Croatia’s longest highway Zagreb – Split is not just a road connecting the capital to the amazing Adriatic coast. It is worthy of exploring more, not just rushing through, as it makes its way through world heritage sites, national parks and small resorts. Besides, experts say that when driving we should try to stop every two hours.
As parents we wholeheartedly agree and can only add that when traveling with kids this is a rule to follow.
Here are our favorite places you can visit along the highway, to make most of your stops:
- Slunj and Plitvice Lakes National Park
If you have the time (and if you have never been to Plitvice – you should definitely make some) I’d recommend taking the »old« scenic road to the coast. Get off the motorway in Karlovac and enjoy the ride. You can first make a stop in a small town of Slunj, more exactly Rastoke, the lower part of the town famous for its little waterfalls and 22 water mills. This is a place where two rivers join, Korana coming from Plitvice and Slunjcica. If it’s a hot day this will be a true delight. Then continue to Plitvice. Plitivice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register among the first natural sites worldwide and you will immediately realize why. The Nature’s work of art leaves no one unimpressed. Take a walk and admire the many shapes of water.
Note: If you really want to see the whole park, it will take up most of your day. But don’t be discouraged if you only have a few hours to spare, you can still enjoy and get the feel for it.
Here are some of our tips on visiting Plitivice and a suggestion on where to stay.
- Tesla’s Birthplace
I am a sucker for road signs mentioning important sites in the vicinity. I always want to turn and check them out. For years now we have been passing the sign for Nikola Tesla’s birthplace near Gospic. And every time we do, I say next time we will definitely stop. A month ago, my wish finally came true. We spent an entire weekend in Lika – the rural region of Croatia, famous for its green pastures, grazing sheep and the Velebit mountain range in the backdrop. Even if you have zero to none interest in physics and math (like me) it is still worth a visit and having a chance to get to know one of the greatest mind ever a little better. Witnessing his life story and many achievements you will definitely develop a true respect for the genius he was. See his experiments in action, learn more about his endeavors, and realize what life would be like without his inventions… Finally both you and the kids can try out the very entertaining playground, where some of the equipment is based on Tesla’s inventions.
- Paklenica National Park – Starigrad
There is another National Park on your route to the sea – Paklenica. As you leave Lika behind and take the imposing Sveti Rok tunnel, your surroundings will change significantly. A whole new view will open up and a meandering path will bring you all the way to the sea. But, if you are a true hiking, perhaps climbing fan you can dwell at the foot of the mountains a little longer – at the Paklenica National Park. With an area of 95 km2, the park offers many diverse routes. We are yet to visit it.
Till we do, here are a few suggestions on how to plan your visit from one of my favorite bloggers – she knows her way around Croatia.
- Zadar – Nin
Zadar is a lovely sea side town that could actually be your final destination. It has amazing beaches, a historical center with plenty of possibilities, a one of a kind sea organ – you have to hear it to believe it. It has everything working in its favor. So, does Nin – though much smaller, but historically very significant. Nin is famous for being the place where the Croatian state was born and with three thousand years it is Croatia’s oldest royal town. Many of its important sites can still be seen and enjoyed today. Even if you are just looking for a brief stop – these two places are a good bet.
- Krka National Park– Skradin
This brings us to the final leg of our journey. One of my favorite stops on the A1 is actually the one overlooking the charming Skradin harbour. It gives me the first true glimpse of the majestic Adriatic coastline. And I am excited to continue the journey. But if none of our suggestions so far were convincing enough, you can stroll the streets of picturesque Skradin or drive a few kilometers away and visit the magnificent Krka National Park. Compared to Plitvice, which are very imposing, Krka can be described as more down to earth while still impressive. Take full advantage of the fact the swimming is allowed and explore the park from a different perspective.
Of course there are plenty of other places you can visit along the way, these are just our favorites. In the comments I’d love to read yours…