out as much as she would like. By day, she is the proud owner of a residential cleaning company, keeping her indoors most of the time. Clarissa is hoping to head to the Land Down Under in the near future. When not working (which is rare), Clarissa can be found with her family in their home just outside of Nashville, TN.

September 12, 2019 0

Mt Hotham Weekend Guide – Lift Pass, Accommodation + Things to Do

Mt Hotham Weekend Guide – Lift Pass, Accommodation + Things to Do

Mt Hotham is a fantastic winter weekend getaway from Melbourne. I mean, if it’s freezing anyway, why not go up to actual snow and make the most of cold temperatures in the beautiful mountains?! That was my outlook, anyway, and I was glad that I planned an August trip up to the ‘Victorian Alps.”

Snow is most definitely not what comes to mind when you think of Australia, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the most mountainous part of the country. It’s incredibly gorgeous, and is inundated with quaint little alpine villages full of ski bums and mountain dwellers.

Mt Hotham Resort itself is a village set atop a mountain with incredible vistas and ski in ski out access to ski fields. The park has a dozen chair lifts that provide access to over 100 different runs of varying difficulties. There are lots of beautiful spots and viewpoints surrounding the main village, as well as some more smaller villages with restaurants/cafes galore, spas, hotels, and adventure areas. Of course most would come here for the snow, but there are actually loads of other amazing things to do in Mt Hotham than solely skiing!

A Guide to spending a weekend exploring one of Victoria's best alpine resorts - Mount Hotham! Mt Hotham is home to a fantastic terrain park and plenty more activities to go around, great food and drink, and even more adventures. #hotham #skiseason #mthotham

The Alpine Nature Experience in Mt Hotham, Victoria, Australia includes a showshoe walk, mulled wine around the fire, a three course traditional fondue meal, a night in an igloo under the stars, and a skidoo ride in the morning! It's a very unique experience to top off a weekend in Mt Hotham - one of Victoria's premiere ski resorts. Just 4 hours from Melbourne!

PIN this guide to Mt Hotham to your Pinterest boards!

What to Know Before Visiting Mt Hotham

When to Visit Mt Hotham

The Aussie mountains have a very short snow season – just over three months per year, maybe four depending on the season. This leaves a very slim amount of time that you can catch good snow. The best months are usually July and August, with occasional storms dumping fresh powder starting in June and into September. So if you want to catch snow, these are the times to go.

Although this Mt Hotham guide is mostly focused on winter, the region is just as spectacular in the summer! Visit in the summer months for mountain biking, trail running, hiking, and amazing views.

Hotham Weather

In winter, Mt Hotham will generally be about between the 5 and -5 degrees Celsius mark. Days can get up to 2-5, and nights can descend down to the negatives – only occasionally colder than -5. So prepare for (literally) freezing temperatures up in the snow, naturally!

The weather each day is quite unpredictable. There can be days of  snow and storms, extremely thick fog that descends over the mountaintop like a heavy blanket in the afternoon, and, usually come late August/September, some beautiful clear days where the snow glistens in the sun. The best thing I can say is to be prepared for whatever your weekend trip may bring – bring layers of clothing, goggles, AND sunglasses!

Mt Hotham Alpine resort snowy mountains victoria australia

 

Mt Hotham Accommodation

There are lots of options for accommodation in Mt Hotham  – from hotels to lodges to apartments to shared chalets.

However, it is VERY important to note that, because these properties only have a couple months a year to make all their money, it will be staggeringly expensive. This will be true most definitely if you plan to visit on a weekend.

This is the one unfortunate thing about a Mt Hotham weekend trip – it most definitely will not be cheap. Rooms fill up exceedingly quickly, and whichever are left over will be at least $700- $1200+ for one night. There are a few share-room options with bunk beds for groups, but if you want your own single room, it’s going to cost you due to limited supply and high demand.

I will list below a few main places to stay in Mt Hotham, followed by a  few other amazing options you will want to consider also:

Cloud 9 – More affordable/located in Dinner Plain – Check Rates

Zirky’s – Can go straight to the slopes from the door – Check Rates

Arlberg – centrally located and largest on the mountain – Check Rates

Alpine Nature Experience – See below!

Other options – If you find it hard to afford the options on the mountain, you can always stay in one of the towns at the foot of the mountain! Many people choose to stay in Bright, which ends up being about an hour’s drive down the Great Alpine Road from Hotham. Accommodation there will be much more reasonable, and the town is lively and beautiful as well.

snowboarding at mt hotham australia

 

Things to Do in Mt Hotham

Whether skiing or not, there’s still plenty to do!

Hotham Lift Pass + Terrain Park

To get the most obvious thing out of the way first, I assume you’ll be coming to Mount Hotham to do some form of skiing or snowboarding. Whether you’re spending half a day or three days straight on the slopes, I suggest getting a Hotham lift pass if you’re coming up here. It’s a must to experience the variety of slopes in the resort.

Get your Hotham Life Passes here – The more days you ride and the earlier you book, the better the deal! They also have discounts fo booking online and skiing mid-week.

On a good day there would be enough runs to last you most of the day in Mt Hotham. There are over 100 different runs, ranging from bunny slopes to double black diamonds. In seasons with less snow, keep in mind that some of these will be closed.

It’s a bit tough to gauge weather in a place where planning far in advance is essential,  but know that they will make snow for the main runs in high season no matter what the conditions. They have a three-lift snow guarantee.

If you have the freedom to be able to drive up after a big storm, you will be in the best place. In my situation, we planned an early weekend in August a month or so ahead of time, and there wasn’t much snow. The snow was sparse to the point of having quite a few runs closed (not that we didn’t have a great time, but we couldn’t experience absolutely everything as I like to do).

Then, about 4 days later, a MASSIVE snowstorm came through and within a week they had gotten TWO METERS of fresh powder. Talk about gutted! We still had a fab time, but it’s just unpredictable.

my hotham clouds sunset
Renting Gear in Mt Hotham

There are TONS of places for Mt Hotham Gear Rental. In  each little alpine town you will find a few ski shops, but I rented mine right from ‘Hotham Sports” ski shop at Hotham central. This is most definitely the most painless way to do it, as you can grab your gear, strap it on, and jump right onto the slopes within minutes!

Visit this link here to reserve your ski gear for Hotham at one of many approved gear rental outlets all over the mountain.

Car Chain Rental

Don’t forget to note that, in high season, it will be required to at least carry if not fit chains onto your car. The best place to do this if coming from Melbourne is Ray’s ski shop in Myrtleford; you can also rent skis here if it’s easier to get it all from one place.

alpine nature experience mt hotham bar

milky way and stars at alpine nature experience mt hotham

Alpine Nature Experience

And finally, the reason I came to Mt Hotham in the first place: the incredible Alpine Nature Experience! I somehow stumbled upon what turned out to be one of my most unique travel experiences, which was taking part in their ‘snowshoe to fondue’ and then ‘igloo to skidoo’ experiences. It all takes place at a small eco-village outside the main mountain village.

My intention to visit Mt Hotham was sealed upon learning about this. The Alpine Nature Experience starts with a 450ish meter snowshoe walk through the trees, learning bits of history about the area. After a little while you reach a tiny mountain eco village that was fully brought in and out by hand. Upon arrival, you are greeted with a steaming glass of homemade mulled wine, and invited to sit around a nice warm fire.

Arrival in the Eco-Village

At this point the bar opens (fully stocked with mulled wine, local craft beer, schnapps, different spirits, and more wine) and you are free to chat over the warm fire as the kitchen prepares for a delicious dinner.

showshoe to fondue experience mt hotham

mulled wine alpine nature experience

Snowshoe to Fondue

After a few warm drinks, you are invited into the massive teepee that is set to host dinner. And this is not just any dinner – it’s a three-course meal featuring a classic French fondue. The amazing owner, JF (Jean Francois), is a frenchman himself who relocated from the actual French alps to show visitors his newfound love in the Victorian alps.

After some delicious soup, JF teaches you all about the (proper) making of fondue. After the group pitches in to help make the fondue, it’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for – dipping that first piece of bread into the warm, dripping, melted cheese! An authentic fondue dinner ensues, as you drink wine by the warmth of the fireplace and share a piece of cake at the end as well.

Igloo to Skidoo

The second part of the experience is for those who dare to spend the night out in the snow – in an igloo! In the ‘igloo to skidoo’ experience, an igloo generally means one of their nice, massive, warmed tents with a clear top to view the stars.

HOWEVER, in our case, this meant, well… actual igloo. 

No, I am not kidding. They have TWO legitimate IGLOOS at the Alpine Nature Experience – full eskimo style. You must duck through a small door to enter a completely  snow-covered room – 5 or so feet  high – with a luxurious bed and side tables.

When we learned that it was possible to sleep in an actual igloo, we didn’t have to think twice. When given the opportunity to sleep in one of the most unique places you’ve ever slept, and in the only place in Australia to do so…. you most definitely don’t say no!

Night in the Igloo

After filling up to the brim with fondue, trying a classic French spirit called Genepi, and chatting away in the nice warm tipi, it was bed time. On the way to the igloo we just HAD to stop and have a little long-exposure photoshoot with some of the brightest stars I’ve ever seen.

sleeping in an igloo in australia at the mt hotham alpine nature experience

 

sleeping in an igloo in australia alpine nature experience

 

Climbing into the igloo felt like something out of a movie. It most definitely wasn’t something I thought I would be doing in my lifetime! The bed was covered with warm sleeping bags, blankets, and furs, and on the side tables were water bottles, a little light, and mats for our things. It was cozy, but it was all we needed!

The igloo had plenty of space to sit and change as we finished the last of our (many) mulled wines. Although cold at first, it warmed up quickly once we were inside, and this warmth was easily sustained by the few tonnes of insulating snow above our heads and around us! The bed was even more soft and warm, too. Before drifting off to sleep, I reached out in front of me and touched the snow roof above my head – just to make sure again that it  was real!

In the morning

Apparently these igloos tend to be completely sound-proof, because we didn’t even remotely hear the sound of the morning bell to signal breakfast time. We wandered over after 8am to find everyone up and about in the tipi, eating delicious breakfast sandwiches and drinking hot coffee from camping mugs.

We exchanged experiences from the igloo and the snow domes over a few brekky options, and had a last little wander around the beautiful grounds. There is a perfect view of the terrain park and surrounding mountains from different points in the area.

Skidoo ride

It’s not an igloo to skidoo experience without a skidoo ride! Like clockwork, our skidoo zoomed up to the camp as we were bringing our bags out of the igloo. We climbed into the back seats, and our driver took us on a looped route around the grounds. He showed us different viewpoints and told us a bit of history of the area on the way out. It was the perfect end to one of the most unique adventures I’ve done!

mt hotham dinner plain onsen spa experience

Dinner Plain

Dinner Plain is a quaint little alpine village 13 kilometers down the Great Alpine Road from Hotham Village. This is a fabulous place to look for more (potentially cheaper) accommodation options, and also a great place to visit for restaurants, a local brewery, and an Onsen spa.

Onsen Experience

The Onsen Spa in Dinner Plain is a classic option for those with sore muscles after a few days on the slopes – or those who simply want a bit of relaxation! With entry you can access a lap pool, a hot rock pool, a few different spas, a sauna, and showers.

If you want to up the ante a bit on your relaxation, you can book massages and other spa treatments, too. Again, it won’t be cheap, but there’s nothing quite like gazing out at fresh powdered snow from the warmth of a cozy spa.

SnowStuffPark Rides + Activities

If you want to see a bit more of the mountain than you can generally access, take a skidoo ride with SnowStuffPark. These guys will take you roaming out and about all over the mountains, down snow paths you didn’t know existed, to find different viewpoints and canyons inaccessible by foot or car.

They run skidoo rides for  sunset (which would be my choice, obviously) to get the best views, and also different sled tours through the back country. To have even more fun, try their tobogganing, snow scooter, or snow trampoline activities!

mt hotham furphy rail jam event

Mt Hotham Events + Competitions

No matter when you are arriving, make sure to check out whats on in Hotham for your dates. They are well known for having different kinds of events each weekend, including many ski/board competitions, races, and festivals – even in the summer!

When I was there they had the Furphy Rail Jam event, with skiers and boarders competing for the coolest rail trick right in from of the central bar. Jugs of Furphy were on special, of course!

Where to Eat+Drink in Mt Hotham

Swindler’s – Hotham Central

I wasn’t expecting much from the main bar/restaurant in Hotham Central. I expected it to be crazily expensive like everything else, but I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived and noticed $5 plates of wings, $8 poutine, and $7-8 happy hour drinks (including mulled wine of course).

Swindler’s really was a fabulous place to stop in for lunch for a beer and a cheap snack before heading out on the slopes again, and they also had more hearty  options for pizza and more. Don’t avoid the main resort area for food – it was actually not bad!

Frankie’s – By the Big D

Down on the other end of the terrain park you have Frankie’s, which is a small eatery near ‘the Big D’ bunny slope lift. Frankie’s has all you need – from breakfast sandwiches to snacks to mulled wine to their famous shakes.

Their shakes are famous because they are fully stacked ‘freak shakes’ – all different colors and piled high with cookies, lollies, and more. Definitely rich, but nothing less than an instagrammer’s paradise.

mt hotham dinner plain mountain kitchen home baked goods

mt hotham blizzard brewery beer tasting paddles

Mountain Kitchen –  Dinner Plain

When you make it over to Dinner Plain, make sure to check out Mountain Kitchen for some delicious coffee and homemade treats. They make EVERYTHING right there in their little, well, Mountain Kitchen. 😛

Try delicious coffees from massive colorful mugs, fresh baked muffins, and some savoury treats like and egg and bacon pie with their house made chutney. It’s a must!

Blizzard Brewing – Dinner Plain

It would also be silly not to stop by the local micro-brewery while in town to try all kinds of beer made right on site. Run by a friendly American man who  made the perfect getaway to the mountains, this quaint little brewery looks more like a big house with a bar area in the front, food truck in the middle, and actual brewery right there in the back.

Blizzard should have at least 10-12 different beers on tap, from IPA to lager to stout to sour to everything in between. I suggest heading in to try a beer paddle – a flight of four beers in one – to make the most of it! Make sure to grab some cans to take back with you… trust me, you’ll be happy you did!


Well, I think that’s all I can possibly say about a weekend getaway to Mt Hotham from Melbourne! Please pin this to your Pinterest to share the awesome experience of Australian snow, beautiful views, and sleeping in an actual igloo!

Disclosure: Thank you to the Alpine Nature Experience and Mt Hotham Ski Company for hosting me on many of my experiences this weekend. I can’t wait to come back!

can you hit the slopes in australia?! YES! There are many ski resorts in the great dividing range between Victoria and New South Wales where you can ski and snowboard. Here's a weekend guide to visiting Mt Hotham, one of the premiere alpine resorts in Australia.

 

 

September 10, 2019 0

Skydiving Melbourne: What to Know + Why You Should Go

Skydiving Melbourne: What to Know + Why You Should Go

Skydiving Melbourne is an adventure that I added to my bucket list as soon as I arrived in this city. With so many gorgeous viewpoints and multiple different drop zones, I knew that it would be time for me to yet again take part in – let’s be honest – probably the biggest adrenaline rush in the world. What could be more terrifying exciting than jumping out of a flying plane?!

The last time I went skydiving was eons ago, in San Diego, back when I turned 18. I figured I had to do something pretty daring for my 18th, and skydiving on the first day of being legally able was a good start. I absolutely loved the experience, but the fast pace of life and years of budget travel prevented me from attaining this special high again… for nearly 9 years!

A few months into living here, I learned about Skydive Australia’sElevate Your Courage” campaign – empowering women to face their fears by jumping out of a moving plane. I mean, what better way to prove to yourself that you can do anything than hurling yourself into the air at 15,000ft?!

I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to skydive again, to promote an awesome cause. I may be quite the daredevil generally myself, but the idea of motivating other women to do something they would ordinarily deem unattainable by skydiving Melbourne was fantastic to me.

free fall skydive over melbourne

Mid free-fall. Cute, right?!

Skydiving Melbourne: Why Go?

1. There are 3 places you can Skydive in Melbourne.

Not sure what kind of view you want from the sky? No problem. You can skydive Melbourne at:

If you’d like the city, dramatic coastlines, or rolling hills of vines, Skydive Melbourne has got you covered. Or, you can experience three completely different sides of Melbourne from a rare perspective – 15,000 feet up! Each drop zone is truly unique and showcases a different side of Victoria.

2. The Melbourne Skydive is the closest drop zone IN THE WORLD to a city.

Yep, that’s right, Skydiving Melbourne will allow you to come the closest in free fall to a city in the world. Skydive Melbourne is one of only two city skydives in the world (the other is Dubai), but this one comes quite a lot closer to the city center.

Imagine marveling at the skyscrapers while you free fall through the air much, much higher than they are? Skydiving near the city gives an entirely different perspective on what you can see below you, with a comparison point of massive buildings you may walk past on the daily. This is the ONLY place you can have that experience!

3. What better way to prove to yourself you CAN do anything?!

I really can’t think of a better way to kick yourself into gear and face your fears than jumping out of a plane… can you?! The adrenaline may run high as the plane climbs up and up, but the rush you’ll get when your feet touch the ground again is truly unlike anything else.

skydive st kilda melbourne

How about those ocean views?! 

Skydiving Melbourne: What to Know Before You Go

The whole experience is actually really chilled out and relaxed (although you may not have expected to hear that!). After checking in, you’ll be given the keys to a locker and a pair of Skydive Australia pants (and fleece/gloves if it’s cold enough, which is basically a given in Melbourne much of the year). After strapping into your harness you’ll watch an instructional video and then board a bus to the airport, where you’ll start your videos and board the plane in twos with your tandem instructor. Then, it’s go time!

General important info to know before skydiving Melbourne:

What do I wear?!

I was worried about this one, too! Just comfy clothes will do – loose fitting are best, likely with running shoes on the bottom. If it’s winter, bundle up a bit more!

Where can I put my stuff?

They have lockers at Skydive Melbourne that you can place all your belongings into before you leave. Safe and sound!

What am I allowed to bring?

Literally – nothing. You must leave all your belongings in the lockers. Can you imagine if your phone fell out of a pocked mid-air? Nooo, thank you. That’s why purchasing the photo/video package is the best idea to preserve some memories from your jump!

Which airport do you take off from?

You take off from Moorabbin airport, which is just down the coast about 30-40 minutes from St Kilda. It’s a tiny little airport with mostly private aviation groups. It only takes a few minutes to get back over St. Kilda, but you’ll spend more time getting up to 15,000 ft.

What about the weather?

If you know Melbourne, you know the weather is COMPLETELY unpredictable. Wind and rain will delay takeoffs, but the team does a great job fitting as many jumps in as they can when the weather is good. Instructors can do up to 7-8 jumps in a day in the high season!

kimmie conner skydive Melbourne CBD in the background

Well if that isn’t the face of pure happiness?

My Experience Skydiving in Melbourne:

So after confirming my jump, it finally actually hit me that morning that I was about to jump out of a plane…. Oh god. I mean, even as someone who loves to push the limits of adventurousness, there’s always that tiny little voice of normalcy in the back of your head. But obviously, I was going to elevate my courage and do the damn thing!

Making sure not to go out the night before (can you even imagine skydiving on a hangover?!), I woke up early and got ready… only to realize the wind had delayed any takeoffs for that morning.

Typical Melbourne. 

Luckily for us it was short lived, and I showed up just an hour later than planned. There were some fluffy white clouds in the sunny sky, and there really couldn’t have been a better day for it.

The build-up felt like forever, and my nerves really made themselves known as we climbed higher and higher into the sky. I’d day it was about half anxiety and half excitement, but what else would you expect when planning to hurl yourself out of a plane?! The whole group of 7 or so guests + instructors smiled for their respective cameras at regular intervals between marveling at the gorgeous coastline view of Melbourne.

After a short delay, we had finally reached our optimal height… it was go time. Before any of us could speak now or forever hold our peace, the rolling door was flung up, and the first skydiver had his feet right off over the edge… and then he had disappeared.

From the first jump it was only about ten seconds between, and before I know it I was being scooted over to the edge. “Holy sh*t holy sh*t holy sh*t” was going on in my brain, but I didn’t have a chance to comprehend anything before my feet were over the edge too. My goggles were on; I was holding the straps like i was supposed to, and milliseconds later my instructor Kez and I flung into a head-first tumble out into the open air.

The Free Fall

I was supposed to keep my head back, but I couldn’t help but absolutely gape at the incredible views from a state of free-fall. An airy scream was coming out of my lungs before I got the chance to acknowledge it, and I looked side to side in a wide-eyed and adrenaline-fueled frenzy. Kez had to non-verbally remind me to keep my head back and then to put my arms out (which were basically the two things we needed to remember (doh), but all flew out the window the same time I did…. get it? 😛 )

I couldn’t contain my exhilaration at I screamed “YAAAAHHHHSS” at the top of my lungs, catching glimpses of my very favorite city skyline from a vantage point you couldn’t possibly attain any other way.

After 2.5 seconds nearly 50 seconds, I felt the big tug of the parachute, and a big high-five from Kez. We hadn’t died! We grabbed a few more awesome shots from the Go Pro on his wrist, pointed out various landmarks throughout the city (including Luna Park), spun in a few circles, and I wiggled my feet, watching the ground get nearer with thousands of feet of nothingness between them and it.

We looped in to landing, and gave one final high five as I shouted praise to the entire experience. I was on SUCH a high – such a massive adrenaline rush that had me feeling awesome for the rest of the day.

As I walked back to pick up my stuff, I gazed up into the clouds and saw the final few parachutes drifting down the the landing site. I had never felt so…. normal... just being on the boring old ground. Walking around just doesn’t seem the same anymore once you have flown through the clouds. This was a feeling I’d never had before – the fact that I could long for more than what gravity limited me to in the everyday.

Skydiving gave me a new perspective in both a literal and mental way, a new level of adventurous high, and to this day has me longing to try it again. It is the perfect way to face your fears, and let me warn you – it can get addictive.

Nest step in life: completing a solo skydiving course. I am soooooo serious – watch this space! 😀

July 31, 2019

Things to do in Ballarat: A Ballarat Travel Guide

Things to do in Ballarat: A Ballarat Travel Guide

During an exciting winter weekend trip this year, Ballarat really did prove to be a worthwhile travel destination in Victoria. There are so many things to do in Ballarat, and it’s only just over an hour’s journey from Melbourne. This Ballarat travel guide will outline some amazing places I got to experience, with even more possibility in the surrounding areas as well.

When I heard about the Ballarat Winter Festival, I knew that I had to plan a weekend trip from Melbourne. I may have hung up my clothes from attending tons of amazing Aussie music festivals over the summer, but the colder winter months meant planning some more cozy getaways – learning some history, exploring more nature, and discovering gems in regional Victoria.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when planning my visit to Ballarat. I usually tend to be more of a beaches + nature person (but let’s be honest, I’ll explore just about anything). But when I learned about all the rich history out here and fun things to do in Ballarat in any season, I knew I had to check it out.

Visit Ballarat was able to help me with the absolute perfect weekend itinerary. It included LOTS of delicious and trendy eateries (more than I knew existed out here!), some awesome wintertime activities as part of the Ballarat Winter Festival, wildlife, gorgeous views, and more. As soon as we checked into our luxurious apartment looking out over Lake Wendouree, I knew I was going to be sold on this city… and with our first delicious meal, it was sealed!

A Complete Ballarat Travel Guide to Victoria's largest inland city! Complete with all the things to do in Ballarat (including in winter) - including where to eat and drink, where to stay, where to walk, museums to visit, viewpoints to appreciate, and all sorts of historical places, too!

Things to do in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia - a complete Ballarat travel guide! Everything from nature to food/drink to history to viewpoints to accommodation to wildlife to special events. This guide has you covered!

Hey! This guide to all the best things to do in Ballarat is pretty long. Why not pin it to your Pinterest boards to save for later?

Things to Do in Ballarat

First of all, let’s get to all the adventurous, historic, and magical things to do in Ballarat. I may have visited in winter, but if I learned anything from their extremely involved tourism board, it’s that they won’t leave a single season without something exciting going on. I’ll start with general things to do, then tell you all about how amazing it is especially in winter.

Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill is perhaps the most notable of the things to do in Ballarat – it’s a must-do for all ages! This replica gold rush town has actually been constructed from real drawings/paintings of artists who lived in Ballrat during the gold rush that began in the 1850’s. They have done a fantastic job recreating it!

Sovereign Hill has some great accommodation options that look over the old town, and the buildings have recreated the same ones that would have been there in the 1800’s. There are eateries, post offices, gift shops, craft markets, plumbers, general stores, and more! You can even  explore an old mine!  If that’s not looking back into history, I don’t know what is. Walking around Sovereign Hill really makes it feel like you’ve stepped back in time, whether you’re a small child or a full-on adult (adults can have fun, too!).

sovereign hill things to do in ballarat sunset christmas in july

Ballarat Gold Mine Tour

Once inside Sovereign Hill, you can also tour a real Ballarat Gold Mine. Venture underneath the ground to explore the passageways of an old gold mine, similarly reimagined to look as it would have while it was in use. You can take a self-guided tour or also a few different tours that trace the experiences of real people in the mines long ago.

The Red Hill mine at Sovereign Hill may be open to visitors, but believe it or not, there’s actually a REAL mine not too far away. The Ballarat Gold Mine can be found a few kilometers away, within a protected industrial area. There are actually over 5km of underground mine tunnels underneath the city, but you’ll have to be very special to find your way in there. I would just stick with the Ballarat gold mine tour at Sovereign Hill if I were you!

ballarat sovereign hill gold museum

View from outside the Gold Museum

Gold Museum

Before you visit Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, you’ll definitely want to check out the Gold Museum. I say ‘before’ because the Gold Museum gives you a lot of the background facts and information that will help you understand different parts of the replica town.

The Gold Museum is actually situated atop a hilltop point that was actually once one of the most prolific areas to mine gold in the area (and there’s not a bad view, either!). Inside you’ll learn all about different sizes of gold nuggets found in the area, what gold was/is used for, history about the gold rush and massive immigration to the area, and even see the pictures that Sovereign Hill was created from.

Coming from someone who is sometimes iffy about museums, this one was really fascinating. You really get to learn all about the event that made Melbourne/Victoria boom to an international and multicultural city, and there are tons of fun facts!

feeding kangaroo or wallaby ballarat wildlife park winter

Feeding a mumma with a baby in her pouch!

koala cuddle ballarat wildlife park things to do in ballarat australia

A KOALA CUDDLE!! If that’s not the cutest thing in the world, I don’t know what is.

Ballarat Wildlife Park

Next, the Ballarat Wildlife Park is another of the must-do things to do in Ballarat. This park isn’t the same as your other, run-of-the-mill wildlife parks where you can gaze at kangaroos behind a fence. I mean, some of the animals are behind fences (and reasonably, too… no thanks, crocodile), but here dozens of kangaroos, wallabies, and emus run completely free.

You can wander through lots of different types of animals – reptiles, mammals, and even some birds (including penguins of course!) – but the real allure of this park is getting to pat and feed animals in the field.

For a small fee you can bring kangaroo feed with you, and let kangaroo mums and baby joeys eat straight from your hand! The animals are very tame here and enjoy being fed and patted, which, to someone like me from a different country, was VERY exciting! I made loads of new marsupial friends and even imitated a few emu before they ran away from me trying to peck a hole in the fence. Oh well.

This was a highlight of my day for sure, and getting to see animals so different than what I am used to will never get old during my time in Australia!

ballarat lake wendouree rowing club

One of many rowing clubs along Lake Wendouree

Lake Wendouree

Lake Wendouree is a fairly large lake just outside the Ballarat CBD. This lake is amazing for going on walks/runs (it’s about 6k round trip) and also plays host to the city’s many rowing clubs.

On any morning lots of rowing boats cut their way across the water, dozens of people run and walk the perimeter, and even more look on from waterside restaurants. The lake is bordered with leafy green trees and plenty of places to relax in the sun. This Lake provides a lovely little escape from an otherwise landlocked town, and is a mustt to at least check out when deciding on the best things to do in Ballarat.

Ballarat Botanical Gardens

On the opposite side of Lake Wendouree from the city, you’ll find the beautiful Ballarat Botanic Gardens. These gardens hold tons of different kinds of events, and are one of Australia’s most amazing cool climate gardens.

Wander through all the gorgeous trees, flowers, marble statues, and even greenhouses on a nice sunny day. Why not add it into your adventure around Lake Wendouree?

ballarat CBD

 

Ballarat CBD

Well you can’t leave our the city center when naming things to do in Ballarat now, can you? Of course, Ballarat’s city center deserves an exploration of its own. There are quite a few historic buildings you can tour, namely the Town Hall (1860’s), the Regent Threatre (1930’s) and more along  the main street, Sturt.

Sturt is a massive central street, separated by a leafy green area of grass and trees. It’s lined with mostly historic buildings, but sprinkled with a bit of more modern ones as well. This area is also home to tons of the city’s best eateries, museums, bars, and more.

Art Gallery of Ballarat

The Art Gallery of Ballarat is just off Sturt Street. It is best known for hosting regional art, and better yet, being the biggest and oldest art museum in Australia to do so! How’s that for a claim to fame?

You can find exhibitions from throughout the history of Australian art within this heritage-listed museum, from contemporary, to photography, to sculpture, to Victorian. Want to know the best part? It’s free!

Eureka Center

The Eureka Center is another historic center located on the site of one of Australia’s most defining rebellions – the Eureka stockade.  I don’t want to bore you so I’ll keep this short – but they say the Eureka Stockade was the foundation of moderns Australian democracy.

Why? Because gold miners started a rebellion in 1854 to fight to be given rights to vote, own land, and pay less crippling mining fees. They flew a special flag rather than the Victorian flag, which they named called the Eureka Flag. Although this rebellion was a huge failure (the military flattened it – killed more than 20 people in the first 30 mins), they were given the rights they wanted in the end when the news of a big rebellion got back to the UK.

Kept that nice and short and sweet now, didn’t I?! That’s quite impressive for a tour guide, if you ask me! Anyway – this center is on the site of that rebellion. It has tons of info about it and the area, and houses the original Eureka Flag, which you will see absolutely everywhere in Ballarat. No, like EVERYWHERE. Honestly, keep your eyes out – you’ll see what I mean.

mt buninyong view - things to do in Ballarat

Can you see the rainstorm approaching in the distance?!

Mount Buninyong

Mount Buninyong is another towering mountain (okay, let’s me honest – it’s more of a medium-sized hill) that is visible from around Ballarat. If you take the winding road up to the top, you’ll find a massive tower with stairs all the way to a platform up at the top. It’s the perfect amount taller than the hilltop trees, giving you panoramic views around the gorgeous countryside.

You can nearly see to the city, but what will be most impressive here is the view of surrounding farmland- green fields, paddocks, and bushland. Just don’t get caught in a rainstorm like we did! Either way, I love a good viewpoint, so this adventure was a highlight of all the things to do in Ballarat.

kryal castle things to do in ballarat

 

Kryal Castle

Ohhh, Kryal Castle. Although fairly dated, it will always be a staple of Ballarat. Located at the base of the big hill you can see from the city center (aka, like a 10 minute drive), Kryal Castle is a replicated medieval castle. Like, and actual castle, with big grey stone walls, towers, a moat, and all.

It’s complete with knights, dragons, rides, archery, pony rides, jester performances, and even medieval jousting shows! A highlight is watching horses gallop against each other through the sandy arena, surrounded by cheering fans. Of course this place is best suited for children, but it you can let that inner child free everyone will have fun.

woowookarung regional park Ballarat

Enjoying my Winter Wonderlights ginerbread man lollipop during my bush walk in the Woowookarung regional park!

Woowookarung Regional Park Viewpoint

This little park is a bit hard to come by, but once you get to the right part, the view is amazing! Woowookarung Regional park is on an elevated bit of bush just outside the city. The best scenic lookout (visible here on Google Maps for clarity) has a fantastic view of the city and also some great bushwalking trails.

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a few picnic tables just off the road, and can pick out some buildings from the city in the distance!

ballarat winter festival sovereign hill snow

Things to Do in Ballarat in Winter – Ballarat Winter Festival

Okay, so here we go with the specific things to do in Ballarat in Winter. They throw an absolutely MAGICAL ‘Christmas in July,’ which to my delight is actually a huge thing down here in Australia.

Clearly, the coldest month of July warrants the celebration of a more ‘stereotypical’ Christmas (northern hemisphere-style) full of snow, mulled wine, and Christmas sweaters. I mean, it makes sense when a classic Aussie Christmas includes barbecuing, cricket, and beach time in the sun!

Winter Wonderlights Festival at Sovereign Hill

So, I’ve already told you about how incredible Sovereign Hill is as a replica Gold Rush Town. Now, picture this: make the temperature nice and cold, and add in heaps of traditionally dressed villagers, bands, and processions. Picture amazing color-changing bright lights and scenes projected onto each and every building to music, and add in TONS of fake snow (it was really bubbles, but shhh). Picture EVERYTHING lit up, with workshops like arts and crafts and gold panning going on throughout the tiny town overlooking the city.

Sound magical? Yep, thats because IT WAS. I felt more Christmas spirit here than I have in quite a few years of warm Christmases…. and IT WAS JULY.

snowglobe kimmie conner ballrat winter wonderlights

sovereign hill winter wonderlights festival things to do in ballarat redcoat band

 

ice skating things to do in ballarat winter festival

I’m great at ice skating, I swear! 😛 

 

Ice Skating

Christmastime isn’t complete without ice skating, is it? I most certainly don’t think so, and if you agree with me you can visit the ice skating rink as part of the Ballarat Winter Festival. It’s conveniently located smack-dab in the city center, between the mall and the Town Hall.

It’s perfectly mixed in with a delicious brekky in the city and a few other CBD activities. There are even little penguin sleds for the little ones who may not be the most adept at ice skating quite yet 😉

Design Exchange Winter Market

The Design Exchange is yet another special event on at the Ballarat Winter Festival. This market is held in yet another open historic building, and will showcase the best of the artisan crafts that Ballarat is so well-known for. You can find artists of all kinds showcasing their handmade items and innovative design. In true Ballarat fashion, you can also expect certain showcases and workshops lead by the artists themselves.

Getting Around Ballarat

Getting around Ballarat is fairly easy, whether you have your own car or not. There are actually plenty of ubers around town if you’d like a quick car hire, or driving your own car around is fairly simple with plenty of parking around. If not, the city center is quite quaint and small and very possible to walk around on foot, too!

Where to Drink/Eat in Ballarat

Oh, there are SO many amazing, trendy, delicious places to eat in Ballarat – I was blown away! I didn’t think of this city as a foodie’s paradise before, but I surely do now. I wouldn’t even be able to decide on our favorite meal of the weekend, so I’ll leave you to see what you think from the mouth-watering photos from the five incredible eateries that we went to below.

oysters and cocktails moon and mountain

moon and mountain where to eat in ballarat DIY pork belly spring rolls

Moon & Mountain

We tried Moon & Mountain as soon as we arrived in Ballarat after driving from Melbourne, and oh what a warm welcome it was! This quaint little restaurant would best be labeled as ‘asian fusion,’ with asian-inspired dishes with a well-presented and Aussie twist.

I was first blown away by a few asian-inspired cocktails on the list, and we were quickly drawn to the ‘full moon’ tasting platter menu for two. This included seven or so different small courses from various facets of the menu, including chilli oysters, DIY pork belly spring rolls, salmon sashimi, chicken curry, and more. I mean… how could we not?!

webster's market and cafe breakfast ballarat

webster's market and cafe ballarat where to eat

Webster’s Market & Cafe

On the first morning of our weekend trip to Ballarat, we were welcomed warmly by Webster’s Market & Cafe down a quaint residential street near Lake Wendouree. Our lives were immediately completed by a breakfast tasting board (chia parfait, smashed avo + smoked salmon and eggs, home made jam on toast) and a chorizo egg + toast dish.

I reckon all good couples should order two dishes and split them both, so that’s exactly what we did (and always do)! It’s the way to try more things, if you ask me. We downed our delicious coffee and these scrumptios breakfast dishes by a green and leafy plant wall inside the warm restaurant. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (or, should I say brunch because I rarely wake up in time…), and this was a great wake-up.

forge pizzeria charcuterie board - where to eat in ballarat

Can I finish all of this?! 

Forge Pizzeria

Although we were basically still full from brekky, when lunch time rolled around we knew we had to make room to try a new place because we only had so much time to do  eat all the things to do  eat in Ballarat. It was quickly becoming obvious that we would hardly scratch the surface! But we were going to have a damn good try.

At lunchtime we popped into the Forge Pizzeria – a large, brick, warehouse-style pizzeria right on the main cross street. It had a cozy and rustic vibe to match an old newspaper-style menu with just as much fun stories and info as there were items on the menu.

We started with a – you guessed it – tasting platter of a charcuterie board. Can you sense a common theme here?! 😛 Our jaws hit the floor when it came out, too – it was piled high with herbed flatbread and, like, a million different styles of meat. Well maybe realistically about 7 or 8, but who’s counting here?! We didn’t have time for that when sifting through prosciutto, chorizo, salami, and a few other delicious and spicy things I forgot the name of.

Although already stuffed, we ordered a pumpkin and feta pizza with two Aperol spritz’s to wash it down (obviously). We nearly had to roll each other out of the restaurant after this one, but luckily we were headed for a packed night at the Winter Wonderlights festival afterwards.

the pub with two names. the PWTN ballarat steak

The Pub with Two Names

This one came after our fun night at Sovereign Hill, so somehow we were actually hungry again! We made our way back into town to check out The Pub with Two Names, better known as The PWTN (which is how you’ll find it on maps and social media).

This was yet another lively yet cozy venue, with a bit of a twist on classic pub food. We tried croquettes and a risotto, and had a bit of a splash out on their steak when we heard it was delicious. The rumors were true – and we had officially eater FAR too much in one day but were oh-so-happily full! Make sure to try their desserts at the end too – I’m not usually a dessert person but their home-baked treats were to die for! 

yellow espresso ballarat

mushroom toast ballarat

Yellow Espresso

Ah, our last morning meal for out Ballarat weekend trip. It had to be Yellow Espresso – recommended to be both by Visit Ballarat and a few local friends! This one is right on Sturt street, with a trendy and leafy restaurant and tables out on the street for warmer days.

Yellow espresso was another delish and classic Aussie breakfast meal. After much deliberation we settles on the Eggs Benedict and Truffle egg toast, with a tumeric latte and a flat white. It was amazing, of course. I feel like there would have been no way to go wrong on this menu, though – a perfect start to the day!

BallaratExports-5

Where to Drink in Ballarat

The Lost Ones Basement Bar

This is an awesome 1920’s style bar just off of Sturt Street. Come in here for an array of classic cocktails in what I can best describe as a speakeasy vibe. It’s definitely one of the trendier bars in town! If you come in the day, there’s also an art gallery upstairs that you can check out, drink in hand.

Hop Temple

Hope temple is also right in the Ballarat CBD. As its name suggests, it truly is the temple of hops – aka TONS of fantastic beer! They have a lot on offer, both of local and national beers. My best recommendation is to get there early on a weekend to make sure there will be a space for you to sit, and to try ordering the beer flights so you can try a few different ones.

lake wndouree luxury apartments

Where to Stay in Ballarat

Lake Wendouree Luxury Apartments

For the perfect balance between proximity to the city and some gorgeous nature, we stayed in Lake Wendouree Luxury Apartments. From our top corner room we woke up to a sunrise over the lake, which despite the cold was still inviting enough to coax us out for a morning walk.

These two-bedroom apartments are decked out with all the trimmings – fluffy blankets, comfy couches, books and interesting trinkets, TV’s in each room, full kitchen with all your coffee and tea needs, and pristine stocked bathrooms. We truly didn’t want to leave this warm haven of an apartment – can we stay forever next time, please?!

places to see outside ballarat

Places to Visit Outside Ballarat

Making a weekend trip to Ballarat from Melbourne, or anywhere else for that matter? Make sure to check out the amazing things to do around Ballarat, too. There are some awesome areas of nature, mountains, and countryside outside the city that warrant a visit just as much. Here are a few ideas!

Pyrenees Wine Region + Mountains

While it may be a bit different than the European mountain range of the same name, the Victorian Pyrenees are worthy of a visit just the same – both for the outdoor adventurers AND the wine lovers!

The Pyrenees mountains are a southern section of the Great Dividing Range, and their climate lends them well to be a fantastic wine region of Victoria. Dozens of family-owned wineries sprawl out through the scenic rolling hills of the region, making it a fantastic destination for views and delicious wine. There are over 20 wineries that will often host events and tastings for the ones who venture out into rural Victoria in search of hidden gems.

For the hikers, check out some amazing hiking trails in the area. For the advanced ones, there’s actually a full-day 24km Pyrenees Endurance Walk that touches on lots of gorgeous areas. For people in search of a quicker hike, check out the Ebling Track Walks or the Sugarloaf Track walk, too.

Tuki Trout Farm

While it miiiight not sound the most appealing, this place is much more than a trout farm, and more of a rustic and luxurious location where you can literally catch your own food and eat it moments later.

The Tuki Trout Farm outside Ballarat is home to luxurious, self-contained accommodation, a fantastic restaurant, and quite a lot of trout who are sadly awaiting their last fate as someone’s lunch. The views from the property are bar-none, and you can watch the soft golden sunset  over fields of distant sheep, from your balcony overlooking the pond. Next getaway? I think: yes.

 

July 25, 2019

Where to Go in Croatia: A Tour Guide’s Ultimate Croatia Travel Guide

Where to Go in Croatia: A Tour Guide’s Ultimate Croatia Travel Guide

And finally, the day has come for my completely comprehensive, totally decked-out, a-bit-too-extensive, tour guide’s guide to where to go in Croatia. After working as a tour guide here for 4 seasons, I’ve learned a quite lot about this country, if I do say so myself ;).

In this Croatia travel guide you will find all possible Croatia destinations, adventures, beaches, sailing + ferry info, language and pronunciation info, restaurants, all kinds of Croatia tours, islands, cities, sunset spots, and places to visit in Croatia.

So, you’re planning a trip to Croatia! That’s so incredibly exciting; you’re going to love one of the most beautiful countries in the world! 2018 was my fifth summer in a row coming to Croatia, and there’s no way I would’ve been back this many times if I didn’t think the absolute world of this country. I’m the luckiest to have been able to work out here! No matter how sleepless or full-on my tour guiding job has been, I could seriously discover new gems each and every week sailing the Adriatic.

This country guide to Croatia is broken down into lots of subsections, mostly based on different locations and important information.  I have a couple more in-depth city guides that I will link to below, a guide to festivals in Croatia, a guide to how to choose the best sailing tours in Croatia, a complete western Balkans Road Trip itinerary, and more. If you are planning a trip to Croatia, feel free to contact me – I am happy to answer any questions and help with Croatia consulting.

And now, the most ever-extensive, totally comprehensive, tour guide's guide to croatia. Including Croatian cities, history, adventures, alphabet, sailing, ferries, sunsets, and EVERYTHING!

Pssssst… This guide to where to go in Croatia and all of its satellite guides are over 10k words… why not Pin this image to Pinterest so you’ll be able to go back and read it whenever you want?

A BRIEF INTRO TO CROATIAN HISTORY

(If you don’t care, just skip to the next section! )

Croatia has LOTS of really incredible history – recent and ancient. History is one of the most interesting parts of Croatia and reasons to visit the Balkans in general! The area was inhabited by cavemen for tens of thousands of years, and artifacts from even 20,000 years ago can be found in various archaeological sites around the country. You can even find dinosaur footprints in a few places in this country! Fuuuun facts.

Ancient Greek sailors colonized Hvar island in 385BC – the same year Aristotle was born! Lots of Croatia became part of the Ancient Roman empire during the early AD years; namely, Split is the site of some of the most well-preserved ancient Roman ruins in the entire world (more on that later!). At that time it was two provinces, Pannonia (present day northern Croatia) and Dalmatae (modern day Dalmatia – the southern coast!)

The Slavic people came to present day Croatia in the 7th century, and the first King of Croatia, Tomislav, came to power from 925. Croatia became part of the Hungarian empire after a defeat in 1091, keeping its autonomy but being ruled by the Hungarian-Croatian King.

Medieval Period

From the late 1300’s to the late 1700’s, all of Croatia was basically constantly sought after by both the Venetian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, with many fortresses built, battles fought, and transfers of power during that time. This is when the current Dubrovnik and Korculan walls reached their present form, and when many fortresses you can visit today were constructed.

Dubrovnik, however (known as Ragusa at the time) was the only part of Croatia that was able to maintain its independence during that time (for 450 years) due to the intelligence and diplomacy of its people. They were constantly making deals with other empires and even sold some land to the Ottoman Turks to prevent a Venetian attack (which is why a tiny bit of Bosnian border reaches the coast north of Dubrovnik).

Napoleon and the French army came through and conquered the entire coastline in the early 1800’s (including Ragusa/Dubrovnik), until being defeated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire also in the early 1800’s. This is where Croatia remained until after WW1 when it united with many other Balkan countries to become the communist Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia

Long story short, and attempted biases aside, Yugoslavia was a forced union of three very different groups of people – Croats/Slavs, Bosnians/Muslims, and Serbs. The country was kept together very well under leader Marshall Tito until he died in the early 80’s, leading the country into a downward spiral. The power was very imbalanced, with Serbians holding most of it (the capital was Belgrade – the current capital of Serbia).

Croats were sick of sending all their hard earned tourism money from the Dalmatian coast to Belgrade and not getting much back. Eventually it became too much for the very proud Croatians, who voted and declared independence in 1991 starting a multi-year civil war. Dubrovnik was one of the places hit the hardest in this war, and was under siege for 8 months in ’91 and ’92 although its old walls had been an UNESCO World Heritage protected site for over 11 years.

Present Day

Croatia gained its independence in 1992 – just a mere 27 years ago! There is lots of recent history in the whole country, especially Dubrovnik, which I have outlined in my guide below. There is still a lot of tension and even racism between the Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians, which is tough to this day. It’s been independent for 25 years and became part of the EU in 2013, and its tourism has been exponentially increasing each year (which has been pretty crazy for me to witness first hand!).

Sailing Croatia Wooden boat petrina tour guide's guide to croatia sailing tours ferries

I have lived in this boat for approximately 11 weeks of my life. No joke.

CROATIAN CURRENCY GUIDE

Here, they use the ‘kuna.’ General conversions would roughly be about 5 kuna to 1 AUD, 6.3 to 1 USD, 7.4 to 1 EUR, and the GBP keeps changing so would be somewhere mid-8 kuna to one (it was 10.4 when I first started – thanks Brexit!)

SO – if a meal costs 100 kuna… it would be about $20 AUD, $15USD, 13EUR, and 11.5GBP. This is a pretty good basis for conversion as 100kn is a fairly normal (slightly cheap) cost of a basic meal.

Kuna are broken down into 100 lipa, and all the bills are different colors to make it easy for you.

GUIDE TO CROATIA FERRIES

Croatia is very well connected by fast ferries – mainly the Jadrolinja line and the Krilo Star line. Timetables and tickets can very easily be found online, and you can purchase tickets in advance online also (recommended). Ferries are very affordable, too, and are the best way to get around the islands.

You can ask about these in any tourist office. The southern coast ferries mostly run in between Split and Dubrovnik, but there are ferries in the north, too. There are also overnight/10 hour ferries from Split and Dubrovnik to to Ancona and Bari, Italy.

BUSSES IN CROATIA

If you can’t get there by ferry in Croatia, you can certainly get there by bus. Busses in Croatia are fairly reliable too and will connect you with all the mainland parts of the country. Wondering where to go in Croatia by bus? Busbud is a reliable website to use.

GUIDE TO CROATIA SAILING TOURS

Yep, this is what I worked on! And no, I did not work for The Yacht Week. There are DOZENS of companies that do Croatia sailing! For three summers, I worked for a company called Topdeck Travel that does 7 day boat tours around the islands, for 18-39 year olds. Lucky for you, I actually wrote an ENTIRE GUIDE just to Croatia Sailing Tours, linked here or on the image below!

READ
Croatia Sailing Tours: How to Choose the Best Island Sail Week in Croatia

If you want to sail Croatia but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact me. I can help you plan your trip if you need!

Tour Guide's Super Guide to Croatia - Dubrovnik alleyways and little streets, with laundry hanging overhead!

Dubrovnik alleyways and side streets! (@kimmconn)

BRIEF GUIDE TO THE CROATIAN ALPHABET

Here’s just a wee lil’ lesson on Croatian letters and pronunciation!

J – pronounced exactly like a “y” in english. Someone named Daria or Mariana would be Darija or Marijana here.

You’ll see lots of ‘carrots’ above letters, like ‘ž’ ‘č’

Š is pronounced like ‘sh’

č is pronounced like ‘ch’

Ž is pronounced like ‘zh’

Р– like a ‘G’ so here “Georgia” looks like “Ðorđa”

C – pronounced here like ‘tz.’ So Someone whose name is Braco is pronounced like “Bratzo” and the rakija “Medica” is pronounced “Meditza.” So any name in English that would have a ‘c’ would have a ‘k’ here since it’s pronounced differently… like ‘Marco” would be “Marko.”

Let’s put a bunch of them together. In Croatia, a currency exchange is called a “Mjenjačnica.” So, using the rules above, you pronounce it “Myen-yach-neet-zah.”

So, while you’re there, just sound everything out with these rules above and you should be golden!

WHERE TO GO IN CROATIA: DALMATIA/SOUTHERN ISLANDS

Here in this guide to where to go in Croatia I have outlined pretty much the entire country and all I know about each place.  I have specific guides to many of the places, so you will find  links to these as well!

First up is the most well-known part of Croatia: The Dalmatian Coast. “Dalmatia” covers the southern coast and some of the most famous Croatia destinations, which I have outlined below.

Instaeditz-18

Dubrovnik, or as we lovingly call it, Dub City.

Where to Go in Croatia: DUBROVNIK

Days: 2-4+

Where to stay in Dubrovnik:

Hostel: Villa Angelina – for a view within old town

Hotel: Hotel Petka – affordable, in the port

Hilton Imperial –  great location (and pool!) next to Old Town

Rixos Libertas Hotel – fancier and more secluded resort

Airbnb: View Dubrovnik Airbnb’s here (make sure to book early!)

Getting here from Airport:

Shuttles from the Airport to the main Bus Station (which is in port Gruž where the boats dock) are 40 kuna. Taxis from the airport would be about 40 euro (300kn). They now have uber in Croatia which seems to be the cheapest non-bus option. You can also easily book a private transfer to your accommodation for cheapter than a taxi.

Busses: 1A, 1B, 1C, and 3 go between the main gate of old town (Pile – pronounced ‘pee-lay’) and the port/main bus station. Other busses can take you to the hospital and other places in town and maps at bus stations should tell you this.

Getting Here from Anywhere Else:

You can take a ferry to Dubrovnik from Mljet, Korcula, Split, and more. Book in advance on Bookaway.

Why Visit Dubrovnik:

Dubrovnik is a fairytale city manifest in real life. With red-roofed buildings sprawling between towering concrete walls, directly next to the sparkling blue adriatic sea… it’s easy to see why this city was named ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic.’ It can get extremely busy with cruise ships and tourists, but is worth visiting for the sheer beauty of such a well-preserved seaside walled town.

CLICK HERE OR THE PHOTO BELOW FOR MY GUIDE TO DUBROVNIK WITH IN-DEPTH SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS !

In the guide below: dozens of places to adventure & explore (beaches, museums, cable car, kayaking, GoT Tours, Buggy adventure), best places to watch the sunset, best places to eat, and a complete nightlife guide to Dubrovnik! 

READ
Things to Do in Dubrovnik: A Tour Guide's Guide to Dubrovnik Travel

Around Dubrovnik: ŠIPAN/ELAPHITE ISLANDS

I mention these much more in my Dubrovnik Guide, but these islands are just off the coast of Dubrovnik and are stunning. If you have extra time in Dubrovnik I highly recommend checking out the caves, blue cave, and serene little towns of these islands.  Šipan also has a stunning fortress hike – the one in the feature photo of this post! The Elaphite islands are best visited as a day tour of boat rental from Dubrovnik.

Book a day tour from Dubrovnik visiting three amazing islands!

 

blue cave dubrovnik elaphite islands

The Blue Cave on Koločep, one of the Elaphite Islands!

Where to Go in Croatia: SPLIT

Days: 1-3 (Best as a base for day trips)

Where to Stay in Split:

Hostel: Booze & Snooze or Fiesta Siesta for a bit of a party (attached to the only backpacker bar in the city)

Hotel – Palace Judita Heritage Hotel 

Airbnb – Main Square Apartment (central/large)/Silver Luxury Apartment for smaller groups

Getting here from the Airport: 

There is an airport bus that takes you directly to the bus station (which is at the end of the port) for 33 kuna. A taxi would be a bit more pricey, around 2-300kn.

Getting Here from Anywhere Else:

You can take a ferry to Split from Hvar, Brac, and more. Book in advance here.

Why Visit Split:

Split is the second largest city in Croatia (after the Capital, Zagreb) and the largest on the coast. It’s home to Diocletian’s Palace – an Ancient Roman palace which forms the entire city center. Split may be large in size, but is mostly suburbs without thaaaat much to do, honestly! This is why I recommend Split is a hub for some amazing day trips in the area. It’s got fantastic food and nightlife, but other than that the best things to do would be having a swim at the beach or doing a ton of day trips I have a post on below.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I have so much to say about Split that I had to split (ha… get it) it off into it’s own guide.

Click here or on the image below for my Tour Guide’s Super Guide to Split, Croatia!

In this guide: All I have to say about the places to swim, look at views, learn about history, party, and mostly EAT amazing food in Split.

READ
A Tour Guide's Split Travel Guide: Adventures, Food, + Nightlife (Croatia)

AROUND SPLIT:

As you will see in the guide above, , Split is awesome but there is not as much to do as other Croatian cities. This is why I always say Split is a great home base for day trips in Croatia. There are some smaller islands and national parks that are all accessible as day trips from Split, often on an organized bus/minibus tour.

I think day tours are some of the easiest ways to access different points of interest from Split, so much so that – you guessed it – they deserve their own post! I have briefly listed some possible day trips from Split below, but is you want more in-depth descriptions, click the headline or image below.

Click Here or on the Image Below to Read About 12 Great Day Trips From Split.

READ
12 Must-See Day Trips from Split, Croatia

 

plitvice lakes national park croatia waterfall park croatia

 

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

If you want to hear a situation that describes my dumb competitive personality perfectly, continue reading. . . So we docked early in Omiš, the place we send passengers to Zipline. I had never actually explored the town and I knew there was a big hike to a fortress, but we only had an hour and a half. . . I decided I would walk into town, explore, and maybe locate the hiking path so I could try it another week. A few minutes into town I saw a sign with an arrow saying 'Fortica.' I decided I would suss out the path for next time, maybe walk up a bit because I like to hike. . . So I walked up for 5-10 minutes and found the marked trail. I then thought maybe I could walk 30 minutes up and then turn around, and get however high I could in that time so I could get an idea of how long the whole thing would take. . . After about 20 minutes I had made amazing distance, and that stupid competitive devil in my head wouldn't stop telling me I could totally go all the way. So I sped up. . . Huffing and puffing, I got to a sign that said the fortress was 15 minutes away. I decided I could make it in half that time at my speed. Lunch on the boat was in about an hour. All the way at the bottom. (See that tiny dock down there?!🔫) So I went for it. . . At this point I wouldn't let myself off without touching the actual fortress. So I did. I got there and ran around it with my @gopro and @sandmarc pole snapping quick shots all over the place before turning quickly around back down the mountain, overlooking Omiš and the mouth of the Cetina River. . . . And I was 15 minutes early for lunch.🙃 #competitivespirit #annoying #mylegsareshaking #thatVIEWthough . . . #gopro #sandmarc #goprogirl #omis #croatiafulloflife #croatia #goprotravel #competitive #view #water #peoplewhodofunstuff #inspiredbyyou #outdoorwomen #hiking_official #earthfocus #outside_project #theoutbound #earthdaily #dirtbarbieadventures #earthgirllifestyle #femmetravel #girlgetoutside #travelstoke #adventureculture #passionpassport

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Where to go in Croatia: OMIŠ

Days: Day Tours from Split or Makarska/ 1-2 Days

Getting There: Omiš is about 45 minutes from Split (and about the same from Makarska) if traffic cooperates, and you can get there by bus or with a transfer if you sign up for an adventure tour from Split. Many sailing tours also stop here for adventure activities.

A lot of adventure tours from Split actually take place in Omiš – zip lining, rock climbing, and river rafting are the main ones. Omiš is where the Cetina river empties out in the the channel between the mainland and Brac island. Omiš was actually owned by a family of pirates in the 12 and 1300’s who were so powerful that the Venetian and Ottoman conquerors would pay them a ransom to pass by their territories. The pirates would attack any ship that sailed by and would actually retreat into the Cetina River to hide!

Today Omiš is an adorable little town at the base of this river and the massive rocky mountains behind it. You can find lots of souvenir shops, alleyway restaurants and cafe’s, homemade flavored rakijas and spirits, great hiking, and other adventures.

Ziplining

Ziplining in Omiš is a must for anyone visiting Croatia, honestly. I’ve done a fair bit of zip lining throughout my travels, and this is the best by far. I have had hundreds of my passengers do this optional activity on my tours and have not had a single one say it wasn’t worth it or didn’t love it.

Reserve a space on your own zipline tour today, it’s one of the best adventures in the country.

Rock Climbing

This is surely a great place to try – the sheer cliff faces around the river mouth are the perfect opportunity.

River Rafting

I haven’t done this personally but from what I hear it’s more of a nice little river paddle/float with mild  rapids and stunning views. The rapids are levels 2 and 3 and you go for 12 kilometers through amazing countryside. I would recommend the zipline over everything but if you have time, definitely try it all!

Book a river rafting experience here!

Hiking

Omiš has one of my favorite hikes in Croatia for sure. The Omiš Fortica (Oh-meesh Four-teet-zah) it at the top of the rocky mountain overlooking the town. The hike is about an hour and the views are just incredible.

extensive guide to croatia travel

Have you pinned this guide to Croatia to Pinterest yet?!?

Where to Go in Croatia: MAKARSKA

Days: 1-4+

Where to Stay in Makarska:

Hostel: Hostel Makarska

Hotel: Hotel Maritimo

Airbnb: Studio by the beach + City Centre for small groups / Apartman Marina for views

Getting There:

Makarska shouldn’t be much more than an hour and fifteen minutes from Split, and is easily reachable by bus.

Why Visit Makarska:

People ask me very often what my favorite stop is on my sailing tours, and I honestly have different favorites for different reasons. But I would have to say in this guide to where to go in Croatia that Makarska is my overall favorite. I think this because overall it has everything: the sheer beauty, amount to do, number of adventures, beautiful scenery, and nightlife. It is situated at the base of the tallest mountain on the Croatian coast (Biokovo mountains – Sveti Jure peak is just over 1700m) and the mountain view honestly looks like a fake backdrop. Makarska surely has some of the best shopping, swimming, and scenery in the country.

The entire mountainous stretch of coastline just north and south of Makarska is called the Makarska Riviera, and it’s all simply beautiful! The mountains look like a painting and the colorful towns are wonderful to explore. I don’t have a specific guide to Makarska (yet), so read below for the best things to do.

Makarska Adventures:

Parasailing in Makarska

Parasailing here is a must. Choose the ‘extra high’ option and be blown away by being on the same level as the stunning rocky mountains, gazing down at the little white dot that is the boat you’re attached to!

Makarska Jet skiing

Jet skiing here is also awesome. Again, the backdrop sets it apart.

Swimming

Makarska is the swimming capital of the coast, with too many amazing spots to count!

  • On one side of the port, you have Deep cave bar and an entire cliffy coast full of cliff jumps and mind-blowingly clear water. The jetty near Deep cave bar also has some lovely swim spots.
  • On the peninsula between the port and beach, you have similar cliff jumps and secluded swimming spots.
  • Beach – If you aren’t the cliff swimming type, you also have the option of a whole 2km of pebbly beach to swim and relax under the shade of the trees.

Wipeout course

There are two inflatable ‘wipeout courses’ along Makarska’s beach; you can’t miss them! For just about 50kn you can run along this floating obstacle course with your friends. Honestly, I have never laughed so hard in my life! You will slip and fall in the water every 2 seconds and it’s a hilarious time.

Cliff jumping in Makarska

You can find jumping spots all along the cliffs surrounding Makarska’s protected port. Just be careful and ensure it’s safe before jumping!

Markets

Makarska has some of the best markets in Croatia. There’s a big maze of markets just at the beginning of the beach where you can get lost shopping for basically anything you can think of. There are markets all along the rest of the 2km beach as well – the toughest choice will be deciding where to get your souvenirs! Many sailing trips also hold their pirate party here, and you can buy pirate gear in all the markets.

Makarska Cafes and restaurants

Crepes, snacks, bars – Essentially all of Makarska is lined with cafe’s, restaurants, and takeaway food. Along the riva (main beach boardwalk), you can find crepes, all kinds of snacks, restaurants selling all possible Croatian foods, gelato everywhere, and cocktail bars for days. Just take a stroll along the water and see what tickles your fancy!

Hiking

Similar to the cliff jumping spots, there are hiking trails on either side of Makarska’s protected port. You can hike up through the trees and rocks to discover even more amazing views and swim spots!

Massages on the beach

Yep, that’s right! There are plenty of massage tents right on the main beach where you can enjoy any of about 6 different types of relaxing massages right on the water.

Buba Bar

This bar is a bit of a trek from the main port, but if you can make it its a rad beach bar with thatched umbrellas, great cocktails, and a view to-die-for.

 

makarska riviera croatia beautiful mountains beaches croatia adventure water sports

 

Makarska Restaurants

Riva

I have been here about 23 times and am still not tired of it! Riva is a lovely courtyard restaurant adorned in beautiful vines, and is a perfect setting for a secluded and delicious dinner. Riva prides itself on meat and seafood, and you can get a top-notch steak or select freshly caught seafood straight from a freezer display.

Bounty

This restaurant is right on the beach and also has great meat and seafood, and also a fantastic burger!

Makarska Nightlife: Bars & Clubs

Smile Bar

This is an awesome little bar with great drink deals before you go out.

Marineta Bar

This bar has great cocktails and is right on the port.

Deep Cave Bar (Cave Rave)

This club has become pretty well known as the ‘cave rave’ on Croatia’s coast and has to be featured in any guide to Croatia. We all dress up like pirates for this night out, right on the water (and yes, it’s an actual cave!). It gets pretty crowded in peak summer season, however, and we usually head to Petar Pan around 12:30 when it gets too packed.

Petar Pan

This open-air club is only open in the peak months of summer, but has fun DJ’s and lots more space than Deep on a hot July evening.

mljet national park croatia island relax sunset lakes adventures

Where to Go in Croatia: MLJET

Days: 1-2

Where to Stay in Mljet:

Hostel: none!

Hotel: Hotel Odisej (proximity to National Park)

Airbnb: Charming Apartments (for seclusion/proximity to National Park) Double Room with Sea View for affordable/in town

Getting Here:

You can take a direct ferry to various ports on Mljet island from Dubrovnik. Book in advance here. You can also take a Day trip from Dubrovnik.

Why Visit Mljet:

Mljet is a super chilled out, GORGEOUS, wooded island just north of Dubrovnik. More than half the island is taken up by a national park characterized by two salt water lakes, the Malo Jezero (small lake) and the Veliko Jezero (big lake). Creative names, right?!

There’s a little island in the middle of the big lake, called Sveti (saint) Marija (maria) island, and on it is a benedictine monastery that was constructed in the 1190’s. These monks are the reason for the saltwater lakes, which is a rare phenomenon in this day and age. See, the lakes used to be fresh water, until these monks dug a channel between the big lake and the small lake to the ocean.

Why? To harness the power of the tide! Smart monks, they were! These lakes are connected to each other by a small bridge (mali most) and a little channel. Because they’re connected to the sea, the saltwater lakes are tidal. This means that you can float through the little channel with the tide when it’s moving in or out. Pretty cool! Just watch out for sea urchins 😛

The best things to do in Mljet are to hike around the lakes or rent a bike or kayak. You can rent bikes from Pomena or Polače (the main ports around the National Park) but I recommend walking into the park and renting them from Mali Most to avoid having to ride up big hills.

 

 

Kayak – kayak out into the big lake to get a view of Sveti Marija island – it’s stunning!

Bike – You can actually ride an entire loop around the big lake now; last year they constructed a beautiful round bridge (Veliki most) to connect each side at its thinnest point. However, if you can, ride past this bridge out as far as you can go toward the open ocean. On one side (my favorite side, the north side) you can find a hiking trail, and on the other a simply stunning view! Both sides are amazing for swimming and honestly one of my favorite places in this whole world.

Ferry – Your entrance fee to the national park comes with an optional ferry to Sveti Marija island if you would like to check out the monastery and little cafe yourself. But, I always say that the view is better from afar!

Odysseus Cave – if you can get your hands on a scooter or rent a car, you can check out the impressive Odysseus cave on the other side of the island. You can climb down a precarious rock trail to enter the cave from above, or you can jump in the water and swim into it where it connects to the sea! Either way, it’s an amazing cave with, again, some of the clearest water i have seen.

Other Rental Car/Scooter Adventures – If you can get your hands on a car, you can visit any of a few other amazing places on Mljet island. Sobra is a fairytale-like little town in the middle of the island, and if you make it all the way to the other side (I don’t even know if the town has a name!) you can find a very rare sandy beach!

 

hvar island croatia spanjola fortress view pakleni islands carpe diem club nightlife croatia

 

Where to Go in Croatia: HVAR

Days: Maybe 1-3 nights… however long you can party, really! Or, take a trip to other POI’s on the island like Stari Grad, which is stunning.

Getting there:

Hvar is about one hour’s catamaran ferry ride from Split and also about an hour ferry from Korcula. Book in advance. Some ferries are slower.

Where to Stay in Hvar

Hostel: White Rabbit Hostel

Hotel: Hotel Adriana or Hotel Amfora

Airbnb: Apartnan Olive Tree (for bigger groups) but I recommend this one for smaller groups/central.

Why Visit Hvar?

Hvar is a must when talking about where to go in Croatia- the sheer natural beauty, amazing swim spots, and most importantly -Nightlife. Hvar Town has a crazy nightlife and people come specifically for this. The rest of the island is more serene with wineries, lavender farms, hills, and coves. Some of Dalmatia’s best clubs and bars are in Hvar – and some great food, too!

VIEW MY IN-DEPTH SUPER GUIDE TO HVAR BY CLICKING HERE OR THE IMAGE BELOW:

In this guide you can learn about all sorts of adventures and places to see on Hvar island, the best places to watch the sunset, lots of suggestions for dinner & food, and a complete nightlife guide! 

READ
A Tour Guide's Guide to Hvar Travel - All You Need to Know

 

Where to Go in Croatia: BRAČ ISLAND

Days: Day stopover/Day trip – 1 day

Getting here:

You can get a direct ferry from Split to different parts of Brač. Book in advance here. You can also take a Catamaran cruise from Split that takes you to Supetar, Bol, and some secluded bays all in one day.

Why Visit Brač:

Brač is the largest island in Dalmatia, located on the southern coast of Croatia. It is famous because white limestone is quarried here that is used in most Croatian old towns (you’ll notice the smooth light stone that pretty much EVERYTHING is made out of) and is also shipped all over the world.

Brač stone has been used in the houses of Parliament in Budapest and Vienna, the palace in Stockholm, and even the White House in the USA! Oh, I love fun facts. You can buy lots of souvenirs of white Brač stone – earrings, bracelets, other jewelry, and other home decor like clocks and candle holders.

My tours only stopped in Milna, a tiny little village. There’s a cute little place you can taste homemade olive oil, wine, prosek, and grapa, a few cafe’s, a pizzeria, and two bars. That’s it. They have live music sometimes but this isn’t the most fantastic place in Croatia.

Bol – This is a famous v-shaped beach that changes shape with the currents. It’s a very popular place for tourists and a lot of day tours from Split or Makarska will do trips to Bol.

Supetar – One of the biggest towns on Brač bordering the channel between Brač and Omis.

 

Vis Island Croatia Fort George War tours

The view from Fort George, Vis.

 

Where to Go in Croatia: VIS ISLAND

Time: 1-2 Days

Where to Stay in Vis

Hotel: Hotel San Giorgio (Vis Town) / Villa Kamenica (Komiza)

Getting There:

Vis is a stop for many ferries running from Split, Hvar, etc. It is also a stop on many boat tours. I recommend visiting Vis and the Blue Caves as a day tour from Split.

This tour with well-established Providenca Charters visits Komiža, Hvar, the Blue Caves, the Green Cave, and the incredible Stiniva Cove (Pictured below) in one day. Great value for people without much time!

Why Visit Vis:

Vis is the tenth largest Adriatic island, and is home to many peaceful getaways. The island was only opened to tourism in 1990 after being a military base for former Yugoslavia and a submarine base and hideaway for Marshall Tito during WW2!

Vis is great for quiet time and renting a scooter to explore old war areas. There are also some pretty big parties in amazing venues if you catch the right night! Vis is also known for gorgeous picturesque coves and its famous blue caves on an island just off the coast.

View my Super-Guide to Vis Island by clicking here or on the image below! Like many of these places, there is so much to do that it needs its own guide. 

READ
Vis Croatia: A Tour Guide's Guide to Vis Island Beaches, Nightlife, & More

Where to Go in Croatia: KORČULA ISLAND

Time: 1-2 days

Where to Stay in Korčula:

Hostel – Hostel Korčula – most well-rated and central

Hotel – Hotel Korčula – central with a great view

Airbnb –  Apartmant Justina – central and large – make sure to book early!

Getting There:

Korčula is about the mid-way point on a ferry trip between Split and Dubrovnik. Book ferries in advance here. You can also visit the island as a day tour from Dubrovnik along with some other wine regions.

Why Visit Korčula:

Known as the ‘mini-Dubrovnik’ because of its smaller walled town, Korčula is just as gorgeous but more low-key. You’ll learn some fascinating history and have time to relax with amazing views + wine. Youo can watch a cultural sword dance called Moreska, eat tons of fresh seafood, take part in wind sports, and more. There’s also some enjoyable nightlife as well.

I wrote another Super Guide to Korčula, and you can view it by clicking here!

In this guide: The best places to explore, adventure sports, sunset spots, places to eat, and nightlife in Korčula. 

READ
A Tour Guide's Travel Guide to Korčula Island, Croatia

 

Where to Go in Croatia: North  of Split/The North Coast

Although most sailing tours only touch on the places to go in Croatia I have mentioned ab0ve, the fun doesn’t stop there! There are tons of other gorgeous regions of Croatia it would be a shame to miss out on. In no particular order, here are some other must-see cities and National Parks that are important to note when  considering where to go in Croatia. Many are included in my Balkans Road Trip Itinerary as well.

KRKA NATIONAL PARK

Days: Day trip/road trip from Split/Zadar

Krka (pictured above) is one of two well-known waterfall parks in the country. This is the one you can swim in. Krka is a beautiful National park with different levels of waterfalls and forest trails to explore. Krka is the closest to Split so would be a good day trip from Split!

Day tours usually take you to the waterfalls and a few other viewpoints and points of interest, and will include an amazing included homemade lunch (depending on which company you use).

Visit Krka as a Day Trip from Split, or as a day trip from Zadar!  It’s about an equal distance from both.

ŠIBENIK

Days: Day Trip/Road Trip Stop

My tours to Krka also stop in Šibenik for an hour or so. Šibenik is another scenic coastal town characterized by a quaint stone old town full of alleyways and cafes, along a port full of boats looking out to the Adriatic.

PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK

Days: Day Trip/Road Trip Stop

This is the other well-known waterfall park in Croatia, perhaps more well-known than Krka. You cannot swim in this one, but it is much larger than Krka and has pathways and trails that you could walk around all day! There are dozens upon dozens of beautiful waterfalls atop the clearest and most turquoise water you can imagine (are you seeing a theme in this country?!).

It’s very, very overrun with tourists, though, and is borderline unsafely crowded in high season. My pro guide to Croatia tip? Go before or after peak season, in May/June or September/October. Read more about visiting Plitvice Lakes in my Balkans road trip guide.

Plitvice is best visited as a day tour, and can be booked from Split, Zadar, or Zagreb.  It’s cheapest from Zadar and about equidistant between Zadar and Zagreb.

READ
Balkans Road Trip: A Balkan Travel Itinerary with Coasts, Parks, & More

TISNO

Days: 3-4 for a festival or road trip stopover

Tisno is not too far from Šibenik and plays host to many of Croatia’s sunny summer music festivals. Love International, Electric Elephant, Beats Beer and Boogaloo, and Suncebeat are all held here. View my festival guide below!

READ
Festivals in Croatia: The 15 Best Croatia Music Festivals
zadar sea organ guide to croatia

Sunset at the Sea Organ

Where to go in Croatia: ZADAR

Days: 1-2

Where to Stay in Zadar

Hostel: Downtown Boutique Hostel 

Hotel: Bastion Heritage Hotel

Airbnb:  Apartment Blue Sun Aurora – central.

Getting There:

Zadar is under two hours from Split and is reachable by car or bus.

Why Visit Zadar

Zadar is a popular city to visit on the mid-coast of Croatia. Its town center is set on ancient ruins along the water – an Ottoman fortress with some ancient Roman ruins scattered around as well. Like fairly everywhere else, there are lots of cool bars, cafe’s, and shops in the alleys of old town, and some open-air clubs as well. Check out this Zadar Travel Guide for more info!

Zadar is perhaps most famous for its ‘sea organ.’ This is a little pier with holes drilled in at different widths and lengths so that when the waves crash up against it they play different notes. It’s quite amazing really, and a must-see in Croatia.

Adventure Guide to Zadar

Kayaking to Dugi Otok

Like every major Croatian city, Zadar offers some amazing kayaking tours. Zadar is enclosed by different islands off its coast, namely Dugi Otok. This kayaking tour will take you through beautiful sea caves and cliff jumps – an adventurer’s dream!

Book your kayaking and sea caves tour with Kayak & Bike Adventures 

Or try a sunset kayak tour if you’re a sunset lover like me! 

River Canoe Safari

Zadar is lucky enough to be close to the Zramanja River, home to some fun rapids, canyons, and swimming spots.

This top-rated tour takes you canoeing and adventuring right from Zadar.

Skydiving

Yep, you heard that correctly! You can skydive over Zadar and the beautiful, moon-like islands of Croatia’s north. If you are an adrenaline junkie, get on it! I know I will next time I am there.

Adventure lovers, try Skydiving Zadar! 

Explore Surrounding islands and Nature Parks

Zadar has its own archipelago off the coast, and is scattered with tiny and large islands alike. There’s even a National Park, Kornati, located on an island not too far away. You can also visit the gorgeous Telašćica Nature Park and swim in the secluded bays nearby.

Spend a day sailing and exploring the beautiful Telašćica Nature park and Dugo Otok (Dugi island)!

Day Tours to Krka and Plitvice

Like Split and Zagreb, you can take a day tour to both Plitvice and Krka National Parks from Zadar.

Here’s a tour to Krka and here’s one to Plitvice from Zadar. There’s a lot of options to visit these two parks!

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Looking out from a viewpoint on Pag Island

 

Where to Go in Croatia: PAG ISLAND / ZRCE BEACH

Days: 2-4+ for a festival

Where to Stay on Pag:

Novalja is one of the main towns on Pag island (besides the actual town of Pag) and is the main base of all festivals and parties at Zrce beach. Festival boat parties will leave from here, there are many accommodation options, and it actually has some of the best shopping I have come across in Croatia.

Hostels: Moon Rocks Hostel for a bit more secluded with a pool // Hostel Zrce for central

Hotel: Villa Ani (central)

Why Visit Pag/Novalja/Zrce Beach

If the south wasn’t enough of a party, Zrće (pronounced zur-chay) takes care of the rest of Croatia’s party reputation. Many say the northern islands of Croatia look like the moon, in that they are white and hilly and mostly devoid of vegetation. Pag island is no exception, and one of its calm bays houses one of the best party venues in all of Europe – Zrće beach.

Zrće is like Vegas meets Ibiza on the coast of Croatia, and is absolute insanity. In summary, Zrće has 5 super-clubs right on the water, with all sorts of restaurants, convenience stores, bars, and activities all in one place. On normal nights you would need to purchase tickets to any one of the clubs, but when Zrće holds festivals, 3-5 of the clubs take part and a ticket will come with free movement between all involved clubs. Some festivals here to check out are Hideout, Black Sheep, and Sonus.

To read more about Zrće than this guide to where to go in Croatia can tell, check out my Review + Guide to Hideout Festival that takes place up there each June.

READ
Hideout Festival Review + Guide: All You Need to Know for Croatia

 

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This is how the @beatstravellers do… exploring hidden gems by day and partying by night! This stunning beach is not too far away from where @Sonusestival was held on Zrce beach, but was totally secluded👌🏼 and like a lot of the northern islands, is totally devoid of vegetation and looks like the moon!🌕 . . Speaking of hidden gems, I have just touched down in Greece to help out hosting the first ever @sailbeats tour – a boutique music & sailing experience touring around the Greek islands. We have our own DJ's taking over exclusive day & night Sailbeats parties at amazing island venues the whole week! It will be a lot of work and planning but I can't wait to see how the week turns out. Stay tuned to my story for live updates on my Greek adventures!!🐬 #pag #beach #Croatia

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Pag Island – Other than Partying

There’s absolutely nothing else to do. Just kidding, there a couple things. Pag is actually well-known for its cheese of the same name, and you can take some food + wine tours that taste and appreciate Pag’s production. Pag is also home to one of the only naturally occurring olive tree groves in the world, which you can visit for a small fee.

Book a food + wine tour of Pag from Zadar, visiting vineyards, a dairy, and different sights on the island

Birdwatching

Yes, really. In the off-season you can observe rare birds on the island migrating from Europe to Africa, and take a private tour to do so.

Beaches

There are nice places to lay out all over the island, but Ručica Beach definitely takes the cake (pictured above). This may be one of my favorite beaches in the world! A white pebbly beach looks out over the moon-like landscape and clear blue water, and it’s like something out of a dream.

You guessed it – Kayaking.

Kayak around Pag’s ‘extraterrestrial’ environment by renting one at a beach or taking a tour. This tour by Adventure Driven Vacations (ADV) takes you kayaking, free-climbing, and snorkeling in some of the best spots.

 

Where to Go in Croatia: ZAGREB

Days: 2-3

Why Visit Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s capital, and as I like to say, the ‘other half’ of Croatian culture. The coast is all about the sun, sea, and mediterranean vibes, but Zagreb is almost like another country! It’s important to visit Zagreb when considering where to go in Croatia because it’s entirely different than the rest of the country.

This lovely capital is far more similar to Eastern Europe than the rest of Croatia, and is fascinating to visit and wander the lovely little streets and massive cathedrals and churches. Take a free walking tour here, or try a bike tour of the city.

Around Zagreb there is a lot of wine country and small Croatian villages which are also lovely if you get the chance!

READ MORE ABOUT ZAGREB HERE IN MY ZAGREB POST! (not a guide, more like a story!)

READ
Visiting Zagreb: Showcasing Croatia’s Lesser-Known Personality

What to Do in Zagreb

Plitvice Lakes Day Tour – as I said above, this is a main starting point for a tour of Plitvice.

Explore the Town – there are many museums and amazing monuments and buildings in Zagreb.

Food Tours – there are also many food tours in Zagreb that harness the culture of the Mediterranean-style south, the rich north coast, and the more Eastern-European inland. See if you can see the difference in the food!

Slovenia – You can take a day trip from Zagreb to Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) and the stunning Lake Bled. I would recommend more time in Slovenia, but if you have a time constraint, a day trip from Zagreb could be the move.

motovun places where to go in croatia

Where to Go in Croatia: Istrian Peninsula

Istria is a hilly peninsula on Croatia’s northernmost coast, which is often compared to Tuscany. This is the ‘foodie’ region of Croatia, and is known for massive amounts of food, oil, wine, rakija, and truffles, too!

Similarly to what I said about Zagreb, Istria presents Croatia’s ‘third’ different ‘personality,’ with scenery differing completely from Dalmatia and also from the area surrounding the capital. Here are a few of the most notable places to visit in Istria, Croatia.

MOTOVUN

Days: 1-2

Where to Stay in Motovun

Hotel: Hotel Kastel (central)

Airbnb: Galerija Motovun for cheaper/smaller/central, House Valentino for a remote entire house, or Casa Adora for central + authentic (with a view)

Why Visit Motovun

Motovun is an incredible unique and iconic hilltop medieval walled town, and is also where the largest truffle ever found in history was located. Eat your bodyweight in truffle, cheese, oil, and wine, and gaze out at incredible views over rolling hills. Read my complete guide to Motovun below!

READ
Things to do in Motovun Croatia: A Truffle-tastic Medieval Hilltop Town
pula arena - ancient roman colosseum in Pula, croatia where to go in croatia

PULA

Days: 1-2

Why Visit Pula

Istria is most notably home to Pula, a city characterized by an ancient Roman Colosseum where they hold events (Such as Outlook and Dimensions Festivals). You can fly into Pula and tour the amazing area and some serene fishing towns like Rijeka.

Some of the best olive oil in the world is produced here, and Pula is home to an Olive Oil museum. The historic town is bustling at night, with alleyway restaurants and eateries full to the brim with locals and travelers alike.

Things to Do in Pula

Food Tours- Taste olive oil, cheese, and wine in one tour by Pula’s Krug Travel.

Kayaking – explore the local coves by kayak

Visit the Pula Arena – this colosseum is one of the best preserved in the world, besides the main one in Rome of course! It’s a must-see place when considering where to go in Croatia.

Visit Brijuni National Park – This island chain is hone to archaeological sites, amazing views, and some of the best-preserved dinosaur footprints the the world (nope, not kidding).

RIJEKA, ROVINJ, and POREC

These three coastal cities are also great to consider when planning out where to go in Croatia. They’re on all different sides of the Istrian peninsula, and all have something different to offer (well, they all offer fantastic coastal views, but what’s new there?!).

 

 

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I remember seeing photos of this place on a blog a few years back, and making a pact with myself to see it one day. It's called Blagaj (pronounced bla-guy) spring, the source of the Buna River in Southwest Bosnia & Herzegovina. They estimate that it's the deepest spring in Europe, and that 43,000 gallons come out of it per second. The surrounding restaurants just use the river water to keep their drinks cold!! The gorgeous white house next to it is the Dervish house – a branch of Islamic religion that is one with nature. I got the vibe that they were the Islamic hippies😝✌🏼️ More on this soon!! #blagaj #dervishes #dervishhouse #spring #bunariver #herzegovina #solotravel #mostar #birthday #nikon_photography_

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So, What Next? Where can you go from Croatia?

Depending on where you begin and end, many Eastern European and Balkan countries are easily accessible from Croatia. Here are some ideas, linked to blog posts I have written about them for more info.

Slovenia – beautiful nature, green cities, and lakes galore.

If you don’t have much time, you can see Slovenia’s highlights on a day tour from Zagreb.

Montenegro – stunning views, hikes, and nature. This is one of the most underrated countries if you ask me! Visit Montenegro from Dubrovnik; it’s only a few hours away! There are many Montenegro day tours leaving from Dubrovnik, as you will see in my guide to Dubrovnik day trips. Or, view my country guide below.

READ
The Best Things to Do in Montenegro in a Montenegro Road Trip Itinerary

Hungary – Trains can go directly to Budapest from many places in Croatia. The overnight train between Budapest and Split is quite a doozy, though… make sure you bring plenty of food and water and quite possibly some sleeping pills.

Bosnia + Herzegovina – Visit the historic Sarajevo or any of lots of amazing natural wonders in and around Mostar. There are also many tours to Mostar, Pocitelj, Medigorje, Kravice waterfalls, and Blagaj Springs (pictured above) from Dubrovnik – all fantastic natural wonders of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Check my Dubrovnik Guide or an example tour here, or read all about Mostar in my guide below.

READ
Things to Do in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Mostar Travel Guide 

Serbia – Visit lots of historical sites and the former Yugoslav Capital, Belgrade, the current capital of Serbia! Belgrade has an amazing music scene, a stunning countryside, and an amazing neighboring town, Novi Sad.

Need Help Planning Your Trip to Croatia?

Contact me! I have spent over ten months here over four years. I’ve seen the tourism grow with my own eyes, written over 10k words in this massive and multi-faceted guide to Croatia, and know the in’s and out’s of most of the country. I would love to help plan private tours, sailing trips, or any general Croatia consulting! Pop me an email at adventuresnsunsets@gmail.com and I’ll help you plan your perfect Croatian getaway!

A comprehensive guide to where to go in Croatia, including all different regions of the country and what makes each special. What to do, where to stay, how many days, how to get around in each destination with links to more in-depth guides.

WheretoGoinCroatia2

 

REMEMBER to PIN this Guide to where to go in Croatia to your Pinterest Boards and share the knowledge!

July 14, 2019

How to Continue Working While Traveling in Europe

How to Continue Working While Traveling in Europe

The world is a big place with countless places to explore. That’s why so many people often add “big vacation” to the list of things they would do if they won the lottery, and for good reason.

You can spend years in one single country and not see everything. There’s always an untraveled path, hole in the wall restaurant, or cultural experience out there waiting for you.

Some people decide to make traveling their full-time gig by working throughout their adventures. With the power of the internet, just about anything is possible. If you’re looking to travel and work in order to support yourself, look below for some recommendations.

The Job Options

Traveling isn’t free, although you can definitely get by without spending a ton of money, but you’ll still need a way to support yourself somehow.

Teaching English

To see if you’re qualified to teach English, perform the following test. Make sure you’re a native English speaker by reading or writing in English or double checking where you parents came from. Can you check that off? Great.

Step two is much easier. Take your fingers, put them on your wrist or neck and make sure you have a pulse. Still good to go?

Congratulations, you are now qualified to be an English teacher in many parts of the world. Some places require you have a college degree or certification like TEFL or TOEFL, but that is not always the case.

You can work locally in an academy, school or university or take your English skills online and teach English to adults.

The Digital Nomad

Once again, we can thank the internet for giving us so many options for work. Many different places of employment are now moving their job force online, meaning you can hop on that too.

Writing, editing, data entry, IT, engineering, teaching, virtual assistant, customer support, marketing, and community management are just some of the many jobs you can find online that offer remote work. You might have to change around your hours and invest in a better laptop, but it’s a fantastic way to earn money from anywhere in the world.

working while traveling in Europe

Your Own Business

Being your own boss means that you can take your work anywhere you want with you. If you want to travel this could be your best option.

This option requires a bit more work when it comes to getting everything set up. Start with a unique domain, a mobile friendly website, and get a little help from Google for ads and SEO guidance.  It usually takes a few years for an online business to even turn a profit and you might have things going slower, especially if you’re traveling at the same time.

But fear not, there are plenty of people who have turned their online business or website into their full time job and are able to see the world while doing so.

The Red Tape

Before you hop on a plane to the next hot European destination, we need to go over bureaucracy of all this.

One of the more important things to know before going to Europe long-term (after understanding what to pack for the time of year) is knowing what the Schengen Area is. Established in 1995, the area is borderless travel for 26 countries which are all in Europe. What that means is if you’re going from Spain to Germany, you won’t have to pass through passport control.

Europe as a name gets tossed around all the time as a term that covers all countries on the continent. For travel purposes, this is fine. If you’re going to Europe for the summer, you can travel to Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway and the UK without any problems.

Let’s break it down further, however. Italy, Slovenia and the UK are all part of the European Union but the UK is not part of the Schengen Area. Norway and Switzerland are part of the Schengen Area but not part of the EU. Ireland uses the Euro and is part of the EU but is not part of the Schengen Area.

Confusing, right?

If you’re planning on staying in any country in Europe for longer than 90 days (except Albania), you will need a visa. The majority of countries will make you apply for a visa before coming over, like Spain and Italy. Some countries, like France will let you apply for a visa once you’re inside the country.

Check with your destination country’s visa and passport policy before traveling. Failing to meet the requirements could result in denial of entry.

Also, never overstay your visa or that 90 day period. Some countries don’t mind as much, but others like the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland are notorious for cracking down on people that overstay by even a day.

Travel Within Europe

European travel is incredibly easy. They have plenty of planes, buses, trains and car-sharing opportunities for you to get around the country in. As a non-EU citizen, however, you may be subjected to different requirements and regulations traveling within the continent.

Also, starting in 2021, all Americans will have to apply for an ETIAS, an electronic visa that allows you to travel to European countries.

The decision was a long time coming and is relatively quick and painless (it will be able to be completed in less than 10 minutes), but is still a new step for travelers that will be checked throughout all airports.


 

Thanks for the guest post, Clarissa Caouette!

Clarissa is an enthusiast for all things outdoors, although she doesn’t get out as much as she would like. By day, she is the proud owner of a residential cleaning company, keeping her indoors most of the time. Clarissa is hoping to head to the Land Down Under in the near future. When not working (which is rare), Clarissa can be found with her family in their home just outside of Nashville, TN.

June 18, 2019

Balkans Road Trip: A Balkan Travel Itinerary with Coasts, Parks, & More

Balkans Road Trip: A Balkan Travel Itinerary with Coasts, Parks, & More

So this Balkans road trip itinerary is one that I carefully planned out and actually did myself along with some close friends, so not only do I think is it reliable and doable – I KNOW!

I expertly crafted this Balkan travel itinerary according to my group’s pace and needs, using my four years worth of knowledge from the Balkans and a wee bit of research. It was at least my second (or 30th – no joke!) time in most of these places, and I know them well enough  to lead an actual tour around them, let alone a virtual one.

This Balkans road trip includes Croatian islands at the beginning, after which you will rent a car (because you don’t need one for the islands, and who wants to waste money?! Not us!) and drive for the rest. You’ll then visit some Croatian National parks, Istria (northern Croatia), Slovenia, Bosnia + Herzegovina, and Montenegro. These countries comprise the Western Balkans – one day I’ll make a longer itinerary including all the other incredible Balkan countries as well.

Specifically, this Balkan Travel Itinerary Includes:

Dubrovnik – Elaphite Islands – Korcula – Hvar – Split – Zadar – Plitvice Lakes National Park – Pula – Motovun (Istria) – Ljubljana – Lake Bled/Lake Bohinj (Slovenia) – Makarska – Mostar – Blagaj Spring – Kravice Waterfalls – Pocitelj Castle (Bosnia + Herzegovina) – Kotor – Montenegro Road Trip (Ostrog Monastery, Podgorica, Lovcen National Park, Skadar Lake National Park, Sveti Stefan) – Budva – Dubrovnik.

I‘ll let you know where there are options to visit other places if you have more time. This Balkans itinerary as it is written lasts just under 3 weeks, but it’s designed so you can go at your own pace using the route I have outlined. There are only 18 specific days below, so pick your favorite place(s) and add extra days in here and there to suit your needs (or go super fast like we did and do it in 17-18). Choose your own adventure!

As with most of my itineraries, this Balkans road trip is for those of you who like a bit of adventure and aren’t afraid to move at a fast pace to allow you to experience more. You can always add more days wherever you like; I recommend to take this itinerary as a guide and go at a slower pace if you aren’t a fast travel type person (even a month or more if you like).

But, what I am giving you here is the exact Balkans road trip itinerary that I did myself in September 2018, with extra recommendations if you have more time.

The ideal western Balkans Road Trip - including nearly 3 weeks worth of destinations throughout Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia + Herzegovina, and Montenegro. What to do, where to stay, where to eat, and more for each destination, plus opportunities to extend the Balkans itinerary to see even more! AMazing photo and instagram spots in each destination and the best views in the balkans! #balkansroadtrip #balkans #croatia #slovenia #montenegro #bosnia

the ideal balkans itinerary with sights through croatia, montenegro, slovenia, and bosnia and herzegovina. STart riding ferries through the Croatian islands, then rent a car for the ideal Balkans road trip through national parks, coasts, mountains, and more. #balkansroadtrip #balkans #croatia #slovenia #montenegro #bosnia

PIN THIS Balkans Road Trip guide to your Pinterest boards! It’s VERY long. 

When is the Best Time to Visit the Balkans?

This is a tough question depending on where you want to go, but I will almost ALWAYS tell you May/June or September/October. July and August (and late June really) are ‘peak season’ in the Balkans (especially coastal Croatia) and some places are so overrun with people you’ll wish you just stayed home.

Places like Dubrovnik are especially crowded, with cruise ship passengers taking over the entire old town when they descend upon the poor unsuspecting thing like a cheetah pouncing on its prey.

But First, If You Want More Info in Specific Places…

Did you know I used to be a tour guide in Croatia? When I had that job I was able to familiarize myself a LOT with the country and those that surround it. You can read my Tour Guide’s Super Guide to All of Croatia or my specific guides below (most of which are outlined again in this EXTREMELY comprehensive itinerary).

BalkanTrip18CroatiaDalmatianCoast-1

Dubrovnik from up on the mountain

Balkan Itinerary Day 0: Arrive in Dubrovnik

Your Balkans road trip itinerary conveniently begins and ends in Dubrovnik – you’re welcome 😉 Dubrovnik is one of the most famous cities in Europe and pretty much like a fairytale in real life. It’s a walled medieval town right on the Adriatic, with tons of beautiful streets and alleyways to explore, places to swim, and history to learn.

Getting to Dubrovnik

I can assume for the sake of this Balkan itinerary that you will be flying into Dubrovnik (the itinerary world best this way, but you can bus in too or begin at any point because it’s a loop). I always use Skyscanner to compare fares from all flight providers to find the best deals. The busses in Croatia are also very reliable.

Make sure you read my in-depth Things to Do in Dubrovnik Travel Guide below for all the nitty-gritty on this awesome place. But for now, planning the day!

READ
Things to Do in Dubrovnik: A Tour Guide's Guide to Dubrovnik Travel
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

I would always recommend to stay inside the old town walls in Dubrovnik, so you don’t have to worry about traveling to get in on the action. There are also some really nice resorts that are quite removed. If you’re doing Airbnb, definitely get one inside the walls. Here are my best options for all budgets:

  • Airbnb – There are TONS of awesome airbnb’s in Dubrovnik. We stayed in this one and loved it (there were 5 of us). There are tons of options, small and large, often overlooking the old town. Just make sure to book early.
  • HostelsVilla Angelina is a great on in old town (I stayed there years ago). City Walls Hostel is right near the cliff jumping bar.
  • Hotels – Some amazing Dubrovnik resorts are Rixos Libertas (a few coves over from the main town but really lovely), and The Hilton (just outside the main gate of old town and really nice, gym and pool etc).
What to Do in Dubrovnik

Today you will fly in and get yourself situated; that’s pretty much it! Depending on what time your flight gets in you may have more or less time to explore. We got in quite late, and spent the evening wandering through the beautifully lit streets and eating a delicious meal at Veritas, one of my favorite restaurants I’ve been to dozens of times.

It’s in a main square of old town, and has some great options of classic Croatian food to introduce you to the cuisine. Try the ‘kiss of Dubrovnik,’ the Gunduluc Steak, the seafood platter, or the chicken a la bocar. 🙂

If you are in Dubrovnik on a weekend (which we were for the first night), make sure to check out the famous club Revelin. It’s inside the fortress walls of old town and is really incredible, decked out with amazing (loud) speakers, dancers, aerialists, and more. Just know that it gets good around 2am (but you can get free entry before about midnight with a voucher people give out all night in old town). You’re in Europe now – things go quite late!

Where to Eat in Dubrovnik:
  • Veritas – classic Croatian Food
  • Bona Fide – a Mexican/Italian restaurant for something different
  • Lady Pipi – classic Croatian food with a view
  • Alleyway Restaurants – there are tons of restaurants with tables in the narrow streets of old town. Many of these will serve classic Croatian food and seafood in a lovely atmosphere.
dubrovnik walls view of the old port - starting a balkan itinerary

View from walking the city walls 

Balkan Itinerary Day 1: Dubrovnik – Old Town

Rise and shine, it’s time for your first full day! Today you’ll do all the best things to do in Dubrovnik old town and surrounding areas – best done in order. There are loads of spots to check out so make sure you give yourself time to do it all (aka get going in the morning)!

Overlooking the City
  • Cable Car/Mt Srd – What better way to start your day than overlooking the whole city? One of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is to ride the cable car up to the top of the mountain overlooking the city. To get to the cable car, walk out the Ploce gate of old town and simply follow signs (you can also hike up if you are daring enough – there’s a trail). You can get a round trip ticket, or you can also do a car tour from many Croatian guides who hang out near the cable car port and will tell you history and take you to a few different places. At the top, you can do a buggy safari or visit a museum/restaurant (below).
  • Museum of the Croatian War for Independence – At the top of the cable car hill, you’ll find a museum dedicated to the Croatian War for Independence, which happened a mere 26-27 years ago in 1991-2. You will come upon lots of recent history in this Balkans itinerary, so it will be good to familiarize yourself with the turbulent history right off the bat. Tickets are about 30kn and the experience is eye-opening.
  • Panorama Bar/Restaurant – Grab a coffee, meal, or cocktail at the Panorama bar overlooking the cable car and city before you go back down. It might be one of the best views ever!
Dubrovnik Museums
Now you have a bit of time to explore old town! Some museums you can visit upon your return to old town are:
  • Rector’s Palace Museums – ethnographic, maritime, and archeological museums in the same building
  • Sponza Palace – Art exhibits and Memorial Room for the defenders of Dubrovnik
  • War Photo Museum – photos from the Croatian and other wars
  • Marin Drzic house – home of a famous Croatian poet
  • Or, just grab a 5 Euro street mojito on the main street 😉
Final Old Town Adventures
  • Swim at the Buza (cliff) Bars – If it gets quite hot mid-day, it would be silly not to have a dip in the crystal blue Adriatic waters. The best place to do this is right off the walls of the town. There are two cliff bars (called buza bars) that you can find on the western edge of the old town. The entrances may be a bit hard to find, but it will be so worth it! One of the bars has steps into the water and the other is popular for jumping from high cliffs into the deep water.
  • Walk the Walls of Old Town – When it gets a bit later (maybe a few hours before sunset, just make sure to check the opening times) it’ll be time to walk the old town walls of Dubrovnik. You can get tickets to the walls just inside the main Pile gate (see my Dubrovnik post for more preliminary info) and there are two entrances to the walls. People walk them in a counter clockwise direction. Make sure to give yourself at least an hour (preferably two) and to bring your camera!
buza bar cliff bars map dubrovnik

At Night: Since you tried Veritas last night, you can now check out one of my other favorites: Bona Fide Mexican cafe. If you’re from California/Mexico you may not enjoy this Mexican food as much, but if you have been traveling and could use a Mexican fix, this food is really good. If you’d like something local again, head to Lady Pipi (go early because there may be a line!) or sit down to a romantic alleyway meal anywhere in old town.

BalkanTrip18CroatiaDalmatianCoast-213

Dubrovnik from the fortress opposite the walled town 

Balkan Itinerary Day 2: Dubrovnik – Day Tours

After checking out the city yesterday, today it’s time to see why people from all over the world flock to swim in the waters of the Adriatic. Today jump on a boat tour of the Elaphite islands, which are gorgeous islands just outside the city’s port. You will be able to explore tiny island towns, swim in crystal clear waters, and maybe explore even more beaches and caves. If you have time, you can also go sea kayaking, Game of Thrones’ing, or more.

Note: You’ll want to buy online/ pick up ferry tickets to get Korcula tomorrow, today. You can purchase them in advance online or get them from a store called Travel Corner in port Gruž. Today, it’s a good idea to get them if/when you leave for your Elaphite islands tour from port Gruž, which is where the ferries leave from.

Elaphite Islands Tours

There are two different kinds of Elaphite islands tours, choose which sounds best to you:

  • Big Boat Tour – The ‘galleon’ tour will take you to the three islands (Šipan, Koločep, Lopud) and will drop you in the towns on each island. You’ll have free time in each little town to eat, swim, or explore.
  • Speedboat Tour– The speedboat tour is an adventurous Elaphite islands tour, and will take you swimming through a blue cave, exploring and swimming through other island caves, swimming to a sandy beach, and more. Choose which one is best for you and click the bold letters to book.
When You get Back:
  • Sea Kayaking: This is one of the most popular things to do in Dubrovnik. Sea Kayaking Tours go from the old town, to a cave/beach down the coast, around some spots on Lokrum island, and back. It’s hard but beautiful and it includes lunch.
  • Game of Thrones Tour:Dubrovnik was one of the main filming locations for Game of Thrones, and you can see lots of filming sites like King’s Landing and the Shame Steps on a GoT tour. You can also see some filming sites from the recent Star Wars movie.

Dinner: Today grab some takeaway after a long dayor choose from the recommended restaurants above.

OR

Cavtat

If you aren’t too tired, there’s a lovely town called Cavtat about 30 mins south of Dubrovnik. They call it ‘Dubrovnik’s Monaco’ and it has some fancy resorts, nice restaurants, and beautiful shopping. You can get there by bus route 10 or by ferry boat from the old port in town.

Korcula Croatia Guide to Korčula Island Travel

Balkan Itinerary Day 3:  Dubrovnik to Korčula

Before you leave Dubrovnik: Get ready to check out, and spend your morning in Dubrovnik catching up on any activities you missed, exploring Lokrum Island, or relaxing on Banje Beach.

Getting from Dubrovnik to Korčula

You’ll take the ferry from Dubrovnik to Korčula (korch-uh-luh). Grab ferry tickets online or the day before you go while in port Gruz. We took the 4pm ferry which worked well. There’s also a very early one and a late one, maybe more dependent on the time of year.

Where to Stay in Korčula

I would recommend staying in or close to the old town since you won’t have much time here.

Airbnb – There aren’t as many airbnb’s in Korčula, especially for bigger groups, but there are options if you book early. We stayed in this one and had a great experience (with 5 of us).

Hostel Hostel Korčula is the most well-rated and central

Hotel – Hotel Korčula is central with a great view

What to Do in Korcula

Korčula is called a ‘mini Dubrovnik’ because it is similarly an old walled town on the water. It’s quite small, so this afternoon and tomorrow morning should be enough to explore. They say that Korcula is the birth place of Marco Polo, and you can visit the Marco Polo house (where he is rumored to have been born), a Marco Polo museum, and tons of Marco Polo gift shops. If you’d like more back story and info about Korcula and a complete guide, check my Tour Guide’s Super Guide to Korcula linked below.

READ
A Tour Guide's Travel Guide to Korčula Island, Croatia
  • Once you arrive, drop your bags and get ready to explore! I recommend today that you check out a cocktail bar called Massimo’s, which is a repurposed 14th century fortress where you climb up a ladder to get to the roof. It usually opens at 5.
  • For sunset, climb the Bell tower in the main square of St Marko. It costs about 30kn, and is a one-way spiral staircase up the tower that has traffic lights to dictate when to go up and when to wait for people to come down! It’s the best view of the city and a great sunset spot.
  • At some point, make sure to check out the hilariously interesting Marco Polo museum. It’s right outside the old town walls, and is comprised of a few different rooms with elaborate scenes/mannequins laid out to tell the story of a different part of Marco’s life/adventure. It usually closes late (9pm) so going after dinner today is not out of the question (that’s what we did).
Where to Eat in Korčula

Dinner in Korčula will fall sometime between the visiting the bell tower and the museum, or any time you get hungry! There are a few options:

Kavana No. 1: This is probably the best place to eat in the city, and has an amazing view whether it is light out or not. It’s a bit of a climb to get to, but this restaurant is up on a hill overlooking the old town. If you want to try something authentic, order the meat peka (meat slow-cooked on hot coals under a bell). It’s absolutely delish. You might have to pre-order it if you have a few people though, since it takes a few hours of preparation. Just call in the afternoon.
Tramonto: This is also another amazing sunset view, with a terrace facing west. You can grab cocktails here if you have time before dinner (it’s the second best sunset view), or they have some amazing dishes (the beefsteak Tramonto is one of my favorites).

Optional: If You Have More Time:

Stay another/a few more days and spend some time wind surfing, relaxing on the shore, or exploring other places around the island such as Lumbarda.

Check if there is a ‘Moreška’ dance during your stay. This is a traditional sword dance that reenacts a battle that the Korculans had with the Ottoman turks in the medieval times. It’s a huge part of Korcula culture and a spectacle to see.

hvar island view pakleni islands part of 3 week balkan itinerary

Balkan Itinerary Day 4: Korčula to Hvar

Before you leave: Korčula: Today you’ll wake up in Korčula and take the time to go have breakfast on the eastern shore of town, where there are loads of restaurants in the shade of trees overlooking the water. Next, walk up the (western -the direction of the sunset last night!) coast away from town – this is the best place to swim.

You’ll pass by some rickety wooded docks shaded by palm trees along the road. Eventually you’ll come upon a pebbly beach where you can lay out and have a swim in the crystal clear water while gazing at a perfect view of the old walled town.

Getting from Korcula to Hvar

You’ll take another ferry today, from the same place, to Hvar. I recommend the 1pm ferry so you have a morning in Korcula to swim. The ferry takes about an hour.

Where to Stay in Hvar

Airbnb: We stayed in this one (6 guests) but I recommend this one for smaller groups/central.

Hostel: White Rabbit Hostel

Hotel: Hotel Adriana or Hotel Amfora

What to Do in Hvar

Hvar is another stunning island known for its nightlife. There will be options for both history and partying today, and enjoying Hvar’s great food. I also have a super-guide to Hvar, so if you’d like more in-depth info click below.

READ
A Tour Guide's Guide to Hvar Travel - All You Need to Know
  • Spanjola Fortress – Once you enjoy the scenic ferry ride, arrive in Hvar, and drop your bags (might also be a good idea to grab your Split ferry tickets if you don’t have them already), it’s time to check out another fortress. The walk to Spanjola is about 15 mins from the town, and is one of the best views in Croatia. Pay about 30-40kn to enter the fortress and revel in the views and interesting information to learn about this site, which was built in the 1550’s.
  • Adriana Rooftop Bar – Ok guys, this is my secret spot that I would never tell my tour groups about. Don’t tell! There’s a lovely bar on the top story of hotel Adriana, right in the port. It’s a great place to relax and have a coffee or cocktail before heading to Hula Hula.
  • Shopping + Markets – There are also lots of markets in town that sell souvenirs, jewelry, and lots of lavender, which is grown on the island. Get yourself some lavender oil/scent/soap for an authentic souvenir.
  • Hula Hula Beach Cocktail Bar – Hula Hula is one of the best bars in Croatia. It’s the perfect place to go a few hours before sunset, and will get crazier as the sun nears the horizon. It’s a cocktail bar that you can swim at, right on the water. They have blended strawberry daiquiris, pina coladas, and peach margaritas on tap, so enjoy a few of these (or cut right to the chase and get the 1L version!) before jumping into the sea and enjoying the music.
Where to Eat in Hvar

After Hula Hula, choose from one of  my recommendations below/in my Hvar Super Guide for dinner. Hvar has AMAZING food so it would be good to choose wisely or spend a few more days.

Spice Thai Food/Burgers in the Main Square: If you want something a bit different, there’s  a fantastic burger place right next to a Thai restaurant in the main square of Hvar town. They’re both owned by the same person and are both very reliable.

Black Pepper: Black Pepper is a beautiful restaurant in an alleyway of Hvar that focuses on modern and creative twists on classic Croatian dishes. You can’t go wrong here!

Dalmatino: Dalmatino is also right in the stone alleys of the town and is known for being one of the bet restaurants in town, with more traditional dishes and also different flavors of Croatian rakija to sample with your meal.

At Night: Hvar is known for having the best nightlife in southern Croatia. If there’s a place to have a night out, this would be it (along with Dubrovnik). After dinner I recommend getting ready and hitting up a few bars around 8-9pm, if that’s your thing. If not, relax with a drink in the square or along the harbor and watch the night come to life!

  • Kiva Bar is infamous in Hvar. It gets really crowded around 9 so make sure to get in early! Expect delicious cocktails in some small crowded rooms in an alley, ‘tequila boom boom’s’ going around (thank me later), and all the possible singalong songs.
  • Sidro Bar – home of the best espresso martini I’ve ever had. No joke. Also some fun singalongs and other great cocktails, but outdoors on a patio.

Clubs:

  • Carpe Diem: this is a famous club on an island. There are free water taxis that go back and forth to an island off Hvar’s coast all night every night, and it’s one of the most unique clubs in Europe.
If You Have More Time:

Rent a car/vespa scooters and explore the island, rent a boat to explore the surrounding Pakleni islands, have a beach day, or take a 30 minute bus to explore to oldest town in Croatia, Stari Grad, and taste some Hvar wine.

visiting split croatia as a stop on a balkans itinerary / balkan road trip

Balkan Itinerary Day 5: Hvar to Split

Before you go: Today you’ll wake up and spend a morning in Hvar before heading to Split. Either relax before your ferry (I recommend the 1pm) or head down to one of a few small beaches to have a morning dip. Leisurely get your stuff together, have lunch if you desire (Vita Health Food Bar has good coffees), and head to the early afternoon ferry.

Getting from Hvar to Split

You’ll take your last ferry today, from the same place the previous one dropped you off. I recommend the 1pm Split ferry to have a last swim in Hvar before you go. The ferry takes about an hour.

Where to Stay in Split

AirbnbMain Square Apartment (we stayed here)/Silver Luxury Apartment for smaller groups

Hostel – Booze & Snooze (for central + party)
Hotel – Palace Judita Heritage Hotel 

What to Do in Split

Split is the capital of the Croatian coast. Although a large city, Split’s center is quite small, relaxed, and full of history. I also have a specific guide to Split if you are interested about reading about things to do in Split in more depth.

READ
A Tour Guide's Split Travel Guide: Adventures, Food, + Nightlife (Croatia)
  • Split Old Town – Once you get situated in Split, it’s time to explore the old town. But This isn’t just any old town; its actually a town built out of an ancient Roman emperor’s (Diocletian’s) palace, which was built in 305AD. The city center is in the shape of a square because its been built from this old palace, and nowadays the alleyways of town are shops, restaurants, bars, gelaterias, and more.
    • Cellars: These are the cellars underneath the palace which still retain their original form from a few thousand years ago. You can explore them and learn about their history.
    • Peristyle: The main square, where the emperor used to address his people.
    • Bell Tower: Built much later in the 1700’s, but with an amazing view over town (climb up for 30ish kuna).
    • Vestibule: Often has an acapella group singing inside because of amazing acoustics
    • Museums: Split City Museum, Ethnographic Museum, Museum of Fine Art
    • Gelato: there are lots of good places in town
    • Takeaway pizza/pastry: Croatia and especially Split is known for its cheap takeaway food
  • Marjan Hill/Bell Tower – After exploring around old town, walk up Marjan Hill for a great view overlooking the city. If you still have time before sunset, climb the bell tower too!
Where to Eat in Split:

Visit my Split guide for more in-depth info. For sit-down places, I recommend Fife (cheap, quick, traditional food), Bokeria (fancy food and wine), or Diocletian’s Wine House (lovely atmosphere and wine selection).

Another option would be to get takeaway food/drinks and sit in the peristyle, which has live music most nights. You can get takeaway snacks from bakeries like Bobis for very cheap, or Toto Burger has great burgers, Mama Burger has burgers and wraps, and M Cafe has lots of takeaway meals. There are a few grocery stores in town where you can get a bottle of wine and cups to drink on the steps of the square as you eat.

At Night: I assume you’re very tired, so you might want to spend this night in! If not, Gaga Bar has great cocktails, and Charlie’s Bar is a great backpacker bar. Clubs include Bacvice Beach Club, Vanilla, Inbox, and Centar. I highly prefer a night out in Hvar though!

If You Have More Time:

If you want to stay longer in Split, you can spend time either doing day trips from Split or relaxing on the beach. You can visit the blue cave of Vis, visit Krka National Park, or more as day trips from Split below that are not included in this Balkans Itinerary.

READ
12 Must-See Day Trips from Split, Croatia

Balkan Itinerary Day 6: Split to Zadar

Today you’ll be soaking up your last moments in Split. In the morning, I recommend my favorite breakfast at Braserie on 7, which is an outdoor restaurant on the main Riva. They have an absolutely delicious special iced coffee, and a two tier sweet+savory breakfast that comes with a savory omelette and sweet french toast.

Pick up your rental car around 11am-noon, and head north to begin the true Balkans road trip. Check out some tips for driving in the Balkans if you like.

Getting to Zadar from Split:

You’ll need to figure out in advance which day you’ll be leaving from Split, and reserve a rental car. Make sure that the company you rent from allows border crossing.We found that the cheapest Balkans car rental is from Sixt, which has an office near the Old Town in Split (and allows your to cross country borders). Set your destination in Zadar and get on the road!

Quick Tips for Driving in the Balkans

Traffic laws in the Balkans are not too difficult too grasp. They drive on the right side of the road and have similar streets and freeways to the rest of Europe. Some roads may be narrow. Make sure you have a navigation system (even if offline Google Maps) to guide you on your way, as signs will obviously be in Croatian.

Where to Stay in Zadar:

Airbnb: We stayed at Apartment Blue Sun Aurora – right in the middle of town.

Hostel: Downtown Boutique Hostel 

Hotel: Bastion Heritage Hotel

What to Do in Zadar

The first stop is Zadar, a historical ancient Roman town a few hours up the coast.

  • Old Town – Zadar has another incredible old town centered around some ancient Roman ruins – they aren’t as well-preserved as Split, however! You can check out the Roman Forum (in the center) and learn a bit about it, wander through many shops and alleyways, walk on the old town walls, and try some delicious takeaway food and pastry.
  • Museums – After exploring the Old Town, there are a few museums that may be of interest. We visited the Museum of Illusions, which was light hearted, trippy, and fun. It’s also next to a Museum of Ancient Glass if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Sea Organ – After walking around and visiting the museums, grab a drink from a market and head to Zadar’s most famous attraction, the Sea Organ. Located on the brim of the old town, the sea organ was constructed so that whenever the waves from the sea hit different sized openings in a platform over the water, they play different notes. Find a place to sit near the sound, crack open a drink (you  can have alcohol in public here), and enjoy a perfect view of the sunset over distant islands.
  • Waterfront/Markets – After the sunset, meander along the waterfront towards the restaurant of your choice. Take your time and stop to check out artisans selling goods along the path, food vendors, and also lost of small market stalls in town.
Where to Eat in Zadar

For a sit-down meal, try Bruschetta (delicious higher-end restaurant) or Restaurant Kastel. Or, grab takeaway and sit in the lively main square near the forum. There are tons of great gelato places as well, which will be begging you to buy them and eat in the square also.

At Night: There are lots of cocktail bars and an outdoor club or two in Zadar. Check out Ledana for an outdoor patio club if you like. You have an early morning tomorrow, so choose wisely!

If you have more time:

There are some really cool full-day tours to do in/around Zadar if you have another day. Check out this kayaking through caves tour to Dugi Otok, or this popular river canoeing tour.

plitvice lakes national park croatia waterfalls park balkan itinerary

plitvice lakes national park balkans road trip

pula arena - ancient roman colosseum in Pula, croatia where to go in croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park + Pula Arena

Balkans Road Trip Day 7: Zadar to Plitvice Lakes to Istria

Before you leave: Today is a big day! You’ll want to have breakfast in the accommodation and head back to the car quite early – by 8 or 9am. It will take 1.5 to 2 hours to drive to Croatia’s most famous National Park, Plitvice Lakes, from  which you will drive to Istria.

Plitvice Lakes is a beautiful green national park full of emerald lakes and prolific waterfalls. There are tons of trails surrounding it. Don’t underestimate it’s size, though – it’s very big and you’ll have to move fast to see it all

Getting to/What to Do in Plitvice Lakes

Have your navigation direct you to one of the two main entrances to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Now, you will spend the next few hours exploring one of Croatia’s most beautiful and famous national parks, spotting fish in clear blue water, and marveling at waterfalls.

One part of the park has larger lakes and taller waterfalls, whereas the other part has tons of smaller waterfalls above each other.  Once you enter, the best advice I can give is to walk counter-clockwise, which is going to be the opposite way as most people. Check out these tips for visiting Plitvice lakes for an in-depth look!

I recommend taking the long ferry boat that connects two sides of the park to each other (see map). The line may be long, but it’ll save you lots of energy! Follow the map route for the best self-guided views in Plitvice Lakes National Park, bring your camera, and prepare for a bit of walking!

plitvice lakes national park walking route
Getting to/What to Do in Pula

You’ll want to shoot to be back at the car by about 4pm or earlier, to make the 3 hour drive to Istria. Rather than drive straight to Motovun, which is where you’ll be spending the night, I recommend driving the the capital of Istria, Pula, first. Pula is home to the second best preserved ancient Roman Colosseum in the world (after the actual colosseum) and is an extremely lively and historic port town.

In the summer months, it will be bustling even if you arrive around 7pm. First, visit the Pula Arena (ancient colosseum), which will be l it up even at night. Have a wander around the old town – the shops will still all be open – and then choose somewhere to grab food (sit down or takeaway).

Getting to Motovunm

Finally, after dinner, make the hour drive to Motovun. Make sure you confirm a late arrival with your accommodation – around 10-11pm. Find your bed and crash – it’s been a LONG day!

Where to Stay in Motovun

Airbnb: We stayed in this gorgeous villa – outside of town next to  the Fakin winery (it’s okay to be out of town now you have a car!) or Galerija Motovun

Hostel: None, sorry!

Hotel: Hotel Kastel 

If You Have More Time

Stay a night in Pula and explore it more fully! You can try to Pula Hop on Hop Off bus for a relaxed tour, or a Pula caves + kayaking tour as well.

motovun croatia - visiting istria as astop on a balkans road trip

Balkans Road Trip Day 8: Motovun/Istria

You might want to sleep in today, adventurers, you’ve done well and moved fast thus far if you’ve followed this Balkans road trip Itinerary exactly. But today we have our first scheduled two-night stay so far… PHEW!

When you wake up and look outside, surely you’ll be stunned by the new daytime view of the beautiful countryside you arrived in late last night. Istria is often compared to Tuscany, and showcases a truly different side to Croatia than the southern coast.

To learn about Motovun more in-depth, red my guide below:

READ
Things to do in Motovun Croatia: A Truffle-tastic Medieval Hilltop Town
What to do in Motovun

Today you will be exploring Motovun, a scenic medieval hilltop town known for its truffles, wine, and gastronomy.

  • Truffle Hunting Tour – One of the most unique things to do in Motovun is take part in a truffle hunting and tasting tour put on by some famous family-owned truffle companies. On these you can taste local food and hunt with truffle-hunting dogs through dense forest as they sniff out one of the world’s delicacies: truffles. Check this site or my guide linked above for tours.
  • Photos and Tastings in Old Town – Next, you’ll want to explore the hilltop town. Motovun is the foodie capital of Croatia, and has tons of small shops that give tastings of olive oil, truffle paste/oil, wine, rakija, and more. Pop into as many as you can and maybe you’ll find something you just can’t resist!
  • Walk the Walls – Like many medieval towns, you can walk the walls of Motovun for 25kn. Enjoy views of the rolling green hills and understand why many people call Istria “the Tuscany of Croatia!”
  • Wine Tasting – If you have time, there are a few wineries in the area. Fakin Winery was right next to our airbnb and offered tastings through the day.
Where to Eat in Motovun:

I recommend a truffle-tactic sit-down meal here. Each restaurant has many dishes based upon the white and black truffles of the area, and this is truly the time to indulge! Fakin Restaurant overlooks the sunset and serves their own truffle and wine – you can’t go wrong!

After Dinner: Grab your favorite bottle of wine, take it back to your accommodation, and relax!

predjama castle slovenia balkans road trip

ljubljana slovenia

Predjama Castle + Ljubljana, Slovenia

Balkans Road Trip Day 9: Motovun to Predjama Castle to Ljubljana

Before you leave: Enjoy a lazy morning in Motovun; I recommend having breakfast in your accommodation and getting ready to go to Slovenia at your earliest convenience – maybe 8 or 9.

Getting to Slovenia/Driving in Slovenia:

You’ll drive past some lovely little hilltop towns on your way into Slovenia. As your rental car company will have hopefully told you, you’ll need to purchase a tourist tax sticker at your earliest convenience once you enter the country. Driving here should be no different than Croatia; just make sure you have your passports to cross the border and purchase the blue tourist tax emblem once you are in at the nearest service station.

Currency Change: They use the euro in Slovenia. You’ll want to exchange euro or get some out before the trip. Montenegro also uses euro.

Predjama Castle

The first stop in Slovenia will be an incredible castle built into the  side of a cliff face – Predjama Castle. Driving here from Motovun should take about 1.5 hours, assuming the line at the border isn’t too long. You can either admire Predjama from outside, or pay a bit extra to go inside. Postojna caves are also right next to the castle, if you’d like a bit of extra adventure before getting to Ljubljana.

What to do in Ljubljana

After visiting the castle/caves, you should arrive in Ljubljana in less than an hour. If you time it well, you can arrive into Slovenia’s capital by 1-2pm, giving you a free afternoon to explore. Once you check  into your accommodation, get out into the city!

  • Walk around the city: marvel at the old streets + town, visit the three bridges, the main square, and more
  • Try some coffee at a local cafe – I recommend Cafe Cokl 
  • Walk through the large + grassy Tivoli park
  • Visit the National Gallery + Art Museum (near Tivoli Park)
  • Walk up to the Ljubljana Castle for sunset.

Surprise! I also have a guide to Ljubljana, Bled, and Bohinj which will go farther in depth than this Balkans Itinerary. Read it below.

READ
Slovenia Travel Guide: Make the Most of Ljubljana, Bled, and Bohinj
Where to Eat in Ljubljana
  • Restaurants along the river – these have a great view
  • Ljubljana Castle – has a restaurant inside
  • Try a Horseburger – an original Slovenian creation, the ‘Horseburger’ is lean and healthy and can be obtained from the fast food restaurant Hot Horse. 
Where to Stay in  Ljubljana
lakw bohinj slovenia from mt vogel cable car

Lake Bohinj from Mt. Vogel Cable Car 

lake bled slovenia

Lake Bled

Balkans Road Trip Day 10: Ljubljana to Lake Bled/Lake Bohinj

Today you will do a day trip from Ljubljana to some GORGEOUS lakes in the Slovenian countryside. Most people know about Lake Bled, which is quite famous, but not Lake Bohinj, which is just 30 minutes away. The true adventurers can squeeze highlights of both into one day by following the itinerary below.

Getting From Ljubljana to Lake Bohinj

You’ll start off by driving to the far end of Lake Bohinj, which is about 1:15 hours away from the city. Set your navigation to Ukanc, or the Mt. Vogel Cable Car.

What to Do in Lake Bohinj

Once you arrive at the Mt. Vogel cable car, buy a ticket (they depart every 30 mins) and ride it to the top of the mountain. This will give you an idea of the extent of the Slovenian Alps right away. You’re in a MASSIVE mountain range known for climbing, snow sports, and more!

Mt Vogel is a ski resort in the winter, but a fantastic view in summer. You don’t need too long here unless you want to hike (for which you’d need extra days). Simply take some photos of the lake below and marvel at the view of the Julian alps, which will be a big scenery change from the coasts.

Next, drive to the other end of Lake Bohinj (Ribcev Laz) and park. Now, you can either have a leisurely walk around part of the lake, lay in the sun if it’s warm enough, or (my personal favorite) rent some kayaks. Many agencies rent kayaks near the water. Rent some for about an hour, which is just enough time to paddle to the nearest side of the lake and have a swim.

Where to Eat In Bohinj

After some exploring and kayaking, surely you’ll be hungry… and why not try some authentic Slovenian food?! Gostilnica Strudl is as authentic as it gets, and is just in the main town outside of Lake Bohinj. I can’t remember the specific dish names, but make sure to get the Strudl tasting platter with the sour milk to dip bread into (trust me), and the noodles with brown sugar and jam for afterwards.

What to Do in Lake Bled

Next, drive 30 mins to Lake Bled. First, hike to the Ojstrica Viewpoint, giving you sweeping views of Lake Bled (about 20-25 minutes). Next, walk along the water and consider having one last swim near the pebbly beach there.

Lastly, drive up to Bled Castle for sunset (we’ve done enough physical activity today!) and enjoy the surroundings. If you like, make a reservation at the restaurant for a 5 course dinner menu with a view. If not, grab some takeaway food either in Bled, or when you get back to Ljubljana! The drive will be about an hour.

If You Have More Time

Slovenia would be a great place to extend your trip for a few days. Spend an extra day exploring Ljubljana more fully, and then book accommodation near Bled OR Bohinj. You can do a 12k hike around one side of Lake Bohinj, go river rafting in Bled, do an organized tour + boat ride to Bled Lake/Castle, or go canyoning in the Bohinj Valley.

makarska riviera croatia beautiful mountains beaches croatia adventure water sports

Balkans Road Trip Day 11: Slovenia to Mostar (+ Makarska!)

Today is our first big driving day!  There is an option to stop in my one of favorite places in Croatia: Makarska.  The drive would be 6.5 hours to Mostar without stopping, or 7.5 hours with it (plus however long you want to spend there – I recommend 2 hours).

Getting from Ljubljana to Makarska

Leave by 10ish, or earlier if you can. Drive straight to Makarska, which is my favorite Croatian coastal town at the base of Croatia’s tallest rocky mountains. Stop off for a swim, lunch, and maybe a bit of shopping!

  • Swimming/Cliff Jumping – the best place to swim would be directly across from Deep Cave Bar, which is actually also a really cool cave bar. You can jump off the cliffs a few minutes down the coast from there as well.
  • Wander Along the 2km Pebbly Beach + Markets – Makarska has a very long beach lined with restaurants along the water and tons of markets. Grab a bite to eat, a takeaway crepe or slushie, wander through the markets, or have another swim along the (often crowded) beach.
  • Water Sports – you can also rent a jet ski or go parasailing in Makarska. If you have time I strongly recommend it!
Getting from Makarska to Mostar

When you’ve had your fill, the drive to Mostar from Makarska is less than 2 hours. Have your passports out to cross into the third country of your trip!

Once you arrive at your accommodation, have your first look around the Old Town, which completely lights up at night. If you haven’t already shopped till you drop, check out the markets of this old Turkish town, and marvel at the difference in feel between the Croatian Coast less than two hours ago, and now.

I have a complete travel guide to Mostar, too! Click below for more in-depth info.

READ
Things to Do in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Mostar Travel Guide 

Tonight, grab a bit to eat at The Food House – a more casual and affordable yet authentic food option right outside the old town.

Where to Stay in Mostar

Airbnb – The Villa Secret Gardens for bigger groups (I stayed here and loved it) or Downtown Vintage Room for central/smaller

Hostel – Hostel Nina

Hotel – Muslibegovic House (historic + upscale) or Shangri La Mansion (central)

dervish house blagaj springs mostar b

BalkanTrip18MostarHerzegovina-34

Balkans Road Trip Day 12: Mostar Sights + Surrounds

Now you have a full day to explore Mostar! Get going whenever, and head to some of the sights of the city. Below are the sights I recommend for today; don’t forget to check out my Mostar Travel Guide for more in-depth information about each.

  • Kajtaz House – a historical authentic Turkish house
  • Old Town and Old Bridge – obviously! See if you can catch anyone jumping from it.
  • Mosques – Climb to the top of the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, and revel at the historic Nesuh-Aga Vučjaković Mosque.
  • War + Genocide Museum – Learn about the atrocities of the Yugoslav War in Bosnia
  • Bosnian Coffee – Try one from Cafe de Alma

At some point, get a takeaway lunch (try the cevapi!) and go down to the square below the old bridge and see if you catch anyone jumping. Head back to the car around 4-5pm for a slight road trip to Blagaj Springs 15 minutes away.

  • Blagaj Springs – Blagaj is the source of the Buna River and the deepest spring in Europe. It’s home to a historic Dervish house, which is a branch of Islam. First, go to the ‘Vrelo Bune’ viewpoint across from Dervish House for some great photos. Then head inside the house! You’ll have to cover up to go inside this traditional place of worship, but they have scarves for you.

When you’ve had your fill of views and more markets, head back to Mostar. This evening it’s time to shop at the markets for any final souvenirs, and have a fancier and bona fide Bosnian dinner at Šadrvan. This restaurant is one of the best known, and has great tasting platters where you can try a variety of cuisine.

At Night: Check out the Black Dog Pub – see if they have live music on (they usually do) and try some local beers or different flavors of rakija. If you want to keeo going into the night, Ali Baba club is the way to go – located inside a cave next to the Old Bridge!

If You Have More Time

You could definitely spend longer in Bosnia + Herzegovina. We touch on the main sights of Mostar in this Balkans road trip itinerary, but if you have more time, you could spend a couple days in Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo. Sarajevo is even more heavily Turkish than Mostar, with a heavier war history, too.

Mosques ring out through the hills in a call to prayer throughout the city every few hours, putting the soukhs in a brief pause from their usual activity. There are great viewpoints looking over the city, fascinating ruins, and rich history.

pocitelj castle mostar bosnia herzegovina

Balkans Road Trip Day 13: Bosnian Highlights to Kotor, Montenegro

Before You Leave Mostar: Have a leisurely morning – no need to leave before 10/11 today. Put on your swim suit for a brief stop at some gorgeous waterfalls (and a castle) on the way out of the country and into Montenegro.

Mostar to Kravice Waterfalls and Počitelj Castle

It will take you less than an hour to drive from Mostar to the region of two  more famous viewpoints of the region: Kravice Waterfalls and Počitelj Castle. Stop first at Kravice Falls. Spend an hour or two swimming in the chilly water and exploring the gorgeous waterfall systems and rock pools. Read my guide to visiting Kravice waterfalls below for more info:

READ
Visiting Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina: All You Need to Know

After your swim, get changed and drive 10 minutes to the impressive hillside fortress of Počitelj. This was a Hungarian fort before the area was under Ottoman rule, and now it’s an old walled town up a hill with a few great lookout points.

One side is all done up and preserved with glass, but the rest are more authentic ruins crumbling at the edges. You can climb some old winding stairs in one of the fortresses to see an amazing view of the river and countryside.

You’ll notice millions of pomegranate trees in the town – this area is known for them! Old ladies will be selling homemade juices of pomegranate, elderflower, and rose, and little cones full of fresh nuts and dried fruit. You can buy lots of fresh fruit here also – it’s very cheap and delicious!

Počitelj to Kotor, Montenegro

After Pocitelj, it’s time to head into Montenegro. This border sometimes takes a little while, and you must make sure you have your car registration (and passports of course) ready to show at the border.

It should be about 3 hours from Pocitelj to Kotor, not counting any waiting time at the border. You will probably end up arriving in the late afternoon/evening, giving you time to check into your accommodation and wander into town for dinner.

Where to Stay in Kotor

Airbnb: We stayed in this one – about a 10 minute walk from town. Try Apartment Karampana for smaller/more central.

Hostel: Old Town Hostel West Wing – one of my favorites

Hotel: Boutique Hotel Astoria

What to Do in Kotor

It might be late when you get in today, so simply walk into the old walled town (are you tired of them yet?! 😛 ) and have a bit of an explore and dinner before retiring for the night.

kotor montenegro balkans road trip

Balkans Road Trip Day 14: Explore Kotor

Today you have a full day to explore Kotor!

What to Do in Kotor
  • Explore Old Town: Marvel at the old Venetian gates, get lost in the impossible streets of old town, explore the shops, enter old churches, walk the walls, drink coffee in the alleyways, etc.
  • Cat Museum + Cat Gift Shop (and all the actual cats!) – Kotor is known for having TONS of stray cats – so much that they have created an entire cat gift shops and museum!
  • Swimming – There is a small beach to swim outside of town (although it’s not the nicest of this balkans road trip itinerary)

A few hours before sunset, hike up to the fortress! You’ll notice that the walls of the old town actually zigzag all the way up the rocky cliffside and connect to the fortress to make one continuous walled town. It’s pretty impressive, and the view from the top is even more so. The Bay of Kotor is truly a sight to behold, with the distant boats and dramatic mountains jutting out from the water.

There’s an option to hike even higher, to farther mountaintops that present an even better (if that’s even possible) view. I did this once a few years back. If you want to hike higher, I recommend doing the hike in the morning and exploring the town in the evening.

Where to Eat in Kotor

After the hike, it’s time to get your tired self some food. Some top rated restaurants are Galion and Tanjga. We went to Restaurant city (on google maps as ‘grad’) on my most recent trip, and it was fairly good and very central.

If You Have More Time

You can do bigger hikes or sailing trips around the mountains and Bay of Kotor. However, I recommend spending more time exploring the rest of Montenegro… so keep reading!

lovcen national park

Balkans Road Trip Day 15: Montenegro Road Trip to Budva

For this part of the Balkans road trip, I’m going to give you a couple options. If you have more time, you can follow my comprehensive Montenegro road trip route linked below (will take 2+ days).

READ
The Best Things to Do in Montenegro in a Montenegro Road Trip Itinerary

If you only have one day, you can follow the stops below. Either way, your road trip will start in Kotor and end in Budva, so bring your stuff and get started early! Budva is another (you guessed it) walled coastal town. It is larger and more lively than Kotor, and you’ll have a full day here after your road trip to relax and take in the epicness of your Balkans travel.

One-Day Shorter Montenegro Road Trip Route (See post above for timings + more info)
  • Slansko Lakes – stop for a photo as you drive
  • Ostrog Monastery (+ mountains views along the way) – this is a famous monastery built into the side of a tall mountain. It’s a picturesque Montenegrin icon, and the views on the way there are equally stunning as well.
  • Podgorica/Niksic – These are two main Montenegrin cities/capital that you can drive through on your way through the countryside.
  • Pavlova Strana Viewpoint in Skadar Lake National Park – This is a famous 180 degree river bend on the outskirts of Lake Skadar National Park, on the border or Albania. The roads will be a bit sketchy, but the view is worth it!
  • Lovcen National Park – weave your way to a mountaintop mausoleum in the stunning rocky Lovcen National Park. Prepare for picturesque views and a creepy yet fascinating mausoleum for an old leader.
  • Sveti Stefan – After making your way back to the coast, make one final detour to a famous island. Sveti Stefan is connected to the coast by a thin bridge, and is home to a VERY fancy hotel. Don’t get any ideas about walking onto the island itself (unless you’re very rich), but it’s a fantastic photo op and  swimming spot.

Now – head to the final stop of your Balkans road trip – Budva, Montenegro!

Where t0 Stay in Budva
Where to Eat in Budva
If You Have More Time

Spend up to an entire week on you the Montenegro Road Trip. Click here to read my post about canyoning, river rafting, zip lining, hiking, alpine lakes, scenic overpasses, and more amazing things you can do in Montenegro when you stray from the coast.

sveti stefan montenegro balkans itinerary

Balkans Road Trip Day 16: Budva

Budva is easily worth a few days time – it’s a much bigger city than Kotor and is the place young and old come at night time to wander the busy old town streets, listen to live music, and go clubbing.

What to Do in Budva

Hopefully you aren’t tired of exploring old towns, because you have one last one to explore! Today, you can:

  • Wander through old town – get lost in the alleyways, browse through shops, find out what makes Montenegro different than the other countries you’ve seen
  • Museums – Check out the Maritime Museum, City Museum, and a few art galleries
  • Statua Ballerina – look at the ballerina statue up the coast from the town
  • Sveti Stefan – You can also do Sveti Stefan today (rather than yesterday) to spend more time there. You could even relax on the beach all day! It’s great for a morning or sunset swim.
  • Old Town Beach – if you’re just exhausted and can’t do anything else – plop down onto a beach chair on the beach outside old town, and don’t move ALL day. That’s fine too!

After the sun sets, choose a spot from the list above to have a last meal from your Balkans road trip. I’d suggest checking out what’s on in the town, too. It’s always bustling at night in the summer months with street fairs, open air clubs, and more. Soak in the final moments of an incredible trip – you’ve earned it!

Balkans Road Trip Day 17: Back to Dubrovnik

Well, now it’s time to drive to Dubrovnik and return your rental car… sad face. BUT FIRST – we can squeeze in one final stop, depending on the time of your flight (or if you are spending your final night in Dubrovnik like we did). If you missed out on Cavtat during your first bout in Dubrovnik… you can visit on the way back today!

Even if just for a coffee and a break from driving, pull a few minutes off the main road to soak up the last few moments of Croatian sun.

Next,  return your rental car at Sixt. They have a location near Hotel Rexos and at the airport. If you’re staying the night, return it near the hotel. Ideally, stay there or nearby. If you’re flying out, return it at the airport and be on your way!

If you have a night, spend your last afternoon relaxing and having one more swim at Bellevue beach, and have a last dinner in port Gruz. Catch a taxi to the airport in the morning, and there you are done and dusted!


The ideal western Balkans Road Trip - including nearly 3 weeks worth of destinations throughout Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia + Herzegovina, and Montenegro. What to do, where to stay, where to eat, and more for each destination, plus opportunities to extend the Balkans itinerary to see even more!

Made it all the way to the end?! Don’t forget to PIN me! 

June 11, 2019