Saturday, February 27, 2010

Car Rental 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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cooking Courses in Dubrovnik

During the last year, the culinary school at the Hilton Imperial Hotel in Dubrovnik has been offering cooking classes to the public. They are generally only one or two nights in length and they teach students how to prepare a meal from start to finish. Each month, a different theme is selected. This month’s theme is healthy cooking.

The idea is that in today’s busy world we can still find the time to prepare delicious and healthy meals. The Hilton’s executive chef, Gabriele Savini, will teach participants basic culinary skills and will show them how to prepare healthy meals in just 20 minutes. After the class, participants may invite a guest to enjoy the 5-course dinner that they prepared.

This month’s cooking class will take place on February 24th and 25th from 4:30 to 7:00 pm. The price of the course is 450 Kuna per person and includes a 5-course dinner with wine.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dubrovnik Wedding Fair

The third annual Dubrovnik Wedding Fair will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2010. The event will take place at the Hilton Imperial Hotel just outside of the Old Town with hours of operation from 11 am to 6 pm. Exhibitors at the fair will showcase the latest trends in wedding fashions, as well as hairstyles, make-up, photography, and jewelry. This is a great opportunity for citizens of Dubrovnik and for those planning a destination wedding to see the best that the Adriatic city has to offer brides-to-be.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Town of Trogir

For a quiet alternative to the busy city center of Split, look 28km north to the historic town of Trogir. With a population of just 1600, this walled town is a charming and relaxing place to spend a few days. Its waterfront promenade and enclosed maze of medieval streets has gained the distinction of being named a Unesco World Heritage site. The town also acts as a bridge to the Island of Ciovo, known for its sunny beaches. For the best beaches, however, board the local ferry for the islands of Drvenik Mali or Drvenik Veli nearby.

Visitors to Trogir can arrive by car, bus, or ferry from Split. And conveniently, the Split airport is just a few kilometers away.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beaches on the Dubrovnik Riviera

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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Parking in Dubrovnik

One of the many features that make Dubrovnik’s Old Town so attractive is its pedestrian-only streets. However, this ban on vehicular traffic makes arriving by car and finding parking very difficult. After a slew of recent changes in parking laws, the local government has finally returned to the original rules that have served us well for the past few years.

With the return to the old rules, visitors can now park for as long as they like using the “pay & display” system or for free on some parts of Petra Kresimira IV and Frana Supila. These are the two main streets in the Ploce neighborhood, just outside of the Old Town. In addition, visitors may park in two “pay & display” parking lots located just behind the Old Town, near the Buza Gate. Under this “pay & display” system, drivers may either buy a ticket from a machine and display it in their car windows or send an SMS (from a local Croatian mobile phone) with their registration number (license plate number) to 8202. They may then send additional SMS messages to add more time, one hour per message. Parking under this “pay & display” system costs 5 Kuna per hour, but rates sometimes increase to 10 Kuna per hour during July & August.

For those who cannot find a spot on the street or who plan to park for an extended period of time, the city has recently completed construction of a new underground parking garage located just 10–15-minutes’ walking distance to the Old Town. Here is a map that shows the location of the new garage:

View Larger Map

There is a free shuttle bus to the Old Town that leaves on every hour and half hour from April to November. It will also take passengers back to the garage on its return trip. The following is a price list for parking:

1st 3 hours: 6 Kuna per hour*
After 1st 3 hours: 3 Kuna per hour*
24 hour ticket**: 60 Kuna*

*Please note that these rates apply from September to June, but they may increase to 10 Kuna per hour during the busy summer months.

**Please note that drivers must notify the parking attendant that they wish to buy a 24-hour pass immediately after parking. If they do not, they will be charged the normal hourly rate, which will equal 81 Kuna for 24 hours. Once a 24-hour pass is purchased, drivers may enter and exit the garage as many times as they like within a 24-hour period.