Sights: Dubrovnik is popular with tourists and cruises – and rightly so, it is beautiful – but I think it comes in to its own in the early evening, off season when it quietens down and it feels like you have the place to yourself.
The walls are worth a walk around with an interesting maritime museum part way around, great views to the fort (Lovrijenac) and out to see. It is worth the few pounds to take the cable car up the mountain (Srd) though it can be driven; there’s still evidence of how it was used in the wars in the 1990s. The main street – Stradun – is beautiful (if slippy!) with its marble cobbles and shop fronts.
Split is a more “lived in” town – larger, noisier and with a busy ferry port. It’s also full of history with the remains of Diocletian’s Palace built in to the modern day homes. We had a lovely afternoon walk in Park Marjan where families & young people come, relax and play in the sea. We also enjoyed driving up and then rambling around Klas Castle behind Split – it offers excellent views of the bay and city.
There are some nice day trips out along the spectacular Dalmatian coast – we enjoyed an afternoon in Omis with ice creams on the beech but head further out and there are some beautiful isolated bays.
Travel: I arrived via airplane in to Dubrovnik airport and then instantly picked up a car. It was worth checking airlines which traditionally serve package holiday makers for spaces on their flights – for example, I travelled with Monarch. We used a local car hire company, facilitated via HolidayAutos.
Travel along the coast is slow but we were happy to take our time due to the spectacular views. Some of the driving is erratic here but no more of a challenge than in other European countries. One final tip, petrol stations in remote areas can be a little tricky to find so top up in urban areas.
Accommodation: Our accommodation in Dubrovnik and Split were converted rooms in people’s homes.
In Dubrovnik we stated at Guesthouse S&L (Antuna Gustava Matoša 26 , 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia) – which is 25 minutes walk to the centre but with good views over the bay. The rooms are nicely appointed with a shared kitchen and outside area; the host is welcoming and chatty! http://www.booking.com/hotel/hr/guesthouse-sl.html?aid=1222377&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&room1=A%2CA
In Split we stayed in Hotel Sandra (Nincevica 11), it was a pain to find down some very small back streets but once there it was a few minutes’ walk to the centre. Now it was a little when we stayed but the simple studio flat slept the pair of us well and allowed us to prepare our own breakfasts. It has since been renovated and not available online to book so do check out these options instead: http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?city=-96492&nflt=ht_id%253D201&aid=1222377&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&room1=A%2CA
Food & Drink: I have to admit that this was one of the let-downs of this holiday; the food is not spectacular and very much influence by the tourist market. There’s plenty of Italian available and some good fish but you have to do a little digging to get off the main tourist path.
Further Reading & Listening:
Guide books: The best guidebook I found for this part of the world was the Lonely Planet for South Eastern Europe as it covered multiple countries which could be visited in a single road trip. Instead, I think the Lonely Planet to Croatia is a good bet along with Freytag-Berndt maps:
YoutTube: I found knowing a little about the Roman and Venetian peoples which ruled this part of the world at various points. And for some general background I found Rick Steve’s videos a good (if rather American) starting point: Dubrovnik: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiEJJxJLr-o, Split: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4sw6Zasv4U and wider Balkan Coast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5Buk6NPVPg&t=34s