5-day itinerary: Croatia and Montenegro
DAY 1: DUBROVNIK
Indagare Tip: Best time to visit Dubrovnik is September, because even though you’re missing the Summer Festival, crowds have departed.
MORNING Stroll around the car-free, cream-colored Old Town and along the fortress walls above to get a feel for this reborn, dazzling city. George Bernard Shaw called it ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’. Hire our preferred entertaining and knowledgeable guide, who is the former director of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and Director of Dubrovnik Theatre, to give you the inside scoop on this historical gem. He showed Bill Gates around and when the latter asked about the façade of a building with ‘What are those windows?’ he replied, ‘Bill, how can I talk to you about windows?’ Check out the old apothecary dating back to 1317 and the Archives in Sponza Palace kept tidy since 1222. Pop into the beautiful City Theatre, the Rector’s Palace and the Maritime Museum.
Have a cappuccino break at Gradska Kavana at the foot of the main street of Stradun or Placa. For those who crave souvenirs, stop in at Dubrovacka Kuca in the old town near Gil’s restaurant, where there is an authentic selection of Croatian arts and crafts, embroidery, small bottles of olive oil, pure lavender oil, wines and homemade sweets.
Then choose between two possible outings: Take the just-opened cable car (opened in July 2010 after nearly 20 years of closure since the 1991 war) for incredible views of the city and coastline. On a clear day one can see the Italian coast. Or take the ferry shuttle (15 minutes) to the island of Lokrum, which faces Dubrovnik’s Old Town. There you can see the monastery that was turned into the Habsburg Summer Palace and have a refreshing swim.
LUNCH Lunch at Vapor (the best meal we had in Dubrovnik), an amazing seafood restaurant in Hotel Bellevue on the terrace overlooking a secluded beach. Try the succulent calamari, washed down with some Croatian wine and followed with the fabulous 13-minute chocolate souffle. Swim off lunch in the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic.
Relax and then to a concert followed by dinner at Nautika.
DAY 2: STON AND ELAPHITE ISLANDS
Visit Ston, (50 km N). This medieval town is world famous for its oysters and boasts one of the longest surviving fortification walls in Europe. These walls have just been completely restored after 30 years of work. Stop over in the Renaissance gardens at Trsteno. End with a super delicious fish dinner at the seafront Gverovic Orsan restaurant in the Bay of Zaton.
Or you may prefer to visit some of the Elaphite Islands, which are graced with beautiful beaches, lovely restaurants and are reached by convenient shuttle boats from Dubrovnik. Don’t miss one of the prettiest, Mljet, where legend has it that when ancient explorer Odysseus became shipwrecked on Mljet, he fell madly in love with the nymphette Calypso. (Calypso is daughter of Poseidon, the God of the Sea). According to legend, he stayed on the island under her spell for seven years.
DAY 3: MONTENEGRO
Drive to Montenegro (via ferry) and make your way to the just opened and divine Aman resort, where you should spend the next few nights. Spend a lazy afternoon relaxing and exploring the coastal town of Budva. Hire one of our preferred guides to point out the sites.
DAY 4: BOKA BAY
Drive to Kotor (optional trekking tour by the walls of the old town) Visit the 12th c. cathedral of St Tryphon and the Maritime Museum of Montenegro.
Lunch in Catovica Mlini, a fish restaurant with good atmosphere.
And then drive to Perast and visit the lovely island of Our Lady of the Rock.
Back to Aman for relax, and swim.
DAY 5: MONTENEGRIN MOUNTAINS
Drive to the village of Njegusi; the road has lots of switch-backs and stunning views of Boka Bay. The less energetic can sample famous smoked ham and cheese in Njegusi. The more energetic can start here on a bike ride, first uphill, then down from Njegusi to Cetinje, the old royal capital. (We did and absolutely loved it, but it’s rigorous.)
Lunch at Konak restaurant, visit King Nikolas’ palace in Cetinje.
Back to Aman for relaxing time and dinner.
Fly home from Dubrovnik next day.
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