Summer is all about long days on the beach and relaxing evenings eating and drinking al fresco. Croatia, all the buzz of the travel world, is the perfect place to experience all that the Dalmatian Coast has to offer. For those seeking beaches and crystal clear waters, Croatia offers an array of destinations such as Split, Hvar, and Lopud. However, on my recent travels to Croatia, I picked the coastal city of Dubrovnik as it is easily accessible by its airport and offers all the beauty of beaches and the historic old town.
Stari Grad, the old town of Dubrovnik, is said to date back to as early as the 7th century. As you can imagine, the old town is filled with history, beautiful architecture, and steep, narrow streets. Just north of the old town is the port and popular tourist area known as “Lapad”. The Lapad area is home to many of Dubrovnik’s 5 star hotels and resorts. For our stay, we opted to rent an apartment in the Lapad area from a local Croat for a more authentic experience rather than staying in a hotel. We had a great experience renting an apartment and enjoyed all the space and amenities such as a full kitchen, washer, and great terrace.
My advice: The Lapad area offers a lot of beach options and amazing views of the port and sunset if your accommodation is up on the hill. However, if you enjoy going out at night or plan on spending a lot of time in the old town, I would recommend staying closer to or in the old town. We had about a 2 mile walk to the old town each way, with lots and lots of steps- Croatia is quite hilly! If you are looking to just spend time at the beach all day and relax at night, the Lapad area is perfect for you.
Beaches: Dubrovnik offers a large amount of choices when it comes to beaches. As mentioned, the Lapad area is filled with beaches in front of all of the major hotels. Most beaches are composed of larger stones, no sand. We used beaches in Lapad 2 days, opting to spread our towels out on the stones rather than renting chairs and umbrellas which are available on most beaches. There is also a famous beach “Banje Beach” right outside the gates of the old town which is also home to the renowned beach club and nightclub “EastWest.” For those seeking a luxurious beach experience, EastWest offers sunbathers lounge chairs for rent and waiter service throughout the whole day.
Sights: Dubrovnik is beautiful everywhere you look from the mountains in the background to the crystal clear waters off the beaches. I found the most interesting sights to be in the old town. Since the old town is a walled city, tourists have the option to pay and walk along the perimeter of the old walls. I have seen pictures from on the walls, and the views over the roofs of the old town look amazing. If there is one thing that you must do in Dubrovnik, it is riding the cable car. For about $16 USD and in 3.5 minutes, you are whisked up the side of the hill to the observation deck at the top which offers a gift shop and restaurant. The views are absolutely incredible- like nothing else I have ever seen. You can get a full panorama from Banje Beach all the way up to the port and Lapad. Additionally, sunsets in Dubrovnik are not to be missed. Each night, I could not get over how beautiful the sunsets where on the Adriatic. Amazing!
Croatia is becoming a very popular tourist destination, especially among Europeans. It was great to be there during the high season month of August. Most items are relatively cheap here compared to the rest of Europe as Croatia still uses its own currency, the Kuna. While the country did just join the EU, they do not expect to have a full switch to the Euro for another 2 years. Celebrities and socialites alike have began frequenting the town which locals love. Katja recently wrote about cultural difference altering customer service. I must say, the Croats seemed very hospital and nice to us during all our dining and travel experiences within the country. I definitely recommend visiting Croatia while it is still less visited than some other destinations in Europe!
Photos: Wes Holland