Thursday, July 11, 2019

Croatia Travel Guide - Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar


I just got back from beautiful historic Croatia, whose city, Dubrovnik is famous for being Kingsland in the infamous Game of Thrones TV show but in reality, it's a beautiful country with a decent amount of heritage sites. Let's clear the air, I did not and will not watch Game of Thrones LOL so No that's not why I went to visit. I chose Croatia for two reasons; It's not the trending spot now- I wanted a place not on the map if that makes sense and a lot of its cities are very easily accessible by car/ferry- I get to see a lot in one trip and I got to do it with my TWIN! Let's get into it, shall we!

I visited 3 cities in Croatia; Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar. As you will notice, red roofs are to Croatia as blue roofs are to Santorini. The people are nice and very helpful and truly have a sense of pride in their country. I can't speak too much into the culture because I frequented the more touristic cities so it was a lot of diverse food. Their faucet water throughout the country is drinkable as is all the fountain water (not referring to US type water fountains, I'm talking huge fountains with Lions carve into them. You can't miss them) and there's a lot of fountains. Buy one bottle of water and just refill. Croatia has a lot of beaches as they're pretty much located on the border of the Adriatic Sea but their beaches are rocky and it's really hard to walk on barefoot. The summers are HOT so beware if you're going in the summer and their peak seasons are July and August. Uber is big in Croatia and the taxis double as Ubers so check out taxi license plates as well. Currency wise; most businesses accept Euros but their main currency is the kuna. Wifi is also easily accessible at restaurants and general areas.

NB:- My love for travel, planning, and organizing birthed NoireEscapes - an itinerary curator for the globe trotter. We will have you in another man's land with such accurate details you could be mistaken for a local. Be sure to check us out on Instagram @noireescapes, shoot us an email at noireescapes@gmail.com and let us fix you a killer itinerary.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is an old city famous for its old town. Think of a city inside a city much like Cartagena. While it's famous for being home to Game of Thrones, it was also home to Star wars - I forget which one (also did not watch Star Wars) and rumor has it the next James Bond movie will be shot there too. A lot of what you will have to do in Dubrovnik will be in the walls of Old town.


Entrance to the Old Town. 

Accommodation

I spent 3.5 days in Dubrovnik in total. For the first half of my stay, I stayed at the Sheraton riviera. Great service and great breakfast buffet. They also have a beach right outside of the hotel and a few bars lined up. It's located 15 mins outside of the city and 15 mins from the airport.

The second half of my stay in Dubrovnik I stayed at a cozy Airbnb also super close to another beach and this time 6 mins away from Old Town.

Food and drinks

Taj Mahal -  A small restaurant located in one of the many corner alleys in Old town. The name might make you think it's Indian but it's really Bosnian. As basic as I am I had their chicken legs in orange and lemon marinade and it was soooo good.



Panorama Restaurant - This is where you go for the best views of the city, truly breathtaking and great cuisine of course. You can typically get there by cable car but the cable car was closed till further notice so we got an Uber there. I got to try the salmon and couscous and pork chop on a bed of potatoes and bacon. You need to eat at this restaurant period and be sure to make a reservation ahead of time they get booked pretty quick because yeah views.


No I did not blur the background that's legit your backdrop
views from the top






Gradska kavana arsenal - We had breakfast here and again another phenomenal view of the Dubrovnik port inside of old town. They're sister restaurants with Panorama so you actually get 10% off. Breakfast was good and affordable and it's a great spot to people watch.



Damaltino - Another gem in the alleys of Old town. Great food and great wine! No views here but certainly good food.


Other recommendations: (Reservations required for all these)

Above 5 rooftop - Though pricey Above 5 rooftop will give you phenomenal views of Dubrovnik as well and Instagram worthy pictures lol.

360 restaurant - Certainly the most expensive restaurant in Dubrovnik for obvious reasons. Again views and top-notch cuisine. So if you got it like that, this is where to dine!

Restaurant Nautika/ Restaurant Dubrovnik - Both of these restaurants are located right across from each other right outside of Old town but have a great view of the sea. Nautika has a very extensive wine selection so if you're a wine lover, here's your haven.


Things to do

Spend time exploring Old Town for sure. I don't think we went through all the alleys cause there are so many and all so picturesque.




Twins 



Inside of old town be sure to visit Rectors palace as well as hike (not climb the stairs of the old wall to the top, a whole work out) for great views. The tourist center has a day pass that makes the entry to these two places and a few more cheaper.

Inside Rector's palace

Phenomenal attention to detail

Climbed a lot of steps for this shot


Best views of Old town
If you're a Game of Thrones fan they do have tours that take you through where each scene took place. You can also find the 'throne' chair at the Dubrovnik city shop. It's a 2-minute walk from the main square in Old Town.



There are so many places to view a good sunset; Buza bar, bard mala buza, Slatki Kantun and of course panorama restaurant. Catch either one!

There are very few clubs in Dubrovnik.  They're more popular for their bars but we did check out club Revellin and it was alright. The annoying thing at the club was they charge you separately for the liquor and chaser so numbers add up real quick but it's also free to get in just hold on to your ticket you get when you get in because for some reason they require it on your way out.

Of course, hit the beach!




Split

Split is a 4 hr drive from Dubrovnik. Funny enough you cross in and out of Bosnia to get to Split from Dubrovnik. So be sure to have your passport handy. Much like Dubrovnik, it has an old town which is the Diocletian's palace and a promenade on the other end of the Old Town. I truly fell in love with the vibe of this place and will certainly go back.

Accommodation

We stayed at an Airbnb right outside the Diocletian's palace which is the heart of the city aka Old Town. Everything is within walking distance so we just wandered in the streets.



Food and Drinks

The promenade has a lot of restaurants you can pick from so we had lunch at one of them.  The only restaurant I planned to go to in Split and I highly recommend is;

Bokeria -  Listennnnnnnnnnnnn everything off the menu was good and I'm talking from the appetizers to entrees. They're also a wine bar so dive in and you will thank me! They're also always booked so definitely reserve ahead of time.

Best dinner ever!

Things to do

Walk around the Diocletian palace, walk around the promenade, Buy lots of lavender - Croatians grow lavender so I stocked up.

Diocletan's main square






Old town is within these walls


No we did not plan this , we only realized after we looked at pictures lol


Here are a few pictures from the Promenade;


When your twin doubles as bae




Split is close to two natural parks; the Krka national park which is a 1.5 hr drive and Plitvice national park which is a 2.5hr drive and is a UNESCO heritage site. You're allowed to get into the water at Krka park unlike Plitvice but Plitvice though further is a lot bigger.

The beauty at Plitvice was truly breathtaking!










The nightlife in Split is a lot more lively. The promenade comes alive as you can imagine. Definitely check out these two spots we went to;

Roof 68 - Rooftop bar at the promenade with views of the sea as well as the promenade as well.

Central club -  Whoever DJ'ed at Central the night we went knew what he was doing. He even took us all the way country and back. We definitely had a lot of fun and everyone was super casual. Flats work but if you want to show out, by all means, please do.

Hvar

Hvar pronounced huwar is my twins fave!  We got there by catamaran and its a quick hour ride from Split. I forgot to take a motion sickness pill so I was sick for about 12hrs after getting there but I still got to enjoy the city the next day. Hvar is a very relaxing city albeit it's fun nightlife which unfortunately I did not get to experience.




Accommodation

I could not have picked a better hotel if I tried. The Riva Harbour hotel is located right on the corner of the sea. We literally got off the Catamaran and it was right there. The view from the room was so stunning almost out of movie except it was real life hahahahaa. Also, if you're going to use the Catamaran use Jadrolininja company, their boats are better.

Food and Drinks

The Riva has two restaurants it's affiliated with and as a guest, you get 10% off so for the most part that's where we dined.

Honestly walking around the square there's a lot of options to pick from. The Island is not that big so you'll cover most of it on foot.

Things to do


Hike to the top of the fortress. We were not ready for the number of steps and inclination it will take to the get to the top in the Croatian summer heat. It's not for the weak of heart. However, the views at the top are phenomenal.

Alleys on every corner









From Hvar you have the option of taking a water taxi to visit other neighboring Islands and they're really cheap.

There's an option to do a Lavender tour in Hvar if you have the time. Be sure to verify that they're blooming at the time of your visit otherwise it'll be a waste of time.



Nightlife certainly has a lot of options; Hula Hula beach club is the most popular beach club and there are two great clubs as well; Carpe Diem and Veneranda.

Did I mention the beach?



Croatia is also really famous for yacht week which runs from the end of June to early September. You pretty much live on boats with a chef and Island hop and party.  Depending on how much time you have, you could also visit Montenegro which is a 3 hr drive from Dubrovnik and certain cities in Bosnia which is a 2 hr drive. There's variety!

Now to answer the most popular question; Will I go back? I'll certainly go back to Split for 2 days. A whole week in any one of the cities is too much. They're all relatively small and most things can be accomplished in 2 to 3 days. All in all, I had a blast with my twin on this trip and I'm super blessed to be able to see the world through my lens.



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