Since becoming a member of the EU in 2013, Croatia's tourism has almost doubled. Great news if you have an Airbnb in Korčula, horrible news if you don't like sweaty guys in sleeveless shirts.
The good news is there are still some hidden gems sprinkled throughout the islands, and thanks to Airbnb, there are a lot of really nice (affordable) accommodations to be snapped up all summer long! Here we give you our expertly crafted, and hand picked list of the top Croatia destinations to avoid the crowds:
Lopud sunset from the bar
Lopud is where we met! It's a tiny island that is a quick 15 minutes ferry from Dubrovnik, the perfect easy escape from the crowded Game of Thrones tourists that you'll find clogging the streets. It has no roads, only a tiny walking trail that connects the harbor, to the beach. There are a ton of kayaking trips that leave from Lopud that can take you from island to island.
There is a tiny cabana bar right next to the ferry entrance that has the amazing view you see above in this picture.
July and August might get a little crowded on the beach, since it is quite small, it's one of the best sandy beaches you will find within the Dubrovnik area. There are plenty of Airbnb's that have popped up on Lopud over the past several years. This is your place for isolated relax, or a short day trip away from the hoards.
Courtesy of Croatia Tourism Board
Korčula is like a mini Dubrovnik, full of life, locals, restaurants, markets, and historic architecture, but in a much more digestible format. This is a great place to take day trips to local destinations, and has great connections to Bosnia if you want to explore a country with a bit less fanfare.
Relax on one of Korčula's beautiful terraces, or bring a picnic dinner down to the water front. The town is filled with charming cobble stone medieval streets with local vendors, of course you will get the occasional tourist crap merch being hawked but on a smaller scale.
Some of our favorite side trips on Korčula was visiting the small vineyards that are found inland, or going for a trail run on the winding roads that circle the island. Korčula has a pretty booming Airbnb scene, so you can find some great places to stay at a reasonable price.
Courtesy of the Guardian
A small island about 2 hours from Split by ferry (for only 8€), it's one of the last islands before hitting the open sea for Italy. Recently tourism has almost doubled due to the fact "Mama Mia 2" was filmed here. Hopefully the Mama Mia bump will wear off this summer and things can go back to normal. It only takes about 15 minutes to go from side to side, and the island is full of winding cliff hugging roads that drop off into tiny coves. The island is dotted with idyllic stopping points to park and hop in the water.
When you get off the ferry there is a small motorcycle rental to your right that can set you up with any moped for zipping around the island. Be careful, some of the highways are sprinkled with gravel, we actually crashed ours into a ditch...luckily it only cost us 200€ and a few skinned knees.
Pre-crash, looking really confident
Hotels and airbnbs are slim here, but there are some amazing accommodations over looking the sea if you are willing to spend a bit more.
A quiet fishing village on the coast
On the island of Brač you can go get swarmed by fellow tourists in hot destinations like Bol. Yes the beach is long, and beautiful...but you will be towel to towel with people as far as the eye can see. However, on the other side of the island in a tiny inlet, you can find the quiet fishing village of Pučišća. We spent three nights here in a family's home and took part in the annual street festival, eating freshly caught sardines from the local fisherman.
The town has a few little cafes right on the harbor, and in 10 minutes you can walk to pristine turquoise filled swimming holes without a soul in sight. Just the sound of the breeze, the birds, and a view of the mountains.
After getting off the ferry there is a bus terminal, the trip takes about 20 minutes through the winding highways of the island. The locals are more than happy to give you ideas for local adventures, or even take you out on their fishing boat if you have some time to spare.
What we loved so much about Croatia is the willingness of the locals to open up and chat. Everywhere we went we found Croatians excited that people from around the world wanted to visit their home, and experience their culture. We only hope this feeling continues and the massification of tourism doesn't start to cause the resentful feelings we are starting to see here in Barcelona.