Travel - Cavtat and Dubrovnik, Croatia

July 07, 2015

A few Sunday's back, we got up stupidly early and drove to Stansted airport as we were all off to Croatia! I feel like I'm so used to long-haul flights that I forget just how close Europe is. An early flight which was only 2 hours long meant we arrived at the villa by 9.15am English time, the quickest I've ever arrived anywhere on holiday. We wouldn't have even got to Cornwall in that time! It was a whole family trip, my parents, brother, Ben and I and we really did have the best week ever. I didn't really know what to expect from Croatia, we booked the holiday last summer after hearing how beautiful it was from friends but I'd been so busy up until we went that I hadn't had a chance to think about it much or research it. As a result, I was so in awe when we arrived and it's now one of my favourite places in Europe that I can't wait to go back to and explore more of the country. A little travelogue if you'd like to have a read, and of course rather a lot of photos!

We booked a villa for the five of us through Croatia Gems after lots of research last summer with my Mumma. A family friend had stayed in Cavtat, just outside Dubrovnik and couldn't recommend it highly enough so we based our villa search around there and found this gem called Floranneve. It had a huge, gorgeous garden with cypress tree lined paths, a badminton court, three outdoor seating areas, a brick BBQ, hot tub and most importantly a beautiful swimming pool. It was just as charming inside too, built back in the 1920s as a summer house and set over three floors. It even had an outdoor bungalow which we didn't need to use, it was plenty big enough just in the main house.

We spent a lot of time at the villa, relaxing by the pool was heavenly and we made good use of the badminton court throughout the week {I gave the boys a good run for their money ;)!}. As much as I love the luxury of hotels and not having to think about cooking for a few days, for a week I love self-catering. It's so much more flexible too, we ate breakfast in every morning and alternated between lunch and dinner bringing back supplies from the little market in town.

The location of the villa was amazing, a four minute walk down into the town, albeit a very steep walk! We burned our ice creams off that week just from the steep hill coming back up a few times a day! I fell in love with Cavtat on our first wander on the first day.

There's a sea of red roofs against the blue sky, old shutters and stone buildings, flowering shrubs everywhere, narrow old streets, palm trees, a sparkly sea and so many boats bobbing around.

Such an old, rustic yet pretty charm about the place. 

It was just the perfect size too, big enough to not get bored in a week with about fifteen/twenty different restaurants, a couple of little supermarkets, gift shops, a fresh produce market and two gelato shops! The town is based around the harbour and there were two different peninsulas that made for a nice walk in the morning or afternoon with gorgeous views the whole way round. 

I couldn't stop taking photos of the sparkly water, it was crystal clear.

There were cute little wooden fishing boats along with huge super luxury yachts complete with a full crew! Perfect for people watching.

Even though it was the middle of June, it never felt crowded. I wonder if it would get a lot busier in the school holidays but I don't think it would ever be heaving in Cavtat, I almost felt reluctant to write this blog as everyone who visits Cavtat wants it to stay a little secret gem of a place! 

I loved the old shutters on all the buildings, we kept saying how it felt like a mixture of France and Italy, with a little bit of Greek Islands all rolled into one. 

In the mornings, my Mum and I would go for a long walk doing loops of the peninsulas before it got too hot and then meet my Dad and Ben for coffee or pastries in town. {it was far too early for my brother to think about getting out of bed}. 

We then stopped at the market most days to pick up fruit, fresh bread and occasionally buy fish for a bbq. Simple treats when on holiday are so heavenly.


I adore fresh figs, cherries and peaches. All so perfectly ripe from the warm weather over there.


Everytime we brushed past a fig tree I could smell Diptyque's Figuier candle. There were grape vines and fig trees growing everywhere, even out of tiny cracks in the floor!

The currency is Croatian Kuna instead of the Euro {although Croatia is in the EU now} so prices are ridiculously cheap compared to anywhere else in Europe. Ice cream cost 70p a scoop! So of course we had to have two every day! One after lunch and one after dinner. My favourites were the yogurt with fig or raspberry for something refreshing in the day then Nutella or Mint Choc Chip after dinner. I think we were their best customers that week although nearly everyone has a cone in their hand wandering around.

We'd spend our days relaxing by the pool and then wander down to the town for lunch or an ice cream and a walk followed by more sunbathing then a drink at our favourite sunset bar as the sun began to go down early evening. There are bars built on wooden platforms so you're sitting right on the water with views back over the town. 

The sunsets were ridiculously beautiful every evening.

We ate out most nights and nearly all of the restaurants are right next to the sea, or at least overlooking the boats and water. Our favourite place was Zino's which made the yummiest pizzas {we broke the holiday rule of not going back to a restaurant twice but we visited three times in the week!}. The food is a real mix between Italian and Greek with lots of fresh fish too. Although the meat wasn't up to much out there. Stick to pizza, fish, salads and ice cream! Good combo...

I loved an after dinner wander with our ice creams once it started to get dark and all the pretty lights came on.

Part of the reason we stayed in Cavtat was to visit Dubrovnik. It's a world heritage site famous for it's walls and spectacular location in the Adriatic sea on the Dalmatian Coast. It's had a chequered history as recent as the 1990s with a horrific civil war {that a lot of the locals are still struggling to forget} but after a careful restoration, it's now an incredible place to visit. Cavtat is about a twenty minute drive from old town Dubrovnik or a half an hour water taxi ride! We got a taxi there and the boat back.

We couldn't wait to walk the city walls, but if you're planning to then make sure you get there early. They open at 8am in the summer so you can beat the crowds coming in on the cruise ships and crucially, walk before it gets too hot. It was scorching even that early in the morning so we wouldn't have wanted to go any later. 

The old city is built inside the walls and was incredible, the floor was like polished marble! Beats the grey chewing gum stained streets of London. 

There are a few different entrances to the Walls and then you walk round one way so wherever you enter you get to walk the whole circuit. 

It's a steep climb to start with but you're greeted with incredible views over the rooftops with mountains on one side and the sea on the other.

The pathways are fairly narrow so again we were pleased that we went early and didn't have to worry about crowds. 

Rooftops to the left and the sea on the right! You can actually swim from platforms on the rocks on your way round. And there are a couple of bars and little snack shops en route.

We got higher and higher up as we went round but the view just kept getting better and better. The tree covered island is Lokrum where we got a boat to after walking the walls.

Once we were back down on solid ground, after maybe an hour and a half on the walls we were ready for some brunch and found a little bakery for some fuel! The city is fascinating to explore and wander around.

It was so hot that day so we decided to get the ferry across to Lokrum Island for some swimming. The boat runs every half an hour and takes you to the nature reserve island with forest, gardens and incredible beaches.

We then got the boat back into Dubrovnik, which is amazing as you approach the walled city from the water. And then got on a different boat to head back to Cavtat. I love the way the boats are like buses out there.

It was nice to cook in for a couple of evenings, we BBQed seabass one night and then carried on with our ritual of a gelato and sunset walk! I cut a few hydrangea flowers for the table.

We had one spectacular, and a little bit scary, thunderstorm one afternoon but other than the weather was perfect. 28 degrees and sunny!

You won't find white sandy beaches in this part of the country but there are plenty of pebbly ones or platforms that you can swim off. We only actually went to the 'beach' once during our week as we loved being by the pool so much. But on our morning of renting sunbeds {for about £3 a day} we loved swimming in the sea. All we kept saying was 'look at the colour of the water!!'. Just watch out for black spiny urchins! 

Holiday heaven = a morning swim in the sea, raspberry gelato for the walk back to the villa and then an afternoon of sunbathing with my kindle. The whole week was so relaxing.

I could have happily spent two weeks there with our new routine of not doing an awful lot and we were all sad to head home after an amazing week but we're already planning to see more of Croatia, I'd love to see Hvar and Split further north. There are so many islands to explore on the Dalmatian Coast too.

After a couple more days and dinners, it was time to think about packing up and heading home :(

On our last night we headed to the Sunset Bar round the peninsula for our last sunset of the trip. 

We had intended to go back to Dubrovnik one evening for dinner and to see more of the city at night but in the end we loved Cavtat too much to venture there and back. Lazy holiday-itus and I kind of wished we had seen more of Dubrovnik but there's always next time.

In hindsight this probably should have been split into two posts, sorry for the photo overload. But hope this is helpful if anyone is planning to go and I'll enjoy looking back on the photos on a cold rainy day!

Have you been to Croatia? I'm counting down until we can go back again, luxury desert islands are always heavenly but sometimes it's the simple holidays that are the very best especially with my crazy family and a lot of laughter that week...

R <3 xx 

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