Head to Caffe Bar Talir, a few streets west for drinks with Dubrovnik's young and beautiful. It's an artists' hang-out and the walls are covered with pictures of rowdy nights gone by, as well as some Croatian C-listers and Goran Ivanisevic. Drinks are well priced and everyone spills outside to sit on the steep steps leading up towards the town walls.
Caffe Bar Talir prides itself on the fact it was one of three places that remained open throughout the Serbs' 1991 siege of the city and is nowhere near as commercial as the Troubadour Jazz Cafe now (sponsored by T-Mobile!)
Caffe Bar Talir - Antuninska, 00 385 20 323 293 open till 3am weekends
Konoba Dundo Maroje is a tiny restaurant down one of the narrow streets leading north from the main street, Placa. Virtually every restaurant in the old town claims to specialise in fish, but as a seafood fanatic who's travelled to Dubrovnik on a budget in both 2002 and just this summer, Dundo Maroje really made an impression on my tastebuds - four times now.
The grilled squid seem to be twice the size of anywhere else and unbelievably succulent, all beautifully presented and dripping in garlic-infused olive oil. The lobster carpaccio is an unusual dish worth trying there too. What the restaurant lacks in views it certainly makes up for in atmosphere. Sippng an ice-cold Istra bitter (like Campari), your bare feet cooled by the marble pavement, watching people file past is a nice way to start your evening.
Konoba Dundo Maroje - Kovacka, 00 385 20 321 445 (Dinner for 3 with drinks £30)
It is a few years since I was there, but it was a splendid place, situated on a peninsula south of Dubrovnik. The building itself is magnificent, with superb sculptures in the huge entrance lobby. I could not discover the artist. The hotel has an enormous free form swimming pool indoors.
The village of Cavtat was a friendly place, with regular buses to Dubrovnik.
Hotel Croatia, Cavtat 20210
+385 20 475 555
Part naturist on the other side of Lopud, it’s idyllic and has good facilities in a sheltered, shallow bay - safe for swimming and the sea is clean and turquoise. It warms quickly and there's only the occasional jelly fish to vex.
There's a small choice of accommodation on the island, but for those like us with young children, the Lafodia Hotel is ideal. It provides a kids club
where the children's creative side is encouraged and they are taken on little fishing trips. We travelled earlier this year when the weather was rather mixed, the children were kept occupied with activities for about 90 minutes in the morning and afternoon.
Food is hot and cold Mediterranean buffet style with plenty of salad and fruit and the hotel is all inclusive so you could get house red/white; beer and some spirits all day to 11pm.
Lopud island is about a one hour ferry journey from Dubrovnik.
Lopud is reached via a one hour ferry crossing from Dubrovnik. Unusually for Croatia, it has sandy beaches; that was part of the appeal to us. The other was that the island is completely car free. Indeed there is little traffic at all aside from some little tractors and buggies carting people and luggage about. Each morning, locals cluster round the port to unload produce and supplies from the ferrys - everything comes to the island from the mainland and everyone living there seems to know each other!
My recent trip to Dubrovnik was absolutely fantastic! We explored the hidden beaches, visited the botanical garden on the island of Lokrum and had the most delicious meal at the Proto restaurant right in the centre of the old town.
Restaurant Proto - www.esculap-teo.hr/restaurant_proto.html
It is a spectacular drive, with mountains on the left and blue sea on the right, though you also head into the mountains in places. On a hot sunny day in a convertable motor and a partner at your side, it is a joy. Set off after breakfast and you'll be in wonderful Dubrovnik by mid-afternoon. Stay a day or two in Dubrovnik, then take the afternoon ferry back to Split. By doing this you get to see the coast and islands as the sun goes down. Bliss!
You can reach Split by bus or plane from Zagreb, or fly directly from UK. Hire a convertable motor car there, and head south. If not in a convertable make sure you get a car with air con or you'll boil!
We rented a house in the old town and the owner recommended the little restaurant in the harbour. I can't remember the name but it's through the wall around the corner from the palace where the launches leave from. The squid is great and the risotto, but you do need to get there early. Cheap and cheerful and a great place to people watch.
Keep an eye out for concerts in churches around town that are also interesting and easy to get to.
Taking buses to the main ferry port is also very simple and means you can take excursions to islands futher north. They leave from the north side, just outside the walled town.
Not as you might think an Indian restaurant but a Bosnian eaterie. You can sit alfresco and choose from the interesting menu which includes several vegetarian dishes including spinach strudel, mushroom salad with cheesey bread, a tasty Greek salad and everything seems to come with a delicious baked potato.
Nikole Gucetica 2
See the stunning coastline and islands on the coastal ferry, enjoying life in the slow lane. The full trip involves an overnight which you could spend on the deck or pay a bit more for a cabin. Otherwise enjoy part of the route between the major cities and islands along the coast - the ferry calls at Split, Hvar and Korcula amongst others.
Get tickets and timetables at any Jadrolinja or Atlas Travel office found in ports and towns all along the coast - and inland. Or visit Via Mare for bookings crossing from Italy - www.viamare.com.
A short ferry ride from Dubrovnik, Mljet, which comprises a stunning national park and lakes, is perfect for a day trip. You can swim in the freshwater lakes, walk and cycle round them or get something to eat at the beautifully preserved monastery. A steep hill separates the lakes from the ferry port, so if you're planning to cycle it's a good idea to use the mini-bus service included in the park entrance fee, and then hire bikes at the lakes themselves.
A gallery dedicated to war photography. An exhibition of female war photographers has just ended, and was a very powerful and moving exhibition, which concentrated on wars in Yugoslavia, the Middie East, and Kashmir, just to name a few places.
Antuninska 6, just off Stradun, the main street.
Last year we went to wonderful Cavtat to relax for a few days before heading to Dubrovnik.
Our accommodation wasn't booked in Dubrovnik so we asked the staff in restaurants and at the pension we were staying in for suggestions.
Most people knew somebody who could help (Cavtat isn't far away), and we were fortunate enough to rent a house in the Old Town.
The house was two minutes away from a bar positioned on Dubrovnik's cliffs that you access through a hole in the city walls - look for a sign saying cold drinks at the far side of the town.
"The Mediterranean as it once was" (Croatian National Tourist Board byline) is, at last, being well and truly discovered.
Croatia Online is the result of four years living and working in Croatia and exploring it by road and sea. It’s a resource for ex pats and travellers alike and includes inside information on the mainland and islands, how to get there, eating out, shopping, entertainment, property news, entertainment, news, lifestyle and much more.
This fantastic old town a few miles south of Dubrovnik has got much of the ambience of Dubrovnik but none of the crowds. It has got a lovely sea front and enough tourist infrastruture to make it a good alternative as a base for touring Dubrovnik, Montenegro or, for the more intrepid, heading into Bosnia (easy ride to Mostar). There are one or two decent hotels in the town though they are not cheap. We found a place called Castelletto on the hillside above the seafront. It is run by a couple of Brits who refurbished the place recently and it's is really good value for money. Try and arrange to be there when they do their "lamb under the bell", a Croatian speciality which really draws a crowd.
Dubrovnik Airport is 5km from Cavtat;
Hotel Castelletto: Put od Cavtata 9A Cavtat;
tel: +385(20)479 547;
fax: +385(20)479 548;
Lovely apartments inside the walled old town offering fantastic value. Just a couple of minutes walk from the Stradun and just about anywhere else in the old town. The owner, Matko, is friendly and helpful. Upon our arrival he met us at the bus station and had printed us boat timetables for potential day trips and provided us with a Time Out Croatia guide. He also showed us round the old town a bit to help us get our bearings.
More info on www.apartmentsdubrovnik.com
A large cafe/bar/restaurant with a great atmosphere, cheap food and good service. It’s a lovely place to sit and watch people. I highly recommend their unique hot chocolate, it tastes like hot chocolate mousse. They have vanilla and hazelnut flavour as well. It gets very busy after concerts as all the performers go there. There’s frequent live music as well.
Prid Dvorom, by the clock tower at the end of the Stradum;
tel: 020 321 414
Perfect al fresco budget seafood. Try the fried squid, the black cuttlefish risotto or 'little fish' on one of Dubrovnik's best squares. The only trick is beating the cut-throat scramble for tables. An orderly queue is a northern European concept.
Gundulićeva poljana 8, next to the cathedral;
tel: (+385 20) 32 36 82
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