DALMATIAN COAST – 1 week road trip from Split to Dubrovnik

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It was Gin´s third time in Slovenia and as it was summer we decided not just to explore some of the beautiful Slovenian mountain areas, but also to hit the beach! So, we were off to Croatia for 1 week, because it´s just so near and he was never there. We drove off with my little car without any fixed plans – we just knew we want to go to Split where we would look for a ferry to an island. Any island, it really did not matter to us.

Who: Gin + me

When: July 2010

Visited: Split, Brela, Baska voda, Makarska, Tucepi, Ston, Praprotno, Slano, Dubrovnik

How: with our car

Stayed in: private rooms

I have to say I´m quite a fan of Dalmatia – especially the ISLANDS. Every time I (we) are there it´s just so relaxing and peaceful and I really wanted to show it to Gin, how beautiful it is. The idea of going to an island has changed while we were standing in the main ferry ticket´s building in Split and I simply could not decide where to go! Besides, it was high season (end of July) and there were already huge lines of cars waiting to be taken across. In that moment we decided to simply drive all the way down to Dubrovnik instead and see what happens on the way! This sounded like a great idea, especially because it was so long ago that I did a similar trip down the coastline.

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SPLIT


But first just a short stay in Split – which is actually pretty big. Getting to the port is pretty easy, signs are everywhere so you can´t miss it. We left the car at one of the little streets close to the port and WALKED OUR WAY THROUGH THE OLD TOWN, which is really stunning.

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I recommend you stop here, even if you just have time for an afternoon or evening visit and don´t miss the famous DIOCLETIAN PALACE, which is also under UNESCO. In the summer evenings there are many concerts/live music and other events you can take part at. Such a great atmosphere!

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When we were kids and making holidays in Croatia year after year, one of the things we did almost every evening was having a stroll at the marina, watching boats and eating ice cream! So, we did the same, for the good old times 😉

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BRELA & BASKA VODA


Woohoo our first BEACH destination – Brela! BRELA and BASKA VODA are two smaller coastal towns connected with a nice walking path along the sea, but mostly people tend to stay at Brela as it offers more accommodation. I´ve heard that Brela has the nicest beach on the whole mainland coastline, so we had to see it now. But because we had no room reservations and it was peak season, finding accommodation was really hard. The point was, there were usually free rooms for more than 2 persons, or the owners wanted us to stay minimum 3 days. But as we only had a week for the whole trip, we just could not do that. That´s why we always ended up sleeping in small rooms faaaar away from the beach, mostly uphill above the main road ;). But who cares, we burned some extra calories while walking to and from the beach.

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We can confirm, the beach is awesome! I always love the pine trees smell while reading books under the sun and not having a care in the world. Ahhhh! And then there is this ROCK! Isn´t this spectacular? It´s sticking out of the sea just a few metres from the walking path, so it´s pretty easy to swim to.

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And the SUNSETS– well what can I say, the picture says it all! Orange skies with the sound of waves, eating something delicious and drinking a cold beer of a glass of wine, just perfect ;).

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MAKARSKA


On the way to TUCEPI we stopped in MAKARSKA TOWN, for breakfast. It´s the biggest town in the area and you can take a ferry to island Brac from here. What I like about the whole region (which is also called Makarska btw) are the mighty Biokovo mountains at the back. It´s the combination of sea + beach + green olive trees + rocky mountains that make great views!

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TUCEPI


Only about half an hour drive from Brela we spent 2 nights in Tucepi. I believe this is the place my mom spent her summer holidays as a kid often, so I kept hearing the name and how nice it was. I have to say, yes, it is nice, but extremely full in July. That was insane, THE BEACH WAS PACKED! So we were there when everyone else went for lunch and late in the afternoon when many already left ;). In the meantime we were eating and walking around or just swimming for a very looong time.

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Also here, the same story with the rooms – we ended up staying 2 nights because we could not find a room for just one day. In the end we went to the local tourist agency and they found us a place!

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Time to leave again – a good 1,5 hrs of driving along the coastline with these amazing VIEWS made our day already! One can make a stop and leave the car along the road somewhere if you see a nice bay under the road – taking a swim between car driving is a great idea ;).

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STON


We suddenly felt hungry + we spotted a very interesting WALL on the hills and spontaneously decided to make a stop. The little town was called Ston (this place was completely new to me also, which was great).

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Mmmmmm BEST OYSTERS ever! I was not a big fan of them, but after eating them here I changed my mind! They were delicious. The restaurant is on the right side when you drive into the Mali Ston (“Little Ston”) – a great place to eat!

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A very short drive and you end up in VELIKI STON (“Big Ston”) – we were lucky to coincidently run into local celebrations, music was playing everywhere, there was much food and everybody had good mood. The plan of climbing the wall was easily forgotten – to our excuse, there were almost 40C and we rather stayed between the cool stone walls and enjoyed the action in the town.

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PRAPROTNO


Technically, Ston is already on the PELJESAC PENINSULA – and if you drive just a couple of kilometres more you end up on the other side, in the place called Praprotno. From here you can catch a ferry to Mljet or continue driving towards the tip of the peninsula. We did neither. We were so full of food we just crashed on the beach for a while :).

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SLANO


Good that the days are long in the summer and even if we felt really lazy, we still had enough time to move to the next place – we looked at the map and tried our luck in a LITTLE VILLAGE called Slano, just 25 kilometres south of Praprotno. Finally we were very lucky with finding a room – we got one directly at the beach! With a small balcony over the sea, overlooking the little church. So cool!

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DUBROVNIK


We used Slano as a base to visit Dubrovnik as we thought it might be hard to get a good room without a reservation there. It´s just 35 km FROM SLANO, so we were there very early in the morning, ready to explore. We left the car in one of the garages outside the old town, which is a car free zone.

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The day was a bit exhausting as it was EXTREMELY HOT and we walked all the way around on the FORT WALLS and then later on all over through the old city centre – but it was totally worth it! The views are spectacular and up there you get some wind breeze and it´s not so hot, although I advice not to go there at the hottest hours of the day. In the last years there are also more and more CRUISE SHIPS coming in to Dubrovnik – and when they come, it´s tourists everywhere. So try to get the best out of your visit in the early hours ;).

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There are not many BEACHES close to the city centre, but there are some nice ones on the outskirts. We´ve also seen many groups kayaking around the fort area, you can take trips to the small neighbouring islands, visit museums and churches, galleries, shop and eat in those really cute RESTAURANTS. If you ever been to Italy – this narrow alleys look similar sometimes. Beautiful city with the whole old town being under UNESCO since 1979 is well worth visiting!

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That´s it, the end of a great week! Having driven 1500 km down south and back up to Ljubljana was a great way to see THE BEST OF DALMATIA´S COASTLINE – so if you cannot decide on an island, this road trip is definitely a great choice!

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