In the early 2000s, I subscribed to a magazine called Budget Travel. While I'm sure that I dog-eared at least a dozen pages in every issue, two countries that I read about quickly made their way to my travel short list—and to the top of my list for future honeymoon destinations: Croatia and Slovenia.
While I was never interested in having a wedding-wedding (we eloped in case you missed it), a dreamy honeymoon was a non-negotiable. While the original plan was to do Croatia and the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Dan kindly suggested that maybe we shouldn't overdo it (like I tend to do on trips) and we decided to just focus on Croatia.
Serendipitously, flights into Ljubljana, Slovenia (Croatia's neighboring country to the north) were substantially cheaper than flying into Dubrovnik, so we ended up booking our flights in and out of there, which made my 23-year-old, Budget-Travel-reading-self very happy.
Knowing that the scenery would be unreal, we invested in a new camera before we left, the Fujifilm X-T1 (which I quickly fell in love with), and I had so much fun photo-documenting our journey.
Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip, as well as a few lists of the highlights in case you ever find yourself in that part of the world—which you absolutely should. The Adriatic was just as magical as I had imagined it would be. ✨
Warning: I hope you like to scroll, I felt no need to edit down this post :)
Slovenia Top 5
- Ljubljana stole my heart right away. A small-size city with full-on European charm, it was beautiful, walkable, and surprisingly untouristed, which gave the whole city a laid-back, authentic, and welcoming vibe.
- Truffles! On the first night I ordered homemade pasta with shaved truffles and it was the best meal of the entire trip. There is a strong Italian influence on the culinary scene in Slovenia.
- Garden Village Bled: Everyone on the internet is right, this place is incredible. If you're traveling to Lake Bled, stay here. It's an eco-glamping resort...are you sold yet? We booked one of their pier tents on the river and it was heaven. The restaurant on the premise was quite good as well and they give you a complimentary drink and snack while you're checking in. Sidenote: I sadly did not get any decent photos of this place. We arrived after sunset and were out at sunrise :(
- The chapel-shrines. A sucker for religious iconography, I was fascinated by the dozens of little roadside shrines that we passed while driving through the Slovenian countryside.
- The airport. Is it weird to love an airport? Flying into Ljubljana at sunset literally felt like landing in what my childhood vision of heaven looked like—not to mention that the second you walk out the airport doors you're greeted with crisp, pine-scented mountain air. Plus, it's a tiny airport so totally no stress to fly in and out of.
Ljubljana, Slovenia ↠ Split, Croatia ↠ Vis Island, Croatia ↠ Podgora, Croatia ↠ Dubrovnik, Croatia ↠ Krka National Park, Croatia ↠ Zadar, Croatia ↠ Lake Bled, Slovenia
Croatia Top 5
- Diocletian's Palace: We were pleasantly surprised by the city of Split as a whole, but Diocletian's Palace was one of my favorite places we visited in all of Croatia. It's a living, breathing Roman ruin that still has functional apartments (with over 3,000 residents!), shops, and restaurants. It was so much more interesting to experience the palace as it was meant to be experienced, rather than emptied out and roped off for tourists only.
- Split gets another point for food, it was the best we had in Croatia. Two particularly memorable restaurants were Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar and Luka Café (best breakfast).
- The Makarska Riviera: The drive from where we stayed in Podgora down to Dubrovnik along the Makarska Riviera was stunning. We had an ongoing debate whether it was more beautiful than the Pacific Coast Highway in California, but the jury's still out, it was impossible to decide.
- Dubrovnik: Wow. I've truly never seen anything like it. An ancient city right on the Adriatic with an old town that's completely encapsulated by 5 meter thick, 25 meter high, stone walls that you can walk the perimeter of? It was truly breathtaking. We splurged and booked a few nights at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, and my god, was it worth it. Literally the hotel of my honeymoon dreams.
- The Sea Organ and Sun Salutation in Zadar: Tucked away in this unassuming medieval city are two of the wildest public art pieces that I've ever seen. Both designed by Croatian artist Nikola Bašić, just watch the videos I link to above. We were mesmerized.
Little Things I Loved
- There is no such thing as "to-go" coffee or tea. You take a break, sit down, and drink what you ordered at the cafe (even at highway rest stops!). Why are we Americans always in such a rush?
- The cats! I saw the movie Kedi last year about the street cats of Istanbul and it felt very much like that in Croatia. As a cat person, it was delightful to be surrounded by so many furry friends everywhere we went.
- The plethora of local dry white wine and rosé. I didn't have any idea what I was ordering the entire trip and somehow I never struck out.
- The laundry. Oh, how I loved sneakily photographing the local's laundry hanging out to dry in the breeze.
- Everyone automatically pronounced my last name the correct (and Polish) way: Jen-uh-vah-giss.
All in all, we were gone for 12 days, visited 4 countries (there was a brief jaunt through Bosnia and an unexpected overnight in Canada on the way home), 9 cities & towns, 1 island, got 8 passport stamps, covered a total of 1,654 km, and I have to say...it was pretty much as good as it gets—living up to my expectations and then some. 💕