This past summer while studying abroad, I had the amazing opportunity to go on a quick vacation to Croatia–an experience I never thought I would have. After a train, ferry, and bus, I arrived in the beautiful city of Pula, which is found in the picturesque Istrian peninsula of the country.  

fish, water
Analisa Sorrells

Beyond the striking cliffs and sparkling Adriatic Sea, the foodie adventures that this country has to offer are reason alone to visit. Looking back on my own experiences during my trip, I decided these seven reasons are why a vacation to Croatia should be towards the top of every foodie's bucket list.

1. You'll never taste olive oil as good anywhere else.

Croatia taught me that you're allowed to be as snobby about olive oil as some are about wine. After visiting two olive oil farms and experiencing an olive oil tasting (which involved straight up drinking the oil), I was so much more aware of the dimensions and variety olive oil can have. With that being said, Croatia sets a high standard with some of the best olive oils in the world. Make sure to try my favorite variety made from buža olives.

2. Croatia loves truffles as much as you do.

mushroom, scrambled
Callie Carlson

Croatia is home to some seriously good truffles, and during my trip I had the amazing opportunity to watch a truffle hunt take place. The hunt was followed by my eating my body weight in a variety of truffle treats– meats, cheeses, olive oil, scrambled eggs, and pasta. The best part is that they won't break the bank like here in America, which means you can indulge all you want and leave Croatia feeling like a truffle connoisseur. 

3. You'll drink wine there that's hard to find anywhere else.

water
Analisa Sorrells

While Croatia makes many types of wines, the one I want to highlight is the Malvazija. This golden wine was served at almost every meal I had, and quickly become an all-time favorite. After coming back home, I told my wine-crazy father that he had to try it. When he found that true, Croatian Malvazija is few and far between here, I realized I'll never have such easy access to this amazing wine like I did in Croatia– all the reason to go back.

4. You'll try unique– and strong– spirits.

beer, wine
Callie Carlson

This one's for the brave of heart and the adventurous in spirit (pun intended). In Croatia, you'll be sure to run into homemade spirits just like I did when I visited a family farm. I was nervous to try them myself, but the kindness and generosity of the family pushed me forward. Fair warning– these concoctions are strong, but they're unique and make for an exciting, truly Croatian experience (just don't go overboard).

5. Their take on donut holes will have you swooning.

They call these little fritters "fritules," and they're most commonly eaten during Christmas. Lucky for me, however, these fluffy balls loaded with rum and coated in powdered sugar awaited me in the lobby of the hotel when I first arrived. They reminded me of donut holes, or better yet the Italian donuts "zeppole," but they surpassed both in taste and texture. 

6. They have their own breed of cattle that provides a one-of-kind meat eating experience.

asparagus
Callie Carlson

A specific breed of cattle roam in the Istrian region of Croatia– the indigenous "boškarin." The meat that comes from this cattle is seen as a great delicacy there and earns an esteemed spot on any gourmet restaurant's menu. If you can swing it, this meat is a must while in the Istrian region of the country, because you will get to indulge in a meal that you can truly only get in Croatia.

7. There is a plethora of farms and gardens to visit.

vegetable, rice, risotto
Callie Carlson

Pictured above is one of the courses from an unforgettable dining experience at Histria Aromatica– a breathtaking garden with its own restaurant and aromatic shop. Here you can take a tour through the scenic garden, walk through their laboratory (where they make their soaps, perfumes, etc.), and then finish off with a delectable Croatian meal. This spot is my favorite, but there are plenty of other places like this to go, including olive farms, truffle farms, vineyards, and more.

Since my vacation to Croatia, I have not stopped dreaming about the countless food experiences I got to have. Until I get to go back, there will always be a hole in my heart that only Croatia's olive oil, Malvazija, truffles, and fritules can fix.