KidTripster Teen: 8 reasons to beg your parents to go to Croatia, home of the real King’s Landing.
Upon telling people that I’d be traveling in Croatia for a week, most were a little surprised, as well as intrigued. This was mostly because no one even knew where Croatia was or what it was like. Before stumbling on a picture of the country on the internet, I'd never even considered going to Croatia. But the more that I researched about this amazing place, the more that I fell in love with it. It became my goal to travel there one day.
Of course, my parents knew about this dream of mine, and after months of convincing and showing them pictures that I found on Google Images, my dream became a reality! While it may not be the first place that you think of to spend your summer vacation, Croatia provided one of the most incredible experiences that I've ever had, and I can't recommend this destination enough for adults and kids alike!
KidTripster Tip: Know that with the worldwide success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, already-popular Dubrovnik - the set for fictional King’s Landing - is attracting a whole new legion of admirers. The city will be packed during the summer. If you can, we recommend a spring or fall visit.
1/The real King's Landing
Granted, HBO’s Game of Thrones isn’t what I’d describe as family-friendly television, but chances are, you and maybe even your older teens are die-hard fans. Dubrovnik is the real-life stand-in for King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. Relive Queen Cersei Lannister’s “walk of shame” through the narrow streets of the Old City. Lounge in Highgarden like Lady Olenna of House Tyrell. Visit the City of Qarth and sit on Iron Throne at the Game of Thrones Museum.
KidTripster Tip: While it may be tempting to visit Dubrovnik during the winter to avoid some of the crowds, know that Trsteno Arboretum (Highgarden) is closed. Also, you can’t access Lokrum Island, home of Qarth and the throne.
Photo courtesy: Du the Tour
2/Old City of Dubrovnik
One of the most popular cities to visit in Croatia is Dubrovnik, and after going there, I understand why. A very cool stone wall separates the old city and the more modern one. My family and I were very lucky to be able to stay inside the walls of the Old City. Upon our arrival in Dubrovnik, our taxi driver dropped us off just outside the walls. Since there are no cars allowed in the Old City, we had to walk in, dragging our suitcases behind us. As soon as I entered, my jaw dropped; it looked completely different than the city that we’d been in just seconds earlier! I was surrounded by cafes, gelato stores, cobblestone streets, and tall white buildings with laundry on strings coming from open windows. I immediately fell in love! If you’re visiting Dubrovnik, I highly suggest staying in the Old City.
I'd also recommend walking the wall. My family and I did it in the evening around 6 p.m. The wall closes at 7:30 p.m., but we went at the perfect time; it wasn’t too hot, and we had a great view of the sunset. We could see the water and the city from up above. We got a lot of great pictures.
Croatia is a country that is located on the Adriatic Sea. The water is really salty - so salty that when you go swimming, it takes hardly any effort to float. It also is very warm, and on many of the beaches, the water is so clear that you can almost always see the bottom. But the most stunning feature is the bright blue color of the sea. Despite my many attempts to capture how beautiful the stone streets looked against the sapphire blue water, pictures just don’t do it justice. It may seem silly to go all the way to Croatia just to look at the water, but it was so memorable for me that I believe it should make the list!
KidTripster Tip: While on an island called Hvar, my family and I rented a boat for a day. For anyone traveling to Croatia, this excursion most definitely should be on your itinerary.
I live in Portland, Oregon, and when I've walked around town looking for somewhere to eat, I’ve never seen a Croatian restaurant. I knew little about this kind of food before visiting. But after staying in several different cities for about a week, I feel fairly confident in my description of it.
First of all, Croatian food is really good. I enjoyed every meal that I had. While I’ve never been to Italy, I think most restaurants serve something very similar to the food that you’d expect to eat in Italy. I had a lot of pasta and a lot of pizza. And then there was the gelato! Yum! Every city had a number of shops and a wide variety of flavors.
5/Museum of Broken Relationships
My family and I visited a city called Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The city itself is very cool with beautiful architecture and streets lined with stores. We walked around Zagreb all day, but my favorite part, by far, was our visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships.
This museum was filled with objects that were sent in from people all over the world and stories about the breakups associated with the objects. I had never visited a museum like this before - frankly, who knew that one existed! I wish that I could have spent the whole day there, reading all the stories that were so very personal. I took pictures of some of my favorite exhibits, including one with a playing card and the story of a couple who collected playing cards that they found on the street; when they discovered a new card, they’d do something special together, like cook a meal or go on a trip. Yes, the exhibit then goes into detail about how and why they broke up. I found that in all of these stories, the author also would highlight the good memories that the couple once shared. Even though it’s been a month since I’ve visited the museum, I still think about it all the time.
Photo courtesy: Museum of Broken Relationships
While there are many other places that you could visit that are sunny and warm just like Croatia, I still feel like it should be included in one of the reasons to visit. Most of the time, when I think of European cities, I don’t imagine myself relaxing in the sun. However, while I was in Hvar, I would sometimes spend the entire day lying in a chair by the pool or the sea. If you’re someone that loves to walk around and explore the city, but you also need time to rest and relax, Croatia is perfect during the summer!
7/Not many American tourists
One of the most interesting things that I noticed during my visit is that as you pass through a crowd of people, you can hear ten different languages being spoken at the same time. Yet for some reason, it was incredibly rare for my family and I to hear someone speaking English with an American accent. I had never visited a place with such a lack of American tourists. If there were tourists, they were usually from other European countries like the United Kingdom or Germany. It was kind of cool to be in a country that was so diverse and attracted people from all over the world!
8/Every city feels different
On my trip to Croatia, I visited three different cities: Zagreb, Hvar, and Dubrovnik. This itinerary was planned perfectly as each city was wildly different than the others. Many people have asked me why my family only visited Croatia and not other European countries while we were there. My answer? There was enough variety between each city that it felt like each one could’ve been a different country! Zagreb was an industrious city with markets, fountains, and intricate buildings. Hvar was a small island with tanned European tourists strolling around the sunny, breezy streets that were framed by that bright blue water. And Dubrovnik was historic with its contrast between the old and new city, and everything in the old city looked as if it had a story to tell.
Elena Martinez is a high school senior who travels the world with her mom, dad, and brother. She enjoys art, music, and spending time with her friends.