A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Croatia is getting more popular among tourists only recently and mostly for being the filming location of the famous series Game of Thrones (I always think this is such a great way to promote local tourism). For those of you who have watched Game of Thrones, you may have already been awed by the stunning places in the series. Yes, many of them were filmed in Croatia.
Nonetheless, their tourism is still in the middle of development, so be prepared to use a lot of body language and put up with the “hospitality” of the ticket officers in the main station. You’ll meet nice people, of course, but my friends and I had quite a unforgettably frustrating time when we bought bus tickets to our destination.
Due to time constraint we could only visit Zagreb (the capital city) and Plitvice (the National Park), but if possible make sure you check out other coastal cities like Split, Bol and Dubrovik (the filming location) as well – they all look absolutely beautiful, only that they are really faraway from the capital.
It was a pity that we didn’t enjoy Croatia as much as we had expected. As soon as we arrived in Zagreb it was drizzling nonstop so we couldn’t go anywhere (there’s also not much to see here…). We only stayed for one night and headed to Plitvice National Park, one of the most popular destinations in Croatia, which means, a lot more hiking again!
The National Park is surely beautiful with an intricate systems of lakes. There are different hiking routes for you to choose from and we chose the medium one which took around 6-8 hours. The hike was relatively easy, mostly just walking, and there were a lot of kids and old people there. It was a really a time to embrace nature and admire the beauty of it. The only downside is that the signs here are absolutely confusing! They tell you to go right when you actually need to turn left, they tell you to keep going forward but the place you want to get to is actually behind! Maps are not helping at all so just trust your instinct and grab a staff to ask (if you ever manage to find them…).
There’s a village and a place for camping nearby where most of the tourists stay. But you’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere to remember to stock some food before getting here or else you’ll have to walk for hours to find a supermarket. There are a few restaurants there which is not expensive compared to European standard but their service is hard to applaud.
When we finally got back to Zagreb to catch the train to Budapest (almost missed it!), we almost got robbed on the tram. It was kinda funny because we were away from civilization for a few days so we kind of forgot how scarry humans can be 😛 So you should be cautious! That was Croatia for us, if I have a chance (and money) I’d probably go back to visit the beaches because everyone says they are really pretty!