Hi, I’m Olivia

Here to help you plan the most epic trip to Croatia.

Inspired by Croatia is your number one resource for all things related to travel and living in Croatia. This is not the Croatia you’ll find in your typical travel guidebooks. On Inspired by Croatia, I provide detailed itineraries, destination guides, local tips, and exclusive insight into discovering Croatia off the beaten path.

In addition to Croatia travel resources, I reveal my best tips on expat life and what it’s like living in Croatia. Be sure to check my articles on the cost of living in Croatia or how to get a digital nomad visa if you’re thinking about spending an extended amount of time here!

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First and foremost, I’m an American with Croatian roots 🇺🇸🇭🇷. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up surrounded by Croatian culture and traveled to Croatia with my family during summer vacations as often as possible. In 2014, I left my home in the USA to study abroad in Croatia for what was supposed to be one year. Now, nearly ten years later, I’m still here and loving it!

I started Inspired by Croatia to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this beautiful Mediterranean nation that I now call home.

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Why I Started This Blog

For years, the idea of a travel blog kept hovering in the back of my mind. I made a few attempts at general travel blogs, but they never really stuck. Then 2020 rolled around, and it hit me: I know Croatia like the back of my hand. People ask me for advice about it all the time. Why not blog about it?

So, Inspired by Croatia was born—your all-access pass to authentic Croatia.

Here’s what you can expect from this Croatia travel blog:

🌟 First-Hand Insight: I’ve been traveling Croatia my entire life, and have been living here full time since 2014 – that’s nearly 3 decades of experience in the country! I’m here to share all the Croatia know-how I’ve collected over the years—from cultural differences to jaw-dropping locations that aren’t swarming with tourists.

🌟 Off the Beaten Path: Not only do my guides cover the major Croatian destinations, they also take you off the beaten path. My goal is to guide you to the undiscovered places and experiences that you won’t find in your typical travel guidebook. Think secluded beaches, charming local cafes, and trails that lead to breathtaking views.

🌟 Your Go-To Resource: Consider me your Croatia BFF. Whether you’re planning a trip or just curious about what life is like in this part of the world, I’ve got your back.

My Story

If you’ve made it this far, I’m honored (and so happy to have you here)!

Let me tell you a little bit about my background.

Like I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, the city where my grandmother immigrated to from Croatia. When I was younger, I never truly understood why she chose Cleveland, considering its not-so-glamorous reputation. At the time, though, she knew other Croatians that had moved to Cleveland, so it made sense for her to follow suit.

A woman in a red dress and sandals sitting on a large sign that reads

During my upbringing, I was immersed in Croatian culture at every turn. With over 40,000 Croatians in Ohio, we had our own Croatian church, butcher, store, event center, soccer clubs, language school, and folklore group.

Being raised by Croatian parents, they enrolled me in the Croatian folklore group when I was just 5 years old. Though it was an effort to preserve our Croatian heritage, attending the Croatian folklore lessons (or what we called “tamburitza”) every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM meant sacrificing Friday night sleepovers. It felt like an extra day of school…*cue eye roll*

I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, and wanted to be more like my American friends who had much “cooler” backgrounds like Italian or Irish. I vividly remember St. Patrick’s Day in second grade when our teacher prompted the class to raise their hands if they were Irish. Guess who raised their hand? 🤦‍♀️

Back then, no one knew what Croatian heritage was, let alone where Croatia was located.

Nonetheless, my parents kept up with instilling Croatian traditions and values into me, whether it was attending Croatian events, learning about the history of Croatia, and teaching me the language.

And despite the fact I wanted nothing to do with Croatian folklore back then, it was this weekly event that really planted the seed for my love of Croatia. At tamburitza, I made lifelong friends and traveled all over the United States with them for the annual CFU Junior Tamburitza Festival, and am forever grateful to my parents for making me stick with it.

At 7 years old, I took my first trip back to the homeland with my parents and brother. We visited my grandfather (whose love for Zagreb has been passed down to me), as well as our relatives and friends. We spent time on the Adriatic Sea, in small towns and villages, and of course, the heart of Zagreb itself.

I’ll never forget the winding roads leading to the coast in a car with no air-conditioning (thankfully there are tunnels now), the scent of my great grandmother’s village, or the warm hospitality we experienced everywhere we went.

Young girl in a bathing suit standing in the shallow waters of a beach in Vodice, Croatia.
On the beach in Vodice, Croatia in 2001.
Young girl with short brown wavy hair in her early teens wearing a brown cami inside a room with old furniture.
Visiting Trakoscan Castle in 2006.

Fast-forward a bit, and my family decided to turn those summer visits into a full-time gig. We moved to Zagreb just as soon as I was about to start freshman year of high school. It was so exciting—until reality set in.

Croatia without the vacation goggles looked different. It wasn’t all peaches and sunny days at the beach; it was high school, Croatian-style. Ever tried studying Croatian history or Latin in your second language? Let’s just say it was an ✨experience✨ that gave “culture shock” a whole new meaning.

I lasted a total of 3 years in Croatian high school until I had finally cried enough tears to fill the Adriatic Sea, and we moved back to America.

I finished high school in the states and went off to college, an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I majored in English Literature because, well, I love to read and write (which explains the blog). I even got to cross the pond and study abroad in London, and ended up back in Zagreb for a summer Croatian language program run by Matica Hrvatska.

After wrapping up my undergrad years, my parents nudged me towards considering grad school. What did I choose? An MBA program in Zagreb, of course. Yeah, I went full circle and returned to Croatia for my graduate studies. You can imagine the shock on my parents’ faces when I told them.

So in 2014, I boarded a plane to Zagreb to pursue an MBA in Marketing and decided to spice things up with another study abroad stint in Bangkok, Thailand (now my favorite city in the world). What was supposed to be a two-year grad school adventure morphed into a nine-year (and counting!) love affair with Croatia, travel, and endless discovery.

And so here I am, years into this Croatian saga, still as excited as that seven-year-old who first saw the Adriatic Sea. I’ve made it my mission to bring you the real Croatia—the one that goes beyond the postcard photos, diving deep into local tips and hidden gems. Thanks for sticking around to hear my story; I hope you’ll stay for the next chapters.

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