Am thinking of combining a city break in Dubrovnik with some time on a nearby island. Hvar sounds cool but is also the furthest away. Any recommendations?
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Hvar is very cool but as you say it’s not that easy to get to from Dubrovnik. In summer the Dubrovnik-Rijeka ferry calls in Stari Grad on Hvar but only goes twice a week and takes about 6-8 hours. Or you take a bus up along the coast to Split (about five hours) and then a ferry from there, which would be another couple of hours.
But there are some brilliant islands nearer to Dubrovnik which sound like they might be a better bet if you’re on a city break. The Elaphite islands are gorgeous and very chilled, with some good walks and cycle rides and decent beaches, and won’t take much more than an hour or so to reach from Dubrovnik. A bit further away there’s Mljet, which has a national park with some great lakes for bathing.
If you’re after somewhere a bit livelier, Korcula is about midway between Dubrovnik and Hvar and has some good restaurants, amazing beaches, sword dance festivals and vampires – what more could you want?
I’m not sure whether you’re looking for an island to stay over on, but we visited Lokrum (which is very close to Dubrovnik) for swimming, cocktails and a picnic. It’s beautiful there and has lot’s of caves and gardens to explore.
Definitely Lopud. One of the small Elefite islands just an hour away from Dubrovnik, it’s small, cute, car-free and has one of the very few sandy beaches along this part of the coast. You can hike around too – paths through the scrubland lead to ruined mansions, once owned by rich merchants from the city. There are plenty of good B&Bs and apartments (check out http://www.lopud.eu for handy listings and maps), and good restaurants. Daytrippers from the city make the main village and beach busy in high summer between 10am-6pm, otherwise it’s quite calm.
Time the ferries right and you can do a daytrip to Sipan, the bucolic next island. There you can rent a bike and cycle 7km across the island, visiting fortified churches and an old monastery along the way.
In summer I’ve used Lopud as a relaxing base for visiting Dubrovnik – prices and food are better, less crowds.
I’d agree about both Lopud and Korčula.
Both are fantastic for different reasons. Lopud is only an hour from Gruz port and can be combined with Koločep and Šipan on a day trip. I took the Jadrolinija ferry – from directly opposite their ticket office. It left (in May) Dubrovnik at 10 a.m. and the last one back left Šipan at 6 p.m., calling at the other two on the way home.
So you can really see 2 islands in the one day (Make one of them Lopud!).
There are Spanish galleons, etc, who do a tour of the 3 Elaphite islands, including glass of wine and a ‘fish picnic’ lunch, but they are so much dearer, and don’t offer the flexibility of the chartered ferry.
Korčula is worth spending a few days. In May getting there involved a bus to Orebić, through the stunning Pelješac peninsula and the 5km walls and oyster beds of Ston, and a short ferry crossing. I gather there are direct boats during summer months. The fragrance of Aleppo pines will linger with you for weeks / months afterwards!
Plus a chance to try the locally produced Pošip white wine – which is awesome, and very unusual Grk, from Lumbarda, a few kilometres from Korčula town. I hired a scooter for a day while there and it was a fantastic day. Enjoy wherever you end up visiting.
Mljet and Korcula are both excellent options. You can see the Benedictine Monastery at Mljet and then Korcula has the interesting story about Fitzroy McClean. He was allowed to buy property in Korcula at a time when it wasn’t allowed. I think the leader of Yugoslavia (??) changed the law for about one day to allow him to do this. Let me know if I should try to get hold of the travel agent who assisted us so that I can verify that fact, if necessary. Safe travels.