JULY, 2003

Croatia is one of the countries carved out of what used to be Yugoslavia. It's shaped like a backward number "7" with a long coastline on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Click  here to see a map. It has become a very popular tourist destination for Europeans as it is blessed with great weather and over 5000 KM of coastline. The picture above is very typical of the coastline and the bathers who utilize every free area to sunbathe. The people are friendly and the country has done much in order to encourage tourism since the end of the civil war, which took place in Yugoslavia in 1991.

There are a lot of places to see in Croatia, from Dubrovnik in the far south and from there up the coast to Hvar, Split, Zadar, Sibenik, Krk, Cres, Plitvica and Pula.  The capital is Zagreb, which is in the northern part of the country.  Since we had only 7 days, we concentrated on the southern strip of the coast from Dubrovnik to Split, known as the Dalmatian coast.  We have every intention to return and visit the rest of the country, as well as its beautiful neighbor to the north, Slovenia.

Most of the information about Croatia is good for Slovenia as well. The best time for traveling to this area is from the end of April to the end of September.  The high season is July and August.  According to the locals, the best months are June and September. The weather is still hot, but not too hot, and there are far fewer tourists. Below are some pointers.


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I think the most unusual feature of traveling in Croatia is the wide range of possible accommodations you can take advantage of.  There is the usual selection of hotels, which are fairly expensive during the high season.  Do be careful when asking about price because many quoted prices are per person per room. We were unpleasantly surprised by this fact on the island of Hvar.

In addition to the hotels, there are apartments, B&B's, pensions and a wide range of rooms available all over.  Whenever you enter a small town during the daylight hours, you will see a group of locals holding up signs.  They are advertising their rooms or apartments.   The local word for a room is "sobe".  The apartments and rooms range from the very nice at the top end, to dormitory like rooms suitable for students on a low budget at the low end.  They range in price from 5-10 euros per night for a basic simple room with shared bath to 50, 60 or 70 euros for a nice apartment. Generally, the price per night is lower if you stay for 3 or more nights. On the other hand, don't expect those on the road side to be pushing the better properties.  These can be found by driving through the nicer sections of town and just checking the signs, or better still, check them out on the internet first and either reserve in advance, or at least come equipped with a list of desirable names and addresses. 

Click on the small picture above, and you'll see  a full sized picture of a street in the town of Cavtat which is near Dubrovnik.  In this picture there are signs on 3 houses advertising  rooms or apartments - all on one short street. There are several good sites available with long lists of apartments and rooms.  My favorite was "DUBROVNIK ON-LINE" but there are plenty of others.

Here are a few more that may help you:




Driving in Croatia is not for the fainthearted. The roads along the coast are very windy, narrow and full of traffic during the high season. Many roads have no shoulders and some which are on cliff overhangs have no guardrail of any sort.  The worst road we drove on was the 90 kilometers on the eastern end of the island of Hvar. This road was scary.  The whole 90 Km with a steep dropoff on the right with no shoulder or guardrail.

One of the nice places to visit near Dubrovnik is Montenegro. Everybody who has been there says that Montenegro is truly beautiful, but we didn't make it.  We had been warned that we wouldn't be allowed to drive our rented car into Montenegro, so we enquired. The car rental company informed us that we could drive into Montengro, but without insurance! Since there are no formal relations between the two countries there is no way for insurance claims to be paid.  So, all damage or loss is at the expense of the customer.  So,,,we didn't go to Montenegro.  We did enquire about tours.  An all day tour by bus from Dubrovnik costs about $40 per person.

Croatia is also possible to visit quite nicely without a car, at least the coastal areas.  You can get boats of all sorts to take you wherever you want, including guided tours to all the major points of interest.



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FOOD - what & where to eat?

The picture above shows the long line of restaurant tables in Dubrovnik waiting for the lunch crowd.  Most of the restaurants specialize in fish and seafood.  The seafood is excellent - very fresh and tasty - but the results we got from eating fish were a little spotty.  The fish is certainly fresh,  but we weren't very happy with how it was prepared in more than one restaurant.  Of course, there's meat on the menu, but fish and seafood are the main attractions.

The best restaurant we ate at was the MACONDO in the city of Hvar.  The restaurant was recommended by locals we met at a cafe and the meal we had was great. We were alone in the restaurant because of the hour and we had a very entertaining conversation with the staff while they ate their own lunch.  Click here to see a picture of us drinking beer with our Hvarian friends, and click here to see Bobo, the head waiter at the MACONDO restaurant.  Sorry - they have no web page, but everybody in Hvar knows where they are - right off the main square of Hvar. 

In Hvar, we also ate at the worst "good restaurant" of the trip, called HANNIBAL. This was also recommended, but it was very disappointing. It's right on the main square, and is very elegant looking, but still disappointing. We arrived at the beginning of the evening when there were only a few customers, but the service was indifferent and not very helpful.  The food was good in general, but the chef turned a beautiful John Dori fish into leather.  We tried to make do, but after eating half of it, we sent it back. To their credit, we weren't charged for the dish, but it was about the worst thing I've ever seen done to a poor, fresh, defenseless fish.

We ate at a very good restaurant in Dubrovnik named PROTO.  They did the John Dori just right and we had a very good meal.  PROTO is located right in the middle of the old city at number 1, Siroka Street.  It is owned by the same people who run the NAUTIKA restaurant which is just outside the old city gates.  The NAUTIKA is supposed to be very good, but more expensive than PROTO.

Another good restaurant we ate at was the TAVERNA BOTA in Mali Ston, a town about an hour's drive north of Dubrovnik.  There's another good restaurant right next to it called VILLA KORUNA, which is also very good according to friends who have eaten there.

The most interesting restaurant by far (though far from the best) was the KONOVARSKI DVORI in the Konavle valley about a half an hour south of Dubrovnik.  It serves lamb and veal roasted under the traditional bell oven.  The meat was very good, but the entire experience was not.  This place is very well known and is packed with customers on Sunday afternoon.  The service was non-existent.  We had to beg for attention.  A couple sitting next to us spent about an hour and a half just to get and eat a salad and a soup.  It took us 2.5 hours to eat the "standard lunch menu".  It's good that we weren't in a hurry.

Besides the famous "bell ovens", another reason why this restaurant is so popular is the setting.  It sits right along a stream with little waterfalls and the place is really a beautiful spot.  On the other hand, I wouldn't go back on Sunday. Click on the thumbnail to the right to get an idea of what the area looks like.  Look closely at the picture.  In the background is a table of diners eating lunch. They are in another restaurant in the same area, called Konoba Vinici.  It's a family run restaurant and you have to order the bell roasted meat in advance. We hadn't ordered in advance so we went to the "assembly line" restaurant.  I think this place would have been fine, and it's about half the price.

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Where to go & what to see?

    D U B R O V N I K

Dubrovnik is the cornerstone of any visit to this area. The old  walled city of Dubrovnik is so beautiful that it's hard to describe.  It is both excellently preserved and where necessary perfectly restored.  It was damaged during the war in 1991, but was restored completely and rapidly after the war's end. It has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UN.  A walk on the ramparts is a breathtaking experience. The walk on the ramparts is something every visitor must do, but be forewarned.  It is a long walk - several kilometers, with several ups and downs.  There is an admission fee, but what's important is bring water if it's a hot day.  There are two kiosks on the ramparts selling cold drinks - for about 3 times the normal price!  Here's a picture of Alisa admiring the view from the walls. Dubrovnik is so beautiful, I took too many beautiful pictures.  It's hard to decide which pictures to display here, so here are several. You decide which is the best.  Click on the small one to see a full sized version.





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While visiting Dubrovnik, we stayed in Cavtat, (the first night, and the last 2 nights) a small town about 5 minutes from the Dubrovnik Airport and about 25 minutes from Dubrovnik itself.  We stayed at a private villa called "Villa Marcoc", run by a wonderful lady called Anita.  I can't exaggerate when I tell you how helpful she was.  She met us at the airport and took us to her place at 11 PM at night, and then in the morning took me back to the airport to pick up our rented car. 

Cavtat is a modest resort in its own right and many people stay here in order to avoid the traffic and parking problems in Dubrovnik. You can take a boat from Cavtat to Dubrovnik and back for about $10. Cavtat is small, quiet, has several nice beaches and beautiful views.  It's certainly not Dubrovnik, but it can provide a much quieter place to stay while you are in the area. The town is full of private apartments and rooms for rent and has several large hotels as well.  Here is a site with the details of the hotels. 

    M A L I  S T O N

From Dubrovnik, we drove north to a small hamlet called "Mali Ston", which claims to have the longest city walls in Europe.  It is located, along with its neighbor, Ston about an hour away from Dubrovnik at the eastern end of the Peljesac peninsula which is known as Croatia's best wine region.    The city walls surrounding the city, or most of it is a small scale imitation of "the Great Wall of China" and was built during the 15th and 16th centuries.  Here's what it looks like from the road.

    H V A R

We stayed in Hvar for 3 nights in 2 different hotels.  One was the expensive and shabby 3 star Palace right in the center, and the other was the simple but clean 2 star Bodul, which cost less than half the price of the Palace. The Bodul is located at the end of the marina area about a 10 minute walk from the center of town.  Here's a site about Hvar which includes pictures and information on most of the hotels there.

We fell in love with Hvar.  It is a delightful vacation spot, a beautiful town with lots of activity, beaches, and filled with tourists from all over Europe, especially from Italy which is just a short boat ride away.   We took one boat ride to a nearby island with a beautiful beach called Palmazina.  Here's a picture of the "chef" on the boat we took preparing our gourmet fish lunch.

Below are some beautiful pictures of Hvar. 




And below are links to 3 good sites with informnation about Hvar.

    S P L I T

From Hvar we took the ferry to Split.  The ferry runs several times a day, but you have to get there at least 90 minutes before sailing time.  That's what we did and we were still only vehicle number 114 out of about 120 which got on the ferry. Here's a picture of folks sitting on the side deck of the ferry. 

Split is the second biggest city in Croatia with about 200,000 people.  It has a very pleasant old city with lots to see.  Also, you can get a boat from here to just about anywhere.

    M A K A R S K A

Makarska is about an hour or so south of Split.  It's a very pleasant beach resort and is on the part of the coast known as the riviera of the Adriatic.  We stayed at the Makarska Hotel, a pleasant 3 star hotel located about a 5 minute walk from the sea's edge. The evening we were there, we attended a folk dancing show in the town square. Makarska is noted for its shells. Below are 2 pictures from Makarska.  One shows Alisa considering which shells to buy, and the other is a nice view of the seafront. 

    B O S N I A

We didn't really spend much time in Bosnia.  On the recommendation of a friend, we entered Bosnia at the Neratva river delta through Metkovic.  We drove about 50 KM to the outskirts of Mostar.  Had we continued, we would have gotten to Sarajevo.  The area was pretty dull and dismal.  It appeared pretty poor and the contrast with their coastal neighbors in Croatia was striking.  At the border, there was a line of about 15 minutes, but we tourists weren't really bothered.  It was enough to show a foreign passport.  The locals were checked and that's what caused the line.

    C I L I P I

CILIPI is the name of the Dubrovnik airport, as well as the name of the village right next to it.  On Sunday morning all the tourists go to Cilipi and then to the restaurant KONOVARSKI DVORI (described above) for lunch.  The town of Cilipi has taken the local folklore and culture and turned it into a very successful Sunday morning business.  For a modest entrance fee, you can get into the town, wander through a tiny handicraft market, and at 11 AM, see a folk dancing show by the local village group.  It was very entertaining and enjoyable.  Click here to see the folklore dancing group, and click here to see Alisa at the tiny folklore museum.  She's standing with one of the village girls who act as hostesses.  She's very typical of the girls in Croatia.  Pretty, and pretty tall!


This is a page from our site "Travels with Steve & Alisa".  It describes one of the many trips we have made together.  We've built these pages not just to describe our trips, but to help other travelers if we can.  Please use the information we've provided freely, and let us know if you have any questions we might be able to answer about your own planned trip, or just let us know if we have helped you. Or perhaps you have some information we could add to the site. Visit our home page using the link to the right.                  

Enjoy your next trip!!                          ~Steve & Alisa~

Last updated:  March 26, 2011