Zaton Veliki + A day in Dubrovnik | August, 2017


Upon our arrival to our airbnb in the little town of Zaton Veliki, we should NOT have obeyed the traffic signs. Our GPS was directing us to go down the wrong way on a one way street and being the overly cautious individual that I am, I naively chose to be a law abiding citizen.

With this decision, I took over the navigation manually, and looped us around the “proper” way which turned out to be a horrible idea. I led us town a NARROW road with trenches on either side. The map in the palm of my hand led me to belief this road would lead us where we needed to go, and perhaps by foot this would have been the case. However, as the road continued to narrow, we realized that we were not going to make it in our little car. With less than 100 meters to go to our destination it was clear that we had to turn around. I tried to help Dan turn around in a tiny driveway with a few too many do not enter and private property signs, and with a woman–presumably the owner of such signs– glaring at us and offering no help as we struggled to reroute. After about 5 minutes of stressful communication between Dan and I, he turned the car around, and we made it back out of the narrow road, luckily without any oncoming traffic which would have been a nightmare. We found our way down another narrow, but passable road where we parked it for 3 days. We decided that moving forward, it’s probably best for me to get out of the car and walk ahead to ensure the road is drivable before maneuvering into a regrettable situation. The roads here are much more narrow than we are used to, and we’d hate to end up in a situation like Aziz and Arnold did in Italy!

Relieved to be out of the car, we quickly settled into our little cottage in the charming seaside town of Zaton Veliki. Our host, Iva, was a delight and spent an hour or so with us at dinner telling us about her childhood and living within the walls of Dubrovnik as a young child during the war. The town was clean and small. A single road lined the bay with boats and kids jumping into the water. There was a small grocery, a post office and a couple of basic restaurants. There was a path that was great for running in the morning before diving into the cold and crystal clear water. 

We were warned that Dubrovnik would be a mess of tourists, but we wanted to see it. We took a bus into the city and walked around the old town for a few hours. It was indeed as crowded as people warned, with lines set up to direct foot traffic in and out of the walled city. It makes me wonder when a ticket will be required to enter. My favorite part was exploring the alleyways and steep stairs closer to the walls, it’s incredible to think of the generations of families who have lived here over the centuries. Their lives are undoubtedly changed with the influx of tourism, but you can see that they work hard to preserve their lifestyle and culture.

My recommendation for Dubrovnik would be to avoid it in the mid-summer months if possible, and to stay in a little town on the outskirts of the city. Driving along the coast, each cove and bay somehow looks more beautiful than that last, leaving no lack of pristine options. Zaton Veliki was a quick bus ride to the city, allowing us to explore but also to enjoy our time at our airbnb without the crowds of tourist, and with more affordable food and lodging and a little kitchen to cook for ourselves. Having a car made this location easy to get to, and in general, we felt Croatia was a country that was worth having a car, as there is so much beauty between the cities that are frequented by busses and trains.