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Eating and traveling along Europe’s Dalmatian coast

I am always up for some solo travel, so when my Skyscanner app alerted me of an ultra-low price for a Norwegian roundtrip to Dubrovnik from JFK, I was quick to hop on that “PAY NOW” button like there was no tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, there were those inevitable #LondonLayovers, which if you know anything about Gatwick Aiport, are not that bad, especially when you are determined about your destination (and arrive during an hour when an order of eggs Benedict is available, of course!).


Dubrovnik airport is very small and easy to navigate. Car rentals are right outside the exit; make sure to book your vehicle in advance and to read the fine print whether the vehicle is automatic or stick (there is a significant difference in price if you happen to be on a budget). Most cars in Europe are manual, so for an American girl like myself who grew up on automatic, this came as a big shock to me, so be prepared to pay more for an automatic car. However, if you plan to only stay in the immediate area of Dubrovnik, a car is not necessary as parking can be quite inconvenient and expensive.

There are ATMs everywhere to withdraw money, but save yourself unnecessary fees and have cash ready in advance from the airport where the exchange rates are much lower. $1.00 is equal to roughly 6.67 Kunas.

I booked all of my stays through AirBnb the entire trip, and was able to successfully score in my opinion pretty good deals ranging around $45.00-75.00 per night with fees included. This was during the tale end of the busy season in October keep in mind, so those averages are likely to go up for the summer months in May, June, July, and August.

For the best view in the entire city, drive up or take a cable car to one of the highest points in Dubrovnik: Fort Imperial. Here you can get that Instagram shot you have been waiting for.


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Coming from New York City where the foodie scene is quite active, it was exciting to visit a new territory to see how different cities compare. And it must have been some sort of fate situation, because my trip happened to land on the week of the Good Food Dubrovnik Festival, where participating restaurants curated their own special menus to celebrate the city’s wonderful cuisine for seven days. I was so honored to work with some of the best restaurants in the whole city trying delicious Croatian cuisine all over town. Not only was all of the food amazing, but the hospitality some of the best I have yet to encounter, too.

Proto Fish Restaurant – one of the most well-known and established restaurants in Old Town, this longstanding favorite by tourists and locals alike has mostly seafood-inspired dishes. Menu items include anything from tuna steak to creative combos like the Cold Plate Proto that creatively pairs Croatian truffles grown in Astir with fresh lobster and shrimp for a life-changing dining experience. The atmosphere is classic to what you would imagine; seating on the second floor patio will give you a great breeze and views with your meal.

The Daily Catch: fresh tuna fillet with vegetables and tomato sauce


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Poco Loco Dubrovnik – hip and diverse atmosphere with a colorful fusion menu including options like homemade dumplings, charcoal burger, and handcrafted cocktails with fun mixes. Open late for the perfect stop while immersing in the city’s nightlife. Poco is most famous for their craft drinks, but once you arrive and experience for yourself the food will steal your heart too.

The Pornstar cocktail, which is a take on the gin fizz with Finlandia Vodka, passion fruit liquor, vanilla, pineapple, and prosecco foam.

Pink Fizz cocktail: Botanist gin infused with cardamom, rosemary, pink grape soda

Bistro Tavulin – for an exquisite meal that doesn’t require *too* much dressing up, this Croatian Bistro is known as one of Dubrovnik’s best restaurants. And there’s a really good reason why: the food is some of the best in the world. It was perfect timing that I visited during the city’s Good Food Festival, so I got a chance to try their 3 course prixe fix menu for the occasion.

Appetizer: Beef Carpaccio with walnuts, rocket salad, sun dried tomatoes, mustard and honey dressing


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Main: Creamy Barley with Adriatic shrimp, pag cheese, and cherry tomatoes

Dessert: Chocolate Soil with mousse, vanilla sauce, and fruit

Orlando Cafe and Bistro – for a true Dubrovnik experience, one must people watch and listen to the bells ring while you sip a cafe au lait in the morning along the marble streets at Orlando Cafe. Open until the early afternoon, you have a chance to get a full breakfast or lunch, depending what you prefer.

European Cafe Life: chilling on Strandun, the widest Main Street in Old Town at Orlando Cafe and Bistro

Scrambled eggs with bruschetta and latte for breakfast

Pizzeria Mirakul – OK so I live in New York City; when it comes to pizza I have righteously become quite the snob. So when some random guy on the corner of the street promises me the best pizza in the WORLD, I basically had to find out for myself. I chose from a whole list of pizzas and decided to stick vegetarian style; I was actually shocked to say while it’s hard to pinpoint the best pizza in the WORLD, Mikakul was not too shabby to say the least.

Vegetable pizza

Snogu Wok – Calling all noodle lovers! This fast casual wok at the far east side of Old Town near the water is the perfect place to take a rest on your day’s adventure. Sit outside and slurp delicious noods in the shade (vegan options available!) and then go take a walk to the Vrata od Ploca for some of the best views.


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Mex Cantina Bon Fide – if you like your margaritas strong with multiple flavors, I definitely suggest having drinks at this Mexican spot that is never not filled with people drinking and eating the night away. If you’re lucky enough, your server just might bring you a tequila shot for dessert.

CENTRAL dalmatia and split

Paying that extra amount for the automatic car rental ended up being 100% worth it in the end; there is no price to pay for some of the views I saw.

On the way up to Split I took the standard highway route so was able to make it in about 3.5 hours arriving at nightfall, where as on the way back I took the more scenic route down the coastal highway and was able to score, in my opinion, some of the best sunsets in the world.

During the daytime the Split city center is full of life; vendors selling anything from fresh Croatian cheeses to workout leggings fill up the streets leading into the main town and port. Along the boardwalk there are ferries to take you to various islands including Hvar and Vis.

The architecture is similar to Dubrovnik with its own unique historical elements; some of the highlights being Diocletian’s Palace, Trg Republik, Riva the city’s centre, Zeljezna Vrata, and Trikliniji.

I was only in town for a short while but I was able to hit up one of the more popular wine and tapas bar De Vin Split, where they offer a great wine pairing / tasting of the only winery in the city: Divina.

hvar town

There are a few different ferry options to choose from when deciding to travel to Hvar; I would arrive about 1-1.5 hours early in order to secure booking in time for your journey. During the off-season the boats only leave during select hours, giving you less time to explore the island if you plan to just go for the day. I had about 4 hours to walk around and take it all in (which is not nearly enough to be quite honest).

makarska riviera and beaches

If you don’t mind a little bit of rocks, Croatia can offer some of the most spectacular beaches in all of Europe. On my way back to Dubrovnik from Split, I stumbled across a beach in Makarska called Beach Tucepi; there were barely any people in sight besides the guy running one of the local markets selling fresh fruit.

Overall my Croatian experience was a positive one that opened my eyes to a whole world of food, wine, and culture. There’s no wrong place to go; everywhere I went was equally as stunning as the next, and the people are equally as kind everywhere. I hope to make it to Northern Dalmatia and Istria along with Zagreb in the future (2020, anyone?).


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Kaitlin Duffy is a writer from Cleveland. When she's not blogging or pondering the great complexities of the world and outer space, she is finding rare vinyl steals, visiting new places, laughing often, Instagramming everything in sight, watching movies, or working on her first feature Port de Cleve.