After spending 2 days in Dubrovnik, we decided to hit the road and drive up to Split. While there are multiple ways to get up to Split (you can fly, take a bus, rent a car or take the ferry), I researched that the drive is easy, beautiful, and a great way to spend the day. The drive only took about 3 and a half hours, and it was GORGEOUS! Let me explain…
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We rented a car from a small company called CARWIZ that we booked through AUTO EUROPE. I was slightly skeptical because our car rental was so affordable (for a 6 day rental it was only $112!), but everything went incredibly smoothly! This rental car company is located right across the street from the Dubrovnik airport, and they had our car ready and waiting for us. Since our trip was pre-busy season, Carwiz upgraded us for free from a small, compact car to this Hyundai SUZ! They were also able to provide us with a ‘visitor’s pass’ into Bosnia; oddly enough, on your drive to Split you will cross the border into Bosnia for about 25 minutes and re-enter Croatia. Besides border control being sometimes busy, it was an easy and painless transition.
The drive itself is simply beautiful. The majority of the drive is a one-lane highway that snakes along the cliffside, with scenic views of the sea. As I was driving and peering out over the water, I kept thinking it looked so fake! Like a backdrop painted for a movie set…
After driving for about an hour and a half, we chose to stop in a small town called Ston. From everything I read, Ston is known for their it’s quant charm and for their oysters! We found this tiny, one-woman run oyster shop right next to the water that serves fresh oysters and home made products. It’s located as soon as you enter Mali-Ston and a must-see!
One thing that surprised me the most about Croatia is the amount of stray kitties! When we first arrived in Dubrovnik, we must have seen 25 cats roaming the old city streets. And then as we stopped in Ston, about 4 more wandered up to us as we were checking out the oysters in the water. They were all super friendly and loving any attention they could get.
(Joe is so not a cat person, but cats seem to love him haha)
This stall had the most unique products. They had pickled vegetables, olive oils, jams, hot sauces, hand-made oyster shuckers, etc. I decided to grab a fig jam for my mom and an ‘extra-hot’ BBQ sauce for ourselves. We haven’t tried either yet as we’ve been so busy since we got home, but I’ll keep you posted!
The best part about these oysters? They were a dollar a piece! And literally plucked from the water moments before they were served to us. We are so used to oysters being pretty expensive back home, that these were such a treat only costing us $12.
After leaving Ston, we got back on the road towards Split. We had about 2 hours of the drive left and got a little hungry, so we stopped at one of the many fruit stalls on the side of the road. These stalls are full of fresh produce and homemade products as well: olive oils, flavored honey, jams, etc. We picked up some cherries (unfortunately not as good as our cherries back home) and got back on the road.
To sum up the drive, there is roughly 2 hours of beautiful, coastline highway, and the last hour takes you inland and onto a more traditional, multi-lane highway. Upon entering Split, you feel like you are in an entirely different country; the buildings are massive, there are tons of people, cars, and just a general city-bustle…completely opposite of Dubrovnik. I had read several articles about Split with recommendation to stay at least 2 days to explore. While I found pockets of Split charming and beautiful (mostly on the promenade), I would only spend 1 night or 1 afternoon (plenty of time to see everything you need to see). We had planned on 2 full nights in Split initially, but actually changed our itinerary to only be there 1 night, and drove back down to Dubrovnik early to spend more time there.
Since it was much more affordable to keep our rental car for the week instead of renting 2 one-way cars to take us to-and from Dubrovnik and Split, we decided to park the car in a garage for a few days. We were planning on heading to the islands as soon as we arrived in Split, so needed a safe spot to leave the car. I found a garage called ACOURUS GARAGE which was easy, safe and affordable. It was about $10 a day and the attendant was able to drive us to the ferry port! I highly recommend…
Our next section of the trip (and my favorite) was the islands! Stay tuned for our time in Brac and Hvar…lots more photos to come!