Don't think, just book. Now. Or maybe you can read through this and decide for yourself. In the meantime, I'll decide where to start.
This country is not only rich but diverse in natural beauty. There is always something to feast your eyes on, from the green inland to the beaches and everywhere in between. Not only is Croatia home to some of the most surreal national parks in the world such as Plitvice Lakes and Krka (see below), but you'll find magic in just about everything this country has to offer. Even the marble cobblestone alleys will leave you drooling.
It wouldn't be enough to say this country was simply the most picturesque place I've ever traveled to. From the bright turquoise pools of Plitvice Lakes to the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea, it's impressive Croatia doesn't yet host a massive tourist influx every year. High season begins in June though, so I recommend heading over in late May or early September so you can skip the pushy crowd. And go in the next couple of years... before it's inhabited by people like us.
Croatians are preciously warm and eager to help you with your poor sense of direction. Though some rumor the food is mediocre, I beg to differ. In my experience, it was more about seeking the restaurants that appealed to me and my mom, both of us being health nuts. Everything in Croatia is locally sourced, and I can say with confidence that I didn't spot a single fast food restaurant (what a concept). A few days during our trip we bought food from the fresh market, and I'm still fantasizing about the tomatoes. But if you're a seafood fanatic, don't bother finding a market. Due to Croatia's coastal location, you will undoubtedly eat the freshest fish of your life. And when I say fresh, I mean so fresh that waiter will bring your fish to your table before putting it out of its misery... something not meant for the faint of heart (cough cough, my mom). However, if you're a seafood fiend, you might never leave.
Though some envision Croatia as a war-torn country, this is simply not the case. This misnomer likely stems from the recent war between the Serbs and the Croats that ended in the 1990s. The Serbs ethnically cleansed a portion of the Croats, and with only a couple decades of time having passed, apparently this is still a sore topic. Throughout the entire trip, at no point was I concerned for my safety (excluding when I nearly got trampled by a Russian family at Plitvice).
Do not, I repeat, do not skimp out on either of the big national parks. Plivtice Lakes and Krka National Park provide two of the most incredible landscapes known to man. In terms of Plivtice, I recommend booking it to the entrance before a mass of humanity arrives. Krka National Park, on the other hand, has a much quieter and romantic vibe. And you can swim in the giant waterfall!
Definitely take a few days to explore the islands. We stayed in Bol on Brac Island, which is home to the famous Zlatni Rat Beach. I'm a beach junkie, and Zlatni Rat quickly became one of my all time favorites due to its unique shape. It's a v-shaped beach which comes to a point at the edge of the island, created by the wind. The coolest thing about Zlatni Rat is that when one side of the beach is windy, the other side isn't. So despite groups of people leaving when the wind kicks up, you can simply switch to the other side.
Croatian words are harsh and damn near impossible to pronounce, so don't expect to adjust quickly to the native language. The locals will snicker at your mispronunciations, but it's all in good fun, considering if you heard yourself from their perspective, you'd probably laugh at yourself too. You'll get used to reading words without vowels that eventually, words with vowels will look strange to you.
If you're a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik is a must. If you're someone who could frankly give two craps about Game of Thrones (like myself), you'll still appreciate the Walled City. Its history is pretty unbelievable. Fair warning: there are an ornate amount of stairs in Dubrovnik. Be prepared to work up a sweat every time you leave your Airbnb.
Transportation is far from intuitive. This is truly the only negative aspect I could find. In terms of flying, there are only two major coastal airports; one in Split and one in Dubrovnik. Make sure to plan ahead, and to not get frustrated if your ferry decides the winds are too strong and you're left stranded in a different city. Croatians are relaxed and never in a hurry, which can piss off Northern Americans to no end. But it's part of the culture and something that makes the lifestyle so appealing, and ours, so, well... unappealing.
I highly, highly recommend planning your Croatian adventure. The beauty of this country is unparalleled, the seafood is out of this world, and the people are simply lovely. Make sure to give yourself at least a week to explore the ins and outs.
Believe me when I say pictures don't do this place justice and you have to experience it for yourself. Or, better... I'll go back again and experience it for you!
With light and love,