Croatia, a land of unparalleled beauty and captivating landscapes, will leave you spellbound. Nestled along the Adriatic coastline, this enchanting country offers a tapestry of diverse experiences.
From the lesser-known island of Silba to the breathtaking Motovun Forest, Croatia unveils its secrets, beckoning you to indulge in extraordinary experiences and immerse yourself in a world of rich culture and warm hospitality.
Join us as we navigate through Croatia’s hidden treasures, guided by the recommendations from locals who know these lands best. Discover the unspoiled beauty, the vibrant cultures, and the remarkable diversity that Croatia has to offer.
For more travel inspiration, check out our dedicated travel blog.
Motovun Forest – go truffle hunting in Croatia
One of the most unique and unforgettable experiences you can have in Croatia is to go truffle hunting in Motovun Forest, situated in the heart of Istria county.
Motovun Forest is truly breathtaking: it’s one of only three protected autochthonous (preserved in its original state) forests in the Mediterranean.
Since it’s protected, Motovun Forest has an impressive array of wildlife, from the indigenous brown frog (Rana Larastei) to the many birds and butterflies that inhabit the space.
And, of course, Motovun Forest is famous for being a natural habitat for truffles. The forest is considered to be one of the best truffle spots in the world! The truffles from this region fetch some of the highest prices in the world.
Guided truffle hunting trips in Croatia
To get the full experience of a truffle hunting trip, we recommend that you book a guide to take you through the forest.
Truffle Tarandek, for example, offers guided trips through the forest. Nikola Tarandek, a local truffle hunter, will show you how to find truffles. He may even share one or two secret tips to find the most truffles in the forest!
During the guided hunt, you will follow specialised truffle hunting dogs — they’re actually the ones who do all the work!
Once you have found truffles, Nikola will also offer tips to best cook and prepare these delicious truffles. Back home, you’ll be a truffle expert and can impress guests with your newly learnt skills.
Even if you don’t find any truffles, Nikola will take you through the forest, making sure you discover as much of its beauty as possible. Also, he always has lots of truffles at home, and he’ll be sure to give you some!
Truffle season in Croatia
Truffles are hunted and harvested from September to November in Croatia. The best month, however, is October, when you can expect to find the most truffles during your hunt.
During this period, you can participate in “Days of Truffles”, festivities that take place every weekend where people hunt and celebrate the local delicacy.
Take in pristine mountain wilderness – Gorski Kotar
You surely know about the beauty of the coastal areas of Croatia but have you heard of the absolutely stunning Gorski Kotar? This remarkable gem is often referred to as Croatia’s equivalent of Switzerland for its mountainous landscape and lush forests.
Situated southwest of Zagreb, on the way to the Kvarner coast, Gorski Kotar has become a sought-after destination, particularly for those who want to witness unspoiled natural beauty.
Gorski Kotar is known as the “Green Heart of Croatia” and is home to diverse flora and fauna, including numerous rare and protected species. Within Risnjak National Park, you may even encounter wolves, bears, and the endangered Eurasian lynx as they roam freely.
Additionally, there are a variety of stylish cabins and lodges for rent. Sleeping in such stunning nature is really a one-of-a-kind experience — we cannot recommend Gorksi Kotar highly enough.
Delnice, a town in Gorski Kotar, is known as the “Snowiest Town in Croatia” due to its exceptionally high annual snowfall. Delnice often receives heavy snowfall during the winter months, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Best times to visit Gorski Kotar, Croatia
Gorski Kotar is wonderful all year round, so the best time to visit Gorski Kotar largely depends on your preferences:
- Spring: In spring (April to June), the forests are lush and vibrant, and the weather is generally pleasant with milder temperatures. It’s an ideal time for hiking, wildlife spotting, and enjoying the blossoming flowers.
- Summer: Summers in Gorski Kotar are warm and sunny, which is ideal for hiking, cycling, and exploring the national parks. The days are longer, providing ample time to appreciate the natural beauty of the region. However, do note that it can get crowded during peak tourist season.
- Autumn: In autumn, the forests transform into a stunning array of vibrant colours. The temperatures begin to cool, and it’s a great time for hiking, nature walks, and photography. Also, the autumn months tend to be less crowded, allowing for a more serene experience in Gorksi Kotar.
- Winter: Gorski Kotar is a winter wonderland during this time, especially in higher elevations. If you enjoy winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing, this is the perfect season to visit.
Don’t miss a World Heritage Site in Croatia – Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is widely acclaimed as the most breathtaking national park in Croatia. Year after year, it consistently secures a coveted spot on the list of top 5 must-visit places in the country.
As you wander along the park’s well-crafted wooden plank trails, prepare to be enchanted by the mesmerising waterfalls cascading into the interconnected lakes, each adorned with ever-changing colours.
Plitvice Lakes is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The park boasts over 1,200 plant species, including rare and endemic varieties. It provides a sanctuary for numerous animal species, including brown bears, wolves, lynx, and a wide array of bird species.
Visitors have the opportunity to encounter these fascinating creatures while exploring the park’s pristine wilderness. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as Plitvice Lakes is truly a spectacle and one of Croatia’s most sought-after destinations.
Tips when travelling to Plitvice Lakes
For a seamless journey, we recommend travelling from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes, it’s the most straightforward route. It’s a mere two-hour bus ride from Zagreb. Although it takes more time, you can also reach Plitvice National Park from Dubrovnik.
Considering the park’s popularity and high visitor numbers, we recommend you get a guided tour. Joining a guided tour allows you to make the most of your visit to this iconic attraction in Croatia.
Silba – a hidden gem away from the tourist hotspots
Discover a hidden gem in Croatia’s coastline near Zadar – the enchanting island of Silba. This lesser-known paradise, cherished by those in the know, invites you to experience a truly unique getaway.
Despite its small size, Silba boasts a vibrant community, with around 300 residents in the off-season to several thousand visitors during the summer. This island is free from any cars or hotels, making it a calm and relaxing environment for all.
Silba exudes a captivating Boho charm, drawing in creative souls who seek solace during the summer months. It’s also an ideal destination for families because it’s a carefree environment where little ones can roam barefoot and carefree.
To secure your ideal accommodations, we recommend booking well in advance, as this captivating island tends to fill up quickly. During your stay, bask in the warm sun, and engage in beachside activities like volleyball, basketball, or tennis.
You can visit Sotorišce, the island’s liveliest beach known for its crystal-clear, shallow waters. And for those with an adventurous spirit, you can explore the submerged archaeological ruins of an ancient sarcophagus, estimated to be over 1,500 years old.
The island is home to a picturesque lighthouse, known as the Lighthouse of Silba. Built-in 1877, it stands as a beacon of maritime history and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding seascape.
We hope that these local recommendations have inspired you to explore this enchanting country. Whether you choose to go truffle hunting in Motovun Forest or marvel at the natural wonders of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia promises a captivating adventure for every traveller.
Step off the beaten path, uncover the lesser-known spots, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this remarkable country that blends a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality.
So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of discovery, and let Croatia’s hidden gems unveil their wonders as you embark on an unforgettable journey.
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