Take a breather from Dubrovnik and discover Cavtat, writes Sarah Pollok.
If you've heard of a TV series called Game of Thrones, you're probably familiar with the ancient town of Dubrovnik. The trouble is, so are thousands of other travellers, who pour through the cobblestone streets each day. Once you've snapped some pics and taken in the history, experience the real Dalmatian coast in the southern town of Cavtat.
When it comes to making the 20km journey between towns, you can travel by road or sea. The local bus route 10 departs every hour, with a schedule available online. However, like any public transport, the cheap fare comes at the cost of personal space and stunning views. If you feel like splashing out and travelling across the Adriatic, select one of the several ferry services for around NZ$12.
Bordered by two picturesque peninsulas, the Cavtat waterfront trail is the perfect way to explore the coast and make the most of its stunning beaches. Leading through woods and around pebble beaches, the trail takes about an hour — if you can resist the urge to stop and swim at every beach along the way.
When presented the chance to tour the home of someone called Baltazar Bogisic, you can't say no. The palace of the fantastically titled 19th-century lawyer is now a museum with a rich collection of Cavtat art and history, including stunning paintings by Vhlaho Bukovac and ancient Roman archaeological works.
Long days of hauling suitcases, trekking around cities and navigating multiple transits can be tough on the body. So, take a few hours and treat yourself to a bliss spa experience at Body Vital. Run by Cavtat local, Miljenko, an expert in massage, Chinese medicine and energy work, Body Vital is the perfect way to get into relaxation mode.
Unlike Dubrovnik's countless trinket stalls and souvenir shops, the quiet town of Cavtat has little in the way of retail outlets. Instead, if you have some loose Kuna rattling around, the harbourfront farmers' market is the place to go. Held every day in front of the stunning ocean port, the market sells fresh, seasonal fruit and vege as well as homemade icecream and pancakes; everything you need for a summer picnic.
You can't pass up the chance to find a beachfront bar and watch the sunset with a cold drink. Perched on the edge of the rocky coast, 10 minutes' walk along a small track, the lively Beach Bar Little Star has your holiday bar needs covered. Catch the last rays of the sun on its loungers before ordering an Aperol spritz and toasting to a day well spent.
So, you've got crystal-clear oceans and scorching hot days, the only thing missing? Icecream. Luckily for you, Cavtat's best eatery specialises in exactly that. Indulge at Kuca Sladoleda (the House of Ice Cream), and just try to choose between 30 flavours such as Snickers, pistachio, cheesecake and Nutella. With generous portions and low prices, it may just be a sweet highlight of your day.