If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 here.
Now it is time to go island hopping. Stopping off at Hvar first I’d recommend getting to the ferry around half an hour earlier if you want to get a good seat.
Hvar is a vibrant little port city that would be a suitable base for the island hopping traveller. In Hvar itself a must do is climbing up the many steps and winding paths up to the fortress to get a glimpse of Hvar from above. If you have time and are looking for a beach to relax in, doing a peaceful walk to Mekićevica beach is a good idea as anywhere closer than this to Hvar Town will be exceptionally crowded.
Dalmatino is one of Hvar’s most popular restaurants and I’m sure one of the best. Service was, on the whole, very warm and welcoming with a lot of freebies thrown in with the meal. Personally, I really enjoyed the gnocchi but found the gregada to be quite bland. We also ate at Lungo Mare and Alviz.
One of the best ice creams in Croatia can be found near the port of Hvar called Icy Bar. You can try a plethora of interesting flavours though it is pricier.
Beautiful view from Hvar Fortress
On the 7th day, we booked a tour to see the Blue Caves and explore some other caves along the way. I highly recommend Ilirio’s Three Caves Tour. They really do their utmost to give you the best experience. They are supposedly around 10 Euros more expensive than the standard tours but it is worth it if you want a stress-free experience. Though when we visited they had removed the Green Caves from their tour because of the unscrupulous addition of an entrance fee by the local authorities. With this tour, you’ll get to swim in a number of locations, all of which are beautiful, and they do their best to reduce the time you have to queue for the blue caves by going at the quietest time.
Inside the fluorescent Blue Caves
You should definitely bring a waterproof case for your phone to get some great pictures of the islands.
Rock formations around Vis/Bisevo
It’s time to say goodbye to Hvar and make your way to the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik. Before that, we made a stopover at Bol for the famous Zlatni Rat beach. Yes, it’s possible to do this, backtracking on yourself, but depending on how late the ferry is you might only get a couple of hours to enjoy Bol. To be honest, I don’t think it’s worth the detour as Zlatni Rat is heaving with people and whilst you get a nice view of the beach from above it’s not worth making a short day-trip here if you don’t have much time. In hindsight exploring Hvar a little more or taking a short excursion to the Pakleni Islands might have been a better idea for a 2.5-day sojourn in Hvar.
A crowded Zlatni Rat Beach
If you’re looking to eat something around Zlatni Rat, Konoba Mali Raj is a decent choice.
The ferry from Bol or Hvar to Dubrovnik takes around 4 hours (but will most likely be longer due to delays). Sadly the views are obscured unless you stand at the front of the ferry for the whole time and the ferry can get quite stuffy. From the port at Dubrovnik, it’s a simple bus journey to Pile Gate.
In Dubrovnik, we stayed near Pile Gate which worked perfectly for us but I’ve also read recommendations for the Ploce area.
The coast off Hvar
For me, if there are two places in Croatia you must visit they are Plitvice National Parks and Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik might not have the atmosphere of Zadar or the beautiful Peristil Square of Split but it’s the most charming ancient city of the three and transforms at night.
Since we arrived the night before we got the full day to explore the city. Dubrovnik is very small so two full days are more than enough to see everything in the city.
A picturesque alleyway in Dubrovnik
A must do in Dubrovnik is admiring it from far above, which means going up the cable car. For views that aren’t obscured by the cables and have pretty much the whole place to yourself, walk slightly West from the viewing deck. For the hour or so we were there, there was hardly anyone there to bother us and you get the perfect view of Dubrovnik. For sunset views head East from the viewing deck, you’ll slowly start to see crowds of people walking towards the area and this will also lead you to the zigzag path going down the hill. There are some nice views along the way but if you’re rushed for time I’d recommend taking the cable car back down as the path can get quite dark if walking down after sunset. Basically, take in the views anywhere but the viewing platform.
Dubrovnik from above
To give ourselves a little workout and see Dubrovnik from the sea, we booked a kayaking trip out to Lokrum. There are a number of agencies that will do these, we went with Adventure Dubrovnik.
For the city walls, the best section is between Ploce Gate and Pile Gate where you’ll see the whole of the city so I definitely recommend entering from Ploce Gate so that you aren’t as tired by the time you reach the perfect views (which also require some climbing). Also, definitely go two to three hours before the walls close as the sun will be less intense and the lighting will be perfect for photographs.
If your trip coincides with the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, taking in some classical music at the Rector’s Palace is an interesting experience. Make sure to pre-book tickets and bring something to fan yourself as it gets quite hot inside.
Dubrovnik from the city walls
Dubrovnik has the widest range of restaurants in Croatia with lots of good choices to eat. If you are looking for a good grill then Lady Pi Pi, at the north side of the old town, will have you covered. The name of the place relates to the rather risqué statue outside. For Asian fusion, you heard me right, Azur is the place to go. Go to Kopun for some interesting chicken dishes and Barba for a fast food fix and its quirky interior. Our favourite restaurant in Dubrovnik, by a smidge, is probably Taj Mahal. No, it is not an Indian establishment but actually Bosnian!
For a snack, and this applies across Croatia, definitely visit a Croatian bakery. Eat the pastries whilst warm and make sure to give Burek a try. They come in all forms from minced beef to apples.
If you are going to Buza Bar go either for sunset or to cliff jump. It’s a nice place to have a sit but for any other time, I’m not sure if it’s worth it.
I hear you say ice cream! Well, Dubrovnik has a number of popular ice cream joints but unfortunately, we found none of them to be quite as good as the ones we found across Split, Hvar and Zagreb.
This is Buza I not Buza II
Our final day of our cross-country journey of Croatia. If you are spending more than two days in Dubrovnik I recommend doing an excursion. Lokrum is the easiest out of the many islands you could take a day-trip to, taking around 15 minutes by ferry. You can see most of the island in a couple of hours or spend a little longer to soak up the sun. It’s definitely worth it to feel the island lifestyle of Croatia and see some cute rabbits and peahens.
Shopping for well-designed souvenirs in Croatia can be a little tricky but two stores I recommend are Uje and KAWA. Uje for their olive oils, truffles and spreads whilst KAWA will provide you with all the trinkets you need to give friends and family back home.
Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits!
Tickets for the airport bus are 40 Kuna and are roughly scheduled to come 2 hours before a flight. There was practically nobody on the bus when we took it so you shouldn’t need to worry about a full bus.
I recommend eating and drinking as much as you need before getting to Dubrovnik airport as, after customs, there is a lack of choice. Thus everyone gravitates to the same place resulting in potentially long queues over half an hour. This could also have been because of the bad weather when we left Croatia resulting in our flight being delayed by three hours! But still, food options are minimal at the airport.
Overall, to really benefit from my itinerary I’d suggest taking 2 weeks adding extra time to Zadar and wherever you feel like staying put for a little longer.
The rocks at Lokrum
Top 3 Attractions
1st. Plitvice National Park
2nd. Panoramic view of Dubrovnik
3rd. Enjoying the Adriatic Coast wherever you are
Top 3 Ice Cream
1st. Icy Bar, Hvar
2nd. Luka Ice Cream and Cakes, Split
3rd. Vincek, Zagreb
Top 3 Restaurants
1st. Proto Food and More, Zadar
2nd. Konoba Fetivi, Split
3rd. Mundoaka Street Food, Zagreb
Panda ate, shot and left.