Friday, July 31, 2009

Rental Cars in Dubrovnik

Many visitors to Dubrovnik choose to rent a car to make daytrips or to travel up the coast to Split and beyond. For a group of 3 or 4 people, renting a car is the most economical way to travel and it offers the flexibility to explore the country at your own pace. However, those who wish to rent a car while in Dubrovnik should be aware that the city is infamous for its parking problems and should either secure parking at their accommodation (if possible) or be prepared to pay for parking in the local garage (Dubrovnik Parking Information). Drivers should also be aware that roads are often narrow and local drivers can be aggressive and erratic. Defensive driving is a must.

One popular overnight or daytrip that can be made by rental car is to Montenegro. The historic towns of Kotor and Budva are located just over 2 hours away from Dubrovnik on the beautiful coastal road. When making this trip, it is important to be sure that your rental car comes with the proper documents and insurance to cross the border. Most local car companies automatically include this in the rental price, but many international companies such as Avis and Hertz charge extra for Montenegro insurance, which must be purchased at the time of rental. You may also have to pay a 10 Euro environmental tax at the Montenegro border if the rental car you are driving has not recently entered the country and obtained the necessary vignette.

Car rental rates in Croatia are generally high by international standards and vary greatly depending on the rental company and class of car. Rentals generally begin at about 40 Euro per day for a small economy car, including taxes and insurance. A reliable local car rental company in Dubrovnik is Euro Car Rental. They will drop-off the car to you anywhere in Dubrovnik and pick it up again at the end of your stay. Rates and booking information can be found on their website www.eurocar-rental.com.hr.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dubrovnik Local Bus Routes

The local Libertas bus system is a reliable and cost-effective way to get around the small city of Dubrovnik. Most trips cost only 10 Kuna and exact change is required. Popular city routes include the #1A, 1B, & 1C which run from Old Town’s Pile Gate to Mokosica with a stop at the main bus station in Gruz, the #4 which runs from the Pile Gate to the Hotel Palace in Lapad, and the #6 which runs from the Pile Gate to Lapad Babin Kuk. There are also buses that travel routes outside of the city of Dubrovnik, such as the #10 to Mlini, Plat, & Cavtat, #11 to Molunat, #12 to Slano, #15 to Ston, and the #21 to Orebic, where travelers may then catch a ferry to Korcula. Most routes operate 7 days per week from early in the morning until about midnight, but service may vary depending on the day of the week. Detailed schedule information may be found on the following websites:

Dubrovnik City Buses

Dubrovnik Suburban Buses

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cavtat


The small village of Cavtat is located on the Adriatic Sea, just 18 kilometers south of Dubrovnik. Its proximity to the historic walled city makes it a great base for exploring Dubrovnik and its surroundings. It also provides a nice escape from the often-crowded Old Town of Dubrovnik during the summer months.

Cavtat's main attraction is its beautiful harbor and waterfront area. Unlike in Dubrovnik, visiting yachts can moor directly to the waterfront promenade and visit the many restaurants and café bars just across the street. Likewise, diners relaxing at the restaurants and cafes can watch the yachts entering and exiting the harbor. Cavtat also offers some of the area's best beaches and small, secluded coves for swimming.

Dubrovnik can easily be reached in 30 minutes by bus or ferry boat. The bus (#10) runs approximately every hour (see schedule here) and is priced at 10 Kuna per person. The ferry runs slightly less frequently and costs about 100 Kuna per person. The trip may also be done by car and there is a parking lot just outside of Cavtat's historic center that charges 5 Kuna per hour.

There are several large hotels in Cavat and numerous private apartments for rent. Hotels include the 4-star Hotel Croatia, 4-star Iberostar Albatros, and 3-star Iberostar Epidaurus. For apartment rentals, contact Dubrovnik Apartment Source by email at contact@dubrovnikapartmentsource.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Best Beaches Outside of Dubrovnik

Visitors to Dubrovnik with a car have the opportunity to escape the crowds of Lapad and Old Town and explore some of the better beaches in the area. There are several great beaches in the stretch along the coast between Slano in the north and Molunat in the south, all of which are within a 45-minute drive of Dubrovnik. The following is a brief overview of a few of the most-beautiful and less-visited beaches in the Dubrovnik Riviera:

Veliki Zali (30 minutes north of Dubrovnik, near Slano): This is one of the most-spectacular beaches in the area and often the least crowded. Its position in a small bay protected by the Elafiti Islands makes its waters calm and clear. The beach has small stones, which are comfortably rounded, making entering and exiting the sea fairly easy. Veliki Zali is fully serviced with chair/umbrella rentals, a cafe bar, and a pizzeria.

Brsecine (25 minutes north of Dubrovnik): This secluded cove sits far below the main road heading north from Dubrovnik. The cove is occupied by just a couple of private residences, but the beach is public. There are no facilities at this beach, but there is crystal clear water, small rounded stones, and beautiful views to the Elafiti Islands.

Mlini (10 minutes south of Dubrovnik): This small resort town offers numerous small beaches and coves for swimming, many of which remain un-crowded despite the presence of holiday-makers in the summer months. The beaches themselves do not offer facilities, but there are many private apartments, restaurants, shops, and café bars nearby, as well as a park and playground for small children.

Plat (15 minute south of Dubrovnik): The Hotel Plat sits atop a rocky outcropping flanked by two beautiful pebble beaches. Both beaches are public, but the only available parking is private. In the off-season it is not a problem to park at the Hotel Plat, but during July and August be prepared to pay for this privilege. One of the two beaches offers chair/umbrella rentals and has a small restaurant/café bar.

Cavtat (25 minutes south of Dubrovnik): This small fishing village has several beaches and small coves for swimming. The larger beaches are located in front of the hotels and offer a variety of services including chair/umbrella rentals, boat trips, jet ski rentals, and food & drinks. Some of the best spots for swimming, however, are not beaches at all. The Cavtat peninsula is surrounded by rocks jutting out into the sea, many of which are perfect for sunbathing and diving into the Adriatic.

Molunat (45 minutes south of Dubrovnik): This sleepy village sits in the far south of Croatia, just above the border of Montenegro. It does not have any real beaches to speak of, but offers some of the most-secluded swimming spots on the coast. Locals have made access to the sea easier by building staircases and attaching ladders to the rocks, but have otherwise left the natural beauty intact. The swimming spots themselves offer no services, but the town has numerous private apartments, a café bar, and a couple of small restaurants.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dubrovnik Summer Festival

Last night marked the kick-off of the 60th annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The opening ceremony, which took place in the Old Town, included a live presentation on the Stradun followed by a fireworks display. The festival continues until the 25th of August, and offers a full schedule of cultural events, including plays from Shakespeare & Drzic, jazz & classical music, traditional folk music & dance, ballet, and various readings & workshops. The festival displays the best of what Croatia has to offer, attracting actors and musicians from all over the country. The old city of Dubrovnik provides a fantastic backdrop to this historical and cultural event.

A full schedule of events can be found on the Dubrovnik Summer Festival website. Tickets may be purchased in the Old Town or online by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wine Tasting on the Peljesac Peninsula


Just an hour and a half from Dubrovnik lies one of the best wine-producing regions in Croatia: the Peljesac Peninsula. Its rugged interior and rocky coastline combine to create a dramatic backdrop to the cultivation of centuries-old vines. The region is best known for its red wines, with Plavac being the most common varietal. Wines made from this grape take on many different characteristics depending on the exact location on the peninsula where it is grown. The region has a series of microclimates, each of which produces wines with their own unique flavors, intensities, and alcohol contents. Types of reds include Plavac, Plavac Mali, Potomje, Postup, and Dingac, the region’s most-celebrated wine. Most producers also make white wines using the Posip grape, which is grown on the nearby Island of Korcula.

The number of wine producers offering tastings has grown in recent years, but the region still has a long way to go to rival wine regions in European and North American countries. Many producers require that visitors call in advance to make an appointment and tastings are sometimes only allowed if tasters promise to buy several bottles of wine. For a more comfortable experience, typical of what one might find in wine regions worldwide, Madirazza and Matusko offer free tastings in beautiful, rustic surroundings.

The best way to visit the Peljesac Peninsula is with someone who personally knows many of the producers, and can call them in advance to plan a tasting. For visitors to Croatia, this generally means booking a private tour by car or van. Prices for a day tour are as follows:

1-3 people: 180 EUR
4-8 people: 200 EUR
9-18 people: 400 EUR

These tours can generally be combined with a stop in Mali Ston on the return to Dubrovnik for some of the best seafood & freshly shucked oysters in Croatia.

Tours may be booked by contacting Dubrovnik Apartment Source.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drinking Water in Croatia

One question we often get from visitors to Croatia is “Is the tap water safe to drink?”. The answer is mostly yes. It is certainly safe in Southern Dalmatia and especially in Dubrovnik, which has a great natural water source nearby. Water is generally safe to drink throughout Croatia, but it is always best to check with the locals in case it is temporarily considered undrinkable. For instance, during or after a heavy rain in Dubrovnik the water often becomes murky, and locals recommend drinking bottled water until it clears up.

At most restaurants diners will be offered still or sparkling water. These are bottled waters, and diners will be charged for each bottle they drink. The most popular Croatian bottled water is Jana, which has become a fashionable water to drink in and outside of the country, with even some New York City shops carrying it. It is advisable to check the price of bottled water before ordering at restaurants, as it can sometimes be 30 to 40 Kuna (4 to 5 Euros) per bottle. If you prefer to drink tap water (which is free of charge), you can usually order it by the glass or pitcher. The waiter may bring you a bottle of water anyway, but be persistent, and send it back if necessary or you will be charged.