We have all had times in our lives when things didn’t work out as planned. We left Singapore for good in June, assuming we would be on a quick pit stop in our home country, Germany, before moving to the US. Instead, we are still in Europe, without permanent accommodation but with plenty of time ahead. What else to do than make the best out of it?

We decided to take it as it is, day by day, week by week. And to squeeze in as many trips in Europe as possible. After all, this might be the last chance for a long time to have the time to explore the continent we were born in. Obviously, there is also a pandemic going on, so we are not as free and flexible as we might wish, but on a positive note, this makes us discover popular travel destinations away from the usual crowds.

So, after spending some recreational days in Austria’s beautiful wine country, we were ready for the next trip. This time, we didn’t rent a car, but we booked an air ticket. A premiere after one and a half years and worth a special mention, as fear-mongering and punishment in Singapore had created a kind of anxiety of booking air tickets. However, one flight down and I can report I am back to normal, maybe not my 2019 self, but hey.

So, where did we go? We went to Croatia, for the first time in our lives! Actually, after having a fantastic in Corfu in 2019, it was just a matter of time to come back to this part of the Adriatic Sea and to finally visit the Pearl of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik. It was not hard to pick Dubrovnik over other popular destinations in Croatia, like Zagreb or Split, as the UNESCO World Heritage city got just declared a “low-incidence” travel destination during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s how we ended up booking a five-day trip to the city in the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia. In the following, I’ll take you on our vacation and tell you where we had the best food, enjoyed the most relaxing beach days and what was my personal highlight in the Mediterranean Sea.

Arrival & Accomodation

On an early Thursday morning and with a negative Corona test on hand, we flew out from BER to Dubrovnik. The airport is located about 15 kilometers southeast of the city, which is why we took an Uber to our accommodation. We had booked four nights at the Valamar Argosy Hotel which is part of the Valamar hotel chain and located in Lapad, a peninsula at the northern tip of Dubrovnik known for its luxurious hotels and beach clubs. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive vacation, I can recommend this hotel with two pools and beach access. I personally would have preferred the Royal Blue Hotel over the Valamar Argosy, but unfortunately, it was fully booked during our trip. That’s the downside of traveling so spontaneously. The Grand Villa Argentina is also a fantastic option if you’re more drawn to the city and seek a more authentic, yet upscale Croatian flair.

You might know that I am not a big fan of big hotel chains. Still, the Valamar Argosy Hotel had a distinct advantage: due to the high turnover and occupancy of such chains, front desk managers are often very flexible regarding check-in times. Hence, we could already check into our room at 10:00 am, which was not reserved for us until 3:00 pm. Thus, we had a full day, which we also immediately started with a walk to the pool. However, it was – believe it or not – too hot for us, so we went to the beach without further ado, hoping to get more breeze here.

At the beach & beach clubs

On the northern tip of the Lapad peninsula, you will find Copacabana Beach, which has several beach clubs (Coral Beach Club, Copacabana Beach Club, Beach Bar Ponat), bars, and a huge water park. In my eyes, it is ideal for both beach clubbers and families alike. Initially, we had planned to visit all the establishments on Copacabana Beach just once each. Instead, we ended up going to Coral Beach Club every day, as the atmosphere and vibe and the price-performance ratio appealed to us the most. Although I have to admit that we were surprised by the prices, that came close to Singapore, which, however, is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The beach in Croatia is typical for the Adriatic Sea: It is quite stony, but the water is crystal clear and deep blue. The coast of Lapad is supposed to be finer sand and is probably especially suitable for families with children, as there are also playgrounds and snack bars.

Sunset stroll on Šetalište trail

The first evening we headed towards Lapad’s largest beach, Uvala Lapad Beach, where we had planned to have dinner at Sunset Beach Trattoria. The path along the coast was gorgeous, and the setting sun additionally bathed everything in a golden light that was almost magical. Along the coastal path Šetalište, there were always water accesses for locals who quickly sought refreshment in the sea after work and panoramic views of the surrounding islands. The trail was so beautiful that in the end, we didn’t even end up at the Sunset Beach Trattoria for dinner, but instead walked it all back to end up in the sunset at the Levanat restaurant with a fantastic view. Food quality and panoramic views come with its price though, so don’t expect a cheap meal if you dine here.

Restaurants in Lapad

We walked the Šetalište in total three evenings looking for a nice spot for dinner, and I can recommend you the following restaurants along the coastal path:

›› Levanat A very nice restaurant in a great location with a direct view over the Adria and the sunset. The food and service are definitely upscale, accordingly it is also a bit more expensive here.

›› La Castille A hotel restaurant with delicious food and good house wine at fair prices. The service is very cordial, but unfortunately also somewhat understaffed, so you should plan a lot of time.

›› Restaurant Zoe – Another hotel restaurant that attracts with great views of the sunset and good drinks.

The Oldtown

One evening, we took an Uber to the old town, also known as the “Athens of Croatia” because of its cultural significance. Game of Thrones viewers probably associates the city primarily with its two-kilometer-long city wall, which plays a prominent role in the series. The wall was built between the 12th and 17th centuries and is the best-preserved fortification system in Europe. Theoretically, you can walk the entire length of the city wall, but it costs about 40 euros per person, which we wouldn’t find worth the money frankly. However, from the 25-meter high fence, you should have a majestic view of Dubrovnik.

We preferred to drift for a while through the interior of the city walls. Here is a mix of historical buildings worth seeing because the many buildings and squares were created over several eras and are thus witnesses of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.

Centrally located in the old town is the boulevard Stradun, the scene of festivities lined with numerous restaurants, stores, and cafes. The Stradun leads up to Placa Luža with its impressive 31 m high bell tower. You absolutely can’t miss either of these as you cross the bridge and enter the main entrance to the old town. There was a performance while we were in the city, so it drove us into the small alleys around the boulevard, for crowds we were somehow not yet ready. 

In one of the side alleys, we also had a dinner date with a former work colleague and her boyfriend, who happened to be in town at the same time. The Taj Mahal served authentic Bosnian cuisine with Ćevapčići and delicious wine. The atmosphere in the old town’s narrow streets was magical after sunset, and sitting there while enjoying some great food was lovely. I can recommend the restaurant so much.

After the delicious meal and a hilarious evening we went home early, because we had something very special planned for the next day:

Boat day

One of my best friend’s BFF was also in Croatia at the same time and had contacted me via Instagram after she had seen that we were in Dubrovnik. So, since we all felt like a sea day, we rented a speedboat in the port of Lapad without further ado. This is an activity I highly recommend if you have a sport boat or motorboat license. From the water we were not only incredibly flexible and free (more important than ever after two years in Singapore), we also had unique views of the old town of Dubrovnik, could visit the many beaches in the area, go to the Elaphiti Islands with their rocks and reefs and swim in lagoons whenever we wanted. 

We had a wonderful day on the water set the foundation for a beautiful friendship that day.

Towards evening – after a short pit stop at our hotel – we went once again to the old town of Dubrovnik. There, we had dinner at the Taj Mahal again, where we enjoyed another delicious Ćevapčići and Bosnian cuisine. 

We left Croatia with a heart full of freedom, flexibility, and new friends. Thank you Croatia, we will be back!


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