If you haven’t seen the Adriatic Sea yet, then you should definitely take this into consideration for your next vacation. Croatia is one of the best beach destinations in Europe, competing with Greece, and it offers crystal clear waters, beautiful sandy beaches, delicious seafood and charming cities where you can get in touch with history or experience life like a local. Croatia was certainly a very pleasant surprise for us!
We enjoyed a 2-week itinerary on the Dalmatian Coast, starting in Dubrovnik and ending in Zadar. We explored both touristic cities and small villages, discovered secluded beaches and tried to make the best out of our holiday. Below you can find our recommendations and even suggestions for improving this itinerary so that you don’t make the same mistakes we did.
Dubrovnik, also named the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, offers a wide range of attractions to its visitors, from churches, museums to wine tours, boat tours and all kind of exciting activities or extreme sports. Depending on how much you want to do/see, I would recommend spending about 1-3 days in Dubrovnik or even more, if you want to explore the surroundings as well.
We spent about an entire day strolling around and enjoying the sights of the old city. One thing that we didn’t expect though was the fact that the city was soooo crowded! And I guess you agree that sometimes too many tourists can make a city tour a bit uncomfortable. Despite this, we tried to see every corner of it, we visited some churches free of charge and visited the City Walls, from where you can see a spectacular view of the old city. For tickets, you can check here. We didn’t choose any special tour in Dubrovnik, because we had already planned something else for later, so we resisted the temptation. Anyway, the prices are not modest at all, including food prices, so if you are on a low budget, like us, you have to be careful.
Oh, last but not least, if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you should definitely visit Dubrovnik, because what is better than finding yourself in King’s Landing, right? Besides, you can find a lot of souvenir shops that sell GOT related items and there are also “Game of Thrones Tours”. When we visited Dubrovnik, in July 2018, I had not watched GOT yet, because I am probably the only person in the universe who started watching GOT after season 8 had been already over! This is why I would love to go back to Dubrovnik again!
Now, for continuing the journey along the coast you need a car! Although there can be buses from Dubrovnik to other major cities on the coast, this is surely not so convenient as it may sound, because you can never reach nice beaches by public transport, you don’t have the same freedom and it’s time restrictive as well, so I recommend renting a car.
Potok – Orasac
About 16 km north of Dubrovnik there is Orasac village, where you can find 2 pebbly beaches with nice, turquoise water: Potok beach and Orasac beach. We went only to Orasac beach and we discovered it by accident because we didn’t really know where we were going, we were just heading to explore Dubrovnik’s surroundings and wanted to find some nice beaches. And here it was! Secluded, hidden behind some rocks and just a few people around. There is a restaurant nearby where you can have lunch while enjoying the sea view.
5 km away from Orasac there is Trsteno, another village that surprised us with another beautiful beach, though it’s inappropriate saying beach because the beach is rather missing! There are some concrete platforms instead, where you can sunbathe, and some staircase leading to the water.
When we explored farther, we had another surprise: a natural pool right in the sea! On its bottom, there were quite a lot of sea urchins, little fish and all kind of marine plants, but don’t worry, as long as you wear a pair of snorkelling shoes, you will be fine!
In Trsteno you can also see two 450-year-old plane trees, some of the oldest in Europe, and you can visit Trsteno Arboretum, one of the oldest arboretum in the world.
Mali Ston – Ston
About 35 km away from Trsteno and 53 km away from Dubrovnik, there is Mali Ston village, linked to Ston village by the Walls of Ston. If you haven’t seen the Great Wall of China, then climbing the Walls of Ston can be a good exercise for you. You can start your visit in Mali Ston and arrive in Ston or vice-versa or you can climb just one piece, as we did (for ticket info, you can check here). It’s pretty tiring, especially if it’s very hot outside. However, if you have already seen the Great Wall, the Walls of Ston will not impress you at all.
Mali Ston and Ston are well known for oyster production, so you can indulge yourself with fresh seafood.
Prapratno Beach (Peljesac Peninsula)
About 5 km away from Ston there is Prapratno beach, a real delight: clean, sandy beach and clear, turquoise water! The bay is surrounded by trees. This beach can be very suitable for children as well. This is definitely one of the best beaches in Croatia. You can convince yourselves by looking at the photos below.
There is a camping site nearby and above the bay there is a restaurant that offers a stunning view.
Trpanj – Divna Beach (Peljesac Peninsula)
Prapratno beach is not the only beautiful beach on the Peljesac Peninsula. Actually, the translation of “Divna” is “beautiful”, so we continued our way towards the north of the peninsula, to Trpanj, the closest village to Divna beach where we could have accommodation. Trpanj is about 50 km away from Prapratno and it would be nice to stroll around or have a drink with the locals at one of the bars on the seaside.
Divna beach truly deserves its name. The water is flawless! However, it can be really crowded in high season, so make sure you arrive there early. Apart from a bar that serves beverages and sandwiches, there are no other facilities on the beach.
Now, for continuing the journey along the Dalmatian Coast, you have 2 options:
1. (Recommended) Take a ferry from Trpanj to Ploce (about 16 km), passengers only or car included as well. You can find more information about prices and timetable here.
Make sure you read carefully and, if you have a car, make sure you arrive early at the embarking point because you would be surprised to see how many people take this ferry in high season.
From Ploce you can continue by car to Makarska Riviera (about 53 km).
2. From Trpanj drive back to Ston and then on the mainland drive to Ploce. However, this means more than 100 km!! So why would you do this instead of taking the ferry for only 16 km?? Another thing is that by choosing this option, you have to drive through Bosnia as well, so if you have a rented car you have to pay an additional fee in order to cross the border of Croatia. You also have to pay an additional fee to the car rental company, in order to be allowed to take the car on board ferry, but in this particular case, Trpanj – Ploce, it’s certainly more convenient to take the ferry.
This will be the next stop on our itinerary. Stay tuned for the second part of the article! To be continued…