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Roadtrippin’ Croatia: Dubrovnik Love

Roadtrippin’ Croatia: Dubrovnik Love
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* The Final Part of our 3 part series on driving through Croatia. You can read about our breathtaking drive through Plitvice (opens in a new tab) and Central Dalmatia (opens in a new tab)

Finally our favourite part of the road trip in Croatia.

We spent all day driving from Split to Dubrovnik along the Southern Dalmatian coast. It’s supposed to take only four hours to complete this breathtaking journey, but uninterrupted views across the Adriatic seduced us into stopping our car at innumerable viewpoints throughout the drive. Frequently featured in the top ten drives of the world, it surpassed any expectations that we had of it. Glistening turquoise waters on one side and slanting trees of the Dinaric Alps on the other made it truly special. Take a look:

 

Croatia Road Trip - the driveOne of the best drives in the world: Split to Dubrovnik

Croatia Road Trip - MakarskaLakes on the way on Dubrovnik- can you blame us for stopping every 10 minutes?

Croatia road trip - Makarska HoneyShacks selling gourmet honey along the Makarska Riviera

The best part, however, came at the end. It was the vision of Dubrovnik, ringed in azure water. If there was a moment that defined this epic road trip for us, it was this.

DubrovnikFirst view of Dubrovnik

As we continued to drive towards Dubrovnik, we began to see the distinctive orange rooftops that are a defining characteristic of the town. Since Dubrovnik is a popular tourist resort, it is a lot more crowded than the rest of Croatia. We wanted to escape the madness (and the crazy hotel prices), so we chose a hotel in the neighbouring fishing village of Cavtat (pronounced Chav-tat).

CavtatCavtat, home for a few days

We spent four lazy days days in Dubrovnik – absorbing the Mediterranean climate, sunbathing, and gorging on Mediterranean delicacies. We tore ourselves away from Dalmatian beaches to explore southern Dalmatian towns.

Dubrovnik’s city centre is completely pedestrianized and its peripendicular streets provide a perfect excuse for lazy walks. For meals, there are countless cafés on the Placa Stradun, the central street of the city of Dubrovnik. The cuisine in Southern Croatia is heavily influenced by Italian delicacies and is a far cry from the Slavic food found in Northern Croatia. Menus were laden with pastas, grilled fish, sea-food, and pizzas.

Croatia Road Trip DubrovnikPlaca Stradun, Dubrovnik

Croatia Road Trip DubrovnikPizzerias by the dozen make Vid a happy bunny

 

Our favourite part was the two-kilometer walk around the celebrated city walls. It provides stunning views of the tiled roofs of Dubrovnik. The proximity of the brightly coloured rooftops also serves as a reminder of Croatia’s politically-fraught past. A number of houses were destroyed during bombings when Yugoslavia broke apart in 1991. Bold orange tiles cover those roofs that had to be replaced. Ironically, this disturbing reminder of Croatia’s troubled past has helped reconfigure Dubrovnik as Croatia’s crown jewel.

 

Croatia Road Trip DubrovnikView from the city walls, Dubrovnik

Croatia Road Trip DubrovnikDubrovnik by night- the city walls look especially spectacular at night

 

That is what we loved about Croatia- it was poignant one moment, rewarding the next. It is such a unique oasis of rare natural beauty, and it is surprising it isn’t more popular amongst tourists . As a country, it is multi-faceted, so each day brought a new revelation for us. We can’t wait to go back to explore the islands surrounding Croatia and explore Croatia !

 

Bruised Passports’ Tips

  • Buy freshly picked oranges or gourmet honey from the numerous shacks lining the Makarska Riviera.
  • If you want to escape the madness (and the crazy hotel prices) in Dubrovnik, choose a hotel in the neighbouring fishing village of Cavtat.
  • It is highly recommended to go atop Mt. Srd to take in a bird’s eye view of the orange city of Dubrovnik. You can drive, or take the cable car; in each case you will be rewarded with some of the most stunning views of the Lower Dalmatian Coast. Sip on a coffee or enjoy a meal at the café atop Mt. Srd as you take in the spectacular view. We will leave you with a picture of  Dubrovnik’s old town from Mt. Srd, which will surely persuade you to put Croatia on your bucket list :-)

 Croatia Road Trip - Mt. Srd Dubrovnik

 

Need help planning a road trip to Croatia? Have a look at some sample itineraries 

If you a road trip junkie, have a look at one of the best road trip experience we have ever had: The amazing Icelandic road trip.

 

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51 Comments

  1. I just did a roadtrip with a friend between Dubrovnik and the Bay of Kotor (tons of posts on my site). Croatia has become one of my biggest recs in Europe (after Spain, of course!), and I was floored with the generosity and friendliness of the people and the jaw-dropping views. Amazing to think that it was a war zone just two decades ago.
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted…Shooting My First Wedding: Andrea y CarlosMy Profile

    • Cat glad to hear you share our views- Croatia is a stunning country and the people are lovely too :-)

  2. I thoroughly loved it Savi.. so much so that I want to go there right nowwwww… :D
    Surabhi recently posted…Reading List For The Weekend!My Profile

    • Surabhi you must put it on your bucket list :-) It’s amazing

  3. I have to say Dubrovnik wasn’t on my list of places to go before I saw this. What an amazing looking place.
    jmayel & sacha recently posted…Undiscovered Chiang Rai – Places we never knew existed…My Profile

    • Glad we inspired you guys to visit Croatia- I’m on a personal mission to make more people fall in love with it ;-)

  4. Looks beautiful! Can’t wait to go there!!!!

    • When do you get there Vicky? I’m sure you two will love it :-)

  5. Bookmarked! Totally looking at including Durovnik in my plans for next year – this post has convinced me a roadtrip would be the way to go! Thank you!

    That first view you have here is gorgeous!!
    Tash recently posted…Golconda Fort And The 7 TombsMy Profile

    • Absolutely Tash- a roadtrip is THE way to go in Croatia. One needs a car to discover its sleepy li’l towns, hidden alleys, and meandering roads :-)

  6. I visited several years ago, but I never considered driving through Croatia, and had no idea it’s one of the best drives in the world. Now I’m dying to go back! Beautiful shots.
    Jessica J. Hill recently posted…Rishikesh, India in ImagesMy Profile

    • The Split-Dubrovnik drive is quite something Jessica- we’re sure you’ll love it :-) Which part of the country did you visit?

  7. I was on that road recently in a minibus on a daytrip from Dubrovnik to Mostar, and it was just as good going the other way. My favourite stretch was the bit where you could see the walled town of Stron – I’d definitely have taken a detour there if it was up to me!
    Richard recently posted…Ostuni: the most beautiful town in Italy?My Profile

    • Richard we did take a detour at Stron on our way back to Zagreb :-) It’s such a quaint town- we hiked the walls and had lunch at a tiny cafetaria. How was Mostar?

      • Mostar’s old town was a lovely little place but we only had 2 hours there, wish we had have stayed the night. It was an eight hour round trip to spend two hours there!
        Richard recently posted…Ostuni: the most beautiful town in Italy?My Profile

        • Don’t you hate it when that happens Richard? Though I’m sure Mostar more than made up for the long journey – we’ve heard such good things about it :-)

  8. Such stunning pictures guys! Dubrovnik has been calling out to me for the last three years…gotta pay a visit at some point :)….will try driving up from Split to Dubrovnik, since it seems splendid..:) :)

    • It is splendid Shilpi :-) Go, go, go

  9. Fell in love with Dubrovnik and Croatia last summer. Agree with you that it is such an amazing place. While I had no trouble getting around by bus, it looks like I will have to go back and experience the wonders of Croatia with a car. Did the same think in NZ when I turned a 4 hour car drive into an 8 hour jaunt, exploring so much more than just the route.
    Anita Mac recently posted…ATV Adventures on the Canadian ShieldMy Profile

    • Anita you must go back to Croatia for a road-trip – rest assured, you’ll fall a bit more in love with it :-) Did you visit the islands when you were there?

  10. Lovely photos. I flew into Dubrovnik on the way to Montenegro last month but didn’t have time to check out Croatia on the same trip so am saving it for another time. Like the idea of your road trip so might look into that.
    Lucy recently posted…The Bay of Kotor: Where the fjords meet the MediterraneanMy Profile

    • Lucy do drive to Plitvice and explore Northern Croatia if you make it there – it’s right out of a fairy-tale

  11. Gorgeous photos! I had a road trip planned for coastal Croatia, but had to cancel it last minute. Looking at all these photos makes me regret it, but hopefully one day!
    Adelina recently posted…A Visit to the Richmond Night MarketMy Profile

    • Adelina we hope you get to Croatia soon- the scenery is stunning, and never gets monotonous :-)

  12. Stunning photos! Croatia is at the top of my bucket list and your blog post/photos make me want to go all the more!! Thank you!

    • Sher you MUST go. It’s an absolutely stunning country. Let us know if you need any help with an itinerary :-)

  13. We just got back from Dubrovnik and thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Loved your tip on Mt. Srd. Amazing views of the old city from the top!

    • Isn’t the view from Mt. Srd absolutely gorgeous Andrew? Did you guys take the road or cable car to the top? :-)

  14. Gorgeous photos of this beautiful coastline. Croatia is chock full of little gems, isn’t it…
    Sophie recently posted…In retrospect: Border crossing in AfricaMy Profile

    • It sure is – it is a right delight :-) Would love to go back and explore the islands

  15. Hi!
    Love your Croatia pictures. Hubby and I are planning a Croatia road trip for next week, but we haven’t booked anything! I kinda don’t know where to start or what to do, we have about 5 or so days and will be driving from Munich.

    My question was – if you stayed is the fishing village, did you drive to Dubrovnik everyday? And if so, how was parking and did you have to pay for it everyday?

    • Hi Naima,

      Yes, we did drive to Dubrovnik everyday (actually 2 out of 3 days, we stayed in Cavtat the 3rd day). We parked in the centre, it was quite expensive, but you can definitely find parking slightly away from the centre and pay less !! To be honest, you can see the Dubrovnik old town in half a day, and then pick up your car from the centre and drive up Mt. Srd (instead of taking the cable car). Parking there is free and you get one of the best views in the world :)

      Let us know if you have any more questions !!

      Have a great trip

  16. Casually stumbled across your blob, and boy looking at snaps of Dubrovnik, made me glade i did ! Absolutely Stunning. Looking out of the window here from my office in Bangalore makes me want to cry :(

    • Nakul,

      Thanks a lot ! Looks like it’s time for you to take a trip :) Views out of office windows are hazardous and once should take regular breaks ;) Head to Croatia

  17. I have travelled Croatia on more than 5 occasions in last 15 years and have been from North to South. In Istria I would recommend you stay in Rovinj as it is gorgeous and a must see much like Dubrovnik. If you want to avoid the bustle just stay a little outside the city core. It is busy but only in a nice way from July-August. Do day trips to Porec and Pula and Briuni islands. Also leave a day to go to the hinterland to places like Motovun and Groznjan. A little Tuscanny awaits you.

    Then in the next region you have the beautiful royal town of Opatija and the amazing islands of Krk, Rab and the amazing towns mali and veli Losinj and Rab town.

    In central Dalmatia one should not miss Zadar with a day trip to Kornati islands(hundreds of them- its a national park) ,Biograd is a beautiful village just south of Zadar. Then a little further south you have Krka national park which is stunning whilst staying at the stunning town of Sibenik. Also nearby you have the gorgeous towns of Vodice, Tribunj, the Island of Murter (connected by small bridge) and the town of Promosten- stunning.

    Enough is said about Southern Dalmatia, but Trogir is a must whilst visiting Split. Makarska Riviera towns are also stunning ie Tucepi, Gradac, Brela and the Pirate town of Omis. A week on the islands of the coast of split is a must, At least 3 days in Hvar (base in town hvar), at least a day in neighbouring islands such as Korcula(hone of marco Polo, Vis Island and island of Brac(Pucisca town and the town of Bol are stunning and Golden Horn Beach in Bol is amazing) Each of these island is worthy of at least a week but then you will never leave Croatia- trust me I live in Australia and I met many Aussies during my travels who had come to Croatia for the first time thus were only going to stay three days as had not heard of the places before. Once there they are blown away by the beauty and most if not all had thrown their travel itineraries into disorder as the majority had extended their stay in Croatia to weeks rather than days.

    Then there is Dubrovnik- the perfect finish to the most amazing trip you will have in your life. Day trips to neighbouring Mostar and the Gulf of Kotor also a must. The one thing you notice in Croatia is that the people who experience it just want to keep going back. There is just something about it that you cant put into words. Beautiful landscape, beautiful bluest water you will ever see, beautiful food and beautiful looking people. Everything and everyone here is just beautiful- it really does feel like paradise

  18. Although the water was pretty cold when we went I really enjoyed my time at this beach. The water is soo clear and there are some cool lounges/beach bars you can hang out at during the day. http://www.globogirls.com/place/12-Croatia

  19. Hello, Just found your blog as Im researching for my travels. I am trying to figure out the best way to get from Split to Dubrovnik, cheaply and being able to take in all the sites. Driving sounds like a great idea as I could stop whenever i wanted! So I am wondering did you guys hire a car? Is this easy to do? I am from New Zealand and I have no idea what its like to get a rental car in Europe with a foreign drivers licence! Any advice would be great!

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for writing to us :)

      You will definitely have a much better time should you rent a car. We rented a car in Zagreb and drove all the way to Dubrovnik. It was a local rental company called Unirent. We did drive all the way back to Zagreb from Dubrovnik in order to drop the car, but if we had to do the trip again, we’d pay a one-way drop-off fee and fly out from Dubrovnik instead of driving back to Zagreb. New Zealand licenses should be fine (we drove on Indian licenses ;)) but still worth confirming that – maybe drop a line to any of the rental companies. That way you’d be 100% sure.

      Definitely rent a car – you won’t regret it. Do have a look at the other “Croatia road trip” posts on our site: Just search for Croatia in the search bar on the top right of the site :)

      If you have any more questions, let us know. You can also drop us an email at info [at] bruisedpassports dot com if you prefer !

      Cheers

      • Thanks so much, will read your other posts too, from what I can find NZ licences are fine to drive on :)

  20. I am traveling at the end of August with my soon-to-be husband to Croatia for our honeymoon and we are very excited! We purchased tickets flying into Dubrovnik and flying out of Venice, as we plan to drive north up the coast instead of down (start in Dubrovnik, quick trip inland to Plitvice Lakes, finish in Istria and then take a ferry to Venice). This may be a really silly question, but is there any reason that driving south is better than north? Thanks!

    • Hey Carolyn – think you guys will be good driving north. It’s not a silly question at all because the Split-Dubrovnik drive is spectacular while driving south but there are quite a few places to stop and drink in the views if you’re driving north too :-)

  21. Hi there,

    Stumbled across your blog, and loved your photos and story.

    My husband and I will be in Croatia next month and are keen to do that same drive (Split to Dubrovnik) via the beautiful coastal roads. Curious to know Savi, did you have a problem when having to drive through Bosnia/Herzegovina? It looks like from the map you have to drive through those areas (which are not Croatian land). Did you need a visa, special clearance or something similar, or was the process when driving through this area smooth?

    Thanks again! :)

    • Hi Jill,

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      We did not have any problems driving through the Bosnian stretch and did not need a special visa for that. The Croatian visa was just fine. The guards just stop you and check your passport, that’s about it. For peace of mind, you can call the Croatian and Bosnian consulates in your country of residence and just confirm this with them :)

      In any case, enjoy the drive and make sure you keep aside a day for the drive. You’ll want to stop quite a lot. Make sure you drive on D8 which is the coastal road.

      Drop us an email if you have more questions – happy to help.

      Cheers
      Vid recently posted…The Ultimate Road Trip in Iceland : An ItineraryMy Profile

  22. Thank you for this post!! You have given us the confidence to hire a car to do the drive up the coast vs. taking the bus. We leave in a month to send 10 days exploring Croatia for our first time, and from what I am reading it will probably not be our only visit there. I am so excited!!

    • Hey Lisa – your comment just brought a big smile to my face. I’m so happy to hear our post on a Road Trip through Croatia inspired you to drive. You’ll love the country – have fun :-)

  23. Hi there,

    Just checking back in to say a big thank you for this blog post and your great advice.

    My husband and I just have returned home after our trip to Europe and hands down, the drive to Dubrovnik was the absolute highlight. It was simply breathtaking. So glad I stumbled across your blog and so grateful for your advice.

    Thanks again guys. Much appreciated and all the best with your future travels.

    Jill x

    • Jill you’ve put huge smiles on our faces. Thanks a million for writing back – that’s so thoughtful of you. Glad to hear you loved Croatia as much as we did. Don’t hesitate to write to us if you need help planning a trip in the future :-)

  24. Savi, great info you have here. We’re going to be in Dubrovnik and then have one open day/night where we will either ferry to Hvar, or take a drive from Dubrovnik to Split. We’re considering the drive because we would have so little time in Hvar as we have to leave the next morning for Vis. If we take our time and drive to Split we can have a full day of seeing more of the country. Which would you recommend? Are there any places we should stop at if we do the drive?

    • Hi Vince,

      We would definitely recommend the drive from Dubrovnik to Split :) Make sure you take the coastal road and not the expressway. The coastal road is called E8 I think (or just number 8). You could stop at Tucepi or Makarska for a breather, but to be honest, all picnic spots / villages on the way from Dubrovnik to Split are amazing :)

      Hope this helps – let us know if you have any other questions.

      Cheers

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