Croatia is hot right now. Literally and figuratively. The country’s long and beautiful coastline has been attracting European travelers for decades, but thanks to recent filming by major Hollywood franchises (Game of Thrones, Star Wars) and the fact that cruise companies bring over a million passengers to Croatian cities like Dubrovnik and Split each summer, the rest of the world is also starting to catch on. (Between 2012 and 2014, the number of Korean tourists increased by more than five times.) At least once a week a new article pops up on my facebook feed touting the beauty of Croatia’s coast, and usually suggesting a visit to lovely Dubrovnik.
Can I let you in on a little secret about Dubrovnik? That little darling that attracts so much international attention? You couldn’t pay me enough to visit “the pearl of the Adriatic” in August. (Ok, I might be able to name a price, but you sure as heck wouldn’t be able to convince me to pay for the ‘privilege’.) Cruise ship after cruise ship pulls in and 5000 of your closest friends flood into the old town. The old walls the city is famous for can barely contain the crowds on a good day, and heaven forbid it’s raining and all the sun bathers make their way into the city… Yuck. Don’t get me wrong, Dubrovnik is beautiful (even if it does have a particular ‘sauvignon blanc’ smell), it’s just that Croatia is so much more than Split and Dubrovnik.
I have a theory that because the majority of American tourists still pass through Croatia via cruise ship, the idea that Split and Dubrovnik (the country’s two most popular cruise ports) are the best places to visit in Croatia is continually perpetuated. Someone spends half a day wandering through Diocletian’s Palace, devours some gelato and tosses back a few glassed of wine, and then goes home and tells everyone and their mother that they have to visit Split. To be clear, Split and Dubrovnik are definitely worth a visit, especially if you happen to be traveling between September and May, but you can easily fill up a week (or month, or even a whole year) in Croatia without stepping foot into either of these two cities.
One place that I love, which is near to Dubrovnik and very easily accessible, but feels much more authentic (probably due to the lack of cruise ships) is the Peljesac Peninsula. Peljesac is well known for producing some of the best plavac mali wine in Croatia. Plavac mali is native to Dalmatia and is a relative of zinfandel. It is surprisingly quiet, and almost feels like an island, but is just a short drive from Dubrovnik.
One of my constant complaints about Croatia is that there is a lot of cool stuff going on, but it’s not easy to find out about it. On our last trip, I did my obligatory googling of all things Peljesac. A few bloggers were raving about a little bnb in the town of Trpanj. They waxed on about the comfortable accommodations, artsy decor, gorgeous wood door, and delicious breakfast. I was immediately intrigued, but couldn’t find the contact information. Anywhere.
Eventually, we found the number and managed to book a room at Villa Vatikan. And you know what? The bloggers were all right, we were totally charmed, and agreed that this is the best place to stay on Peljesac! It was still the off season and most of the restaurants in town weren’t open for the season yet, so our hosts invited us to eat with them. We spent the evening eating, chatting, and drinking wine. Unmatched hospitality.
To top it all off, Villa Vatikan is located just a few steps from a delightful promenade along the sea. It was too cold to swim, but we did stop a few times to dip our feet in the water.
We also made time to stop by one of our favorite Croatian wineries–Milos. Milos is a smaller, family-run winery known for big red plavac wines. The winemaker’s commitment to quality is legendary–even his most basic plavac is aged for four years before it hits the shelf, and his Stagnum is arguably one of the best wines in Croatia.
There are several other wineries on the peninsula and of course a plethora of places to stop and have a coffee. This trip we were content to just explore little villages and take in the views. When we passed Korcula, we were tempted to hop on the ferry, but that trip will have to wait for another time!
Accommodation on Peljesac
Gorgeous rooms, delightful hospitality, delicious breakfast, steps from a gorgeous seaside promenade. You really can’t go wrong with this place.
Kovaci 13, Trpanj, 20240 | +385 91 909 8027
Wine Tasting on Peljesac