If you’re seeking an exotic destination peppered with quaint villages, seaside castles and alluring cities with old world charm, then steal away to Eastern Europe. We explore the hidden gems that paved the path from the coastlines of Croatia to the picturesque towns in Prague. Here’s our honest list of Dos and Don’ts to help you better plan your own adventure.
Map of Route
Best time to travel
For the Retreat Relaxers: Avoid the hordes of tourists and enjoy perfect air-conditioned weather in the shoulder months of March and October.
For the Sun Soakers: Party goers gear up for summer events and festivals packed up in the months of May and September.
It is no surprise that the coastal town of Dubrovnik was chosen for blockbuster movie sets like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Star Wars’ “The Last Jedi”. At a glance, the city’s pale stone streets towered by weathered fortress walls take you back to medieval times (save the touristy shops that greet you at the entrance). Stroll along the ancient city walls and take in one of the best views of the Adriatic Sea.
Don’ts : The early afternoon crowd (10am – 4pm) streams through all 1,940 metres of the narrow ramparts of the castle barracks daily, making it nearly impossible to take a decent photo or weave through the traffic. Moreover, there are only a few tiny spots of shade to escape the blazing mid-day sun.
Dos: Like clockwork, most of the tour buses clear out of the city after the chime of the evening bell. This leaves you with an hour or more to enjoy both the daylight as well as the sunset scenery from the quiet fortress bastions. The walls are officially closed by 6pm, however you are able to take your time to leisurely descend. This is the perfect timing for travellers looking for a light-hearted walk.
Dos: Die-hard fans of the show would want to book a trip on the Game of Thrones boat and sit on the (replica of the) Iron throne. They might, however, find the recurring and limited merchandise from shops quite disappointing.
Dos: Skip the shopping and work your arm muscles on a sea kayak tour. The tour leads you around the island into a nearby cave where you can snorkel, cliff dive and bond around a camp fire.
Day-trips from Dubrovnik
Dos: Cavtat is a perfect get-away for retirees and boating enthusiasts. Waste the day away in a café and take a dip in the crystal blue shallows around the island.
Don’ts: There is not much on the agenda in this lazy town so a day trip would suffice for travellers itching for entertainment.
Dos: Oyster hunters should definitely drop by for a quick bite at Mali Ston. If that doesn’t satisfy your shellfish cravings, hop on the Bota Sare where fresh oysters are plucked from the farm and served straight to the table.
Dos: If we had to choose a place to spend the day, it would definitely be Split. The town of Split has a character that outranks her neighbours – from the well preserved roman architecture to the French-styled Riva at the City Centre, Split is full of activities and surprises at every turn. Experience the bustling markets, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Diocletian’s Palace and stock up on some of the world’s best truffle oil.
Day-trips from Split
Makarska, Trogir & Sibenik
If you have the time to spare, drop by these neighbouring towns for more historical sites, shopping and other activities. The shops and restaurants may close after lunch hours during the autumn season, so it is best to set off early.
Take a breather from the cityscapes and retreat to the waterfall paradise that is Plitvice Lakes National Park. Pick your choice of trek routes meandering around the serene lakes. The lagoon-like pools contrast impeccably with the shades of autumn and are certainly a feast for the eyes.
Dos: Taking the longer, less popular routes (B and E) has its perks – avoid walking like cattle with large tour groups who frequent the shorter routes and linger at the large waterfall (main attraction) at the Lower Lakes. The routes also include a relaxing boat ride across a lake.
Don’ts: There are few eateries found inside and around the park, and most of them are not open for lunch or would be fully booked by tour groups. Skip dining in altogether and save on time by packing a picnic lunch instead.
Zadar or Zagreb?
Zadar presents a mix of sea and city and warrants a longer stay to cover main highlights like the Sea Organ, Monument of the Sun, and the gardens and cathedrals of the old town. Explore this sleepy Mediterranean city without the crowds of Split and Dubrovnik .
Zagreb,on the other hand, mirrors the urban cities of Western Europe. Hence if you are heading to similar metropolises like Prague or Budapest, stop over at Zagreb only when passing through.
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