Best of Croatia – Zagreb to Dubrovnik via Istria
Apr 23 - May 6, 2023
First of all, we would like to thank Robi and Daniela Pinčević in helping us develop the trip itinerary and in managing our stay in country. In particular, the total attention to detail and helpfulness of Robi throughout our travels was invaluable and greatly exceeded our expectations! Robi even took the time to meet with us in our travels (Thank you!). We spent 2 weeks driving through Croatia and fell in love with the history, the variety of architecture and (yum!) the food! We did quite a bit of research before the trip and had a good idea of what we wanted to see. Daniela helped us with some specific sights to see. Croatia is a beautiful and very clean country and the people who live there are the most hospitable people we have ever encountered (we have traveled to over 30 countries). We began the trip in Zagreb and our wonderful guide, Bruno, showed us the city and spent the following day with us as we toured castles and an open air museum of late 19th/early 20th century rural buildings & homes. From Zagreb we drove ourselves to Istria and visited several towns (including Motovun, Groznjan, Oprtalj, Porec (3rd century Euphrasian Basillica )and Pula where we loved the Roman amphitheater, visited the olive oil museum and did the olive oil tasting (very informative). From Istria, we drove southward, staying at several cities (Zadar, Split, Hvar Town in Hvar Island, Ston, and Dubrovnik). Along the way, we visited Krka National Park and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina). For every location we visited, Robi was kind to guide us to the closest parking places, ticket offices, ferry offices, etc. Our favorite city was Rovinj – it was thoroughly charming! For the best foods, it was Zagreb’s LaStruk for their delicious strukli, the homemade pasta and the creamed risotto, both with black truffles at the Konoba Mondo in Motovun, the black risotto (with several types of seafood) at Kapetanova Kuca in Mali Ston, and the slow roasted octopus with vegetables dinner for two at the Jerolim in Hvar Town. In Split, Robi recommended we dine at Bajamonti where we enjoyed a delicious seabass dinner for two. We drank local wine every night for dinner and enjoyed them all! We had great fun winetasting at the Madirazza Winery on the Pelješac peninsula where the pours were generous and hostess very charming. In Dubrovnik, we had a wonderful Bosnian meal at the lovely restaurant, Taj Mahal. We had excellent private city guides in Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik who also recommended places to visit such as the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb or the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Europe (Dubrovnik). Aside from learning the history of those places, we learned about the people of this terrific country. We visited museums, cathedrals, and country roads with vistas. In short, we packed as much as we could into a two week driving tour. Because of our age, we asked for car parking and ground floors or elevators at all the hotels (they were all very good hotels; most with wonderful breakfast selections!) The only recommendation we would make is to have is a little primer on how to use Croatian gas stations (pay after pumping) and the different nozzle sizes (large diesel nozzle is for trucks, not cars). Almost all parking lots require payment and some places you pay first, some places when you leave, and sometimes you need your rental car license plate number (take a picture with the cell phone). Speaking of cell phones, it was a breeze communicating with the Kimkim team via WhatsApp. We walked about 141,000 steps – what a blast! April and May was an excellent time to visit! Thank you Robi, Daniela & Kimkim!
Comfortable room, great breakfast, and very convenient to city sights and restaurants. This was the nicest hotel we stayed in.
Nice room, outstanding breakfast, and courteous staff. Had to park a short distance away but hotel provided shuttle service. (This hotel had the nicest breakfast and a beautiful view of the harbor).
Room was comfortable but outside noise was annoying at night. Breakfast was very good. Staff friendly.
Excellent room and breakfast. Parking close in. Short walk to town.
Spacious apartment with well appointed kitchenette and a washing machine, which we put to good use. Location just outside city wall so convenient to old city. The terrace and garden was a nice place to rest and relax. We were thankful we could store our bags there for several hours until we departed the city.
Small hotel but friendly staff and comfortable room. The floral scent in the common area was a nice, happy surprise. Parking next to hotel.
Room was a little small but comfortable. Breakfast was limited but the hotel had few guests at the time, so this was understandable. Breakfast attendant made us the best coffee in Croatia! (And she was very nice). Desk receptionist could have been more pleasant when we arrived. In all the places we visited and saw, she was the exception to great hospitality.
Matej, our driver, was waiting for us at Zagreb airport. Great conversation with him as we drove into the city. Check-in was breeze.
We really enjoyed Zagreb with its buildings and history. Bruno, our guide, was excellent! Learned so much about the city, culture, history, and food! We also talked about schools, education, economy, etc. Bruno recommended an excellent restaurant, LeStruk; we enjoyed it a lot!
Great day trip visiting two castles and birth place of Marshall Tito. Bruno went with us this day and gave us a lot of insight about Marshall Tito. He also took us to an excellent country restaurant where we had a huge lunch. The beans in this meal were superb! We really appreciated the time Bruno took with us.
Exploring the old city towns was interesting. Cobble stones and hills were a challenge though. Had one of our best meals in Motovun.
Two of our favorite places, especially Rovinj with its charm and restaurants by the harbor. The Roman coliseum in Pula was amazing in its almost original 2000 year old state. We really enjoyed the olive oil museum and the olive oil tasting.
Interesting city with old churches and nice restaurants. By the harbor the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation Light Show (at sunset) were fascinating.
Lots of history in Split. Great city tour. Nice restaurants. We really enjoyed Split as the sun was setting; the crowds were less.
Short ferry ride back to the mainland and beautiful vistas on way to Ston.
Ston is charming town with extensive walls and salt pans. Also some great wineries which we visited one, Midirazza, for wine tasting.
Old City Dubrovnik is a fascinating place with its buildings, restaurants, and wall. Excellent city tour to explain some of the city history. City wall walk was interesting but fairly difficult to walk in places (steps) and overpriced at 35 Euros. Speaking of steps - about 120 to get from old city to apartment. Wear comfortable shoes!
Pick up and delivery to airport was great.
Nice boat ride to visit the beautiful falls at the park. Also drove to upstream portion of river to see other falls (not quite as nice). The signage at the park was limited and at one point, we did a lot of extra walking, and ended up at the cafe instead of water falls. The maps handed out by the park were pretty substandard (in detail for walking trails).
Day trip to Mostar. We enjoyed the old part of town and its renowned bridge but could have done without the large tourist crowds. Did have a nice lunch overlooking the bridge. We also enjoyed talking to the lady at the bookstore that Robi recommended. She gave us a concise, but excellent history of the events leading to the war and her experiences in the war. She humanized and brought the scenes we witnessed on television to life.
Not a lot to explore in Hvar city but enjoyed a drink by the harbor and one of the best meals of the trip. We also visited the fortress on the hill for a great view of the town. There wasn't a lot to do, but that was due to the time of the year and weather being cool/overcast. Swimming was not feasible.