Often people who visit Croatia can’t get enough of the country’s charms and want to explore as much of it as they can. The best way to do so? A classic road trip. Roads in Croatia are fast and safe, there are many rent a car options (which are truly affordable) and what’s most important – there’s something worth seeing virtually everywhere! To get your imagination going, I planned this all-round route from Kvarner Bay in the north, to Split in the south. Anyone who follows this route will get a truly great Croatian holiday experience. Also, I’ve summed up a few tips to explore the cuisine of the area you’re visiting. First station – Rijeka.
Traveling and Eating in Croatia
Rijeka is not exactly known as the place of stunning nature or idyllic beaches, but rather as an interesting place of urban culture. The “Croatian capital of rock” offers many interesting concerts, events and manifestations for all lovers of alternative music. The city’s museums also provide an interesting insight to the place’s industrial past; be sure to check out the Torpedo factory where this naval weapon was invented in the first place. If you’re fan of medieval history, don’t miss visiting the Trsat castle, a five hundred years old military fortress which now serves as a venue for many local cultural manifestations.
The local gastronomy is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. A mixture of seafood and continental, mainly meat dishes, Rijeka has a variety of restaurants offering great and diverse food. Kvarner Bay scampi, shellfish or the chestnuts from the nearby Lovran are a must-try. There are even special events and manifestations dedicated to gastronomy, such as the “Ri Gastro” offering specialties based on traditional recipes.
Zadar region is possibly the finest Dalmatia has to offer, since everything from natural landmarks to urban facilities can be found in this relatively small area. To start off, explore Zadar, the focal point of northern Dalmatia and a place of spectacular history dating from Roman times. Explore the Roman Forum or the St. Donates Church, enjoy its bars and clubs, take a long walk along the famous Zadar promenade…chances are you’ll need a couple of days to explore the town properly. And some forty kilometers to the south lies the quiet town of Biograd, once the seat of Croatian kings, and now a peaceful little town, perfect for spending a sunny afternoon on one of its beaches.
The cuisine of the region is based on fish, boiled vegetables and mild spices. With dishes such as grilled sardines or octopus salad, the area offers many seafood specialties. Pasta dishes and risottos are popular as well, the former usually accompanied by local cheeses. There is also a strong winemaking tradition, with many sorts of high-quality black wine.
The grand finale of the road trip ends in Split, the second largest city in Croatia. The central landmark surely is the Diocletian’s Palace; Diocletian being the Roman emperor who built the palace to serve as his retirement safe heaven. Today, the palace attracts thousands of tourists who wish to see a piece of ancient history. But it’s fair to say that Split offers virtually everything, as fit for such a large city; from museums to nightclubs, from beaches to large electronic music festivals – Split will not leave you unimpressed.
If you’re looking for great food, find a “konoba”. “Konoba” stands for “tavern” in Croatia, and it denotes a small, usually family-owned restaurant offering authentic Dalmatian dishes, such as the Dalmatian “pašticada”, a stewed beef dish, smoked ham, octopus salad and many more.
To sum up, if you want great food, amazing scenery you can look at while you are driving, big cities with lots to see, music festivals and so much more you should follow my advice and sit in your car, get a couple of friends and take a road trip visiting and doing everything I mentioned. I can guarantee you that it will be a time of your life.