- Explore the Konavle countryside, walking through vineyards and stone villages
- Hike Srđ Mountain and take in the sunset over the Elafiti Islands
- Trek around the larger part of Lopud, to Šunj beach and Sutvrac fortress
- Walk Mljet's unspoiled national park and take a dip in its unique saltwater lakes
|Day 1||Arrive in Dubrovnik, Transfer to Gruda in the Konavle||Gruda|
|Day 2||Walk the Konavle||Gruda|
|Day 3||Konavle to Dubrovnik||Dubrovnik|
|Day 4||Hiking Lopud Island (Day Trip from Dubrovnik)||Dubrovnik|
|Day 5||Dubrovnik to Mljet Island, Hike Around Veliko Jezero||Polače|
|Day 6||Hike Montokuc in Mljet National Park||Polače|
|Day 7||Return to Dubrovnik, Explore the "Pearl of the Adriatic"||Dubrovnik|
|Day 8||Depart Dubrovnik|
Day 1: Arrive in Dubrovnik, Transfer to Gruda in the Konavle
Welcome to Croatia! Meet your transportation at the Čilipi Airport and transfer the short distance to Gruda in the Konavle countryside, where you will have the opportunity to settle into your accommodation before readying yourself for an afternoon walk. Head out for a nearly 8-mile (13 km) circuit amid orchards, and alongside vineyards, the Ljuta River and old watermills, peaceful villages and farms to warm up the muscles for the days ahead.
The Konavle is a famous wine region southeast of Dubrovnik that stretches from Cavtat to the most southern point of Croatia at the Montenegrin border. Squeezed between the mountains on one side and the sea on the other, its small population lives in some 32 villages scattered across the fertile land. Here you can enjoy the rural and idyllic sights as well as experience some of the local charms. Consider these recommendations for alternative places to visit and things to see:
- Lace up your hiking boots to follow the old Austro-Hungarian military trail up to Sniježnica, the highest mountain in southern Croatia at over 4,000 feet (1,234 m).
- Stroll the waterfront promenade, laze on pebbly beaches, or while away the hours in a café or restaurant at the gorgeous harbor village of Cavtat.
- Discover the 14th-century tower of Sokol Grad (Hawk Castle) to enjoy the dizzying views from the clifftop ramparts as well as see the commander's quarters, barracks, and collection of archeological artifacts from the medieval era.
- Dine at one of the Konavle settlement's authentic restaurants for a mouthwatering meal of succulent lamb slow-roasted under a peka—a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped lid used to cook food in an open fire.
- Follow paths to centuries-old watermills along wooded riverbanks of the Ljuta River, an oasis of natural beauty, and check out Konavoski Dvori, a restaurant complex.
- Sample wines endemic to Croatia at a family-run winery, like Dubrovacka malvasia, a unique white pressed from a strain of grapes originating from the days of the Dubrovnik Republic.
- Explore the 15th-century Franciscan Monastery in Pridvorje to see its rich collection of sacral art, including the late gothic wooden crucifixion of Pridvorje.
There are also plenty of dining options to choose from. For an authentic dining experience, consider these options:
- Kameni Dvori. A traditional tavern located in charming Lovorno on the premises of a rustic villa complete with a view over the valley, you'll want to book a reservation well in advance.
- Konoba Vinica Monković. Set on the Ljuta River, you can feast on homemade cooking by the Monković family and savor a glass of the local rakija (strong white brandy made from the grape skins and typically flavored with herbs or fruit).
- Konoba Koraćeva Kuća. A family-run establishment in Gruda puts a modern spin on traditional fare. Dine al fresco on the terrace to soak in the scene while you eat.
Day 2: Walk the Konavle
Today is yours to discover more of the picturesque Konavle region. One great route option is to trek a circuit south of the area's major road between the villages of Radovčići and Popovići. You'll head west to begin the ascent uphill to Radovčići hiking your way toward the Adriatic, where you'll then loop back toward Gruda, following an old railroad track after reaching Popovići. The route affords sweeping vistas over the sparkling sea as you work your way along the rocky cliffs. You might like to break up your walk with some time spent sunning and swimming at Pasjača Beach.
Walking distance: Up to 9.6 miles (15.5 km)
Day 3: Konavle to Dubrovnik
This morning you'll check out from your guesthouse in Gruda and transfer to Dubrovnik. Known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," Dubrovnik is a piece of history. While there's evidence of settlements as far back as the Byzantine era, this area only came into its own as an important power since the 13th century due in part to its strategic coastal position. Dubrovnik's long and storied history is told in its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains all found within its imposing fortress walls.
You'll have the day to explore one of the most ancient fortress cities in Europe on your own, or you can opt to see the city's highlights on a guided tour. Either way, you'll want to ride the cable car (or hike) up Srđ mountain to take in the panoramic views over the city and nearby Elafiti Islands. Alternative can't-miss activities include walking the city's impressive defense walls to explore Lovrijenac and Bokar fortresses and strolling along the smooth, limestone-paved streets of historic Old Town.
Meanwhile, there's Lokrum Island, a 10-minute ferry ride away and lovely walking destination for daytrippers. The island is forested in holm oak, black ash, pines, and olive trees and offers plenty of spots for swimming. Back on the mainland, find your way to Stradun, Dubrovnik's gleaming main street to get your bearings and to choose from a number of excellent restaurants and wine bars. There's Buza Bar along the water's edge and outside the city walls—a great spot to enjoy a cocktail while taking in the sunset.
For additional dining and drinking options, choose from a variety of top-notch restaurants and eateries. Solid options include:
- Pantarul. Sitting outside the city walls lies one of Dubrovnik's more popular restaurants offering seasonal slow-food meals.
- Taverna Otto. Enjoy fine dining atmosphere with traditional Dalmatian cuisine served up in a contemporary twist.
- Restaurant Amfora. Delighting both meat and seafood lovers, Amfora fuses Mediterranean fare with Asian styles and influences from Morocco to Lebanon.
- Bistro Glorijet. Enjoy traditional Croatia seafood dishes and meaty plates.
- Lady Pipi. While you'll likely have to wait in line, it's worth it for the views over the city's historic walls and tasty grilled dishes.
- Dolce Vita. For the best in sweet treats, head to Dolce Vita in Old Town and indulge your sweet tooth with a selection of ice creams, cakes, and sweet and savory crepes.
- Restaurant Dubrovnik. Admire views over Old Town from the rooftop terrace as you dine on top-class Mediterranean cuisine in seclusion.
- Zuzori. An upscale Michelin-guide restaurant serving plenty of ambiance in Old Town alongside locally sourced and contemporary dishes.
Day 4: Hiking Lopud Island (Day Trip from Dubrovnik)
Today, head off to Lopud, an island in the Elafiti archipelago, west of Dubrovnik. It's close to a one-hour ferry ride from Dubrovnik.
During Dubrovnik's prime, Lopud once functioned as a weekend retreat for Dubrovnik’s nobility and was home to many of Dubrovnik's merchant fleet—ruins of the shipowners' homes still occupy the corners of Lopud's namesake village. Covering an area of nearly two square miles (4.6 square km), Lopud is the most economically developed of the Elafiti islands and is home to the region's largest sandy beach, Šunj. Here you can wade into the shallow water for 300 feet (91 m) before the need to swim takes over.
There are several hiking trails to choose between that lead you among Mediterranean and subtropical vegetation, though you might like to trek the loop around the larger part of the island. Leaving Lopud, you can follow a route that cuts across the interior until you reach Šunj on the opposite end from where you'll continue up the western edge to the tip of the Benesin peninsula before completing the circuit back at Lopud. You will be rewarded with some of the island's best attractions, including a visit to the Sutvrac fortress where you will have stunning panoramic views of nearby Šipan and the Pelješac peninsula to the north.
Ferry time (Dubrovnik to Lopud): 1 hour
Walking distance: 6 miles (10 km)
Day 5: Dubrovnik to Mljet Island, Hike Around Veliko Jezero
Today you'll board a ferry from Dubrovnik's Gruda harbor to Polače on Mljet Island where you'll disembark to check into your hotel and spend time exploring Mljet National Park. Considered the greenest as well as one of the larger Adriatic islands off the Croatian coast, Mljet is a thin strip of land parallel to the Pelješac peninsula and runs 20 miles (32 km) long and up to 2 miles (3 km) wide. The park itself covers a third of the island and is made up of lakes and bays, dense forests, and olive groves—the perfect setting to get in a couple of scenic treks.
From Polače, you'll set out to discover the unspoiled western side of the island where you'll circumnavigate Veliko Jezero ("Large Lake" in Croatian)—one of two salt lakes in the park connected by a narrow canal to Soline Bay. If the mood should strike, stop for a swim in the lakes (which are invariably warmer than the open Adriatic sea) and have lunch on the tiny island of St. Marija at the south of Veliko Jezero.
Here are some additional ideas to consider:
- Hike the steep ascent up Montokuc to admire the all-encompassing vistas from the park's highest peak.
- Named after a 5th-century Roman palace, discover Polače and its Roman ruins from the crumbling walls of the palace to a late Antiquity fort and even an early Christian church.
- Join a guided tour through the park to visit a 12th-century Benedictine monastery on the islet of St. Marija.
- Hire a bike to ride over the island terrain or rent a kayak to paddle the lakes choosing a pebbly slice of beach to relax on.
Ferry time (Dubrovnik to Polače): 1 hour, 45 minutes
Walking distance: 8.7 miles (14 km)
Day 6: Hike Montokuc in Mljet National Park
Today is reserved for further exploration of Mljet National Park, starting with a hike up to the modest summit of Montokuc (830 feet/253 m), the highest peak in the park. Here you can take in the all-encompassing vistas of the two saltwater lakes of the park and the island of St. Marija's monastery, not to mention other islands further out in the Adriatic, like Korčula and Lastovo. From Goveđari, you might like to choose an inland route to climb Montokuc and then follow a trail around the north shore of Veliko Jezeroto to enjoy a dip in the lake before completing the loop back to Goveđari.
Walking distance: 5 miles (8 km)
Day 7: Return to Dubrovnik, Explore the "Pearl of the Adriatic"
Enjoy a leisurely morning before catching a ferry (or private motorboat) from Pomena east to the mainland for your return to Dubrovnik. Spend the remainder of the day as you like, exploring this ancient medieval city.
Start with a visit to the quaint, open-air Gundulić Square Market for authentic Dubrovnik wares, like dried lavender, local brandies, and dried fruits. Take a stroll through the narrow streets of Old Town finding your way to historic attractions like the morale-boosting 15th-century Orlando's Column or the dainty Onofrio's Little Fountain. If you have an hour, circuit the impressive city walls beginning and ending at Pile Gate, where you can also access Lovrijenac fortress for fantastic views of the city and its walls.
Break up your sight-seeing and be sure to sample the local cuisine. Dubrovnik's location on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro means there is unique fusion cuisine to be discovered as well as downright wild fast food options (think octopus burgers). Of course, you can also find Italian-inspired comfort food like pasta in meat sauce, black risotto, and basic but hearty meat-and-potato dishes.
In the afternoon, head to Banje beach for a swim or indulge in a kayaking trip to explore nearby Lokrum island. However you decide to spend your time, a great way to end the day is to catch the sunset from the water on a sunset dinner cruise (2.5 hours) on a replica of a traditional karaka ship or from your own private boat. Enjoy the view of Old Town from this vantage point.
Ferry time (Pomena to Dubrovnik): 1.5 hours
Day 8: Depart Dubrovnik
Depending on your departure details, you may have time to visit one of Dubrovnik's museums, like the Franciscan Monastery and Museum. This large complex houses many treasures, including the world's third oldest pharmacy dating from 1317.
Alternatively, for a collection of 15,000 pieces of interesting works, visit the Rector's Palace and Cultural Historical Museum. Wander this well-preserved palace-turned-museum and explore its exhibits, some detailing life in the Republic of Ragusa during medieval times. And when it's time, you'll meet your shuttle transfer and return to the airport.