Zadar & Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Initial Thoughts: Our ferry sailed into Zadar just as the sun started to slowly creep up over the island-dotted waters. The sky was filled with every conceivable shade of red, orange, purple and blue. The quiet harbour was slowly coming to life as locals left their homes to walk to school and work. From the very first moment in Zadar, I knew I would love its peaceful, authentic atmosphere.
Best Moment: While all of the days I spent in Zadar were enjoyable, none were as memorable as the one where we took a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Located just over an hour and half northeast of Zadar, the park is easily accessible by rental car. The journey itself is beautiful as the landscape slowly shifts from coastal to low mountains. Stepping foot inside the park is like being transported to a lush multicoloured wonderland. Plitvice is known for it’s stunningly blue lakes and lush green forest which you can explore by walking along boardwalks that snake throughout the park. I’d recommend hiking to the lookout so you can appreciate the beauty and colours from above as well.
Take Away: For me the best part of travel is seeing a place as it truly is, the way a resident might see it on an average Monday morning. I’m simply not that interested in experiencing what a tourism board has decided are the key sights. I know that it is hypocritical for a foreigner to complain about tourists, but I can never enjoy a place when there are more visitors than locals. My favourite memories of Zadar include strolling along the bright, white marble streets in search of a grocery store, meeting people in our rented apartment as they went about their daily routines and of course, eating fresh seafood at hole-in-the-wall, local restaurants. These simple moments soon made Zadar feel like home.
You can see more photos of my time in Zadar & Plitvice Lakes on the Global Locavore Facebook page!
Now It’s Your Turn: If you are an independent traveller with a desire to visit Croatia, I’d highly recommend visiting Zadar and the surrounding area. With not much more than our trusty Croatia Lonely Planet, my family and I was able to find independent restaurants, a rental car agency and all the key sights. My favourite feature was the Understand Croatia section that gives an overview of the complex history of the region and how that history impacts the country’s culture today. I never travel without a Lonely Planet and wholeheartedly recommend buying one before visiting a country for the first time.