Croatia has always been a favorite destination for clients and we just returned from a country-wide, north to south visit. This European country is full of history, stunning medieval cities, authentic hospitality, vineyards and olive groves, turquoise sea, dramatic coastline, and amazingly fresh cuisine.
The Capital City.
Zagreb is Croatia's capital and the gateway for many travelers. The airport is relatively small, easy to navigate, and immigration moves swiftly.
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel is a historic and iconic hotel from the early 1920s, about a 10 minute walk to the Old Town and 30 minutes from the airport. This grand art nouveau property with about 200 rooms has hosted celebrities from Maria Callas to Francis Ford Coppola to Orlando Bloom to U2. We love the history of Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. Zagreb was once a stop on the Orient Express train and Esplanade Zagreb Hotel was built for the glamorous passengers stopping over en route between Paris, Venice, and Istanbul (which explains its walking distance to the rail station).
For clients seeking a hip boutique hotel in the middle of the city center, head over to Amadria Park Hotel Capital. This hotel was a former bank, with vaulted ceilings and contemporary design in a historic building. Located on a busy street with a bit more action, those with an eye toward fashion and design with enjoy their experience at Amadria Park Hotel Capital.
Zagreb Restaurant Suggestions: Noel, Boban, Apetit, Mano
Istria. From Zagreb we drove to Istria, the peninsula located at the top of the Adriatic Sea, and shared by Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. Lots of Venetian influence, particularly in their cuisine.
En route from Zagreb to Rovinj, we stopped to visit San Canzian Hotel & Village, about 1 hour from Rovinj, in the hills of Istria. A gem of a property, San Canzian reminded us of Tuscany with rolling hills, vineyards, and pure tranquility. This “borgo” (or small village) was purchased a few years ago and renovated as a boutique hotel and part of Small Luxury Hotels. Enjoy their Porsche 911 Carrera Cabrio II house car to explore the area's vineyards, olive groves, and small villages. San Canzian is well-suited for couples looking to unwind, eat, drink, and rest for a couple nights.
Must do activity in Rovinj: Make sure you enjoy a truffle experience while in Istria. Be welcomed into a local home and learn how to find and cook with these special delicacies.
Next stop for two nights was Grand Hotel Park Rovinj. This brand new modern hotel directly faces the Old Town in Rovinj and WOW, what a dramatic view from the multi story floor to ceiling windows. Rooms are modern, very spacious, well appointed (top notch hair dryers), and a fabulous champagne breakfast. For travelers who need to stay connected, Grand Hotel Park has very strong wifi. Stroll along a pedestrian promenade overlooking the marina and harbor for about 15 minutes and you are in the heart of Rovinj's Old Town, with shops and cafes.
Rovinj Restaurant Suggestions: Monte and Brasserie Adriatic.
Waterfalls Galore. Next on our Croatian journey was a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is known for its multiple lakes that are joined by dozens of waterfalls. Perfect for an overnight visit to hike and enjoy fresh air.
Fenomen Plitvice is a charming “rifugio like” property at the national park built in 2018 as a cluster of brand new cottages, many with kitchens. Clean, comfortable, not overly luxurious, just really lovely and perfect for families who want to stay IN the national park. Food was exceptional and service was warm and welcoming.
Dalmatia's Gateway. From Plitvice National Park we drove south to Split, which is Croatia's second largest city and the gateway to the Dalmatian Coast.
For three nights we enjoyed Split and stayed at Santa Lucia Heritage Hotel. We LOVED this hotel, and its amazing General Manager Nevena. Santa Lucia is Split's second oldest hotel, located in this ancient city's Old Town. In 2020 the hotel was completely renovated and beautifully restored with historical focus. Located in a pedestrian only square, the hotel bellman will meet you a few blocks away to assist with your luggage at check-in. While retaining artistic tiled floors and traditional wooden trim moldings, the hotel also benefits from updated touches like bright lighting, super comfy beds, well appointed bathrooms, and spacious rooms. Their Family Gallery Rooms are generously designed "duplex style" on two floors with two bathrooms. Room Tips: Room #212 is a duplex room that sleeps 4. Our room was #101 in front of building overlooking square and very comfortable. Room #104 is a very large studio suite with a stunning arched historic ceiling.