Croatia: Adriatic partying versus Dubrovnik’s subtle charm

A fellow traveler recently asked me for some advice, and it sparked a thought I wanted to share.

She’s in her twenties, interested in Croatia, and likes to have fun in the sun. So, I suggested Pag and Havar, two lovely islands off the Dalmatian coast. I recall describing them as “Ibiza in the Balkans”. They’re big party destinations for the party-on-the-beach-all-night crowd. Now she’s planning a trip to Croatia and is interested in visiting those islands because of my comments. She asked me if I had any had suggestions for the best party hostels on the two islands.

Nowadays, the term “party hostel” doesn’t quite have the same siren call for me as it did ten years ago. In fact, I shivered just reading it. It brought to mind many good times and good friends, but also hangovers and sleepless nights when I was exhausted from my travels.

It also provoked another thought; I have mixed emotions about recommending these two islands to people. While both are fun, scenic (set in the sparkling Adriatic), and dotted with historic little coastal towns, it’s easy to get caught up in the “Ibiza of the Balkans” hype.

This would be my advice: Go if you must, but don’t lose sight of the genuine treasures of the Adriatic. Though it’s not a hotspot of twenty-something activity, the stunning old city of Dubrovnik—perched dramatically on the Croatian coast overlooking the turquoise sea—is well worth a visit. Force yourself to slow down and soak up a little of its romanticism and rich history.

Sometimes it’s the simpler, more intimate experiences that stay with you, like clambering onto the city’s crumbling medieval walls for a front-row, goose bump-inducing view of the ancient town at sunset. Listen to the bells toll, as they have for half a millennia. In my experience these memories tend to linger long after the night’s hazy recollections and next day’s hangover have faded. They’re free, and the treasures are available to anyone who stops long enough to appreciate them.

That was my advice. I hope my friend keeps this in mind while in search of the “place to be”. At least for one day.

Posted by | Comments Off on Croatia: Adriatic partying versus Dubrovnik’s subtle charm  | May 4, 2012
Category: Europe, General, Vagabonding Advice

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