Hello everyone, today we’re off to the Balkans for a look back at our experience in Croatia: Dubrovnik session

Departure from Nantes at the end of June 2022 for Dubrovnik, a medieval city surrounded by magnificent ramparts. As soon as we arrived, we felt like we were on vacation, as the water surrounding Dubrovnik is crystal-clear, a truly idyllic landscape… On the first day, we set off to explore and get lost in the city’s ups and downs, because in Dubrovnik, you have to forget your flip-flops and opt for sneakers. The sidewalks are often very narrow and slippery, and cars often pass very close to pedestrians, so accidents can happen very quickly.

I was immediately surprised by the vegetation, which is omnipresent and blends very well with the stone used to build the houses and buildings. Whether in the heart of the city or even outside, there are very few glass buildings or offices within buildings… but rather pretty long buildings, which makes for a much more charming environment. For lunch, we ate in a restaurant (okay, we went for the cheapest in town), but for around ten euros we were able to eat a full meal and even a drink (nothing to do with Parisian prices or those of the big cities in the provinces). In my opinion, the afternoon’s program was much nicer, as we headed for the coast to try and find a little cove away from the tourists. After a dozen ascents and descents, and the beginnings of calf aches, we finally reached a staircase leading directly to a small pebble beach. I’m more on the sandy beach team, but unfortunately there are very few sandy beaches in Dubrovnik. Well, even if you dodge the tourists, I don’t think it’s possible to be alone on a beach at the height of the tourist season, and even if it’s crowded, a beach in Croatia is still nicer than our beaches on the west coast, where the color of the water for some is not the most attractive.

A few aches and cramps later, we finally arrived at our accommodation, which on airbnb didn’t look quite so high up in Dubrovnik. The next day, we headed for the historic heart of Dubrovnik, to visit the long, wide streets of the walled city. We entered through the Ploce Gate, which is the gate on the harbor side of the city. The width of the streets is impressive, especially the main one, Stradun Street, lined with souvenir stores and ice-cream parlours, which I have to admit are very good value for money. The walled city contains some very fine monuments, both religious and historical, and it’s also possible to take a walk on the ramparts, which offer a superb view. The historic center is home to around 800 people. On this particular day, the thermometer showed a temperature of 35 degrees, so there were many more people in the small shady streets than on the main boulevards in the middle of the caniar. There are no real Croatian specialities sold in the heart of the walled city, which I found a bit of a shame, but between us, a good ice cream is better than all the specialities in the world.

Once we’d spent the afternoon tramping through the heart of the walled city, we headed for Banje beach, one of the only beaches with sand, much to my delight. Once there, the hot sand tells you that you need to get into the 25-degree water, much to my delight. Turquoise water, with a diving board, you couldn’t dream of anything better in such hot weather. For the return journey to the apartment, we chose to take the bus. The ticket is not very expensive, costing 1€ per journey, and when you consider the impressive number of ascents and descents, it quickly pays for itself. Parking in Dubrovnik is almost impossible these days, and not even at a price considered acceptable, especially in high season. There is a system of public on-street parking lots and garages, which are covered and managed by the Sanitas company. These are the most convenient but also the most expensive parking lots, organized into zones from 0 to 4 according to their proximity to the old town gates.

For the third day, we head for the port of Dubrovnik to take a ferry that will take us to the island of Lokrum, which is about half an hour away by boat. To get there, you’ll need to spend around a dozen euros (both the outward and return ticket), which is reasonable for a tourist town. This island is nicknamed “Love Island”, and is made up of a large natural park, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are no hotels, restaurants or housing on the island, just peacocks and rabbits wandering around in the open air, approaching tourists to feed. We rented paddles to take us around the island and really, this is something not to be missed if you’re visiting Dubrovnik. Game of Thrones was partly filmed on the site of the Lokrum monastery. The island’s impressive fortress is the highest point on the island, offering a breathtaking view of the island of Lokrum and the walled city of Dubrovnik. Charlotte’s Well is also an important point on the island for understanding the history of what may have happened over 1000 years ago. It served both as a reservoir for watering historical plants and as a bathtub for the more courageous. On the island, you’ll also find a salt lake that gives you a strong impression of bathing in the Dead Sea, and it’s also possible to jump from the rocks surrounding the lake, which reaches a depth of over 10 metres.

On our last day, we took the bus from the bus station to Slano, a small town 30 kilometers away. This typical Croatian village lives mainly from agriculture, olive production, tourism and viticulture. Slano’s beaches are very charming and a must-see if you’re heading there. It’s not the prettiest village, but if you want a typical Croatian village, this is the place to be! The town of Slano has just 600 inhabitants, so there’s plenty of room for tourists to swim on the beaches without being bothered.

To conclude this review, I’d like to summarize my opinion of Croatia as a destination. Dubrovnik isn’t the best place to go if you’re in the mood to party, but the city is full of history and activities for young and old alike. The beaches in and around Dubrovnik are very pleasant. If you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones series, this is the place to go in Europe, as you’ll find many of the locations used in its creation, both on the island of Lokrum and in the heart of the walled city. Prices, both in restaurants and bars, are not very high: a pint of beer costs a maximum of 4 euros in the most touristy places, which is quite a change from France and its average of 7 to 8 euros for the same product. Croatians can appear a little cold and bitter, but once you’ve made the first move and dared to approach them, they’ll be more than happy to help you find your way around or recommend the best restaurant in town! Croatians are full of attention too, whether it’s gifts when discovering the airbnb, a discount on the bill at the restaurant…

And if you’re here just to enjoy our feedback, I suggest you check out our feedback from Georgia, Italy and Malta! There are plenty more, so I invite you to have a look around the site: you’re not the one spending 45 minutes making redirections in every direction ?And for your internship abroad, sign up and a member of the team will get back to you within 48 hours to build your internship abroad project. If after all that you still have questions: they’re sure to be answered here.