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Plan Your Trip to Croatia with Google Trips

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Google Trip Overview

Google Maps revolutionized how we travel. Google Trips will revolutionize how we vacation.

The Google Trip app was released this week. It's free.



The app uses data from your Gmail account, Google Maps, and crowd sourced contributions from other travelers  to create a "personalized tour guide in your pocket."

Additional information is available in the Google blog post announcing Google Trips.

Beta Testing of Google Trips

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Earlier this year, Google tested the Google Trips app with Google’s Local Guides community. Local Guides help to improve Google Maps by writing reviews, correcting listings, and adding photos.

As a member of Google Local Guides, and owner of the Croatia Local Guides Community, I helped improve the data about Croatia, and especially Istria.

Based on the beta testing feedback, Google improved quality of suggestions for 'Things to do,' added points of interest, accounted for opening hours and distances between attractions for route suggestions, added 'Day Plans,' and improved integration with Google Maps.

Features of Google Trips

The home screen starts with a search box with a prompt “where do you want to go?”

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Type in the name of city/town, and you'll be taken to a new screen with the following colorful cards:

  • Things to Do: Cool places near and far.
  • Food & Drink: Restaurants, cafes, and bars/pubs.
  • Reservations: Reservations and details from your Gmail.
  • Saved Places: Places you've saved in Google Trips.
  • Day Plans: Most popular day plans and itineraries for the top 200 cities worldwide. 
  • Create Trip: All trip information in one place.
  • Getting Round: Transportation tips.
You can also download all the information about that destination for offline access.

The Google Trips app can do a lot but it's still just a start. The app will only get better with additional places that will be added and user data that will be generated, new features that are yet to come, and improved integrations and functionality based on user feedback.

With time, Google Trips will truly become a personal travel guide.

Susak Island Travel Guide

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The most distant of any of Croatia's islands, Susak is also probably the most unique. With distinctive dress, language, and customs, even mainland Croatians feel they are in a different land when visiting Susak. With a history recorded mostly by storytelling, there are few print documents to relate the early development of the island, and with a population depleted by several mass exodus events, only about 200 inhabitants remain. The island's name is thought to have been derived from the Greek word for oregano, a prolific herb on Susak. Another distinctive feature are Susak's sandy beaches, the result of sediment from the Po River during the last Ice Age. With some history and artifacts retained by the Benedictine monks, the hilltop portion of the two-part town also gives a pretty view of the harbor and horizon line. Tourism is big on the island, and it is not surprising, considering the delightful results of the labors of its vintners, farmers, and fishermen. Take one of the "passenger only" ferries to Susak by driving to the dock at Mali Losinj, or hop on the fast catamaran from Rijeka to Susak.

Where is Susak Island?

Susak (also known as Sansego, a Greek word meaning oregano which grows on the island) is a small island near Losinj island on the northern Adriatic coast of Croatia. The island is very small, with an area of 3.8 km2 (1.5 sq mi). Less than 200 natives live on the island and they speak a unique dialect which is very different from standard Croatian.



Susak Island Tourist Board

Riva Losinjskih Kapetana 29, Losinj
+385 (0)51 231 884
losinj@visitlosinj.hr; www.tz-malilosinj.hr

Another great resource is www.otok-susak.org.

Attractions and Activities on Susak Island

1. Geocaching: Search for hidden treasures.
2. Learn to swim: Beaches such as Spiaza or Bok are perfect for learning to swim.
3. Staircase: For many years, it was the only path which connected the two villages.
4. Snorkeling and Diving: The most interesting place to dive around Susak is the Obis cove.
5. Jogging: Covered by fine soft sandy material, Susak makes jogging perfectly safe and enjoyable.
6. Lighthouse on Garba: Built in 1876; lighthouse keeper and his family still live there.
7. Observation Outpost: Built by the Yugoslav army; served as early warning post for the military base.
8. Walking Trails: Interesting trails include trail to cape Darto and trail to Nasuzanski and Obis coves.
9. Veli Buoh: Romanesque crucifix from 12th century.
10. Margarina Cave: Explore two sunken cargo ships.


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Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes on Susak Island

1. No 13: Mediterranean, Croatian cuisine; Susak bb, Susak.
2. Konoba Vera: Croatian cuisine; Susak bb, Susak.
3. Osmanova slasticarna: Cake shop; Donje selo bb, Susak.
4. Konoba Barbara: Seafood, Croatian cuisine; Susak 610, Susak.
5. Bar Palma: Ordinary bar; Donje Selo bb, Susak.

Hotels and Accommodations on Susak Island

1. Susak Sansego: Holiday house; 4-star; $$; Susak 622, Susak; www.susak-apartmani.com
2. Apartment Grgac: Apartments; 2-star; $; Susak 220, Susak; www.apartmani-grgac-susak.com
3. Apartmani Matijasec: Apartments; 2-star; $; Donje Selo bb, Susak.
4. Kuca Krvavica: Rooms; 2-star; $; Donje Selo bb, Susak.
5. Apartmani Sarson: Apartments; 2-star; $; Donje Selo bb, Susak.

Google Map of Recommendations for Susak Island

See ART Google Map for additional recommendations of places to see and things to do on Susak Island. 

Rab Island Travel Guide

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Rab's history dates back to progressive Roman times, when Octavian Augustus built the town walls and made Rab a municipality. In the Middle Ages, Rab was part of the Byzantine Empire, was then briefly owned by the Kingdom of Croatia, followed by rule under Hungary, Venice, Austria, and Yugoslavia. During WWII, the Italian Fascist Regime installed a prisoner camp on Barren Island, just off the Rab Old Town Peninsula. The camp closed in 1943. Tourism then returned to Rab, and vineyards, olive groves, vegetable farming, and fishing again became the focus, along with tourism. In 1991, Croatia's independence paralleled the opening of the Eastern Block countries, boosting Rab as a tourist destination for Europeans. Today, vineyards, olive groves, vegetable farms, resort hotels, and restaurants welcome throngs of visitors from all over the world. They come to view the four Venetian campaniles, or bell towers, and walk the cobbled streets while enjoying all the benefits this beautiful island has to offer. Ferries connect passengers from Stintica on the mainland to Misnjack on Rab, or from Valbisca on the island of Krk to Lopar on Rab.




Where is Rab Island?

Rab is an island (and a town) just off the northern Croatian coast in Kvarner region of Croatia. The island is 22 km long, has an area of nearly 100  km² and 10,000 inhabitants.



Rab Island Tourist Board

Trg Municipium Arba 8, Rab
+385 (0) 51 724 064
info@rab-visit.com; www.rab-visit.com

Attractions and Activities in Rab Island

1. Old Town: Unique small town that has the port on one side and a lovely coastal walk on the other
2. Monastery of St. Anthony: Founded in 11th century as a refuge for aristocrats; art gallery
3. Beaches: There are many beaches with Kandalora as its top one, called “a slice of heaven”
4. Forest of Dundo: National botanical park; one of the rare preserved forests of evergreen oak
5. City Walls - Tower of the Bold: Built in the 15 century on the ruins of medieval walls
6. Medieval Summer Festival Rabska Fjera: Knight tournaments, local crops and homemade foods
7. Cathedral Bell Tower: Beautiful tower built in the Romanesque style in the 13th century
8. Duke's Palace: Built in the 13th century; Gothic and Renaissance style dominates
9. Art Colony: At the grounds of Suha Punta there’s an art colony where the artists work outdoors
10. Geopark: Perfect spot for fossils and geology lovers, marked on hiking trails as ‘’Premuzic path’’

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Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes in Rab Island

1. Restaurant Velum: Croatian cuisine; Palin 71, Rab; www.velum.hr
2. Konoba Marenda: Croatian cuisine; Supetarska Draga 320A, Gonar; http://gastro-brand.hr
3. Restaurant Barbat: Croatian cuisine; Barbat 366, Rab; www.hotel-barbat.com
4. Konoba Riva: Mediterranean cuisine; Kneza Branimira 3, Rab; www.konoba-riva.hr
5. Restaurant Eufemija: Croatian cuisine; Kampor 66, Rab; www.erab.info/eufemija/

Hotels and Accommodations in Rab Island

1. Arbiana Hotel: Beautiful hotel; 4-star; $$; Obala k. P. KreŇ°imira IV 12, Rab; http://hr.hotels.com
2. Tourist Resort San Marino: Nice Resort; 3-star; $; Lopar 608, Lopar; www.imperialrab.com
3. Hotel Carolina: Beautiful hotel; 4-star; $; Kampor 82, Suha Punta; www.imperialrab.com
4. Residence Astoria: Apartments; 4-star;  $; Trg M. Arba A.D.X.A.C. 7, Rab; www.astoria-rab.com
5. Hotel Padova: Lovely hotel; 3-star; $; Banjol 322, Banjol; www.imperialrab.com/hotel-padova

Camps near Rab Island

1. Mini Camping Lando Resort: Nice sandy beaches; 4-star; Lopar 2, Lopar, Rab; www.lando.hr
2. Camp Zidine: Nice beaches; 2-star; Kampor 321 (Uvala Mel), Rab; www.zidine-lopar.com
3. Camping San Marino: Nice beaches and modern; 4-star; Lopar 488, Lopar; www.rab-camping.com
4. Camping Padova: At the beach; 3-star; Banjol 496, Rab; www.rab-camping.com

Google Map of Recommendations for Rab Island

See ART Google Map for additional recommendations of places to see and things to do in Rab Island.

Explore other destinations in Croatia.

New Book: Best of Istria

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New Book: Best of Istria

I've been working on the Best of Istria book since summer 2015, shortly after participating in the ShareIstria contest. Istria is an amazing place that everyone must visit at least once.

Istria Tourist Board has many outstanding resources about Istria on its website, and there are many blog posts about Istria on the web. However, my goal with this book is connect all highlights of Istria to Google Maps, so they're all available in one interactive Best of Istria Google Map.



As a Google Local Guide, I appreciate the value of connecting the Best of Istria book with Google Maps where the reader can learn more about the place, find its location and use Google directions to get there, see pictures, get contact information, and read reviews. By tying Best of Istria book to Google Maps, I hope to provide readers with a practical guide to exploring Istria that is truly unique.

Best of Istria: Content

The book covers the highlights from the following destinations (highlights link to Facebook posts; a new link will be posted every day in August):

  • NW Istria (includes Umag, Novigrad, Brtonigla, and Buje)
  • Central Istria (includes Pazin, Buzet, Groznjan, and Motovun)
  • Porec
  • Vrsar and Funtana
  • Rovinj
  • Pula and Medulin (also includes Brijuni Islands)
  • Labin and Rabac

The book also covers the highlights organized by the following interests:
  1. Istria's top attractions
  2. Blue Istria coast drive
  3. Green Istria inland drive
  4. Beaches
  5. Camping sites
  6. Historical sites
  7. Nature and national parks
  8. Adventure
  9. Family fun
  10. Biking
  11. Hiking
  12. Museums and galleries
  13. Lighthouses
  14. Castles
  15. Winereies
  16. Olive oil producers
  17. Gourmet restaurants
  18. Agrotourism
  19. Bars
  20. Nightlife
  21. Churches
  22. Frescoes
  23. Shopping
  24. Diving
  25. Sailing

Best of Istria: Share Your Favorites

Through end of August, I invite you to share your favorites of Istria:

You can also email me with your recommendations or share them on Twitter.

Everyone who makes a contribution will get a free electronic copy of the Best of Istria book once it publishes.

Thanks for the help, and look forward to learning about your secret spots in Istria! :)


Recap of Croatia Local Guides Meet-Ups: Tour of Istrian Wineries and Rovinj Photo Walk

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Two Croatia Local Meet-Ups

On July 16 and 17, Croatia Local Guides got together for two Google Local Guides Meet-Ups in Istria, Croatia:

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croatia-google-local-guides-meet-up-rovinj

We got started early, some leaving their countries as early as midnight to make it to the meet-ups on time. We tasted a lot of delicious wine, ate Istrian specialties, took lots of photos, reviewed many places, formed new friendships with local guides and business owners, and just had a grand time.


Tour of Istrian Wineries Google Local Guides Meet-Up



There are many great wineries in Istria. Narrowing them down to just a few was difficult. We decided on visiting the following three wineries:

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croatia-google-local-guides-meet-up-deklic

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These three wineries give a different flavor of the wineries in Istria: Kabola has a long history of winemaking; Deklic is a favorite supplier to many restaurants in the regions; and Roxanich wines are just unique (you have to try them to experience the unique taste of their wines).

Wine was great, views were amazing, and we got to meet the wonderful Istrian wine makers!

Rovinj Photo Walk Google Local Guides Meet-Up



Rovinj is Istria's most popular tourist destination and rightfully so.

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We started the Rovinj meet-up with coffee at a local restaurant by the water.

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We then walked up the historic streets to Cathedral of St. Euphemia built in Venetian Baroque at the beginning of 18th Century.

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We then walked down to the other side of Rovinj, stopping at many places along the way.

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Next stop was Zlatni Rt. (Golden Cape) for cool shade in the woods, pristine swimming spots, and amazing views.

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Istrian Wineries Meet-Up vs. Rovinj Meet-Up

Which was more memorable: Istrian wineries or Rovinj? Both, if you ask me.

+AureaiSland ® and others agree.

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We're looking forward to the next Croatia +Google Local Guides meet-up. Let us know in the comments where it should be.


Panorama Flights in Istria with Aeropark Vrsar


Aeropark Vrsar Panorama Flights: See Istria from the Sky

I've done a lot of driving through Istria but have not seen Istria from the sky. It was always on my bucket list and should be on yours too.

If you decide to take panorama flights, your best choice is Aeropark Vrsar.

As expected, the views were amazing.

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Aeropark-Vrsar-Istria-Croatia- Brijuni

Many different panorama flights are offered:
  • Vrsar, Lim Fjord, and Rovinj (10 mins)
  • Vrsar, Rovinj, and Porec (15 mins)
  • Vrsar, Rovinj, Porec, Novigrad, and Umag (30 mins)
  • Vrsar, Rovinj, and Brijuni Islands (30 mins)
  • Vrsar, Porec, Groznjan, and Motovun (45 mins)

Other Offerings at Aeropark Vrsar

Aeropark Vrsar offers so much more than panorama flights.

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For starters, there are a lot of airplanes to see. And, best part, all cockpits are open so you can get into all of the airplanes. How cool is that! 


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Other offerings include:
  • Sky bar
  • Museum
  • One day pilot programs
  • Skydiving (tandem jumps)

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Locals, and anyone who often flies to the Vrsar airport, can also join the Aeroklub Vrsar club to connect with other pilots and flying enthusiasts.

Where is Aeropark Vrsar?

Vrsar Aeropark is located at the Vrsar Airport at Crljenka 6, Vrsar 52450, in Istria, Croatia.



You can contact Aeropark Vrsar via e-mail or by phone at +385(0)(98233676.

Happy flying and good luck skydiving!

4x4 Off-Road Driving in Istria, Croatia


Off-Road Tour in Istria

After planning to go off-road in Istria for a long time, I finally did this summer.

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My tour guide was Boris at Camelus Adventures.

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We drove on roads that I didn't even know existed in Istria. We drove on dirt roads, mud road, hills, plains, woods, grass fields, and even on river beds. The views were amazing!

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Istria Off-Road Itinerary

The Google Map below shows the major towns that we visited.



Note that some of the other towns and most of the roads we drove on don't exist on Google maps. Luckily Boris had an off-road GPS that guided us throughout the trip.

Off-Road Tips

Driving off the beaten path can be an adrenaline rush but it can also be dangerous.

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Here are some tips on staying safe while having fun:

  • Know the terrain: go with a guide or know the terrain so you don't get stuck or lost.
  • Have the right car: don't attempt this with your rental car.
  • Bring emergency gear: just in case your car gets stuck and you have to move on walking.
  • Bring plenty of water, especially during summer.

Have you done any off-road driving in Istria? Share your favorite experiences in the comments below.