As if caught in a perfect confluence of time and place, Croatia today enjoys the same emerging “it” factor as St. Tropez circa 1955 or Post Cold War Prague. You’ll hear Dalmatia’s island-dotted coast referred to as “the new Riviera” or the “Cote d’Azur,” and Istria’s look and feel as “the new Tuscany.” All true, in a sense, and yet the Croatia we know isn’t “the new anything” so much as it is reinventing its wonderful old self. The stunning beaches and exquisitely beautiful isles and harbor towns of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast certainly attract their fair share of glitterati. In hot-spots like the island of Hvar, huge yachts cruise by, complete with bikini-clad women lounging topside while pods of dolphins follow playfully in their wake. Still, in spite of its renewed appeal as a coastal haven for the impossibly fashionable, the vast majority of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is so much more than a chic beach destination (and even the beaches are vastly different in character). Ironically, most of Dalmatia is really a throwback to simpler, non-commercialized times and its beaches are just the tip of what there is to explore in Dalmatia’s wonderful, old-world culture.
After a long day of travel, we like to start our guests week off with a light arrival buffet composed of regional favorites and delicacies, laid out by your Local Host. Enjoy this while you settle into your home away from home and start to fall into life in Croatia.
Hop in the car and start exploring, take in the fresh sea air and majestic blue of the Adriatic. Stop in charming villages, where ancient ruins have laid untouched for years. Or head to the heart of the ancient city of Dubrovnik and walk the beautiful streets. This might be the perfect day to walk the walls and see how magnificent Dubrovnik is from this high point. Or maybe the cable car to the top of the hill that overlooks the city.
This evening, head back into town and dine at one of our favorite local restaurants: Posat, About 5 Roofetop, Restaurant 360, Takenoko, Nautika, Zuzori or a place of your choice. Begin to truly fall into your life in Dalmatia as you take in the lively atmosphere – and delicious food – of your new home-away-from-home.
The most mesmerizing sights that one can enjoy in the Dubrovnik area are not on the mainland but instead, wait to be discovered aboard your own private motor boat, cruising along the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic. See for yourself just how magnificent the Dalmatian Coast really is as you embark on a private boat tour. Visit the Elaphiti Island – regarded as constant guardians of the sea and the coast; the islands have been home to the captains and sailors since the Dubrovnik Republic. Don’t hesitate to jump in and explore the crystal clear seas on a stop in a hidden bay. Your skipper will recommend a nice tavern or restaurant for your lunch, where you will surely enjoy some of the delicious fresh seafood and Mediterranean specialties.
Get a true taste of Croatia, together with your local cook, in her family home. You will prepare a traditional Dalmatian meal, including baking your own bread under the iron bell, locally known as peka. Enjoy a welcome drink and walk through the garden to hand pick your fresh ingredients. From the property’s viewpoint you can enjoy the beautiful view of Konavle valley.
After some afternoon downtime to enjoy your villa and pool, this evening we suggest one of the incredible seafood restaurants in town, The Fish Restaurant Proto, is an elegant seaside option, or Bota Šare is a more casual oyster and sushi bar.
Your paddles will take you to otherwise unreachable caves and hidden beaches, and plenty of views of Dubrovnik that are only seen from this perspective. Before setting out towards the island of Lokrum, you will pass directly under the magnificent City walls that will tower above you. With a short stop on the wonderful island of Lokrum; so beloved that locals call it the “emerald of Dubrovnik.” You’ll explore the monastery ruins, botanical gardens or relax in a café over refreshing drinks before returning to the mainland.
Take the Winemaker’s Tour of Pelješac, a little over an hour drive from Dubrovnik in the picturesque area of Pelješac – home to some of the most intriguing red wines in Europe. Hosted by Mario Bartulović, a renowned Croatian wine-maker, this is a superb opportunity to learn about the country and its traditions, especially the art of winemaking, from a true local. The tour is a trio of wine- tastings at Croatia’s most respected wine cellars, visits to vineyards on the slopes of this magnificent peninsula and a delicious, traditional Dalmatian lunch at your guide’s family winery.
Keep the theme of the day going at Zuzori for dinner this evening which has an excellent selection of quality local wines. Ask your Local Host to make a reservation if necessary.
Dive into the fresh taste of local oysters. The pretty peninsula towns of Ston and Mali Ston are famed for the magnificent city walls fortification complex dating back to the 14th century, the saltpans dating back to Roman times. Enjoy an oyster harvest up close with a local fisherman, followed by a lunch he has prepared before your very eyes, all enveloped in the idyllic surroundings of the Pelješac peninsula inlets. This is a chance to feed your curiosity about oyster breeding, how they are formed, what they eat and even what their enemies are in the submarine world, learning directly from a local expert.
This evening we recommend a hearty serving of some of Croatia’s traditional cuisine served with love at Kopun. Ask your Local Host to make a reservation if necessary.
Day 8: Time to pack up and say “dovidenja”
to your Local Host, the villa, and the beautiful Dalmatian coast.