When I first visited Dubrovnik nine years ago I thought I was going somewhere off the beaten path. You can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I arrived to find hoards of tourists and the high prices that come with them. Still, Dubrovnik captured my heart and I’ve been looking forward to a return ever since. This time I wanted to explore beyond the city walls and thanks to Dubrovnik Top Tours, I did just that.
Our day beyond the city walls with Dubrovnik Top Tours started fittingly, at the Buza Gate entrance (exit) to the walled city. There, Boris, our friendly Dubrovnik Top Tours host was eagerly waiting to show off his home country. Within minutes of talking to (or listening to) Boris I could tell I was in good hands with Dubrovnik Top Tours. It was clear Boris was passionate about not only Dubrovnik, but his home country of Croatia. It came up several times that most people visit Dubrovnik and not the area around it which, to Boris, is crazy. This was a wrong that I was trying to right.
On the drive north from the city, Boris filled us in with countless facts and gave us a full on history lesson of how Dubrovnik came to be. He pulled over at the turn off to the Peljesac Peninsula and let us know that this area played a key role in how Dubrovnik became the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
Now known for its oyster and mussel farming, the Peljesac Peninsula was once home to the most lucrative businesses in the world – a salt farm.
The town of Ston is geographically in an ideal spot for harvesting salt from the Sea. Back in the day, salt was a big deal. So big that this “white gold” farm was completely protected with a 5 kilometers stretch of wall – and what a wall! That is the second longest wall in the world next to the Great Wall of China. Today there still plenty of evidence of this great wall and draws tourists and athletes with events like the Ston Wall Marathon.
To better understand this elaborate protection for a simple seasoning we headed to the Solana salt field where they are still harvesting salt in the same fashion as they did some 700 years ago.
Food within Dubrovnik’s city walls suffers a bit due to the volume of tourists. As I now know, it’s not for a lack of seasoning. To really taste Croatia you have to leave town. Dubrovnik Top Tours knows this. Boris treated us to an unbelievable feast of local oysters, muscles, octopus salad, and Ston cake which is made with pasta. It may sound odd but let me tell you, it was delicious.
Oh… and local wine. All of it amazing and seriously the best mussels I’ve ever had.
As our Dubrovnik Top Tours continued and as the clouds started to roll in, Boris gave us another history lesson – this time on communist days. Although Tito really put Yugoslavia on the map, he did rule like a dictator and those that didn’t like this, paid. We stopped at a former villa on the ocean that is completely run down. This place was once someone’s seasonal home, something not allowed and thus taken away during communist time. Fast forward to today and it is derelict and run down in one of the most picturesque places is possible.
This was an interesting stop. Boris feels it is imperative to show the good and the bad beyond Dubrovnik’s city walls. This is important to truly understand Croatian of today and something he and Dubrovnik Top Tours are happy to share.
When it Rains…
On our way to the next stop the skies opened up. At the end of the Ombla river, where Dubrovnik’s drinking water miraculously flows from under a mountain, we took shelter in a tiny pub. There we really got to know Croatia. Over the next few hours we drank local beer with local Croats and got their take on everything from basketball to the Serbian conflicts. This, without a doubt, was my favourite take away for my time in Croatia and with Dubrovnik Top Tours. It was about as real as it gets.
See the REAL Croatian Coast
Our Dubrovnik Top Tours concluded with Boris, our designated driver, taking us to the airport. What started out as a history lesson from a passionate local quickly turned into what felt like visiting a friend’s home. This, of course, is amazing. How better to see a new place than through a locals eyes? Dubrovnik’s city walls need to be seen to be appreciated but don’t cheat yourself. There is much more to see beyond the city walls and Boris and Dubrovnik Top Tours are happy to help you truly appreciate the region and how it came to be.
Dubrovnik Top Tours Good to Know
Tour cost: Pelješac wine, gastro & history tour – 160,00€. See full menu!
Includes: Local and passionate guide, transport, good times!
Don’t Miss: Ston, history lessons, local drinks.
What say you?
Thoughts on my time with Dubrovnik Top Tours?
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Although I was provided a discounted media rate with Dubrovnik Top Tours,
the experience, opinions, and escape from the city walls are my own.