Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog

Friday, September 09, 2016

Venice, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia via Ljubljana, Slovenia featuring a week-long trip down the Dalmatian Coast. Getting around in Europe is easy and exploiting this is one of my favourite things to do when spending time exploring this amazingly accessible continent. One of the greatest joys of visiting Europe is the option of having a trip within a trip. And that's exactly how our trip to Croatia started.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog

From Venice to Dubrovnik

We started off our mini trip to Croatia by flying to Venice from Manchester, a budget flight for a budget trip. We'd booked our accommodation  and were staying just outside of Venice. A small place named Mestre, which isn't actually Venice at all. A lot of people choose to stay in Mestre when visiting Venice. I know this because I've been lucky enough to see Venice a few times now. I lived very close to that area of Italy back in 2012. 

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Probably the worst panoramic photo of all time

Venice

Mestre is the budget option when visiting Venice, you're close enough to visit Venice everyday but you're far enough away to not feel that tourist inflation that surrounds the grand city. We stayed on a campsite called Camping Jolly, click here to find out more information. I'd definitely recommend this style of 'glamping' accommodation to anyone hoping to visit Venice on a budget. Clean and affordable with an incredible pool and lots of opportunities to meet other travellers. 

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
One of the things I love most about Venice is that it always looks exactly how you'd imagine it to
Venice is such an inspiring city, everything you see encourages you to see more. The architecture, the colour pallet, even the - often murky - water. I generally hate spending too long in a city that feels overly crowded but there's something about the charm of Venice that makes you love being a member of the mass of tourists in San Marco's Square.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Venice, Italy
Venice charms you to the bones and you never really want to leave a city with such charisma. Italy as a country has this feeling and I guess that's why I always find myself returning. The story in Venice is very much the same there's always another alleyway to slip down or another delicious restaurant to try and another refreshing orange coloured drink to enjoy. May I add that no trip to Venice or Italy is complete without an Aperol Spritz. Remember that name and thank me later.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Too many people to take any kind of decent photo
Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
A very posed looking unposed photo looking out across Venice, Italy

Ljubljana, Slovenia

From Mestre/Venice we traveled via shuttle bus across the Slovenian border and on to Ljubljana. You can grab these buses from outside the train station in Mestre. Very limited information exists about this option online so your best bet is to ask, ask and ask again until someone can give you information. The company that operates the Mestre to Ljubljana service is just new and we were taken aback by the lack of uniforms, official documents and any real organisation. Hopefully this has been improved since my visit.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Kirsty and I on Butchers Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia 


Highlight: Seeing the Slovenian countryside from the window seat of a minibus, chatting to strangers and wondering what Ljubljana has to offer.

A quick and easy border crossing with no stops thanks to our friend the Schengen, which allows you to travel freely within Europe. We reached a wet Ljubljana after a minibus journey through the lush green of northern Italy and Slovenia.

The Slovenian Capital is a city I'd been fascinated with visiting for a while. The Gothic architecture, the bridges and the unknown-ness of visiting a destination most people can't even pronounce, let alone choose to visit. Plus, who really goes to Slovenia? There are many things in Slovenia that remind you you're in Eastern Europe, the cuisine ultimately. Kebab style dishes with every filling. Eating soup from a bread bowl is probably a culinary highlight from our short stay in Slovenia.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore

Butchers bridge is a Slovenian favourite of mine. Even in the rain its an absolute must see when in Ljubljana. Although there are many bridges in Ljubljana this one has something special about it. At night was my favourite time to walk along the river and catch the couples placing their love locks. Ljubljana is definitely one of those cities that comes to life once the sun has set. The cafe culture and high density of bars in the central zone make the city buzz to life. Dimly lit streets and terraces filled with friends make for the perfect evening wander.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore

Our time in Slovenia was brief and wet, but enjoyable. We only spent two nights before checking out and moving on to Zagreb. From the Slovenian Capital on towards the Croatian Capital.

Highlight: Seeing the castle lit up from the hills below at night, a stroll round Ljubljana is a pretty special thing come nightfall. Don't go exploring without any cash, I can guarantee you'll spot a cool cafe or bar you wanna try.

The wait for our bus outside the main station was long and hot and our bus was extremely delayed. The tickets worked on a first come first get basis and we were prepared to fight off any late comers to get on that bus. We were going to Croatia. End of.



Zagreb, Croatia

We entered Croatia after a strict border crossing, lots of line ups and lots of passport checking. Some people were even searched too. This was something I hadn't ever seen in Europe before and was fascinated but although Croatia is in the EU it isn't actually a member of the Schengen network. Croatia does, in fact, have a strong desire to join. I think the paperwork etc is all a bit messy to go into too much depth.

Once in Zagreb we headed straight to our hostel on the main tourist street Tkalciceva. Tkalciceva is the place to be in Zagreb, filled with bars, clubs and restaurants it's any tourists favourite hang out. Filled with places to eat and drink when in Zagreb. Cheese and salad baguettes with extra garlic mayonnaise and optional salami became our thing. Each of the kebab shops that lined the main street sold filling tasty versions for pennies. Finding cheap eats is always a bonus when you're travelling on a budget and Croatia is filled with just that.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Zagreb, Croatia


Highlight: There are so many backpacker hostels in Zagreb, whether you're staying in a private or a dorm backpacker hostels are the best way to meet new friends and other travellers.




Off topic and something quite funny because I really didn't think it would bother me. But being in bars and clubs in Croatia where people can still smoke inside really annoyed me. For as long as I've been drinking there has been no smoking in bars and clubs in the UK and I think I just foolishly assumed that everywhere had followed suite with this law including Croatia. Crazy to be dancing in a smoke filled bar when it's so warm outside anyway. 

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Cocktails in Croatia 
Croatia is stunning and an extremely under appreciated country in my opinion. I never really hear Croatia getting the recognition it deserves, especially in terms of its incredible landscapes. I realised as soon as I left Zagreb and headed south down the coastline that Croatia was a stunning country.

Perhaps the lack of recognition for Croatia has something to do with the fact Croatia is very newly independent and hasn't had the same exposure it's neighbouring nations have had.

Croatia is yet to have its mass tourism boom and, dare I say, my experience may be more authentic because of this. There's a lot of stag-do-esque tourism in Zagreb, I guess all the great bars and clubs attract groups of lads on drinking holidays. Like it or not, it's well contained to one area and there are many other things to do in Zagreb so the presence of these groups goes unnoticed for the most part.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore

We spent an entire morning shopping on Ilica, the longest street in all of Zagreb. The shopping is great and incredibly cheap in Croatia. Great value for money because of the exchange rates from GBP at the time. Croatia is also home to all the favourite European shops feature including Sephora and Bershka.

Highlight: We travelled to Zagreb during the height of the summer sales. Major discounts on loads of European brands we don't have in the UK.

In the afternoon we took the cable car up to the top of the city and were able to watch the changing of the guard in front of the government buildings. This is something I love to do in any country or Capital City I visit. I've described the changing of the guard in other countries as great performance in a fantastic setting. The same can be said for Zagreb. Whilst in Zagreb I was also able to visit The Museum of Broken relationships a really quirky, funny but tragic museum exhibiting artifacts from failed relationships and marriages. If the exhibition is still on please go, it's hysterical in both sense of the word.


Leaving Zagreb we chose to stop by in Pula, where we spent our time frazzling on stone filled beaches. We arrived during some football final and watched Germany win some award on a large screen in the city centre. We watched with drinkings pretending to care and loving being part of the atmosphere. I'm sure there's even a photo of me with a German flag in a club. The amphitheatre, the streets, the pizza and atmosphere reminded me of Italy. I kept thinking that I was in Italy, such a strange feeling to have when you're actually in Croatia but I can't say I didn't like it.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Pula, Croatia 

Pula

Pula felt like a family holiday destination. The streets came alive in the evenings with joyful families, happy for it to be summer and happy to be on holiday. Souvenir stores and discount clothing stores are open all night. The bars are always busy, the cocktails are always cheap. Pula is a great place to spend a summer evening. The hot days were followed by cooler nights with the same torrential downpour we'd seen in Ljubljana. The storm was following us.

Zadar via Split to Dubrovnik

Nursing a sunburn and a hangover we had a long bus journey ahead of us via Zadar to Split. We arrived in Split in the evening and were hustled for our taxi fare. Tired from a long day of cruising the Croatian coast we dropped our bags at our accommodation and went to explore a place we would unfortunately not get to see much of.

We figured out that we could only get an early bus to Dubrovnik and rather than sacrificing the accommodation we had already paid for. We sadly chose to leave Split early the next morning. I can't fairly comment  on Split as Croatian destination as I didn't get to see much.

From what I did see outside seating occupies the harbour, many restaurants are filled with holidaying families eating seafood and appreciating the sea breeze. It's a shame I didn't get to see more of Split but from what I did see it's definitely a bucket list destination.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Leaving Split in the early hours and driving down the incredible Dalmatian coast line we didn't think we could love Croatia anymore. A small service station in Bosnia and Herzegovina to break up the journey before arriving into Dubrovnik and realising it is possible to love Croatia more.


Dubrovnik via Bosnia

It's important to remember that the area of Dubrovnik and the south of Croatia is broken up by Bosnia and Herzegovina. We got a shock and didn't actually realise until the bus driver told us to take out our passports.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
How stunning is Dubrovnik, Croatia
If you've read any of my posts before you'll know I'm a sucker for clear waters and pristine shorelines. Nothing makes me happier than having my toes in the sand and watching calm waters lap against the edge of the beach. Dubrovnik could give me this and all the cultural aspects of travel at the same time. Had I found true happiness in Dubrovnik, Croatia?

Dubrovnik is the kind of place you never want to leave. Being a tourist in a city like Dubrovnik is a spectacular experience. The streets are calm, the busses run on time and all the restaurants want your custom. The old walled city of Dubrovnik is a vision of absolute wonder. The pavements so worn you can't decide if they are polished or not. Early evening was the best time to visit for us. Cooler, less crowded (if that's possible) with the perfect ambience.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
The Walled City of Dubrovnik's Old Town
Being in Dubrovnik's walled City gave me the same content feeling Pula gave me, families enjoying ice cream's, couples making memories, friendship groups sampling street mojitos. Cocktails in plastic cups are in no short supply in the walled city of Dubrovnik. As I said earlier, being a tourist in Dubrovnik is a very special experience.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore

During my time in Dubrovnik I felt everything ran like clockwork, every tourist is accommodated for, everything works in their favour and it almost feels like the city runs on the very happiness of each tourist. Dubrovnik is a city with so much warmth and character, during my stay I spent a lot of time people watching happy holiday makers from various spots in the old town. The only point I'd make in addition to this, is that service can be slow. But always friendly and accommodating. Don't be put off, it's sometimes refreshing to not be in such a rush.

From secret beaches, to kayak rides around the walled city, Dubrovnik has a little bit of something for all. The diverse nature of tourism in this small place is astonishing, accommodation and restaurants that cater to all budgets. Dubrovnik is small but it is quite frankly perfect.

Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore

Dubrovnik is hot in August and the sun really catches you by surprise. I guess the same can be said for the other summer months. The heat sneaks up on you so be aware, the walled city has minimal shade and many people fall a victim to the pretend cool feeling.




Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog - by travelsandmore
Enjoying Dubrovnik - Simple stunning
I often tell people that Dubrovnik was my Croatian highlight, but I shouldn't disregard the hours I spent aboard a bus. Travelling down the Croatian coastline. Scenery and scenery, with a side of scenery. Only views and my own musing to keep me going. Sometimes, the travelling part of travelling gets ignored but it's often the journey that makes every trip so unique. My time in Croatia was shorter than I'd reccommend for a similar trip. But completely doable. Before you buy your interrail pass, consider the budget bus option. You just might like it. 

Dubrovnik feels like a country within a country. Leaving Croatia then entering Croatia to get to Dubrovnik maybe intensified that feeling. Of all the places I saw in Croatia Dubrovnik had this unique stand alone atmosphere and openness you often don't get to experience in Europe. Thank you Croatia but mostly, thank you Dubrovnik. 

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Venice to Dubrovnik photoblog  - travelsandmore


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8 comments

  1. Wow, what an epic trip. I was in Venice recently and went by cruise ship to Dubrovnik. I had no idea that it was easy to travel to Slovenia, and Croatia by road from there. Something to remember the next time I go there. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Was pretty amazing. It's a shame we didn't make it to Montenegro like originally planned. So much adventure so little time. Definitely, really amazing coastal roads, lots to see!

      Thanks for your comment :)

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  2. Wow - so much inspiration in one post. Thanks for sharing. Croatia has been on my list for too long, your post convinced me that it's about time I make it happen.

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  3. Thank you so much for you comment! You must see Croatia, the coast is amazing. So many beautiful landscapes.

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  4. Fab post!! the pictures are incredible!! I am planning on going next year and will definitely be taking tips from your post!

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    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Have the best time.

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  5. Well done Bryony. The panoramas aren't bad at all. And even in wet weather you manage to convey enjoyment. Keep at it!

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    1. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Nice to post about past trips because it brings back all my memories! Hope you're well :)

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travelsandmore was originally just an outlet to document my travels. It turned into something much more and now its more of an obsession for me than anything else. Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to subscribe, I'll only ever send you my latest travel related blog posts right to your inbox.