Croatia 2019 Trip Report

By Jeff Vanuga on Jun 03, 2019

Croatia is a “road less traveled” when compared with many of the more popular areas in Europe. The country has a long history of human occupation which dates back to the Paleolithic Age, so it should come as no surprise that a good portion of our trip was spent visiting the ancient cities and jewels of the Adriatic.
Our tour started in the sea port and Old Town of Dubrovnik, a medieval city and UNESCO World Heritage site on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. It has gained popularity due to HBO’s Game of Thrones series where the medieval city walls serve as the backdrop for the ficitional King’s Landing.  Dubrovnik is a maze of narrow streets and steep stairs lined with shops, restaurants, interesting architecture, tourists and street vendors.   When it was not raining we ventured out into the streets to take advantage of the ancient city’s endless photo opportunities. At blue hour, we captured the Old Town and Fortress from a high vantage point. Our plans included several more blue hour during the trip, so we used this opportunity to learn and practice the proper technique to obtain a good balance of city light and cool blue sky.
One note to mention: on our Croatia trip, as well as our Slovenia trip that immediately followed, we encountered a lot of rain and some snow in areas. The locals said it was very unusual to have this amount of moisture, but weather patterns are changing everywhere so it came as no real surprise.  In any event, we still managed to obtain some wonderful imagery—with or without the help of Mother Nature.
Hvar, CroatiaFrom Dubrovnik we took a short drive and a ferry to Hvar, another ancient city located on an island that has been rated as one of the 30 most beautiful in the world.  Hvar is the longest island in Croatia and is known for its marble streets, vineyards, beaches and great restaurants. At one time it was a naval base for the Venetian Empire.  During our visit we took advantage of blue hour photography from high above the city center, creating panoramic and early morning images of Stari Grad and the nearby harbor. Like every city we visited, we spent time wandering the narrow streets seeking opportunities to photograph the unique architecture, people and places that make each location special.  
The next morning we took the ferry to the ancient city of Split which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. We roamed the streets and visited the Diocletian’s palace before making our way to Krka National Park in the afternoon. This park is best known for its largely unaltered ecosystems and Krka Waterfalls.  The park is also home to the Roman Catholic Visovac Monastery founded in 1445 along with the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Monastery Krka founded in 1345 which we visited by tour boat.  
Plitvice Falls CroatiaOur next stop was another UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest park in Croatia— Plitviče Lakes National Park. Plitviče is perhaps best known for its cascading waterfalls on the Korana River.  A series of 16 lakes are separated over a distance of 8 kilometers by natural dams of travertine deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria.  The result is an area filled with  beautiful and majestic cascading waterfalls. Here, for the most part, the weather worked in our favor.  Through torrents of rain and, even a few inches of snow, we braved the elements to obtain some truly amazing photographs. The moisture increased the amount of water flowing over the falls and, combined with snow, rain and fog, created surreal scenes of waterfalls blanketed with rising fog from the valley below.  Although it could be challenging to photograph in the rain and holding an umbrella, we could not have asked for better atmospheric conditions.
From Plitviče NP we motored to the Istrian Coast stopping along the way at the seaside port of Rovinj.  Located on the Adriatic Sea and known for the port that is within the city, Rovinj has a long history of occupation by the Venetians, Romans, Austro-Hungarian Empire and it was later ruled by Yugosloslavia before winning its independence in 1991. The cultural influences from these various occupations can be seen throughout the city.  This was a fun place to visit with its old cobblestone streets, harbor and street scenes, fortified walls, fantastic restaurants and the Saint Euphemia church which towers over the Old Town.  Like every city we visited, I could spend days and days wandering around, capturing the essence and culture of the place.
Zagreb CroatiaOur last destination was the capital city of Zagreb. From our hotel we walked to the Old Town area for an afternoon/evening shoot before having our final group dinner.  Our meal was like every other we enjoyed during our stay in Croatia—a culinary experience offering the best of what Europe has to offer.
With its combination of medieval cities, natural areas and national parks, our Croatia tour offers a great mix of culture, nature and culinary experiences.  Perhaps one reason why they call it the Jewel of the Adriatic!

Related Tags:  croatia, dubrovnik, hvar, krka, plitvice