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2015

Dubrovnik,Croatia

By Bryan | Updated: 19th May, 2019




Ever since I started my backpacking adventures in Asia, I've always been an advocate for low-cost traveling. I'd go for the cheapest flights from secondary local airports, prefer walking around cities and take the public transports, sleep in bunk beds or crash at a friend's place. No fancy hotels or restaurants. For the longest time, I got used to this that I forgot how it's like to check in at a first-class hotel or join a group of tourists in organized sightseeing tours.

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So, I confess. This one is not about backpacking, low cost or budget-wise trip. But since it's a once-in-a-blue-moon experience, I would like to share my first ever un-backpacking trip to the beautiful country of Croatia.

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A Reward Trip

Last May 2015, I was one of the chosen few from my company to join in what was promised to be a fantastic trip to the pearl of the Adriatic — Dubrovnik. It was a generous initiative of the company to recognize top performers across Europe who has delivered a sustained contribution for the year.

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Five days of pure relax, pampered in a luxury five-star hotel and a line up of events, guided tours, endless welcome drinks and fancy dinner set in the best restaurants in the city.

From the arrival at Dubrovnik Airport, we received a welcome pack, guest ID (and some generous cash allowance, if you may) and a coach transfer to the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel. What a service.

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We arrived at the start of the summer season in the month of May. Croatia is still catching up its tourism industry despite being Europe's most fashionable places to visit. Perhaps it has not been well advertised, as I didn't know about the range and quality of what the country has to offer since this trip. Just the view of the old city of Dubrovnik from the coach as we headed to our hotel is breathtaking — beautiful colored houses rendered with red tile roofs and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic Sea.

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The Hotel

As promised, we stayed at the luxurious five-star Dubrovnik Palace Hotel situated on the peninsula of Lapad. From afar, the hotel resembles a huge ship dramatically situated in the cliffside below the aromatic, pine-covered Petka woods.

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The newly renovated Hotel Dubrovnik Palace boats its luxurious wellness and spa center with spectacular sea views and excellent gastronomy. And yes, I got to stay at one of their best suites with a private balcony and beautiful sea view. I wouldn't mind staying 5 days at the hotel if it costs me zilch.

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The Itinerary

All is impressively organized and we've got nothing to do but wait for the coach from the hotel. At least I got to feel now how it's like to travel lavishly. I could worry less about walking. It feels very different but at the same time, this will allow me to appreciate more of the freedom and immersion when I do my solo backpacking compared to this pampered very-tourist type tour. It's not that bad when you do it once in a while, and even better when you do it for free! So, sharing our itinerary so you get to see how did it go.

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Thursday 7 May

Activities

From 09:20

Meet and greet at Dubrovnik Airport, transfer to the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel.

19:20

Meet in the hotel lobby for departure to the Old Town

19:45

Cable car ride to Srd Hill

20:30

Welcome Dinner at Konoba Dubrava

22:30

Transfer back to hotel

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Highlights: The cable car ride which took us 450 meters above sea level to Srd Hill (pronounced serge) is just the perfect spot to get a superb 360-degree panoramic view of the magnificent city.

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A truly unforgettable ride and the start of the never-ending welcome drinks. And the dinner at Konoba Dubova high above Dubrovnik, welcomes us with the traditional taste of spit-roasted lamb, flat bread cooked over hot stones and local wine.

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Friday 8 May

Activities

From 06:00

Breakfast at hotel

09:45

Meet in hotel lobby for departure to the Old Town

10:30

Sightseeing tour of the Old Town

12:45

Lunch in Old Town at Restaurant Dubrovnik

14:00

Shuttle transfers departing from the Old Town to hotel

18:30

Meet in hotel lobby for departure to Gruz Harbour

19:15

Pre dinner drinks and Sunset Cruise

20:30

Dinner in the Old Town at Restaurant Klarisa

22:15

Transfers back to the hotel

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Highlights: Old City tour. Setting of the infamous battle of the Blackwater Bay. Seat of the King of Westeros, the seven Kingdoms — the Red Keep of the Game of Thrones. Fancy cruise. Great evening.

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Saturday 9 May

Activities

From 06:00

Breakfast at hotel

08:15

Meet in hotel lobby for departure, and cross border into Bosnia.

10:00

Volunteering at Bosnia

12:45

Group lunch in Trebinje at Hotel Platani

14:30

Transfer back to hotel

15:30

Time at leisure

19:30

Drinks reception at Vala Beach Club (at the hotel, 1st Floor)

20:00

Gala dinner at Vala Beach Club

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Highlights: Border Crossing to Bosnia Herzegovina. Community Service. Relax. And the Big Night at the Vala Beach Club.

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Sunday 10 May

Activities

From 06:00

Breakfast at hotel

09:45

Meet in hotel lobby for departure to the Konavlje region

12:30

Lunch

14:00

Depart to Hotel

14:30

Arrive hotel and afternoon at leisure

15:30

Time at leisure

19:00

Dine around — transfers available to the Old Town

21:00

Return shuttle service operating 21:00—00:00 from the Old Town to hotel from Dubrovnik old town pile gate

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Highlights: 16th-century Watermills and Fortress. Brajkovic Winery. Wine tasting. And. More. Wine.

Monday 11 May

Activities

From 06:00

Breakfast at hotel

14:00

Departure transfers

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Thoughts to Ponder

Experiencing a once in lifetime lavish trip to Croatia is not that bad. Considering that everything is quite organized and planned, the tour pretty much covered the must-see's and must-do's for a typical tourist, but I imagined it would have been entirely different to see Croatia in a low-cost backpacking point of view. Surely, I would definitely go back to Croatia but this time, no more five-star hotels, fancy restaurants, and group tours. So back to the basics — backpacking off into the unknown freely, just for the pure joy of adventure and discovery!

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  • Where to Stay

    Hit the snooze button in Hotel Dubrovnik Palace located at Masarykov put 20, Lapad, 20 000 Dubrovnik, Croatia.

5 Comments

  • Ralph Pierre
    Actually i live near Croatia and i used to travel to Neum and Dubrovnik, still my favorite i Montenegro, because it cheaper than Croatia but it's so small, the most changeling thing that i like about Croatia are all the small islands, hope you visited any of them :D
  • Bryan
    We we're planning to sneak out and check Montenegro and some nearby islands but we ran out of time. The organizers did quite a good job in keeping us occupied with the tours. Anyway, the city is worth another visit, I would say. Thanks Ralph
  • Michele Wolfe
    My friend has been to Croatia and she loved every second of it. She goes to some exotic, beautiful place every two years. I really want to do that too. How do you afford to travel? Do you save up to travel for a year, two? I need to know how to get my life into the traveling world.
  • Bryan
    Well, this Croatia trip was company sponsored so it was free. But one of the things I consider when traveling is the airfare price. At any given time in a year, there's always a season where a flight price is significantly low depending on a particular destination. So I mostly make my travel plans based on the price.
  • Alexander
    Dubrovnik is a great place to visit. You really captured the interesting places. Though I didn't get to visit all those places, I still enjoyed the ones I visited. Their foods are lovely and I can still feel the taste on my tongue!
  • Bryan
    I would definitely go back to Dubrovnik. I haven't visited much to be honest, but you're right about the food — so local, authentic. I especially liked the seafood, wine and olives.
  • Ricky Danganan
    oh .. The old city is stunning that makes you feel like you are really in midieval. Croatia indeed is a very beautiful place, too bad I was not able to have a closer look to the new city part
  • Bryan
    Too bad. But the Old City is the best part of Dubrovnik, I would say. Anyway, I would go back there sometime this year. It would be nice to discover city in a true backpacking way.
  • Ricky Danganan
    Your article is cool but i would love too see some food tips tho. Staying in Croatia for 5 days must have let you tried variety of local foods for sure.
  • Bryan
    Hi Ricky! Noted. I'm planning to include gastronomy on my next travel posts. And yes you are right — local Croatian food is unique and quite a treat.

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Bryan

About Bryan

Hi, I'm Bryan — a Filipino traveler. Fan of nature, science and good food. The silent sam on the couch. An Apple buff. I was born in the Philippines and now a resident of Barcelona, Spain. Most of the time, traveling solo. Advocate for cheap escapades. Backpacker. Yep, Filipinos do backpacking!
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