Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is one of my favourite cities in the world (and I’m not only saying that because I meet my boyfriend there). The city really is incredible – the architecture, the food, the quaint little streets, the people, the nightlife, the shopping… There are just so many aspects that make Lisbon a must visit city.

I was extremely lucky during my visit to Lisbon, as I was equipped with an amazing itinerary which was given to me by some friends who are from Cascais (a seaside town located just outside of Lisbon and also the subject of my next post) for a four day stay in Lisbon. I had initially asked for some suggestions as to what I should see and do whilst in Lisbon, and in reply I received a two page essay on how to have an unforgetable four day stay in Lisbon. I’ll have to share with you some of their suggestions for places to eat and things to see and do, from a local’s perspective. I was also lucky to be travelling with a friend, who incidentally bumped into a Portuguese friend of her’s in Chiado on our first day, so we ended up spending the next four nights with him and his friend (now my boyfriend) partying in Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodre until the wee hours of the morning.

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A few things to see in Lisbon:

Alfama: The oldest district in Lisbon and perhaps the most beautiful. Situated on and around a hill, the district is a maze of small narrow, and usually steep, streets, which has its own particular charm. It has always been and still is a lower class district, but it is the richest in culture and history, especially since, unlike the rest of Lisbon, it was not decimated by the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake. From Alfama you can get the best views of Lisbon. The best viewing places are from the Castle Soa Jorge and Miradouro Santa Luzia (which I think is the best).

Lisbon nightlife: Perhaps the best in Europe. If you’re a fan of big nightclubs, head to LUX, Av. Infante D. Henrique Armazém B Loja 8 – it’s the place to be. But don’t arrive until 2 or 3am. If you prefer to bar scene, go to Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodre. The small streets in these districts are littered with bars, but everyone is drinking in the streets. There is such a good atmosphere, you don’t even realise the time going by, until the sun starts to rise.

Portuguese Tarts – The real ones!: Take the tram from downtown Lisbon to Belem – just west of the centre, by the sea. Visit Pasteis de Belem, Rua de Belem nr 84-92. This is the home of the original Portuguese tart. They still use the original secret recipe and there is always a line out the door. But they are worth the wait.

Out Jazz: Every Sunday afternoon, Jardim da Tapada das Necessidades, located in Chiado, is full of beautiful people chilling out in the park and listening to jazz. A nice way to wind down after a crazy weekend partying.

Shopping: Lisbon is a great place to go shopping. Aside from all the big labels, such as Zara, Mango, H & M, etc. There are a few beautiful little boutique stores hidden throughout the city. One of my favourites is A Vida Portuguesa, where you can buy also sorts of traditional Portuguese products, from sardines in a can, the porcelain, textiles, cosmetics, etc. Another store I fell in love with was Santos Oficios Arts, Rua Madalena 87. This shop is filled with Portuguese handicrafts, all created by local artists and art cooperatives. I bought a beautiful patchwork quilted bag. Devine!

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Places to Eat: I was given an exhaustive list of restaurants to eat at in Lisbon. Unfortunately, we only had the chance to try a few of them.
–    Pharmacia: tapas @ Rua Marechal Saldanha, 1 (make reservations +351 213462146)
–    Esperanza: Italian @ Bairro Alto, Rua do Norte nr 95 (makereservations phone: +351 213432027)
–    Buenos Aires Café: Really really AMAZING steaks @ Calçada do Duque 31 B (I suggest that they make reservations for a table outside phone: +351 213420739)
–    Lost In (for evening drinks or brunch/ snacks): Nice terrace with a view. To chill out @ Rua Dom Pedro V 56, Principe Real
–    Enjoy a bottle of wine or have lunch at Chapitô (in Alfama, Costa do Castelo, n.º 1 / 7)
–     Petiscaria Ideal (Delicious tapas @ Rua da Esperança 100, Santos)
–     The Independent Hostel (Rua São Pedro Alcântara 81)
–    Go for brunch at the Kaffehouse (Rua da Anchieta nr 3, Chiado)

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Getting There:
Lisbon is well connected by air, rail and road. There are good connections between Lisbon and other major cities throughout Europe. Lisbon is well connected by rail to other Portuguese cities – there is now a high-speed train and fares are cheap, making travel around Portugal from Lisbon rather pleasant. Unfortunately, we took the difficult and uncomfortable route on our arrival to Lisbom, taking an overnight bus from Seville, and getting little sleep in the process. Arriving at the bus station in Lisbon at 5am in the morning, having to wait for the metro to start to get to our hostel, and then finally arriving at our hostel and having to wait for a 10am check-in wasn’t the most luxurious of our travel experiences.

Where to stay:
We stayed at Good Morning Hostel, Praça dos Restauradores 65, 1250-188 Lisbon, on the recommendation of a friend who knows the owners. The hostel is extremely well located in the very centre of Lisbon, the staff were friendly and helpful, the rooms and common areas clean and beautifully decorated, and the breakfast of all you can eat and freshly baked waffles didn’t go astray. I have to say it was one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in.

There is a list in the main body of this post of some great places to eat in Lisbon. One that I can strongly recommend is The Decadente, at The Independent Hostel. The decor of this restaurant come bistro is fresh and funky and the food is first class. For the quality and flavour of the food, the prices are surprisingly good – you can have a main course and a glass of wine for 15 euros.

Seville, Spain

Before I start, one thing I have to say about Seville is that I recommend, if at all possible, not to visit in the hight of summer. Although such a beautiful city, rich in culture and history, it becomes unbearably hot in July and August. We visited towards the end of August, and apparently we just missed a two week long heatwave. We missed it, meaning that the 35 degree celsius days we were experiencing were cooler than those the previous week. So, if you’re not a fan of hot weather, try visiting Seville in the spring or autumn months.

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Ok, so Seville, known as Sevilla by the Spanish, is the capital of Andalusia. The city was founded in Roman times, during which is was known as Hispalis. It was conquered by the Moors in 712 and became the capital for the kings of the Umayyad Caliphate. In 1248 it was conquered by the Christian King Ferdinand III and continued to developed under the Christian influences.
Today, Seville is a major tourist attraction for visitors of southern Spain and Europe in general. There is a plethora of places to stay, fantastic restaurants to eat in and a myriad of places to visit and explore.

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Places to visit:

The Cathedral of St Mary: This Christian cathedral was built on the foundations of the original Islamic mosque which was located on this site. Containing both Christian and Islamic design and motifs (the Giralda, which was originally a minaret and later converted to a bell tower, is a clear example of the converting and blending of the original Islamic building to a Christian church).

The Alcazar: The former Moorish Palace. A blending of Moorish, Renaissance and English traditions, the rooms and gardens of this palace are impressive and worth the visit.

Plaza de Espana: Set in Maria Luisa Park, this enormous and impressive building was built by the architect Aníbal González for the 1929 Exposicion Ibero-Americana. Today it is full of people enjoying the sunshine, admiring the building and exploring the adjacent park.

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Getting There:
There are regular bus and train services between Seville and other major towns in Andalusia, such as Cordoba and Seville. There are less frequent services to smaller towns and villages, as well as inter-city and international services to and from destinations such as Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.

We stayed at the Oasis Palace Hostel. Like others of this chain of hostels, it offers everything you want and more from a hostel – good location, clean rooms, organised activities, complementary breakfast, happy hour and even a roof-top swimming pool. Aside from having continuous problems with a card key to get into our room, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Oasis Palace Seville.

Aside from frozen yogurt (the best one is located beneath the Metropol Parasol), all three nights we stayed in Seville was had a tapas dinner at Dos de Mayo, Plaza de la Gavidia 6. This was by far the best tapas we had in all of Spain. The food, the service and the entertainment by the bar/waitstaff was second to none. Try the grilled squid, drizzled with extra virgin oil oil, garlic and parsley, or the eggplant fritters, lightly battered and drizzled with molasses syrup.

Scotts Head, Australia

On our way to Byron Bay (see previous post), we spent two nights camping at Scotts Head. Scotts Head is a quiet little beach side town located on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, just south of Nambucca Heads.  Although it is a popular tourist destination in the summer, Scotts Head has a population of only about 800 people, so I guess it would be fairly quiet during the winter. There isn’t a great deal to see and do (there are a handful of shops, a few real estate agencies and a bowling club), aside from spending your days at the beach or enjoying a spot of fishing. There are three beaches at Scotts Head – Main Beach, Little Beach and my favourite Wakki Beach, which is only accessible by a steep dirt path. Wakki Beach and the north end of Main Beach are the best for surfing, and the southern end of Main Beach is patrolled and their isn’t much surf, so it is perfect for families with young children.

Unfortunately, the two days spent at Scotts Head were overcast and grey, as you can see from the photos, but luckily we didn’t have any rain. We camped out at Scotts Head Holiday Park, which has the best piece of real estate in town, being located right on the main beach. We spent our days there relaxing at the beaches, exploring the town, going for walks along and beach and the headlands and simply chilling-out at our campsite, having a few drinks together and listening to the strumming of guitars of our fellow campers. In the evenings, don’t forget to head down to the main beach to watch children squealing as they try to catch the ghost crabs that race down the sand and into the sea.





























Scotts Head Holiday Park: It’s cheap and has the best location in town. We paid $20 per night for a large powered campsite and were located only a few metres from the beach. The campsite has great and newly renovated facilities – a large toilet and shower block, a laundry, barbecue area, clothes lines, and even a tennis court. The park is supposed to have free wifi, but we weren’t able to connect to it. There is a general store, two cafes, a liquor store, clothes/gift shop and a real estate agency right outside the camping group, so you don’t have to travel far to get supplies.

If you’re camping, cooking your own meals at the campsite is usually the best way to go (you’ll also save some $$$). The general store is well stocked and the prices aren’t much higher than your average suburban Coles or Woolworths. Alternatively, there are two cafes offering simple, yet tasty meals. They do good coffee too.

Getting There:
The easiest way to get to Scotts Head is to drive. It is located about 10km from the Pacific Highway. There will be a sign to Scotts Head, at Scotts Head Road. Keep a lookout for wildlife, especially if you’re driving in and out at dusk or dawn and also during the nightime hours

Povljana & The Island of Pag, Croatia

When you drive onto The Island of Pag, you are greeted with a desolate and barren landscape. It feels as though you have arrived on a different planet, with no sign of life, apart from the occasional car whizzing by. But the scene is spectacular – the rugged white limestone cliffs dive dramatically into the sapphire blue of the Adriatic Sea. And not to mention the imposing,  yet awe-inspiring Velebit Mountains, set as a backdrop. The scenery on Pag is breath-taking – these photographs below fail to do it the justice it deserves. Unfortunately, many visitors to Croatia stick to the ‘regular’ tourist route of sailing between Split and Dubrovnik, visiting the islands of Hvar, Brac and Korcula, missing northern Croatia and what is has to offer. Ok, I could be a bit wrong with that final statement, many people do visit Pag. For all those party animals and music festival addicts, Pag is known as the Croatian Ibiza. Thousands of people flock to Pag, namely Zrce, located in the bay south-east of Novalja, to spend their summer partying 24/7 if they wish. But Pag is much more than a party island. It is an island steeped in history and tradition, and offers some of the most amazing scenery in all of Croatia. I have been lucky enough to visit Pag on every trip to Croatia – my mother was born on the island, in the town of Povljana, and we still have our original family house there, which has become a holiday house for me, my brother, aunt, uncles, cousins and many of our friends.










Throughout the country, Pag prides itself on its well-renown talents of cheese making, crotched lace and salt manufacturing. You cannot visit Pag without sampling some of its cheese. Known as Paski Sir, Pag Cheese, it is a hard, sharp cheese from sheep’s milk (my grandfather always likened it to Italian Romano cheese, but it wasn’t quite the same). Many people on the island, women especially, made the cheese at home and sold it to tourists at a high price due to its quality and unique flavour. The cheese was so valuable that it even took the place of money in transactions between friends and neighbours. Today however, the older generation are become too frail to spend their days in the fields looking after sheep, so Paski Sir is now predominately manufactured on a large commercial scale and now available in many supermarkets around Croatia. But if you’re lucky enough to bump into a local who still produces their own cheese at home, be sure to buy some. And if you can, as them for the curds too, if they haven’t thrown it away. Spread on crusty bread, it is to-die-for. I remember one summer visiting my great-aunt and gorging on the stuff (and I also remember the putrid smell of her house – it just smelt of cheese).

Pag is also renown for it delicately hand-crocheted lace. Centuries ago, the French aristocracy came to the island to purchase their lace from the women of Pag. Aside from selling their craftwork to European aristocrats, the women of Pag crotched lace for their homes and particularly for special occasions, such as lacework for bridalware. Like Paski Sir, Paska Cipka (Pag Lace) is of the highest quality and craftsmanship, making it very expensive. Even today it fetches a high price. Unfortunately, it has become a dying art, with the younger generation being disinterested in learning the craft. Luckily, a school as been established in recent years at the Benedictine Convent in Pag town (I’m not 100% sure if it is still open today), to ensure that the traditions don’t fade away. When you visit the town of Pag, you are to see old women crotching  in the streets and displaying their art for tourist to buy.

Pag is also know for its salt. You don’t actually need to go to Pag to sample its salt, as it is sold in almost every supermarket in Croatia. Paski Sol (Pag Salt) is the most popular table salt used througout Croatia. It comes from the Pag salt flats, which can be seen on your left-hand side as you drive from the southern end of the island to Pag town. Salt has been extracted from these flats for generations, working with the tides and the dry summer heat. The Adriatic is quite a salty sea, when the tide rises, it fills the salt flats with sea water, which is then held in bays until the water evaporates and the sea salt remains.
















I spend all my summers on Pag in the small town of Povljana, being the birthtown of my mother. Orginally a small farming village, with the primary industries being sheep hearding and the growing of wheat, fruits and vegetables, the town has boomed in the last 20 years, becoming a tourist destination for many foreigners, partiularly Germans, Czechs and Italians. In winter the town has a population of about 700 people and this explodes to around 5,000 in the summer. The newer, more recently developed part of the town, near ‘Dubrovnik’ beach, is overrun by a multitude of multicoloured monstrousities – three or four storey houses, usually with colourfully painted exteriors, which are usually divided into numerous apartments for the use of tourists in the summer months. In contrast, the original centre of town remains quite rural – these is a nice walk from the centre towards ‘Stara Povljana’ (Old Povljana – where the original inhabitants of the village lived. Unfortunately there are no ruins left of this settlement – most of stone from the buildings would have been used to create stone walls which criss-cross the island, separating one person’s field from another’s). This walk takes you through the cultivated fields of Povljana, passing the beautiful 14th century church of Saint Martin, and ends at a beautiful secluded beach. Occasionally during the summer, this becomes the site of some crazy beach parties, organised by Oliver, the owner and host at Caffe Bar Kampanel (the ‘in’ place to party during the summer). If you take this walk in the early morning, you’ll bump into many locals on their way to the fields, usually on make-shift motorbikes or tractors. Or even run across an old lady and her flock of sheep walking along side you.

For those history lovers out there, Povljana is an old town which is thought to have been inhabited since Roman times. A few decdes ago, the ruins of Roman tombs were found in the shallow shores of Povljana. There is even an old church, located above the old beach, known as The Church of Saint Nicholas (Sveti Nikola), which is thought to date from the 9th century BC. There is a small old graveyard infront of the church with only a handfull of tombs, one of which belongs to my great-gransparents.

Although Povljana appear to be a sleepy old town, it is the perfect place to spend your summer days soaking up the sun and your nights partying into the early hours of the morning with the locals.










Like every small town in Croatia, there is a plethora of private accommodation available in Povljana during the summer. I’m not too sure if you’ll readily find accommodation in the winter, as not many tourists venture here in the colder months – you might even have difficulty getting to the island, as the bridge is often closed when the bura (the icy wind from the Velebit Mountains), blows with all it’s force. Visit the local tourist office (turisticka zajednica) for information about private accommodation.

Snoopy’s Pizza: This alfresco dining place has become a bit of an institution in Povljana. Again, only open in the summer months, it serves up a fabulous selection of pizzas. Available in three sizes, small, medium and large, don’t go by the sizes we have in Australia – the large is the size of the table top and could easily feed a football team. Try the Paski Sir pizza, which has a great combination of local prsut (similar to Italian prosciutto) and paski sir. And for all those sugar heads out there, they have an interesting selection of sweet pizzas – try schwalzwald (chocolate and cherries) or the fig jam and cream one. Yummo!
Drink at Kampanel: This little bar located near the town centre, across the road from the Church of Saint George, is a mecca during the summer months. If there’s only one place to be, it’s Kampanel. Run by a local man called Oliver (at 50 years of age he parties like a 20-something year old) it attracts both tourists and locals alike. The small premises is usually empty, with everyone sitting outside in front of the bar, in the street or even on the church steps. Oliver has a great selection of music, and drinks for that matter, and is happy to play tunes by request.

Getting There:
There are buses every few hours from Zadar to Novalja (Pag) – if you wish to get off at Povljana, the bus drops you off on the main road where a little shuttle bus collects you and drives you the rest of the way (See the timetable at Zadar bus station, also available online – I think there are two in the morning and three in the afternoon). Again, getting back to Zadar, a shuttlebus will pick you up from the drop-off point in Povljana and take you to the main road where you wait for the connecting bus. Like I mentioned in the last post, hiring a car in Croatia gives you more freedom and flexibility.

Tisno & The Island of Murter, Croatia

Settled on the crystal clear waters of the Dalmatian Adriatic, balancing itself half on the mainland and half on the island of Murter, is the little known town of Tisno. My second home. This small town, with a population of a little of 1,000 inhabitants, is the hometown of my father, and my favourite place to spend the Europen summer. I was also furtunate enough to spend a year in this town (I began a blog about my experiences in Tisno – – check out the blog for information about the culture and history of the town) experiencing the traditions and simple life of the poeple of Tisno.

Although I had so many places I wanted to visit on my travels this year, I spared a week of my itinerary to visit old friends, and new friends (many of my friends had had children since I was there last) in Tisno. August is also a great time to visit so you can experience some of the traditional summer festivals, such as The Tisno International Donkey Race (usually the second weekend in August) and Velika Gospa celebrations in Jezera (on the night of the 15th August). In Tisno, and on the Island of Murter, there is a lot to do to occupy your time: spend your afternoon lazying about at one of the many beautiful bays, hire a scooter or a boat for the day and explore the island, or just sit back and relax in one of the many caffe bars, gossiping with the locals and watching the world go by.

Jezera, Croatia



Jezera, Croatia






Here are a few of my favourite places to go and things to do on the island:

  • Spend the afternoon lazying at the Bay of Jasenovac. This beautiful bay, located on the western side of the island, is absolutely spectacular. The bay can only be reached by sea, on foot from the Bay of Kosirina, or taking the long and windy unpaved road. Don’t try riding your bike there as I did one day in the sweltering heat – I’d forgotten how long the road was and how difficult it would be to navigate by push bike – part of the road is covered in loose pebbles, making bike-riding near impossible. About 10 years ago a father and son from Jezera, who owned the land by the bay, opened a little restaurant/cafe overlooking the Adriatic. It’s a perfect place to have some evening drinks or an evening meal as you watch the sun set into the sea. The food it basic, but if you want something amazing ask for lamb (janjetina) or octopus (hobotnica) “ispod peke” – baked under hot coals. You have to order a day in advance and the “peka”, as it is called, is to die for. If it’s not too hot, spend a few hours walking from Jasenovac to the Bay of Kosirina. This picturesque sea-side walk is a relaxing way to spend the day, get in a bit of exercise and soak in the beauty of the island. A word of warning, there are many nude bathers along this path.
  • Chatting to the locals. There is always some gossip to hear or something to laugh about, a conversation with someone from Tisno is never dull. There will be laughter, crazy hand gestures, insane ideas thrown about, some bizarre story told – although it’s a small town, life never seems to be dull.
  • Party the night away with the locals in the caffe bars. Three of the most popular in Tisno are Caffe Bar Crni, Caffe Bar Kole and Kasiopeja, each with their own cliental. Crni’s attracts the younger crowd – the university students party all night long, every night of the week, soaking in their short-lived summer holidays. Kole’s has the older, more sophisticated crowd – drinking their wine and critiquing the passers by. And finally Kasiopeja, with its ‘alternative’ crowd, entertaining themselves with personal jokes and gags. Wherever you go, you’re bound to have fun if you hang with the locals.
  • Swim at Sveti Andrija (Saint Andrew’s) Beach. Hidden away at the southern end of Tisno, on the island side, is this little protected beach. Although the water is usually colder at this end, Sv. Andrija is one of my favourite beaches, as the water is always crystal clear and you are free from the hoards of tourist you find at Jazina Beach on the opposite side.
  • Festa time! Everyone loves a good festa. And the people of Tisno know how to party. There are many festas (festivals) organised in Tisno during the summer. These are huge outdoor parties, with both local and well-known Croatian bands coming to town to give free concerts. The night usually consists of copious amounts of drinking, singing along to songs in the loudest voice possible, catching up with old friends from other parts of Croatia, Europe or the wider world, and dancing together into the early hours of the morning before staggering home – staying until sunrise is not uncommon.
  • Concerts at Cigrada. Found on the western side of the island, just before you reach Murter is a signpost on the left to Cigrada. This little bay is often the site of concerts in summer, with well-known Croatian artists coming to perform. With only one street in and out of Cigrada, these concerts usually have an entry charge. Many people avoid this cover charge by going cross-country through the shrubbery, trying to avoid organisers searching for them with flashlights.
  • Eating figs! I just adore figs and they grow almost everywhere in Tisno. Take a basket when you go for a walk and collect them as you pass. Just make sure no one sees you – some of the locals might be a bit disgrunted if they catch you ‘stealing’ their figs (even if they themselves aren’t eating them, and they are rotting away on the tree).
  • Summer Festivals! As of this year, Tisno is home to a number of well-known European summer music festivals. This year, and for the following few years (I think a five year contract has been signed), Tisno was home to The Garden Festival, Stop Making Sense, Soundwave Festival, and Electric Elephant. These festivals are held in the Bay of Rastovac, located just outside of Tisno. There is camping onsite, but if you want to true local experience, many of the locals rent rooms and/or apartments in their houses over the summer. So if you like 3 to 5 day music festivals, dancing and listening to amazing music all day and all night, there is no better place than Tisno in the summer. And the scenery is just amazing – there aren’t many places in the world that are more beautiful.
  • I have to put this one down, as all my friends in Tisno tease me about my Linolada obsession. This stuff is amazing. Similar to Nutella, but it’s a half hazelnut and white chocolate spread, it is a necessity when making palacinke (Croatian pancakes, similar to the French crepes).



















































There is plenty of private accommodation in Tisno and around the island. Many locals rent out rooms and private aparments during the summer to tourists. Prices and standards vary. Ask at the local tourist bureau (turisticka zajednica) for a current list of vacancies. They’ll usually call the host (which could range from being an old grandmother to a young barman) who will pick you up, take you to your room, and usually stuff you with local delicacies of cured ham, cheese and figs. People’s knowledge of English will vary, from knowing nothing to being almost fluent, but through a range of hand gestures, you’ll hopefully be understood. Either way, you’ll have a true local experience.


Ok, so I’m going to be a bit biased here and mentioned the restaurants of a few good friends (but they are great restaurants).
Ferali: Run by twin brothers (who don’t look alike), this restaurant is one of my favourites. Roko in the kitchen always serves up great local cuisine and his brother Krste is an enteraining host. My brother swears that they do the best lignje na zaru (grilled squid) in Croatia. He has tried the dish in almost every restaurant we’ve eaten at in Croatia, and he rates Ferali’s as the best without a doubt. Located in the centre of town, as you cross the bridge to the island side, turn left and they are about 50 metres along the waterfront.
Prova ( Also run by two brothers, Ante and Marko, this restaurant with its beautiful waterfront terrace is located a little out of the centre, towards the bay of Jazina. They have a wide range of local specialities and you must try their pizza – they were the first restaurant in Tisno to serve up pizza on their menu, nicknaming the family “Pizza”.

Getting There:

Like many small towns in Croatia, public transport connections can be a bit irregular. However, Tisno is reasonable well connected to Zagreb, with a few direct connections daily. Just check the route of each bus, as some go direct via the autoput (motorway) taking about 4 hours, whilst others go via Rijeka or other cities, taking 6 hours or more. To get to other parts of Croatia, you usually have to go via Sibenik, being the capital of the county. There are a number of connections to and from Sibenik, the first one being at about 5:30am and the last at about 9:30pm. Hitching rides from locals is commonly done, if the train timetable doesn’t suit. Many people hire cars whilst in Croatia, making travel easier and more convenivent, especially in rural areas.