We just got back from our (almost) annual girls/mom trip and it was one for the books! A girl’s trip to Croatia with points and miles is definitely something you want to consider. Or a couple’s trip or a family trip. If you love Italy, you will love Croatia! They are definitely very similar with a lot of places to get gelato, friendly people, and beautiful streets to wander through.
Originally we planned to all fly from Denver in business class seats to Dubrovnik. We had trouble finding those seats without a 9-hour delay in Chicago so we decided to position to Chicago for our flights. We then ran into trouble with finding four business class award tickets using United miles. Finally, we found three and booked one in economy class thinking that another business class seat would eventually open up. It didn’t. So the week before travel, I started looking at other options.
We decided to split into two groups of two (my London-based daughter was meeting us there). I had booked my seat on Avianca with LifeMiles from a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer so I canceled that flight. I then saw that Air France was giving a bonus of 25% on points transferred to their airline from Chase. Perfect! A new nonstop flight from Denver to Paris had just started recently so I could book my 80.5K business class seat with 66K Ultimate Rewards and get a 16. 5K bonus giving me 82.5 K miles. Unfortunately, the taxes and fees were higher than my original flight and cost me about $200 but at least I was paying less in points so it was worth it to change.
The girls that traveled from Chicago to Dubrovnik traveled on Lot Polish (and loved their flight). They paid 77K each for business class and got to enjoy the Polaris Business Lounge (my favorite) in Chicago before their flight.
I have to admit that I thought my daughter Kelly and I had gotten the best deal on our girl’s trip to Croatia on miles and points because I totally anticipated Air France’s business class to be the best. Turns out it wasn’t. The airplane was a little old and worn and the Lot Polish flight was really new. Oh well, lay-down flights are always great. We had a nice dinner, watched one movie, and fell asleep for a few hours.
We arrived in Dubrovnik only an hour apart from each other so we waited and traveled from the airport to our Airbnb together. Our host, Niko, picked us up charging 250 Kuna (about $30) for the trip. When we travel as a group of 5, we prefer to stay in an Airbnb vs. a hotel so we can all be together. This trip was cheaper due to the fact that three of us had $200 Airbnb credits from the initial Capital One Venture X Credit Card signup when it first came out. When you split Airbnb prices, it ends up being really cheap. I think we each paid about $50/night or less. You can also book an Airbnb with points if you want.
Our first stay was a two-bedroom, 2 bath apartment that overlooked the city walls and water. The view was spectacular. The place was convenient for walking to restaurants and the city center and very clean. It was also like staying in your old grandma’s home but we kind of loved it.
We can’t recommend too many great restaurants in Dubrovnik because a couple of the ones we tried, were not good. Poklisar had great pizza and a cool 3-piece band. We actually ate there twice because we enjoyed it so much.
We rode the ferry to Locrum island the first day at a cost of about $30/per person and explored the area. When we came back, we took the cable car up to get a spectacular view of the city. This was also about $30/per person. None of us are Game of Throne watchers, but this area is known to have had filming done there and is a huge favorite of fans.
The next day we walked the city walls. This, too, cost about $30/per person. We really wished we had done a tour of the city or walls to learn more about the history of Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful city with spectacular views. We loved it there and all agreed that two days was a perfect amount of time to visit.
We took a ferry to Hvar Island later that day. The ferry was nice and not crowded at all since we were traveling in early May. It was a 3 ½ hour journey for us and cost $49/per person. Can I just say that we all fell in love with Hvar? We made many friends with waitstaff at the restaurants and jokingly said that we “made our mark in Hvar”! This beautiful island was our favorite part of our girl’s trip to Croatia.
We met a taxi provided for by our next Airbnb in the city center and they took us to our lodging which was only about 5 minutes away. From then on, we walked everywhere we went on Hvar. We were pretty high up on a hill so it was good exercise and the views again were amazing! Our Airbnb was another 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo with a fold-out couch but this was a totally new, very modern place complete with a hot tub.
We were starving the first night and lucked into a restaurant called Fig. At Fig, we had the cutest waitress, Ana, whom we pretty much adopted, and enjoyed the best and freshest food. We enjoyed it so much that we ate there 3 times and again at one located in Split! Fig and cheese flatbread, chimichurri potatoes, chicken and bean burritos, guac on toast with poached eggs, and the tastiest granola were among our favorites. We also ate at a place called Mediterraneo which had the freshest, most delicious Sea Bream cooked on an outdoor grill with vegetables. Sea Bream and veggies became our dinner of choice from then on out.
We absolutely fell in love with Hvar! Picturesque, quaint, small and so serene. We unanimously would return for a week’s stay there anytime! On our first day, we just wandered around and went to a beach to relax.
The next day we joined a small tour of 12 people to go to the Green Grotto and Blue Grotto and a few islands. The highlight of the day was another delicious lunch of Sea Bream and veggies and gazing at the beautiful Adriatic Sea.
On our final day, we had breakfast and I went to a park to read while my daughters went up to the Fortress on a hill. Reluctantly, we said goodbye to Hvar that afternoon and took a short ferry ride to Split to continue our girl’s trip to Croatia.
We walked about 15 minutes from the ferry to our next Airbnb. This one was in a 400-year-old house and was quite tiny. We were surprised that we were divided into two areas. One had a queen bed and was just one room. The other was two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a tiny living area. We somehow missed that it wasn’t all one area but two on top of each other. The location was perfect for all our walking around Split.
The next day we rented a guide who drove us to Plitvice National Park. This is a spectacular area to hike amongst beautiful blue-green lakes and many, many waterfalls. We stopped at a grocery store on the way to get bread, salami, chips, and other lunch items and had an enjoyable day in nature.
We loved being there in the shoulder season because this area gets extremely busy during the summer. One of our favorite travel tips is to travel in May-June or Sept-October to beat the tourists.
On the last day, three of my daughters took a ferry to Brac and found some lounges to rent, and just enjoyed their day on this cute island.
Most of my daughters headed home on points the next day flying KLM in economy plus since it was daytime hours and wouldn’t be sleeping. These seats cost 27,500 points. I ended up going home to London with my other daughter for an additional week of visiting with her children and seeing more of London. It was the perfect time to be in London – temps of 70-80!
Croatia is very similar to Italy to us. That is probably why we loved it so much! Pizza, gelato, and the nicest people, along with the most gorgeous water and scenery combined make it another great mom/daughter trip! We laughed, reminisced, and enjoyed each other so much. Croatia on points and miles was a definite success!
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