Not another Dubrovnik guide. | Travel Blog | Croatia
Before we start, allow us to warn you how comprehensive this Dubrovnik guide will be. Not a short read definitely, maybe it will affect your perspective of Dubrovnik itself and if anything, it will help you during your stay in the city. Welcome to the Pearl of the Adriatic.
- Your arrival to the city
- Things to do
- What next
- Peljesac peninsula
- Elaphiti islands
- Konavle valley
Your arrival to the city
“Where is it?” – “Where is the Old City?” will be the first words that come up to your mind. Nowhere close is your answer. Whether you came by bus, plane, ferry or a car – you will be nowhere close to the Old City. The main bus station, the main ferry port and the airport – everything is 15-30min away from the Old City. Because it is not so big. And Dubrovnik is not just the Old City. And if you are somewhere close to it, then you’re in trouble again as finding a parking spot is a mission impossible.
Not even Tom Cruise would choose to accept this mission. To connect yourself with the Old City is quite easy and painless – the public transport service here is doing a very good job. Your bus ticket will cost you 15kn in the bus or 12kn on a local kiosk (Tisak). Unless your accommodation with a “sea view” is somewhere in Mokosica or any of the other surrounding parts of the city. Then you will be using the suburban bus line whose ticket prices vary, from 25kn to 50kn, depending of your starting location. “And what about Uber? I’ve heard you have Uber here.”
Yes, we do have Uber and despite our local regulations that have made their prices go a bit higher than usual, it still is the best way of moving around the city. Especially if you’re a group of 4, for example, then the cost will be same/almost the same as the bus. The worst choice for moving around would be the local taxi service as they will rip your skin off, no questions asked. And we won’t say anything else here as it is a very small city we live in. Joke aside, the first time you will lay your eyes on the Old City, it will be something worthwhile.
Things to do
Your things are in your accommodation, you’re over your jet lag, showered and ready to go. What to do? As we said earlier, the city itself is not that big. The entire city of Dubrovnik, so not just the Old City, counts a little bit over 40,000. Looks a bit different because of the tourism and hospitality industry. People coming here to work but that’s it, 40k. And the Old City itself? Under 1,600 people. As soon as you start walking around the streets, you will realize how the city small is. Don’t get us wrong – you will be left mesmerized by every single street, alley or a building you see.
Like a dream come true, Dubrovnik really has that something, you know. Anyway, no matter how many times you get lost because it is the best way of exploring new places, you will be done in one day. Then you will do the classics of the Old City – the walls, the Srd mountain and the Lokrum island. The city walls will shave off an hour and a half of your time and a 150kn from your wallet. Still, something not to miss and our definite recommendation. If possible, walk the walls early in the morning or later in the evening – try to “synchronize” yourself with the cruise ships coming in.
The Srd Mountain
Climbing up to the Srd mountain will allow you to enjoy the most spectacular view of the Old City and it can be done in a couple of different ways. Like the local cable car, hiking up or driving up (main coastal road going south from Dubrovnik and taking the turn for Bosanka village is the shortest way). Our highest recommendation would be to go up with the cable car and walk your way down the hiking trail. Last but not least, the spectacular Lokrum island should be on your Dubrovnik to-do list definitely.
Starting from the old port, boats leave for the island regularly and even if you “don’t plan it ahead”, you will still be able to see the island and enjoy your day. Lots of paths to walk, secluded “beaches” – because it’s all rocks and let us not forget, a monastery dating back to 12th century (certain part of it). And of course, you will maybe hear a thing or two about the peacocks and rabbits inhabiting the island. Do not worry, they are extremely friendly.
So, we did the classics. Now what? Yes, you can go the famous Buza bar and cliff jump – just don’t mix it with too many cocktails, please. You can visit the local museums and the second oldest synagogue in Europe. Or you can follow our advice and leave the city. Yes. Leave it. The best way to see Dubrovnik is to go away from it. The surrounding region of Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful regions of our country and by now, you definitely know what kind of a competition it is here.
In a way, Croatia is one gigantic postcard. Wherever you go, whatever you do – soul food. If you’re here for an active holiday, we have the outdoors. Family trip – small, picturesque villages. Honeymoon – secluded beaches, check. Team building? Where to start. You understand what we’re trying to say – we’ve got you covered with everything, worry not and book your flights now. In the vicinity of Dubrovnik, following can be found: Peljesac peninsula as one of our top wine regions. Elaphiti islands as your perfect weekend getaway and Konavle valley. It is the only valley here, hiding many vineyards, beaches and small, traditional restaurants.
It’s a story of its own, starting from the endless vineyards, beautiful coastal road connecting you with the historic cities to the beaches where no one can find you. Not even your boss on a Monday morning. If you’re into wine, you will want to stick around the peninsula because it will take you some time to taste all of the local grapes. Especially if there’s some prosciutto and cheese involved. And there always is. One of our most famous winemakers, Miljenko Grgic, has his wine produced here on Peljesac peninsula but also in the famous Napa Valley, California.
Fun fact – Mr. Grgic first started producing wine in the States, then Croatia. Go figure. Another great winemaker with a fantastic story can be found under the name of Saint Hills winery so make sure you don’t miss visiting them as well. Of course, this a beautiful place for a relaxing bike tour. Or not so relaxing, depending on your wishes. For the extreme ones, our recommendation would definitely be to go kitesurfing or windsurfing in the channel.
As a proof of that, championships and competitions in the sports are being organized here every single year – welcome to the adventure in Croatia. And for some history and culture, allow us to tell you about the hidden gems of Peljesac peninsula. The second largest defensive walls/fortifications in the world, right after the great wall of China. A salt-producing town, once an important military outpost of the Republic of Ragusa. It is nowadays a small fishing town, surrounded by olive groves and stunning coastline. Welcome to the city of Ston, where the world famous oysters are waiting for you.
Needless to say how these islands are our favorite “part” of Dubrovnik. With under 800 inhabitants on the main three islands – Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan, the Elaphiti archipelago makes it a dream come true escape. Mostly for the adventurers seeking some serenity and getting in touch with the nature, disconnecting themselves from the rest of the world. By disconnected from the world, we don’t mean “Castaway” disconnected. You are quite regularly connected with the islands through the local ferry line and private boats. Small, picturesque, fishing villages with their stone houses and terracotta roofs are a living postcard.
Careful with sending it to your friends, they might want to join you or book a holiday for themselves. Our favorite activity on the islands is sea kayaking, in a heartbeat. Paddling through the mesmerizing turquoise waters of the Adriatic will be your favorite therapy. Your escape from your daily routine, desk job or whatever you might be “running” from. If you’re into something less active than water sports, hiking, or cycling, you can hop on a cruise boat and see the islands. Explore through their highlights and have a fantastic meal at a local family restaurant. But to warn you, it’s a food festival and can be the greatest activity of your day.
Kolocep island, being the first stop on your venture through the archipelago, makes a wonderful spot for a family holiday. Lush, evergreen forests are great for hiking, two small villages with their sandy beaches and let us not forget the amazing seafood restaurants. Lopud island, a bit more lively, but still a great place for your active trip with your family. It boasts with one small village with a wonderful riviera with enough restaurants to choose from and an old art deco hotel as a monument of some other times. Let us not forget the franciskan monastery, church, park, hilltop fortress and the list goes on.
Coming from the word Lafodia, meaning “in the middle” – Lopud really is in the center of everything and the most obvious choice for the visitors. Hiking, standup paddleboarding, sea kayaking, pedalines, jet skis – you choose. And last but not least, Sipan island being the biggest island, only one with cars and roads. Other islands use other creative ways of moving around, like golf carts. With the two villages of Sudurad and Luka Sipanska, you can choose how your day/week will look like.
Sudurad is a tiny fishing village with a small bay where boats dock and you can actually feel the past times still living here through the traditional ways of the locals. On the other side of the island, you can find a peaceful harbor where sail boats seek a safe haven when the sea decides to take, instead of giving. Here you won’t be seeing jet skis, but a nice little hotel and local seafood restaurants.
Just a 30min drive south of Dubrovnik will show you a whole different story – where the winemakers rest. Being the only flat part in the mountainous region of the Old City, Konavle valley has become the safe haven for some of our grapes and their proud owners. Connected by the small villages and their inhabitants, Konavle are your next escape from the world. Getting a bicycle to roam around the valley should be on your to-do list. Whether you’re a passionate cyclist or just a regular traveler enjoying the burn in your legs, you’ll love it. Your route can easily be adjusted for your needs as there are a lot of different roads that vary in the incline and difficulty.
On your way through the valley you will be surrounded by the vineyards and private holiday homes. Being a fantastic agricultural region thanks to its position and the climate itself. Konavle valley can also host you for a wine tasting or a traditional homemade lunch at one of the families. They will be more than happy to share their stories with you and explain to you the difference between the local malvasia and Istrian malvasia sorts. Just make sure you don’t confuse the two as each of the regions takes great pride in their sort.
Our favorite family can be found in the village of Popovici and they go by the name of Klaic. If you have some time, make sure to pay them a visit. And a bonus track on this album is called Pasjaca – our favorite beach in Croatia. A place where there’s no signal on your phone and almost no people. Yes, there is a short hike involved, but it is definitely worth it. And if you’re in the mood for the best local food ever, allow us to tell you about the famous “peka” meal.
Peka is one of the most popular meals in Southern Dalmatia region. It is a blend of vegetables and meat drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with herbs, and then baked to perfection under a bell-like dome. You’ll see it listed on menus throughout the region and if you’re lucky enough to be invited into the home of a Dalmatian family, it’s likely that you’ll fest upon it for dinner. If that’s not the case, let us help you a litle bit – Konoba Vinica Monkovic is the place.
Where to start with this small hidden gem that is so close to our hearts despite our Croatian passports? In the shadow of Croatia, Montenegro has been slowly developing its tourism game and we believe that they are doing a fine job down there. Being so close to the Old City of Dubrovnik, Montenegro as a destination becomes the next obvious choice for anyone staying here for more than a weekend. This little country with under a 700.000 population has it all – the coastline, the mountains, rivers, lakes, historic towns, you name it.
It is our belief that the Croatia’s “little sister” will be the region’s next big thing – maybe not today or tomorrow, but in close future, definitely. Let us begin with the fortified city of Kotor – 2hr drive away from Dubrovnik and a natural first stop. In the last couple of years, Kotor has become one of the main tourist destinations. This happened thanks to its unique position in a submerged river canyon, surrounded by the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovcen. It is also listed as a UNESCO’s world heritage site. Another gem waiting for us is one of the two small islets in the middle of the bay, across the city of Perast.
Our Lady of the Rocks – a Roman Catholic church located on an artificial island created by bulwark of rocks, according to the legend. Driving further south will give you a chance to get acquainted with the riviera, yes. But if you decide to go up north, in the mountains, get ready. Your wanderlusting soul will be introduced to the most magnificent, spectacular views of the famous Durmitor national park. Do not miss it, please. And if you’re a bit of an outdoor enthusiast, in a mood for an adventure – you should go hiking to the Bobotov Kuk.
Deepest canyon of Europe
But if you’re into water sports, then follow us even further up north and allow us to introduce you to the Tara river canyon. It is the second deepest canyon in the world, or the deepest canyon in Europe. At this hidden location, in the bottom of the canyon, our hiding spot lies. To this place we come to eat the traditional Montenegrin cuisine, whitewater raft on the glorious Tara river. Close by, we go for a photo safari to the nearby Piva canyon and yes, we do some mountain biking here. Our favorite spot in Montenegro is right here.
As we have warned you, this has been a long read and we are extremely proud of you for getting here. This is us only scratching the surface, there is so much more to see and visit in the region. Join us on our trips and see what makes these places so unique to us. Thank you for the reading and by all means, don’t hesitate to call us if you’re in the neighborhood.
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