Recent Travels Croatia & Montenegro

On a recent adventure skipping down the Adriatic coast from Croatia to Montenegro, A&K’s Kathryn Pease made culinary and cultural connections in this dazzling part of the Balkans.
November 2023

Ravaged by years of civil war, the countries of the Balkan Peninsula have brushed off oppression and years of violence to emerge amongst Europe’s most alluring destinations and a little further off the beaten path than their well-trodden Mediterranean neighbours. Croatia is especially captivating with a glimmering coastline, beautiful cities with long and fascinating histories, excellent food and wine and a rich artistic tradition with locals who are endearing and pleased to welcome visitors. Kathryn’s well-rounded journey took in museums and galleries, ancient ruins and important contemporary landmarks, flavoursome food, and a little Game of Thrones magic thrown in.

Kathryn pinpoints below what made her journey so special.


Detouring from the coastal road, I discovered that the Croatian capital Zagreb is a cultural powerhouse with more museums per square foot than any other city in the world.

With a history stretching back to Roman times, the city is divided into parts: the thousand-year-old Upper Town, home to the iconic St Mark’s Church, the Croatian parliament and museums and galleries set in cobbled streets still lit by gas lamps and the 19th century Lower Town which is abuzz with shops, restaurants, cafés, theatres and parks. The two are joined by the grand Ban Jelacic Square, recognisable from the grand statue of Count Josip Jelacic on horseback. Zagreb is also known for its expansive green spaces, eye-catching street art and open-air markets.

A lesser-known coastal city is Zadar with both Roman and Venetian heritage. It’s said to be the oldest city in Croatia and is certainly one of the most scenic. The old town is easily explored on foot with highlights along the way including the 9th century St. Donat’s Church and the Sea Organ, an art installation designed by local architect Nikola Basic, which converts the movement of the waves into music. Our visit finished with a tasting of maraschino, the cherry-flavoured liqueur first distilled here in 1821.


Further down the coast, the vibrant port city of Split, with its glittering seaside promenade and breathtaking mountain backdrop, is a bustling cultural centre. At its heart is Diocletian’s Palace, one of the most impressive ancient Roman structures still in existence. Taking up half of the old city, the well-preserved remains give a sense of life during its heyday but equally what an important part of the city it is today with 3000-odd people living within the walls and its labyrinthine streets lined with bars, boutiques and restaurants.

A fan of Game of Thrones, I instantly recognised Dubrovnik’s Old Town as the location for King’s Landing. Its fortified walls, jumble of Baroque buildings, narrow streets and terracotta rooves needed little digital enhancement to recreate the fictional city so it was a thrill to meander through its charming laneways and piazzas. An impromptu klapa (a cappella choir) performance in one of the courtyards after dinner was a memorable end to a day.

Crossing the border into Montenegro was an unexpected surprise. With rugged mountains that sweep down to the Adriatic, the country has a dynamic topography dotted with picturesque villages and fortified towns. Our drive took us around the eastern edge of Boka Kotorska, Europe’s southernmost fjord, towards the coastal city of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A walking tour of Kotor town revealed a 12th century cathedral and Maritime Museum before a boat cruise past the Baroque Church of Our Lady of the Rocks built on an island in the bay.

Food & Wine
Reaping the benefits of a central location in Europe means Croatians enjoy bountiful produce from land and sea with culinary influences from the Mediterranean as well as continental dishes in the Austro-Hungarian style. Wherever we stopped, flavoursome cuisine was a given, whether in a Michelin-star restaurant, a village tavern, seaside picnic or neighbourhood eatery. Gastronomic stand outs were platters of oysters fresh from the fishermen in Mali Ston on the Pelješac Peninsula, an authentic rustic feast of slow cooked lamb on Brač Island and some excellent white wines from Istria and South Dalmatia.

Contact one of our expert Journey Designers or talk to your travel advisor to learn more and start planning.



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