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If you find Dubrovnik too hectic for your taste, it will only take an hour drive up the coast to enjoy a wonderful holiday on the rugged peninsula that still remains undiscovered by most tourists. Despite its close proximity to the country’s beloved city, Pelješac, Croatia doesn’t attract large crowds. It means that you can still bask in the unspoiled wine country, charming old villages, laidback restaurants, and pebbly beaches all to yourself for a bit longer than what you can expect in other cities.
A Quick Look at Pelješac
The Pelješac Peninsula juts out from Dalmatian coast about 30 miles north of the city of Dubrovnic, extends gracefully into Adriatic Sea, with its westernmost point reaching out to touch Korčula Island. However, unlike Korčula that is a top favorite and popular among cruise ships because of its landscape of vineyards and charming towns, Pelješac is not yet a common stopover in the itinerary of average visitors.
But, if you include it in your bucket list, expect to be in awe of the picturesque towns such as Ston that has extensive fortification walls considered as some of the longest you can find in Europe. It also boasts of salt flats that still used to this day and welcome tours. The sleepy Orebić is set out farther to the west and serves as the point of embarkation for ferries bound to Korčula and is also the heart of the wine industry of the peninsula.
For fresh seafood lovers, you will find that the restaurants of Pelješac, Croatia can never be surpassed by those in Dubrovnik. The peninsula is renowned for its shellfish. Even if you don’t have prior research, you can practically go anywhere and expect to find a waterside eatery or cozy tavern that serves as mussels and oysters freshly pulled out of the ocean taken straight to the grill at very reasonable rates even for an already affordable country such as Croatia.
Plan Your Pelješac Trip
Unlike the more popular peninsula of the country, Istria, Pelješac, Croatia is tiny enough that it only takes a day to cover it by car. With a length of 40 miles that stretches from Ston to Lovišta, the peninsula is small enough to cover in just one hour or so. However, this time doesn’t include the stops you would want to make along the way, particularly at the vineyards of the peninsula.
If you have no plans to bring a vehicle of your own, you can also rent bikes in any of the towns so youcna explore the nearby area. This sparsely traversed and quite peninsula is ideal to navigate on two wheels with the mountain range of Sveti Ilija north of Orebić is a great hiking spot.
Best Time to Go
Similar to marjority of Dalmatian Coast, the peninsula of Pelješac provides an always mild climate that boasts of balmy temperatures spiking during the months of July and August. As the area still remains unexplored, it doesn’t have tourist high season so you can be sure that you can stay away from cruise ship hordes in areas such as Dubrovnik and Split if you choose to come here.
Similar to most Croatian destinations, you can also expect crowds of revelers and festivals in the bigger towns during Christmas and Easter, the two major holidays. Businesses such as grocery stores and restaurants are closed during the holiday itself and might also be closed on the surrounding days, making it imperative to plan your trip accordingly. One of the most anticipated events every year in Ston, the salt harvest, takes place in the months of July and August.
How to Get There and Around
Pelješac, Croatia doesn’t have its own commercial airport so many visits to the place will kick off in any of the other major cities of the country, with Dubrovnik being the closest as well as Zadar and Split. Many major airlines such as British Airways, KLM, and Lufthansa service Croatia from other European countries. You can catch last-minute and reasonably priced flights from the famous budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair and the very own Croatia Airlines of the country.
Buses make that one-hour trip from Dubrovnik to Stone, with ferries running from Ploce to Trpanj in the north of the peninsula or from Korčula’s Dominče, a key stop on Dalmatian Coast cruises to Orebić. Take note that many of these towns are not developed for foot traffic, particularly for travelers that haul their heavy suitcases with them. This means that the best choice so far is renting a car ahead of time and taking it with you, with most transfers being on car ferries.
Where to Stay
With the relatively tucked away status of Pelješac, Croatia, the peninsula is still underdeveloped today. Don’t expect to find brand name luxury hotels, mega resorts, or a selection of upscale boutique hotels. Instead, you will find lots of small-time vineyards renting out rooms, Agroturizams or family farms that can offer you an unforgettable meal and a bed for a cheap price, and small town guesthouses that offer simple accommodations near the beach. This is the exact kind of experience that many visitors of the area crave for.
Ston’s accommodations range from the dusky red-roofed old stone homes in the town center that went through renovations to accommodate guests to the newly constructed properties complete with gardens, patios, and even pools sometimes. A few also have on-site restaurants and modest cafes while others offer full kitchens for those who prefer to cook their own meals.
Hotels at Orebić are somewhat more luxurious with access to private beach and pools. Wine lovers can also enjoy the luxurious accommodations of the Saints Hills and Korta Katarina, the two most chic vineyards of the peninsula.
Needless to say, the rugged and unspoiled beauty of Pelješac, Croatia will always be one of the biggest lures that continue to entice travelers who would rather stay away from the large and noisy crowds.