The full Croatia album is available on Flickr for your viewing pleasure.

“I love to travel,” said everyone and their mother.

Sure it’s cliché but that statement means so much more to me. The feeling I get when I travel is hard to put into words. In the most simplistic way possible, it’s a feeling of pure joy. Every part of me is smiling as if I’m on an unadulterated high.

That’s exactly how I felt the moment I touched down in Dubrovnik. I was smiling from ear to ear and giggling like an idiot while looking at some poor shrubs outside the airport. The shrubs weren’t even that spectacular…

My love for Dubrovnik was a given – and if you really think about it, how could you not love it?! Take medieval architecture, place it on the edge of the most beautiful sea and the result is breathtaking. If you’re ever in the area (and by that I mean anywhere on earth), do yourself a favor and visit Croatia. I promise it will be worth every moment.

If I haven’t convinced you with my blunt declaration of love for this place, here are a few tips and tricks that might change your mind:

Live like a king, but don’t spend money like one.

Worried about cost? Don’t be. Travel doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg. Honestly, I probably would’ve been happy living in a tent on the beach for a week. But if extreme camping isn’t your cup of tea, AirBnb will be. It’s a whole lot cheaper than a hotel, you get to live in a place that has all necessary amenities, you get to know a local family and maybe even make some life-long friends. What else could you ask?

Get lost in (or on top of) the streets of Old Town Dubrovnik.

Part of Dubrovnik’s unparalleled charm are the Old Town’s cobblestone alleys. I could spend hours walking around and exploring every narrow street and tunnel.  There is so much character and history woven into those walls – it doesn’t take much for imagination to run wild and picture what that world was like a few hundred years ago. Best part of all: this is free!

For an ever more exciting perspective, venture on top of the fortress walls and admire the city from above. You can also take a cable car to the top of the mountain and get a panoramic view of both old and new Dubrovnik as well as the beautiful (and cursed) island of Lokrum and the surrounding Adriatic sea.

Avoid the Game of Thrones tours like you would avoid weddings in Westeros.

This one is a bit of a toss-up because I actually quite enjoy guided tours. They’re a fantastic way to get some insight and historical background on the places you’re visiting. But here’s the thing: (old) Dubrovnik is not a very big place and there’s a good chance you can actually spot all the locations on your own as you explore the city. Super fans of the show will recognize these iconic scenes immediately.

*Psst: This is what the tour would look like. I’ll give you a hint: most places are within the Old Town walls, along the fortress walls and across the water looking onto Lovrijenac Fortress. I just saved you $85 and gave you an idea for a fun scavenger hunt. You’re welcome.

Explore the original explorer’s home town - Marco Polo and Korcula.

Did you know Marco Polo was born on the small Croatian island of Korcula? Neither did I. But the locals insist this is true and have documents to back up their claims. The confusion stems from the popular fact that Marco Polo was born in Venice. However, during the time of Marco Polo, the island of Korcula was actually part of Venetian territory. There are also documents stating the existence of the “De Polo” family in Korcula. The “De” prefix indicated that the family became nobility through the years – which is also true in the case of our famous merchant Marco Polo, who served the court of the Mongolian Kublai Khan for many years. His childhood home is now owned by the Croatian government and will be restored into a museum over the next few years. Whether these grand claims are true or not is up to you to decide. I guess we will never know for certain but the scenery is worth the trip.

Drink the grapa.

When in Rome? Trying traditional foods when travelling is best part of any trip – but let’s not forget about the good old drinks. Turns out Croatia has an expansive wine country and they also brew a variety of liquors from their grapes. The traditional poison of choice is called “grapa” and it comes in various forms. Home-made versions are typically fermented on dill and have an herb-y (and refreshing) after taste. Do also try the sweet sherry and “desert wines” from the region; they’re absolutely delicious.

PS: This is some seriously strong stuff. Lightweights beware. Russian liver strongly recommended. Živjeli! 

If you haven’t been sea kayaking in the bay of Dubrovnik, you haven’t lived.

This is easily the highlight of my Europe 2015 trip. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Don’t pull a Denisa: budget time for Split and Hvar.

One of my only regrets of the trip was not having enough time to visit Split and Hvar also.  I hear they are stunning – and they’re on the to-do list for the next Croatian adventure. 
(PS: The only regret thing is a lie. I also regret not putting sunscreen on during the kayak trip and acquiring a super sexy wetsuit burn. My body also agrees… I couldn’t wear pants for about five days.)

That’s it for now! Be sure to drop by next week for a recap of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the meantime, check out #denisasadventures on Instagram for all the selfies and action shots.
The full Croatia album is available on Flickr.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below or contact me directly.