A Travel Writer’s Guide to Dining Through Croatia

Did you know that many scenes from “Game of Thrones” were filmed in Dubrovnik? Neither do I! In fact, since I’ve never watched the show and didn’t know much about Croatia in general, I was surprised how much my sister – who recently accompanied me on a a 19-day tour of Europe – insisted on visiting the country.

In the end, I’m so glad she pushed us in this direction.

The country ended up being the highlight of our European adventure. This led me to enjoy the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen, to swim in a string bikini in a salt lake off a monastery on St. Mary’s Island and to take in the beauty of the Adriatic Sea. After leaving the budget city of Lisbon, the prices for an Uber in Dubrovnik were a little shocking, but the view on the way to our hotel, or anywhere else, made us feel like be on a private visit. of the most beautiful places I know. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen, you will definitely need it in Croatia!

The view from the author’s Sail Croatia cruise (Photo courtesy of Soreh Milchtein)

Dubrovnik

Where to stay:

Sun Gardens Hotel Dubrovnik — For a comfortable hotel with great service and a breathtaking view, you’ll want to stay at the Sun Gardens Hotel, about a 30-minute drive from the airport. Our room was bright and airy, with a balcony overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The shower wall facing the bedroom was glass which allows for a view and can be quite sexy if you are traveling as a couple. If you prefer to have some privacy, you can draw the curtain. The hotel has three swimming pools, one of which is reserved for adults, a pebble beach and its own marina. You can even get a massage on the beach! Be sure to have breakfast on the roof terrace while you are there, it was excellent. Sun Gardens also has an on-site travel agency that, though pricey, can get you last-minute bookings for excursions, water transfers, and tours.

Where to eat:

Gradska Kavana Arsenal — The Gradska Kavana Arsenal restaurant has a large covered open-air terrace overlooking the old marina, the perfect setting for exquisite and fresh Mediterranean cuisine. And boy, the food was good. By far the best meal we have enjoyed in Croatia. Seafood is king in Croatia, and this restaurant is no exception. We started with mussels and a seafood trio, both delicious. Our main course was a whole fish, cut up at the table and served with grilled vegetables. It was a simple dish that was just magical. Save room for coffee and dessert, you’ll want to soak up every second and enjoy the fresh air and view.

The whole fish at Gradska Kavana ArsenalThe whole fish at Gradska Kavana Arsenal (Photo courtesy of Soreh Milchtein)

Restaurant Bowa — The famous Bowa restaurant is only accessible by boat. You can book a ticket on the water taxi or book a private boat tour that stops there for lunch. We did the latter and made it just in time for our reservations. Climbing up to the restaurant offers a spectacular view, as it looks like it was built right into the natural landscape. Open only for lunch, your reservation allows you to make a day of it, enjoy a meal and visit the private pebble beach with bar service. The menu is full of fish and seafood. We really appreciated the freshly baked bread with Croatian olive oil and swordfish sashimi. But it’s not the food that would bring me back. It’s the view, the peaceful sound of the waves and the resident cat.

Crush factor: The chairs all had armrests and were uncomfortably small. However, the cabanas have bench seating, although they must be booked for the day with minimal expense.

Swordfish Sashimi at Bowa RestaurantSwordfish Sashimi at Bowa Restaurant (Photo courtesy of Soreh Milchtein)

What to do:

Snooky Tours — Dubrovnik is beautiful, but you won’t get the full experience if you don’t experience the joy of speeding across the Adriatic Sea with the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin. To do this, Snooky Tours is the boat company for you. Not only did they arrange a last minute private boat trip the night before I needed it, but our driver picked us up from the hotel marina. He carefully showed me how to get on the boat comfortably, which I appreciated. We had an hour before our lunch which was well spent enjoying the sea and exploring a nearby island before speeding our way to lunch. After lunch, we leave for the caves. My sister jumped off the boat and swam away, leaning over one of the caves. It was such a good day and worth every penny.

Crush factor: I was able to get on the boat by sitting on the edge of the jetty, but I couldn’t swim in the sea. At least not without taking a significant risk of not being able to get back into the boat through the tiny ladder.

Soreh and Chaya MilchsteinSoreh and Chaya Milchtein (Photo courtesy of Soreh Milchtein)

Sailing Croatia

When you think of a cruise ship, you probably think of a huge ship with a casino and thousands of people on board. sailing croatia east nothing like this – it’s like the polar opposite of this one. With a capacity of just 38 people and crew, the atmosphere is intimate, perfect for a solo traveler or a multi-generational family without young children. Sail Croatia offers different styles of cruises, catering to different age groups and travel styles, from backpackers to partygoers, and everything in between.

My sister and I joined a two night explorer cruise that headed from Dubrovnik to Split, but also has a Split to Dubrovnik itinerary. The itinerary lasts seven nights, with stops at islands like Mljet and Korcula. Breakfast and lunch are served on the boat, and the boat docks and stays moored overnight, so you can dine at a local restaurant at each stop. This is quite different from large cruise ships, which tend to dock during the day and then sail away from port. You can leave the boat, explore the island, eat, drink and enjoy the beautiful beaches and sunsets.

Don’t skip the lunches on board, they were simply superb! Freshly prepared, with local dishes using local ingredients.

The dorms on board are small, but they feel a bit more spacious than they should considering they’re on a boat. The beds are twin size but some cabins can be combined for a couple. As the dormitories are located on the ground floor, you will have to climb the stairs to access the floor where meals are served and where the patio is located. The top floor of the boat includes a sundeck, lounge area and hot tub. We had a great time getting to know our shipmates and enjoying the views as we cruised.

At each port, the cruise offers a number of excursions. In Mijet, most people went biking in the national park, but my sister and I took a ferry to Sainte-Marie Island instead, put on our bathing suits and jumped in the salt lake. In Korcula I was very excited for the buggy tour and wine tasting excursion – but after arriving in the buggies I discovered that the seat belt was far too small, requiring me to return to the ship alone. If I were to cruise again, I would take the time to research each stop and make a list of things to do on each island.

Crush factor: As mentioned, the buggies I was so excited to enjoy were way too small for me, with no seatbelt extender available. I skipped the bike tour thinking it wouldn’t be accessible. There are three levels on the boat and you will have to climb stairs to access almost everything. The bathroom was small but spacious enough to use comfortably. The ports we stopped at required walking to restaurants, parks, etc. with minimal transportation available.

travel advice: If you want to leave Dubrovnik and explore some of the islands off Croatia, but don’t have seven days to cruise, the ferry system is excellent!

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