I’m walking on sunshine …
The sun is shining and summer is well and truly here; well at least it was in July. To enjoy the most of the sunshine, I jumped on a plane to Croatia to spend a week exploring the stunning coastline; by boat no less. Bring on that Vitamin-SEA!!
Meeting up with my Aussie girlfriends, we embarked on our first sail trip with Topdeck. We had a fun-filled itinerary sailing us across the Adriatic Sea, visiting the very best of Croatia.
What is Topdeck?
Topdeck is a travel company that offers incredible holidays worldwide for 18-30 something year olds. Originating from a passion for travel, the company started in 1973, has a strong reputation for delivering unforgettable and authentic group travel. They offer tours across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Where did you go?
We signed ourselves up for the Croatian Riviera, an eight-day sail from Split. Our itinerary took us from Split around the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik and back, with stops at Milna, Hvar, Korcula, Miljet and Makarska.
Tip: Make sure you know what boat you want to book, because there are different levels and prices which reflect that. We booked Vapor, which was the top boat in the Topdeck convoy.
What did you get up to?
After finding our boat in Split, amongst the hundreds in the harbour, we got comfortable on the top deck, getting started on the sunbathing straight away. Anchors up, and we were on our way, sailing towards our first port, Milna. The quaint fishing village of Milna, sitting on the island of Brac, was very quiet but absolutely serene. On our sail there, we docked in a bay for our first taste of the Mediterranean lifestyle. We were so eager to jump into the Adriatic, that it looked as if we were all abandoning ship! With an evening of delicious BBQ, drinks and stargazing on the deck, we knew we were embarking on a memorable week on the sea.
Departing early the next morning, our Captain set sail for Hvar, ‘the sunniest spot in Europe’. We spent the day exploring the old town, wandering through the narrow streets and window shopping at the boutique stores. For the best views over the harbour and town, make your way to Hvar Fortress; although you may die of heatstroke on the way up, the views are well worth it. Famous for its nightlife, Hvar has many options for a memorable (or less so) night out. Head to Hula Hula Beach Club for an afternoon swimming and dancing in the sun before watching the sunset. If you’re after a big night out, jump on the free water taxi to Carpe Diem Beach, a nightclub on its very own island.
Another day, another island to explore. Today we set sail for Korcula, one of Croatia’s most treasured islands. It is not as popular as the other islands in the Adriatic, potentially due to the further distance it is from Split and Dubrovnik. Korcula, is often referred to as a mini-Dubrovnik, namely due to its medieval architecture of churches, palaces, town squares and houses. The old town was built on the basis of a fish bone to minimise the effect of strong winds and burning sun, making the climate in the old town desirable year-round. This is the perfect town to get lost in. Pick a lane and start wandering through the medieval city, you never know what you’ll find. For unforgettable views and cocktails find Massimo cocktail bar, located at the top of the Zakerjan Tower. Be prepared to climb some stairs, followed by a ladder and trap door; an adventure for an adventurous view.
Tip: Girls, try not to wear a dress or skirt when visiting Massimo cocktail bar, everything will be on show as you climb the ladder to the tower terrace.
Day four already, with the week flying by we were raising the anchor for Dubrovnik. Fans of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, will know Dubrovnik rather as King’s Landing. Being one of the top Croatian destinations and European summer hot spots, there are plenty of things to do, with kayaking trips and Game of Thrones, tours just to name a few. A ‘must’ for all visitors to Dubrovnik is a walk along the Ancient City Walls. The walls are an iconic feature of the city, being unique appearance has even granted the old town a UNESCO world heritage listing. The 2km stroll, boasts some of the best views of the old town and Dalmatian coast. Tickets don’t come cheap, but worth every cent, or kuna in this case. Buy your 150hkn ticket at the main entrance and embark upon your medieval stroll; heads up, there are lots of stair to get started.
For the best views over Dubrovnik, take the cable car, or hike if you’re game, to the top of Srd Hill. The view is honestly incredible, showing off the unique contained old town, sparkling Adriatic and surrounding islands. A return journey will set you back 140hkn. Enjoy the view from the viewing platform or restaurant, but for the best uninterrupted views head out the building and walk down the gravel road. After a short 5-minute walk, you’ll come across some old amphitheatre ruins, this is my absolute favourite location for photos of the ‘Adriatic Pearl’ that is Dubrovnik.
Still have some more time, why not visit Buza Bar? This hole-in-the-wall bar is a sight to be seen, if you can find it. In the summer months, it gets very crowded with adventure seekers, being a prime location for cliff jumping. If you’re not a thrill-seeker, pull up a chair and sip on some cocktails whilst watching other take a leap of faith.
Starting on our way back towards Split, we dropped the anchor in Mljet to visit the National Park. Mljet National Park is one of eight Croatian national parks. The majority of the island is composed of the national park, featuring two salt water lakes, numerous villages and a Benedictine monastery. Walk, swim, kayak or cycle around the national park and see all that it has to offer. Entrance costs 100hkn and includes a boat ride to the small island in the middle of the lake.
Slowly coming to the end of our sail, we headed back to the mainland, docking for the night in the Croatian Riviera. Makarska, gave us a day of relaxing on the beach, but there are also nature hikes along the coast and fun inflatable obstacle courses for those that would rather be more active.
Final sail day was here, but not before one final adventure. Leaving the boat behind, we drove to Cetina Gorge, for three hours of epic zip-lining. The course features eight lines across the gorge all of differing length and speed. After a brief safely talk and practice run, we were set loose on the course, admiring the stunning landscape and enjoying the adrenaline highs. Course completed, it was time to drive back to Split to regroup for a final night with our sail family.
With a couple extra days in Split, after saying our farewell to our sail family, we headed to explore Krka National Park (blog post coming soon). A day of swimming under waterfalls was definitely a relaxing way to recover after a week exploring the best of Croatia.
Until next time Croatia ...