I think the question is can I rave about Oh! So Croatia anymore than I already have on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram? Probably not but I'm going to try. This trip was the perfect combination of culture, beaches, national parks and partying. It works SO well because the owner, Nina, is a backpacker herself and understands how to do it right - she's created a trip that she would pay for and enjoy as a traveller. It's not the famous Croatia sailing holidays, but I actually found this a bonus as you could see the country around you and not just the beaches while drinking 24/7 (although, the bus comes with free beer and cider so if you want to be intoxicated throughout the journey you are entirely welcome). It also has a price tag of around £500 LESS than your average backpacker sailing trip in Croatia so can I hear you say bonus?
The passes are designed to be hop on / hop off and is super easy going, you can start and end in any of the cities listed on the map below. The point is that it's designed to be as flexible as you want it to be, which can only be a plus in this day and age with so many plans and schedules to keep. If you can't get to Zagreb for the start of the trip, no worries you can join in elsewhere when it suits you. It also means you get new people joining all the time which always equate to new friends!
This trip isn't designed as a guided tour, where someone holds your hand the whole way. You don't have to think about any travel within the country as it's included, and a lot of activities are available to do with the group, but there isn't a tour guide. You have a tour buddy who can help and advise you on anything Croatian, but they are not there to take you around every city and every restaurant so expect a lot of time when you'll be without a guide. The groups will always be at least 15 though so you'll never have to be alone if you don't want to - perfect for solo travellers and for me personally, I prefer this style a lot more!
It's a also a backpacking trip at the moment guys, so it's hostels and shared bathrooms. You can have a private room in most locations but it isn't guaranteed so be happy to share your space like in any hostel or backpacking trip.
So I chose to start in Zagreb, the capital city and at 8am we were introduced to the bus and the group to start our Croatian Adventure. From here we travelled an hour or so to a beautiful vineyard for a morning of wine tasting and a Croatian style breakfast - safe to say we all got chatting once the booze started flowing. The vineyard, Vuglec Breg, was stunning and it's awesome that Oh! So Croatia can arrange this exclusive private visit for every group as it's really rather swanky. Your eyebrows may shoot up at the thought of morning drinking, but hey - you're on your holidays so pipe down and have a glass!
After getting really rather drunk, we hopped back on the bus to head down to the world famous Plitvice Lakes National Park. This is pretty special and definitely isn't one to miss when in Croatia if you can help it. The scenery is spectacular, with vast lakes in the middle of dense woodland complete with waterfalls and varied wildlife. Unfortunately, you can't swim in the crystal clear waters of the park but it's still make sure you spend a few hours walking around, it’s the oldest national park in Europe and you only need to look at the pictures to understand why it's worth your while. Rent a boat and row around a few of the lakes or hop on the mini ferries that laze along the river to rest your feet after walking around.
This brought to a close our first day and we drove to the town of Novalja on Pag Island, famed for party beach Zrce. Now this is a sure place to go if you like to party all night as it doesn't really kick off until 1am, and you'll want to hit the supermarket before you go as it's not the cheapest place to get alcohol in Croatia (however keep in mind that your average G&T will only cost you £1.50 in country, but - as always, it's even cheaper buying beforehand). Your bus buddy will either come with you to party all night long or may help organise some taxis for you while they take a break, but you'll be in a large group so you'll be safe no matter what. They'll always recommend which clubs to hit and will make sure you're ready for a wild night!
Pag island is pretty dead vegetation wise and is mainly covered in rocks - the locals refer to it as a moonscape which I would say is fairly apt! While here with Oh! So Croatia, you'll have a chance to see the beautiful beaches it has to offer, quad bike it's vast landscape to get to even more beaches and party like crazy if you want to! You also get the option to head to a traditional restaurant to eat some incredible octopus baked in a traditional Croatian style, followed with a shot or two (or ten if you want) of Rakia, a very strong local drink! But if you're a veggie or not a fan of seafood, don't sweat it as they also offer other meats, salads and local cheeses!
After a few days on Pag, the bus took us down to Zadar for a few hours roaming the old town before relaxing a little longer on another beautiful beach. After dining while the sunset, we meandered down to Šibenik! This was to be our base for the next few nights and from here we could chill out at a range of beaches, kayak to islands or take time to party all day by the pool, complete with DJ and a waitered drinks service (all this while backpacking - SCORE). We also spent a day at Krka National Park, another beautiful nature reserve complete with waterfalls and a snake or two! Unlike Plitvice, you can swim here among the waterfalls and relax in the clear waters of the Krka river. But don't worry, the snakes don't hang out in the lakes where you can swim!
Our final day was spent travelling to Split via Trogir. Trogir is another stunning little seaside town which has a magical old town, complete with a harbour full of yachts that's not to be missed! As always you can hop on a boat and see the crystal clear waters all around you, or just relax with a drink in the bar. You can also check out the Kamerlengo Castle and I can highly recommend doing your souvenir shopping here as it'll be cheaper than Split but still excellent stuff!
I would love to tell you more about Split but unfortunately I had to head back home before having a proper explore. I will definitely be back though and I plan to hit Hvar, Brela and Dubrovnik - I’ll let you know when I have more inside info next year.
Croatia as a country has known some hardships, the war that broke up Yugoslavia devastated the people here. They've been working hard over the past few years to rebuild themselves as a top tourist destination so they can share their beautiful country with us. I had a chance to speak to some Croatian nationals who told me about their childhood that consisted of hiding in the basement regularly to hide from bomb drops and gunfire. Visiting Croatia now however you couldn't feel safer and it really is a gorgeous country with charming locals! I love that by travelling with Oh! So Croatia, we're supporting a Croatian company and the local tourist industry, being shown the true Croatia by Croatian nationals.
There are a range of trips you can do with oh! So Croatia but unfortunately I only had 8 days so I started at the beginning and ended in Split.The passes however, run all the way down to Dubrovnik and you can get involved with other awesome activities such as white water rafting! I seriously recommend you check it out so follow the link to Oh! So Croatia and book. I really didn't have enough time on this trip and it's the best way to see Croatia in full, from national parks to party beaches and the true Croatian countryside!
Photographs by Talento Productions
This post was not sponsored by Oh! So Croatia and has been written to share a good experience with readers. Where sponsorship has been provided for a review, this will be fully disclosed.