Postcards from Croatia

Croatia is a country of dramatic scenery with its rugged coastline, pine-forested landscape and cascading waterfalls inland. It is the ideal destination for sun worshippers, culture seekers and adventurers alike. Head to the islands for secluded bays and azure waters of the Adriatic or to the history-drenched towns for rustic charm and beautiful architecture. It’s a country I fell instantly in love with, not as preened as neighbouring Italy but equally as charming in all its rustic splendor. I wanted to share with you all some postcards and a little glimpse into our time spent road tripping through this beautiful country.

Dubrovnik Guide

Dubrovnik is on everyone’s radar as Croatia’s most beautiful city. With a host of fashionable restaurants and rooftop bars, it has in recent years become known as the playground for fashionable yachties and chic partygoers. Small in size, yet mighty in reputation, this fortified city seemingly has it all: culture, glistening sea, year-round sunshine and sunlit terraces. It’s little wonder it’s one of the top destinations in Croatia.

Banje beach

Dubrovnik’s closest beach is beautiful, turquoise waters line the whitewashed pebbled shore with views of the walled city in the background. When the heat gets too much, visitors and locals alike flock to this beach to dive into the glistening sea and drink iced beer in the sun.

Walk around the city walls

For postcard views over Dubrovnik’s old town, walk the entire length of the city walls. Terracotta-hued rooftops glisten under the golden sunrays, the skyline only pierced by chuch domes and medieval spires. Stop for a freshly squeezed orange juice to rehydrate and take in the beautiful views over the Adriatic.

Explore the backstreets

There’s no denying that Dubrovnik’s backstreets are crammed with tourists and their selfie sticks. The old town is relatively small and the walled city can only take so many tourists. With this in mind, you have to look even harder to find the quieter backstreets, but once you find them you’ll be so glad you took the path less travelled.

Climb the fortress

The fortified city of Dubrovnik lies on the edge of the beautiful Dalmatian coastline. Badly damaged during the Yugoslav wars of the early nineties, it has since been restored to its former glory. The best way to see this reborn city is from the fortress which overlooks the walled city from atop a neighbouring cliff face. Views span the entire medieval city and the stealthy wall which snakes around it and once did a stellar job of protecting it.

Cable car to Mount Srd

The medieval city of Dubrovnik shrinks into the nearby distance as you ascend further up Mount Srd by cable car. The air feels instantly fresher and less humid as you take in the hazy city below.

Explore island of Lopud

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik, head to the forested island of Lopud which is only a short boat ride away. On the island you’ll find peace and rugged coves aplenty.

360°

Set within the walls of the ancient city spanning a multi-level terrace, 360° is the most fashionable restaurant in Dubrovnik. Pop in for an aperol spritz and watch the sun set over the picturesque harbour.

Nautika

Nautika is a restaurant of mighty reputation, making it tricky to get a table, especially in peak season. If you’re lucky enough to secure a golden seat on the outdoor terrace, you’re in for a treat. With views overlooking the fortress and a menu to match, it’s not difficult to see why this is one of Dubrovnik’s most sought after restaurants. The menu abounds with Croatia’s finest ingredients: truffles from Istria, scallops from Ston, fresh seafood and Pag cheese, all paired with the sommelier’s recommended Dalmatian wines.

Posat

Located just outside of the city walls lies Posat, a restaurant of exceptional cuisine and service to match. Fish lovers will be happy to see so many seafood dishes on the menu with the winning dish being the fresh lobster.

Café Bar Buža

This relaxed, no thrills bar is always bussing with people, perhaps not for the quality of the drinks but for the beautiful views. Drink a beer whilst looking out to the glistening Adriatic, an expanse of blue where the sea blurs into the sky above.

Korčula Guide

Korčula is an island of pinch-me beauty with rugged coves and pine trees aplenty. The best way to explore is by moped or quad bike allowing you to stop at secluded bays, uncover pristine beaches and explore at your own pace. Here is a guide to this idyllic island including what to do in the old town, which beaches not to miss and which restaurants to eat at.

Climb the wooded forest

Seek shade from the scorching heat in the nearby wooded forest. Climbing the steps will not only cool you down but also reward you with beautiful views over the picturesque town. From up here you’ll get a beautiful shot of the entire town framed by pines.

Explore the backstreets

The backstreets in Korčula’s old town are among the prettiest I’ve ever laid eyes on. Cobbled backstreets are peppered with plant pots, worn doors and ivy-grown walls making them a photographer’s dream.

Climb the bell tower

For sunset views over the marina, climb to the top of the bell tower for only a couple of euros.

Lumbarda

Lumbarda has one of the island’s few sandy beaches making it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, however it’s the pebbled beaches which won me over.

Pupnatska Luka

Azure waters lap the whitewashed pebbles at this cove of utter charm. Well hidden from the road, swimming here feels as though you have your own private beach.

Bačva beach

A rough and tumble cove of jagged rocks and fierce waves. Standing at this beach is invigorating with the wind wildly blowing your hair and the salty water splashing your legs.

Nonno

This waterside restaurant is the gem of Italian cuisine in Korčula. Dishes such as homemade pasta with seafood and olive oil demonstrate a menu of local produce influenced by Italian cooking.

Lešić Dimitri Palace

LD Terrace is the ideal place to come for a romantic dinner beneath fragrant pine trees. The menu is one of fresh seafood with dishes such as tuna tartar with zucchini salad and roasted oysters with Dalmatian herbs all paired with local wines.

Konoba More

This seafood restaurant serves the freshest fish right on the water where the waves gently lap against the restaurant’s edge. Their lobster dishes are things of beauty.

Hvar Guide

Hvar is the St Tropez of Croatia and the playground for fashionable yachties. The marina is full of luxury boats with well-dressed yacht-goers on board, who come the evening, pile off in search of chic restaurants and bars. It’s little wonder that the island is becoming the new French Riviera with its turquoise seas, peaceful bays and buzzing nightlife. Here is a guide to this beautiful island including how to get about, what to see and where to eat.

Climb the Spanjola fortress

Climb the Spanjola fortress at sunset to see the terracotta-roofed town and harbour basking in a golden hue.

Explore the backstreets

Describing Hvar’s old town as charming would be doing it an injustice. It is beyond beautiful with winding backstreets, entire walls of bougainvillea and church spires piercing the skyline.

Hire a moped

The best way to see the island is without a doubt, on the back of a moped. Feel the beating rays on your shoulders and the wind in your hair as you descend dirt tracks to pristine beaches and climb up winding roads for cliff top views.

Water taxi to nearby islands

Just off Hvar town you’ll find the Pakleni Islands, a cluster of islets with crystal-clear waters, hidden beaches and tranquility in abundance. Hop on a water taxi, or even better hire a boat to explore these idyllic islands where beach bars, sunbeds and strawberry daiquiris await. The most popular hangouts are Toto on Palmižana, Carpe Diem on Stipanska and Bonjs les Bains on Majerovica.

Milna

Close to Hvar town, Milna is one of the more popular beaches with plenty of restaurant options and beautiful turquoise waters.

Zaraće

Zaracé is a beach of two contrasting coves. To one side lies an idyllic beach of turquoise waters perfect for swimming in, but to the other lies a rocky bay of emerald pools and cliff faces too steep to descend but too beautiful not to be awe-struck by.

Zarače beach bar

Restaurant Zorače is an awesome beach bar, it has all the cool of Tulum’s most fashionable hang-outs but none of the pretense. Wind charms sway in the sea breeze, soulful music hums in the background and Croatian beer is served out of the bottle. Grab a drink and watch the picturesque beach below as the sunlight dances through the wicker.

Dubovica

It’s a steep and rocky descent but what awaits at the bottom is the most idyllic bay of azure waters and few people in sight. The most beautiful bay we came across the entire trip.

Gariful

A wonderful seafood restaurant located right by the harbour making it the ideal spot to enjoy delicately cooked fish whilst perusing the boats in the harbour.

Passarola

Passarola is one of the most authentic restaurants in Hvar. For a true taste of Croatian cuisine, order the oysters from Ston, Dalmatian prosciutto and Pag sheep cheese or any one of the traditional dishes on the menu.

Zori

We ate the best meal of our trip at this waterfront restaurant. We hopped on a water taxi and arrived at an unspoiled bay with only a few boats docked in the marina and watched the sunset as we found ourselves in food heaven. Appetizers such as bruschette with baby shrimps and zucchini and fresh scampi carpaccio with capers will blow your mind.

Carpe Diem

If you’re passionate about cocktails, then Carpe Diem should be your watering hole of choice. The extensive menu not only offers a wicked medley of cocktails, but also gives you an insight into the history of what you’re drinking.

Adriana rooftop bar

If rooftop terraces are your thing, then there’s only one place for you in Hvar: the Adriana. Located atop a slick hotel, this rooftop bar offers an array of classic cocktails, all to be sipped whilst enjoying the view.

Riva’s BB Club

This is the best spot for perusing the boats which slide into the marina, as slick as can be. A little warning though that drinking here might induce serious boat envy.

Hula Hula bar

Hvar’s trendiest crowds flock to Hula Hula bar to watch the sunset and party late into the night. With a live DJ and a pumping soundtrack, this is the place to let your hair down and go a little wild.

Verdant Como

One of the things which immediately strikes you about Lake Como is how green it is. We went in spring when the wisteria was in full bloom and the plants were beginning to blossom. The lake is surrounded by verdant hills which engulf the lake and dotted with terraced gardens typical of the Italian Renaissance style.

Lake Como Photo Diary

We recently took a weekend trip to Lake Como and what a magical weekend it was. Our days were spent hiking the hills that engulf the lake, exploring the idyllic towns and drinking aperol spritz by the lakeshore. A weekend is never long enough and truthfully the Italian lakes deserve a lot more time to do them justice. Time permitting, we would have weaved our way through all of the neighbouring lakes from quaint Lake Orta in the east to expansive Lake Garda in the west.

Lake Como Guide

Lake Como is a place of utter charm with multiple picturesque towns nestling its shore and snowcapped alps towering above. It has long been a hideaway for the rich and famous who come to bask in the peace and tranquility which abound. It is the ultimate weekend getaway for Italians and foreigners alike, and anyone wanting to slow down to the gentle pace which the lake inspires. Here is a guide to help you navigate your way around the lake including which towns to visit, which villas to see and which restaurants to eat at.

Bellagio

Bellagio is by far the prettiest of all the towns on Lake Como. It’s a town entirely given up to tourism but curiously that doesn’t seem to hinder its charm. This pretty as a postcard town instantly captures hearts with its lakeside terraces and cobbled backstreets.

Varenna

Varenna is a short ferry ride away from Bellagio. It’s reminiscent of a quaint fishing village with boats docked in the small harbour. It’s a lovely walk from the waterfront to the town square which is overlooked by the medieval San Giorgio church.

Menaggio

Menaggio is the least touristy of all the towns we visited. It has a more authentic feel to it, with Italians going about their daily routine, the cacophony of cars and the general hustle and bustle of town life. It’s still very pretty with a flower and tree-lined lakeshore and an old square to sit with a gelato in hand.

Cadenabbia

Not many people come to Cadenabbia for the town itself, but instead use it as a base to explore other parts. I found it to be quite charming especially the walk along the lake which offers beautiful views over Bellagio in the distance.

Lenno

Lenno is famously known for its production of cold pressed olive oil, said to be the best in the Italian lakes. The town itself is sleepier than most, but its peaceful nature only adds to its charm. Take a walk around the surrounding countryside and pass by olive groves en route.

Greenway Walk

For those who enjoy walking, this route takes you through picturesque villages and up and down hills that engulf the lake, offering spectacular panoramic views at every turn. It gives a different perspective of the lake and allows you to appreciate not only how enormous it is, but also how beautiful the surrounding landscape is.

Villa Del Balbianello

Of all the villas to visit on Lake Como, this is the one I would recommend the most. Situated on a branch of the lake, this villa seemingly juts out from the water in all its splendor. The beautiful plant-covered villa is set amongst verdant gardens which overlook the majestic lake and surrounding mountains.

Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi is one of the first landmarks you notice from the ferry ride into Bellagio. Its white façade is quite striking, but it’s the vast gardens decorated with sculptures that entice most people to visit.

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta is more famously known for its beautiful botanical gardens. Located on a steep incline, the further into the gardens you get, the better the view over the lake. Pass from rose gardens to bamboo forests on your ascent.

Villa Serbelloni

This neoclassical villa is one of Belaggio’s few grand five star hotels. Located on the edge of the lake with vine covered walls and wisteria abound. The grounds can only be visited on guided tours, but with gardens as pretty as these, it would be sinful not to book. Alternatively, pop into the elegant bar, little changed since it’s opening, with frescoed ceilings and marble columns where a live pianist plays late into the night.

Ristorante Bilacus

In the heart of Bellagio along a cobbled street, lies this rooftop terrace restaurant. Instead of panoramic views over the lake, it offers a view over the bustling backstreets and multi-coloured buildings below. The menu is full of Italian favourites and each of the dishes are executed to perfection.

Ristorante la Punta

If lakeside views are what you’re after, then the location of this restaurant doesn’t get much better. A little far removed from the town center, located on the point of the lake, this is perhaps the most romantic dining choice on Lake Como. The menu offers freshly caught lake fish and Italian classics.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo

It was the floating swimming pool which initially caught our eye and its decked terrace dotted with Aperol Spritz which drew us in. You don’t have to be a guest at this luxury five start hotel, to dine here. Its lunch menu is simple, offering only the chefs favourites but with a setting so perfect and pasta dishes so delicious, you soon realise that simple is best.

Bellagio Guide

Bellagio is by far the prettiest of all the towns on Lake Como. It’s a picturesque lakeside town of cobbled backstreets, multi-hued buildings and chic terraces with Italian charm in abundance. Located at the foot of the lake with the verdant hills in the backdrop, it’s little wonder that visitors instantly fall under its spell. There’s enough to see and do in Bellagio to contentedly stay here exploring at a leisurely pace, but its also well connected by ferry to the neighbouring towns making day trips easy and fuss-free. For those fortunate enough to spend time in Bellagio, here are a few recommendations:-

Bar Caffe Rossi – An Art Nouveau bar with a terrace overlooking the cobbled square and lake in the distance.

Villa Melzi – This beautiful villa is located on the lakeshore and boasts vast gardens studded with ornate sculptures.

Ristorante Antico Pozzo – Arguably the best pizza in Bellagio: handmade, stone-oven baked and generously topped with lashings of olive oil. This is pizza at it should be made.

Villa Serbelloni – Pop into this Neoclassic villa for a lakeside lunch or evening cocktail in its lavish interior.

Ristorante Bilacus –  A rooftop terrace located in the heart of Bellagio serving classic Italian dishes and lovely wines to match.

Ristorante la Punta – Probably one of the most romantic restaurants on Lake Como with breathtaking views overlooking the lake and an exquisite menu.

Silvio – A rustic restaurant specialising in freshwater fish and simple Italian cooking.

Havana Photo Diary

Havana is a city like no other, it beats you up and spits you out but the only way to take it is to go along for the ride. Restaurants are closed when they’re supposed to be open, beer is served out of cans in top hotels, wifi is nearly non-existent, food is below average and tourists seem to fail at every hurdle because Cubans have a system but one which seemingly makes no sense. All that being said, Havana is disarmingly charming, Cubans are wonderfully helpful and the city is exhilaratingly alive. Arriving in Havana is like stepping back in time, American cars from the 50’s and their cacophonous beeping dominate the roads among them convertible Chevrolets, Buicks and Cadillacs of every hue and former colonial mansions crumble in dire need of restoration. The architecture is a mix-match of different styles and vibrant colours, Baroque, Moorish and Art Nouveau buildings that are half dilapidated and half restored. But this is what makes Havana so undeniably charming and sets it apart from any other city in the world. It’s a place of decayed elegance, a former rich man’s city of grandiose architecture left to crumble.

Varadero Photo Diary

Varadero is only a two hour drive from Havana, yet it is a world apart from the cacophonous capital of crumbing architecture, vibrant colours and bustling back streets. Home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba and one of the most easily accessible from Havana, especially in comparison to other beach resorts which often require an additional internal flight. Varadero is a long stretch of sandy beach and pale turquoise waters, redolent of images of the Caribbean sea you’ve seen in travel magazines. There is very little else other than beach meaning long days of relaxing under the Cuban sun ensue. The cool salty waters are a godsend under the beating rays and unforgiving heat. With the sea so close, aquatic activities abound, there’s kite surfing, paddle boarding, sailing and glass-bottom boat trips to nearby islands to name but a few.