If you haven’t been to Croatia, GO. For the last bank holiday* of the summer I flew down to Dubrovnik with two of my fellow Americans working in London. We planned on 5 days to see as much as possible. It was an ambitious itinerary and I would have loved to stay longer at each stop along the way, but I don’t regret squeezing in as much as we did. This map shows our driving route from Dubrovnik to Split, onto Plitvice Lakes National Park, and flying out of Zagreb:
These guys and I had the best time traveling together. They kept me entertained during the car rides and let me choose all our tourist activities.
Here’s how we made the most of 3 days in Dubrovnik:
1) Discover hidden beaches
There is no shortage of desirable beach spots in this town. I went on a run one morning and discovered at least 3 staircases leading to secluded beaches or flat rocks for laying out. I could have spent another week enjoying the sun and these views.
2) Take a walk on ancient city walls
Purchase a ticket from one of the entrances to the city walls in Old Town and enjoy these surreal views of Dubrovnik and beyond. The history is equally captivating, these walls have been around since the 8th century and have been rightfully deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Give yourself 2-3 hours to take it all in.
3) Walk along the Stradun and wander through Old Town
The Stradun is a 300 meter long limestone-paved pedestrian street that cuts through Old Town. It’s the center of action but don’t forget to also veer off onto the side streets.
4) Relax at a cliffside bar
This not-so-secret bar sits directly between the outer city walls and the Adriatic Sea. Get your booze on at Cafe Buza. It’s almost too good to be true.
5) Choose a room with a view
It’s views like this that make me pinch myself and realize I’m experiencing more than I ever expected when I moved to London. Here’s the view from our apartment (AKA my future full-time residence), Villa Victoria.
Know Before You Go
- Croatia’s currency is the Croatian Kuna (~1 USD = 6 HRK as of today’s exchange rate). Fact: you will feel rich with all the cash the ATM spits out at you. Myth: Croatia is cheap. While Dubrovnik is affordable compared to Europe’s major tourist hot spots (think Paris or Rome), it’s no longer cheap like some of the other Central & Eastern European countries.
- Now that I’ve seen a preview of what Croatia has to offer, I think the ideal holiday would be 7-10 days with the majority of time dedicated to Dubrovnik and exploring the Dalmatian Coast and nearby islands.
- Croatian is the official language but we encountered enough locals who spoke English.
- Booking.com worked well to find accommodation throughout Croatia. Note that most apartments and villas only accept cash payments onsite, although Booking.com will take a credit card to hold the reservation.
- You’ll pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina driving between Dubrovnik and Split. Some reports showed there was a toll to pass and you had to show proof of rental car insurance but the border crossing was freakishly simple. We practically had to demand passport stamps from the carefree border control agents. Do some quick research on sites like this so you don’t have any roadblocks, literally.
Other helpful resources:
- Frank About Croatia’s “Croatia Travel Guide”
- Rick Steve’s “Croatia: Adriatic Delights” video
- Bruised Passports “Roadtrippin’ Croatia” posts
- The New York Times “36 Hours in Dubrovnik” write-up
Above all, plan to have an amazing trip if you visit. Dubrovnik will not disappoint! I’ll also post details on visiting Split and Plitvice Lakes National Park soon. Prepare for photo overload.
*Fun fact of the day: bank holidays in the UK are equivalent to public holidays in the US. We don’t all work for banks over here, although sometimes all the suits spotted on my morning commute make it appear otherwise.