Visit the Neighboring Croatia & Montenegro
Experience two neighboring countries, each with their own unique aura. Croatia is a laid-back country appealing to all, from solo travelers to couples and families. The coastline is magnificent and the roads are very easy to drive on. If you keep driving South, you will eventually end up in Kotor Bay in Montenegro, which is less populated and overall possesses a sleepier vibe. Vacationing in Montenegro is all about relaxing and taking in the natural beauty of the area. Both areas are seasonal and the best time to make the trip is September through mid-October. The weather is still perfect and the crowds have dissipated. Families may want to travel in the summer, which is fun too, but much busier.
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Where to stay
Hotel Podstine, Hvar
Secluded stunning hotel with a private beach in Croatia.
Hotel Forza Terra
Five-star boutique hotel on the beautiful coast of Montenegro.
Rixos Premium Dubrovnik
Upscale seafront hotel with chic rooms in the heart of Dubrovnik.
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Day 1: Arrival in Croatia
If coming from the United States, head to the airport for your overnight flight to Split, Croatia. Rest up because you will land, get to the on-site car rental and hit the road.
*There is also a direct flight from USA to Dubrovnik.
Day 2: Car and Boat Ride to Hvar
Upon arrival, rent a car and start driving! Most international flights arrive early in the morning so this is easy to do. Stop for a breakfast in the cute town of Omis. Enjoy your morning meandering through the farmer’s market and fish market and sitting in cafés enjoying a cappuccino. Omis also has a large sandy beach with playgrounds and plenty of room to spread out and enjoy.
Continue the drive along the beautiful coastline between Split and Markaska, detouring down winding roads to discover little rocky beaches in beach towns. Discover Brela with its boardwalks and unique seaside restaurants bordered by shapely trees and very green natural scape juxtaposed against big boulders and the lapping sea hitting the shore.
Drive back up the coast and catch the evening ferry for a one-hour transit to Hvar. The seats on the ferries are comfy and they have bars on board if you need a coke or a cold beer. There are many islands to choose from, each with their own allure. We chose Hvar because it is known as a vibrant summer resort island.
Stay at The Podstine Hotel, Hvar
Stay at this incredible boutique-style hotel located in a quieter area outside of town. It is a 15-minute taxi ride from town, or 30-minute cliff walk along rocky beaches loaded with beach bars, natural fauna, manicured areas, castle-like resorts and people from all over the world.
First on the list: A dive into the Adriatic Sea from the Podstine dock to feel the heavy and salty water, followed by a nice dinner in the outdoor hotel restaurant Ama and an early date with a comfortable bed.
Day 3: Boat Tour
Wake up to a view of the sea (we were in room 23 of the Annex and had magnificent views from our balcony) and embark on a day long boat tour of the blue cave on Bisovo island and the green cave on Ravnik (Vis) island. Swim and look at the seafloor and gaze upon the fascinating ways the light rays bounce off the cave walls. Then, swim to lunch in a local restaurant on the sand while discussing the amazing caves. Upon return to the pier, walk the cliffs back to the lush Podstine and grab a drink and a lounge chair on the rocks and watch the sunset. The skies treated us to a brilliant coral-pink and gray display that evening.
Day 4: Stari Grad
Start with a yoga class taught by the spa director of the hotel and have breakfast (really nice buffet style) on the terrace. Venture to the other side of the island to the charming old (yet, pristine) seaside town of Stari Grad and have an early dinner of locally caught seafood and other authentic Croatian food. We took the waitress’ recommendation and started with the Triangles at The Blue doors! Think: pastry-like dough triangles layered between an unbelievable herb cream sauce. We then had the trout, grilled perfectly and served with a fresh Greek salad. Do not forget to try the local mint and pomegranate aperitif liquors.
Come back to the Podstine and take an afternoon nap next to the water. When night arrives, taxi to town for a late dinner and afterwards a party in a beautiful stone alleyway at the bar Ka’lavanda. You'll find vibrant, electronic music, sexy lighting,and fabulous craft cocktails with inspirational handwritten cards attached here.
Day 5: Relaxing on Kotor Bay
Sit back and relax during the 3-hour ferry ride to Dubrovnik, rent a car from Sixt and start driving. From Dubrovnik, the two-hour seaside drive to Kotor Bay, Montenegro is so easy. Cross the border into a new country with a different feel.
Montenegro (Kotor Bay) is more on the down-low than Croatia. There is a palpable sense of remoteness attached to Kotor.
Stay at Hotel Forza Terra, Kotor Bay
From the moment we arrived at the property and hotel staff greeted us with smiles and a glass of prosecco, we knew we were in for something special! This place offers impeccable service and attention to detail. Each room’s interior is decorated differently and luxuriously, and all rooms have patios with spanning views of the bay. It is set within an intimate location with an impressive spa and gym area and super cool pool area. Restaurant service is waterside with delicious food and spot-on service. Indulge in swimming in the bay and sunbathing right across the small road on the bay.
Dine on your first night on the bayside and enjoy a bottle of Montenegrin wine with some fabulous, encrusted scallops as an appetizer and sea bass brined and enclosed in a mound of salt then set on fire table-side. After dinner and while digesting, enjoy sultry moments relaxing in overstuffed bright red beanbags under the stars at the end of the dock while listening to James Bond soundtracks and soak it all in because it is magical.
Day 6: Spa
Rent the spa for your party and have the facilities all to yourselves for a few hours. Start at the gym, maybe take a soak in hot tub and then a sauna and/or steam while taking turns enjoying an hour-long massage.
Other Things To Do:
Walk the old town of Kotor if you like history and the smell of antiquity. This is what we did and we had pizza at a cool wine restaurant. One unique fact is they take care of their cats there, housing and feeding them and keeping them healthy. Cats roam freely and there are a lot of them. They call them the cats of Kotor! If you are energetic and really want a workout, hike St. John’s Fortress above old town, probably best done in the am though.
Day 7: Boat Ride in Kotor
Take a boat tour to learn the military history of Kotor Bay (four hours is enough) and hear stories about pirates, submarine caves and island prisons. Dive into the water a few times and notice how it doesn’t feel quite as heavy and salty as it did back in Hvar for some reason, but equally as refreshing. Also, enjoy a leisurely walk along the charming main street of a small waterfront town by the name of Perast. At the end of the tour, have the boat drop you in the newer international yachting town of Tivat for lunch and a glimpse into the dichotomy of lifestyles emerging in the bay area. Uber back to the Forza Terra. Top the day off by relaxing poolside and playing dominos after taking an invigorating swim and lingering under the waterfall wall at the end of the pool.
Day 8-9: Dubrovnik
Try to smile as you leave the Forza in the rearview and head up the coast to end your trip with a few nights in Dubrovnik.
Walk the wall encircling Dubrovnik’s old town and take in the magnificent vistas. Go to the Cave Bar and jump off the cliffs if you dare. Linger on the rocks people-watching and taking in the awe-inspiring landscape of the area. Walk the town and explore. Meander through art and jewelry shops and local gourmet spice and oil shops in Stradun and stop at one of the many great cafes sprinkled between historic buildings.
Day 10-11: Kayaking
Go sea kayaking from Pile gate around the small island of Lokrum. Enjoy another day wandering the town. Take the cable car up to the top of the hill to see the area from up high and dine in the Panorama restaurant.
Overall, this is an easy trip that is all about observing and taking in a way of life that is simple yet superb while being surrounded by historical towns and blue water. I love that Croatia’s national saying is NaZdravIj (to your health) and it is what we want to wish you too.
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