Turning up at 7pm without a hotel reservation is rarely a problem in the off-season but this time I was unlucky as Rijeka was fully booked. Someone I spoke to suggested a hotel just out of the city but with only vague directions it was impossible to find.
Without a clue as to where to go and the thought of spending the night in the car unappealing, we stopped at a petrol station to ask for help. Luckily Croatia is one of the friendliest places in the world and the guys working there rang around until they found a hotel with a vacancy. They gave us the name of the village and 10 minutes later we were in paradise.
Bakar is a small but lively fishing village situated on the beautiful Bay of Bakar. The shops and houses are a little run down but full of character. You can get great views of Bakar from the old town and castle, found high up on the hill. The only hotel in the village, Hotel Jadran Bakar, is a historic building which was originally a nautical school and was converted to a hotel in 1905. The rooms need renovating but the wifi and location are ideal and the receptionist couldn’t do enough to help us.
This is one of the most peaceful places I’ve been to in Croatia and with hardly a tourist in sight, it’s somewhere I would be happy to stick around for a while.
Unfortunately I was due further south so quickly moved on to the seaside resort town Makarska. What a contrast with Bakar. Makarska had tourists from all over the world packed onto the beach like sardines. I was surprised to see so many tourists in September but the weather and beach were perfect so I can understand the attraction.
I adore Croatia but the packed beach and tourist restaurants were too much for me. If you do stay in Makarska, I would recommend eating at restaurant Roma, just up the hill from the bus station where the food is great and the prices much lower than on the beach.
We stayed at Villa Lelas which is brand new and with a very helpful owner. The wifi is a little weak but if that’s not an issue, this place is fantastic.
After Makarska I was tempted to spend time in Dubrovnik, one of my favourite cities in the world (even though tourists abound), but I’m trying to avoid visiting places where I’ve already been so opted for the quieter and cheaper Cavtat, 15 kms south of Dubrovnik. Cavtat’s old town is very similar to Dubrovnik with old stone houses overlooking the harbour. The water is crystal clear although there is no beach. If you want to swim you’ll need to put your towel down on concrete or hire a beach lounge for 4 euros.
Cavtat is beautiful, I loved it and have put it on my revisit list. For now though, I’m going to stick to visiting places I’ve never been before so next year’s Croatian itinerary is going to include Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes and Krka Falls. Anywhere else I should go?