My family and I just returned from a 10-day trip to Croatia, and we had a wonderful, smooth and remarkable time thanks to our agent. This agent is Croatian (now working in the US), and has great connections. She helped me form our itinerary, recommended hotels, and we used her to get local guides and drivers. Hotel recommendations were terrific - great locations, service and value for the money. The local guides were knowledgeable, friendly and made our experience so much more special. All the drivers showed up early - and all the transitions from place to place was smooth and problem free. During the planning process, our agent really listened to what I was interested in, and made helpful suggestions.
We went to Zagreb, Plitvice National Park, Zadar, Krka National Park, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik. We are a family of 4 including 10 and 12 year old boys, and traveled in July which was quite busy. While busy summer traffic was a concern for me pre-trip, I'm happy to report we still had a great time in this busy season. Our interests are history, sightseeing, and being outdoors. We felt we had got a great taste of Croatia in 10 days. Here's what was special about each.
1) Zagreb - Small, European capital with great cafe culture. Hotel Esplande was very elegant and amazing history from having served Orient Express. Easy walking distance of town.
2) Plitvice - remarkable for the boardwalks that cover beautiful green/blue lakes. They arrange hikes "A", "B", "C" or "D" which vary from 2 to 8 hours of time -- depending on how much time you have. We spent 5 hours doing the "C" hike, which covered 5 miles and allowed for lunch time and plenty of photos.
3) Zadar - pretty coastal town, (and was less crowded than Split and Dubrovnik). The hotel - great location in Old town, next to Sea Organ.
4) Krka - While similar in feel to Plitvice, you get to go into water here, right next to the Falls. This was fun for our kids, and we used this as a "down time" day to relax, and to have contrast with all the city touring for Split/Dubrovnik.
5) Hvar - Our agent arranged a driver to do a wine tasting tour, and to go to dinner in this amazing restaurant in an abandoned town! The restaurant is fantastic (great grilled meats, very friendly) and cozy. Perhaps 8 tables, which were also taken up. Very special. The wines were good too. We went to 2 small wineries (tasting rooms) and got to see more of Hvar island. The hotel there -- completely remodeled in 2014 -- has a great setting, pool, breakfast. 10 minutes from town and quiet too.
6) Split and Dubrovnik - Clearly you must expect and brace yourself for tons of visitors during the summer. Like visiting Florence. We hired local guides for both towns (as well as Zagreb) and they were both knowledgeable, friendly and hardworking. Our Dubrovnik guide gave us great tips on how to spend our time there, showed us quieter tips and made great restaurant recommendations as well. I also just enjoyed sitting down for a coffee break with one of the guides and talking to him about his life in Croatia.
Split - This was the only hotel I was slightly skeptical of based on the hotel's website (all that purple!). However, our agent was right as usual. The location was perfect, being right outside of old town and next to harbor (to catch the ferry). And the interior space was great. So, I'm now a fan.
Dubrovnik - The views from rooms, pool and lobby simply stunning. Hotel itself completely remodeled in 2014, and rooms were very modern, sleek.
All in all, we were so happy that we got help from this agency. I normally plan all my trips myself. But this time, it was great to use a travel agency. They made travel planning incredibly simple and saved me hours and hours of research. I highly recommend them.
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