With our home base in Split, we took day trips around and outside the city pretty efficiently by car. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a lot of the stops happen to be “Game of Thrones” set locations. These places were chosen because they’re already amazing to see. Split itself feels a bit more sprawling than Dubrovnik. Also, outside of the old town area, it gets much more urban very quickly. Like a lot of this trip, we stayed at an AirBnb right outside of old town. Our apartment was high up with a very nice view of the harbor.
On one day we visited Klis, which is an old mountain fort just outside of Split. From the top, you actually have a view of all of Split and out past to the open sea. Klis was a filming location for the city of Meereen, something they have a room set aside with an old prop dragon and some glossy pics showing when the cast was there. It was a pretty cool stop.
Trogir was another city a short drive from Split that we visited for a day. We had been told previously by someone that they thought the old town in Trogir was the best in the Balkans. I’m not sure if we agree with that, but I can see how it might be said. We felt that Trogir was possibly like what Kotor, Montenegro might have been like some years ago with fewer visitors. It’s very small and quiet and clean. There is a fort at the corner of town overlooking the harbor with some picturesque views. There is also a very cool medieval church with a belltower that has views of all of old town. The church vault has some of the craziest relics we’ve seen anywhere. Most reliquaries have like a bone fragment or something. The ones at this church had preserved human hearts and big skull fragments and stuff… very interesting.
On the way back to Split, there is a very small stop you can make called Kastel Gomilica. We expected the place to be a full castle with an admission ticket and such. It’s not. Kastel Gomilica is basically a very small residential neighborhood built inside old castle walls right out on the water. Our Balkan atlas shows the place as a lighthouse. We really couldn’t believe this place was the filming location for Braavos, but after some further thought, it kind of fits. The place really does feel like a tiny little port town on the edge of the earth.
After a few days in Split, we made our way further north for an overnight in Zadar. On the way, we stopped for a few hours to hike and visited in Krka National Park until we had our fill of huge waterfalls and natural splendor. The main draw for us in Zadar is something called the sea organ. Basically, an area of public space on the boardwalk was converted so that the incoming waves go into little channels and made different notes as the air is pushed through different diameter tubes. It makes a kind of soothing sound that is both rhythmic and chaotic. In the same space, there is a huge round area of solar powered color LED lights that represent the sun and different planets that light up in really cool ways after sunset. The sea organ and sun salutation both seem to be major hits with tourists and locals alike. Oh, also the “Museum of Illusion” was a cool private permanent exhibit that is definitely worth a stop for a few hours while in Zadar.
That pretty much wraps up our time in Croatia. We’ve spent more time here than anywhere else in the Balkans. We don’t have a lot of time left, but we still have two more countries. Next stop: Slovenia