Dubrovnik Off The Beaten Path Tips by tpal
Dubrovnik Off The Beaten Path: 117 reviews and 174 photos
Exploring off the well-beaten tourist tracks is always a treat for us. To be sure, there are tourists all over the Dubrovnik area including its suburbs but the majority of tour groups rarely venture far from Old Town. Our strategy often involved leaving Old Town to the crowds and taking the public transportation (mainly buses here) to the outskirts.
The main bus terminus is located immediately outside the Pile Gate. Here you can purchase various ticket options at the bus kiosks or newspaper stands from singles (valid for one hour after first use) to day passes (valid all day but need to be purchased with a guided tour). You may also purchase tickets on the buses but it cost a bit more and you must have exact change.
Intro Photo: Polče is located immediately outside the Polče Gate and is an easy walk from the Grad (Old Town). The tourists you encounter here are generally staying at one of the many hotels located along the eastern shore. A walk along the water's edge here offers the best views of the old harbor's entrance, particularly at night. Our main goal was to reach Banje Beach, the City's main public beach. Unlike most beaches in Croatia which are mainly concrete or rock outcroppings, Banje Beach actually has some sand (and lots of stones).
Photo 2: On one very gray day we rode the bus to the suburb of Lapad, out to its far western point where the very upscale Dubrovnik Palace Hotel is located. There are several paths that lead to the water's edge and offer spectacular views of the Adriatic. The threatening weather this day made the craggy shore all the more dramatic. This photo is very reminiscent of Monterey, California.
Photo 3: Staying in an apartment you need to shop for provisions and the convenience stores in Old Town are pricey. The local "supermarket" is called Konzum which we found in the suburb of Gruž. The single pylon cable-stay bridge in the background connects Gruž to the E65 north toward Split.
Photo 4: This photo was taken from the ridge above Gruž looking south into the Bay of Gruž. The buildings which line hills are virtually all new and appear to be mainly vacation rentals.
Photo 5: The Port of Gruž is also the main anchorage for the numerous cruise ships visiting Dubrovnik.
What a beautiful day! This was the day we planned to venture out to Lokrum Island and the weather was perfect. We boarded the little ferry boat at the pier in the Old Harbor and twenty minutes later we were on Lokrum Island.
The island has a long history including the famous story of Richard the Lionheart being saved from a shipwreck in 1192 on his way home from the Crusades and being taken to Lokrum Island. No doubt though the will of God, his mere gratitude would not be enough. Richard pledged to build a church, first on the island with Benedictine monks and then was persuaded to build in Old Town. As you might imagine, some seriously bruised egos ensued. I can just imagine the political intrigue and maneuvering that continued on until the end of the 16th century when the pope finally settled the matter.
The Benedictines abandoned the monastery in 1798. While other building has occurred by the French and Austrians, the monastery is now largely a ruin. The island, however, is much more than crumbling architecture. Today Lokrum is primarily a nature refuge. The trails that crisscross the island provide many wonderful scenic views and wildlife encounters. There is also a nudist beach there for the more adventuresome. Not to be missed is the "Dead Sea", an inland salt lake fed by the Adriatic.
Intro Photo: The path from the ferry dock leads fairly directly to monastery. This view is of what remains of the colonnade around the cloister. Cactus and yucca plants now grow in what would have been covered space. The doorway at the end leads an area which is now a snackbar and cafe.
Photo 2: This is the salt lake which is very popular on a warm day. The shore and the shallow approaches are quite rocky and very slippery. Those unattractive rubber footies turn out to be a wise fashion choice here.
Photo 3: Carol glistens as the salt water sparkles around her. This was one of her most memorable moments.
Photo 4: This is what passes for a beach on Lokrum Island (and much of Croatia for that matter). The pyramidal rock outcropping has been adopted as a changing room. Apparently, as long as you are close to the outcropping, you become quite invisible while you undress.
Photo 5: Here the little ferry is about to dock at the Lokrum pier. The short ride back and forth from Old Town offers some wonderful views from the "at sea" perspective.
Looking out the floor to ceiling windows of the Sunset Lounge at the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel did not feel warm and comforting. In fact, the Adriatic looked anything but welcoming this day. The dark clouds seemed low enough to touch; the water was not the usual gloriously placid aquamarine, but rather an ominous shade and texture of weathered slate. In the distance the Elaphite Islands faded off to the horizon with ever lighter shades of silvery gray, looking less like reality and more like an illustrator's graphic representation.
The weather being such as it was, we had decided to explore to the western suburb of Lapad. Our goal was to visit the Dubrovnik Palace, which had been totally renovated and was considered to be one of the best hotels in Croatia. Being priced way beyond our travel budget, we planned to enjoy an expensive cappuccino and move on. What we had not counted on was the incredible view of a nearly monochromatic blending of sky, land and water.
As we left the hotel lobby, we noticed a path which led through a wooded area toward the sea. This was the sort of serendipitous discovery that we live for as we travel.
Intro Photo: This photo was taken through the windows of the hotel lobby, something I usually try to avoid but a this point we didn't know we had an option.
Photo 2: The path led to several wooded trails and to an overlook below the hotel. The view of this rocky crescent shaped island with its lighthouse seemed almost other worldly against the blue gray backdrop.
Photo 3: Carol is clearly pleased with what we have discovered. In a few moments the rain would signal the end of our exploration and time to head for shelter.
Photo 4: We caught the No. 4 bus in front of the hotel and headed back to Old Town. By the time we arrived at the Pile Gate, the threatening clouds had become a deluge. Exiting the bus we quickly discovered that every possible covered nook was packed with tourists taking shelter. As we were already totally wet, and as "totally wet" is as wet as it gets, we pressed on to our apartment. We became completely aware that the beautifully polished paving stones of the Stradun had become too treacherous to run on...so we accepted our circumstance and walked carefully on.
We finally we arrived at our door and as we looked back we saw a private waterfall outside our entranceway. All the rainwater run off from all the roofs and the upper stairways was cascading down the narrow passageway outside our door. We could do little more than break out laughing.
Photo 5: Inexplicably, within a few minutes, the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly. The cleansing flow, however, continued on for sometime longer.
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