The year is fast ticking on and we’ve been super busy thinking about all the places we can/should travel this summer like Sorrento. We’ve already started measuring our luggage to see if it will fit within the budget airline travel restrictions (or if we have to fork over €14 to check a bag) and are finalizing details for our trip to London soon. Thankfully with the wide reaching knowledge of the Internet, it’s a whole lot easier to travel like a local versus a tourist…and the lodging options can not be beat with sites like AirBnB offering a wide range of very spectacular apartments to rent.

While we do really love planning our trips and packing a lot in (without wearing all of us out — let’s be real, we’re traveling with a 4-year-old who’s stamina is not always as high as our own), we are not ruling out any particular stops in Europe just yet. There’s definitely a fairly short list of “must see” cities, but you can’t hit them all at once. And since each mini-vacation runs from €500-1000, the last thing you want to do is go overboard.

One of the places we have recently been discussing is Croatia. It’s always been somewhere we’ve considered due to the fact that I actually have family living there. So while Italy is always one of our favorites, our eyes are constantly drawn across the map towards Croatia. So it seemed like a smart idea to look into the country just a bit further in case we ever do decide to go there!

Most people seem to think only of Dubrovnik when they think of cheap holidays to Croatia. It’s notched up as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Adriatic and it’s not really any wonder since it gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1979. It’s a real cultural hub, with so many fantastic examples of ancient architecture including the Rector’s Palace, which dates back hundreds of years and the Dominican Monastery, filled with artwork to delight anyone with a keen eye for the past.

photo credit: darkmatter via photopin cc

photo credit: darkmatter via photopin cc

We, however, have been looking into a few different options and would (dare I say it?) actually prefer to avoid Dubrovnik. Despite how wonderful it would no doubt be, it would be ridiculously overcrowded, which is not something we want to deal with when there are children to think about. So we started to explore some other destinations and came up with a few that sound not only more low key but also incredibly beautiful.

There are a number of islands just off the coast of Croatia, including Hvar, also known as the queen of the Croatian islands. Its strategic position has made it long popular throughout history for a number of reasons. It has been inhabited for thousands of years, with the first evidence of human occupants dating back to the Neolithic period and Stari Grad is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest towns. You can rent a boat and sail across to the Paklenki Islands while you’re there too, which I think would be especially exciting for Mackenzie.

We also came across the Plitvice Lakes National Park in our exploration and we’d definitely love to go here some time. It seems like a total paradise! Hidden away behind a densely wooded surrounding, these deep, turquoise lakes are nirvana on earth, connected by wild waterfalls and cascades. It was one of the first natural sites to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and it’s really no wonder with the amount of wildlife that lives there. They have deer, bears, wolves and countless species of rare birds roaming free. But don’t worry, I’m assured there are very strict regulations, so you needn’t worry about winding up in a bear nest with nowhere to run!

Just writing this has gotten me really excited about making our trip to Croatia sometime soon. Who knows, maybe I’ll persuade the family to take a different route through Italy and we’ll hitch a ferry over there this summer!

Have you ever been to Croatia? Where are you planning to head this summer for a little R&R?