It took me a while to post this. The trip happened in July 16, and here i am posting this in March 2017. Oh well, better late than never?
My cousin, Gwen flew into Paris (a detour to Rouen) before we flew to Croatia together.
We didn’t actually really plan much before the trip, there’s honestly not much to plan for.
We did book a tour to Plitvice Lakes and arranged our accommodation, the rest was just finding out where to go as we go along.
I honestly feel Croatia has so much to discover other than Split and Dubrovnik, if i have a chance to go back, i would like to check out other cities/towns as Croatia is stunning.
The locals are very nice, and they speak English -well accustomed to the needs of tourists. I felt like i’m in the ‘European Bali’ if you know what i mean. However while Bali is super affordable, Croatia is the posh expensive cousin.
Bear in mind, we went in end July. The first few days while we were there, it was so HOT. It was difficult to do anything from 11am to 4pm, it was just way too hot. We brought water always, and wore as little as possible. Bring a hat/cap. Don’t expect to be at the beach between these hours, yes you can but not sure if you will survive the heat. The weather cooled down after. Also note that in summer (July-Aug), it’s really the peak travelling period. There are lots and lots of tourists. Both cities are just filled with tourists. I would have preferred cooler temperature, less tourists so that means it’s better to have visited on a different month.
Croatia in my memory was still war torn up to recently, and hence i had imagined it to be really affordable – maybe thinking it’s like Eastern Europe ( not that i’ve been yet, but on my list!) By recent i meant like 1990s. So it didnt occur to me that the cities are these developed, as in it wasn’t third world. I don’t want to offend anyone by saying this though. From the tour, we learnt that Croatia has no army of its own (pretty amazing if you ask me, esp they just emerged from the war in last 20 years), there is high unemployment and most jobs now are related to tourism. It’s not first world, but it’s definetely not third world. This may not be true outside of these few popular tourists cities, but honestly i was surprised at how nice everything is. Buses are decent and air conditioned. These 2 cities are NOT cheap. I had thought i’ll spend less over there but that’s not true. A meal can easily cost up to 20 Euros each person. As you can read below, buses ticket cost 2 euros, a city wall climb was 18 euros. Everything needed money. I’m not being a miser but do take note if you do want to spend more days there, it would be good if your accommodation comes with cooking facilities/kitchen. It’s much more affordable to do your groceries and cook some meals.
So here you are, if you like, this is some shortcut information if you are like us, who didn’t have the time to plan the trip =)
How to get to Dubrovnik from Split:
My cousin took a day to stop by Hvar island (an hour ferry) with http://www.jadrolinija.hr/ while we took the ferry to Dubrovnik straight.
There are a few morning ferries, she took the 9am+ ferry. And there’s one ferry leaving at 5.30pm on same day to Dubrovnik with Jadrolinija. Hvar is very beautiful and recently more and more popular. You can just explore Hvar town (on Havr island), beaches are amazing blue water etc. It’s also an expensive island, posh. You can spend a day and night there if you want, pamper yourself.
If you spending a night, then you can catch the morning ferry next day with Cataman ferries, schedule here: http://www.korculainfo.com/ferries/ferry-split-milna-brac-hvar-korcula-mljet-dubrovnik/
you need to buy the tickets at split, at the harbour. Ask the tourist information and then they will direct you to the ticket counter at the habour.
So if you decide to skip Hvar island and go from split to Dubrovnik straight (like me and Sam), you can just take this cataman ferry. It takes 4 hours, and it stops for short while along the way at different islands. 4 hours passed very fast, by 12pm we are already at Dub. I met a fellow traveller who introduced spending time at mljet island. It can be reached from Dub as well as it’s near to Dub.
In fact, in all honesty, i think ALL islands are beautiful with their quaint little towns. It’s just a matter of how much time we have on our hands.
Dubrovnik is very HILLY, we stayed outside the old city, about 10 mins bus ride, the bus frequency is every half an hour. And cost 2+ euros each way. Apparently many people do that as we saw many tourists as well. It’s more of a local neighbourhood along Clipsaka Ul street. This host is fantastic, really love her. Shhe has a dog, but usually you don’t meet the dog at all cos it stays with her and family on the 1st floor, while our apartment is on the 2nd floor.
I see many nice apartments for Dub everywhere so you will have lots of choices to choose from. If i were to do it again, i’ll choose apartments in the old city ( maybe more expensive though), those that are around the fringes of the old city (with a sea view facing the sea!) I saw some really nice apartments for rents along the beaches that i went near to St Jacob beach. So i would prefer walking distance to the old city, without the bus, we can save all the 2 euros we spent. I saw some bus numbers really crowed at night when all the tourists want to go home so preferably would have stayed in walking distance to the old city. Our route was bus 8, and the buses are always reasonably occupied but not crowded.
What we did:
City wall walk/tour. We did the walk, took 2 hours. But the entrance ticket is about 20 euros. I think it’s expensive, but it’s worth it. Do the walk near sunset as it’s cooler and the city lights up in gold. Very very beautiful but expensive ticket as well!
There are a few museums, actually many but i did’t bother because i was tired of paying entrance fees haha… one did pique my interest – there was the first pharmacy in Europe museum ( don’t know if this is true? 1st pharmacy in WHOLE EUROPE?) I don’t bother to list the rest.
We went to pretty much all these listed in the website, EXCEPT for the wartime stuffs, the Fort and monastery, cable car.
I would go for the cable car ride if i have time, but we were too tired. Plus entrance fees is another 17 euros. Go during sunset, i heard it’s the best ( of course ).
Beaches and Cliff bars:
There are 2 rocky ‘beaches’ or more like water spots at the old city.
Buza (also a cafe/cliff bar) and Porporela. Porporela is near to the old town harbour so i felt sticky after a swim, so i don’t think this is very much recommended in my opinion.
Banje is the nearest beach outside the wall beach and you cannot expect to be the only person on the beach. It’s crowded definetely.
On another day, we went to Sveti Jakov Beach farthest away from the Old City wall and it is my favorite beach!
It’s much more secluded and lesser people going there. It’s a pebble beach so it hurts when you try to waddle into the water but i really enjoyed there. It’s also called St Jacob beach. To get there you can walk but it’s really far i feel( For me) and its uphill from Banje. We took bus 8 (you can take from the bustop at cable car) to the last bustop at Viktorija. Then walk down the stairs, and then turn left alllll the way to the end where you will see a lift of a hotel , followed by a church, go behind the church and go down the stairssss….and u will find the beach. it’s quite a walk, took 10-15 mins? Many stairs to climb up later as well BUT it’s all worth it. ..alternatively you can get a taxi and skip all these trouble and drop you off at the church to walk down.
I must mention this. The ride to Dubrovnik Airport – about half an hour drive away from the city is one of the MOST scenic airport drive ever, with the coastal and mountain view. Seriously, one of the most scenic view. We arranged an airport shuttle, just on the streets in shops those kind in the old city. cost 200 kunas (about 30 euros) for max of 4 pple, alternatively you can also just call a taxi.
A MUST TRY ( since we didn’t have a chance) : The only rooftop restuarant in Dubrovnik (we saw this while taking the city wall walk the restaurant , full of envy, went to google it after) it’s called Above 5: http://hotelstarigrad.com/restaurant-2/
You would have to change currency at the airport, 1 euros about 7 Kuna. I’m not sure where else in the world would carry Kunas.
Hope you find my brief itinerary useful.
Do check out the photos in my other post from Split.
Some more photos from Dubrovnik: