Dubrovnik 100% captured my heart, my imagination and my soul. It's the lifestyle that I can only hope to live one day, being surrounded by water and living and breathing a mixture of ancient culture and constant seafaring activities. When I started wanting to cover wellness travel through my dedicated hashtag #wanderwell, I didn't want to limit it to places that feel so obviously spiritual. That's a huge passion of mine but it's also the luxury of simplicity that makes a place feel well. Dubrovnik fits this perfectly. Of course there are legends of spirituality in these parts. There's a legend of a giant white snake that lives in a cave in the mountains and guards all of the healthy medicinal herbs that feed off the energy and grow near the cave. There's the mandrake plant that has the same lure as peyote or ayahuasca that was used by mystics. But it really is the slow pace of life and simple pleasures that makes me yearn to live here.
It's the type of place where you throw on a caftan, some easy shoes, and just enjoy life. I felt a lot of rejuvenating energy here, as well. Here in the old city there is one of the oldest apothecaries known in the world. It dates back to the 1300s in an old Franciscan Monastery. The monks made their own recipes and tonics to help heal the people of Dubrovnik and you can still visit it today and try out some of their ancient salves. These are the types of things that I geek out on. Here are a few other spots you must see to have a peaceful, rejuvenating Croatian experience.
If you're sailing around the Elaphiti Islands then you must stop at Bowa. It's a little gem tucked into the island of Sipan, a kind of secret paradise. At first glance it reminded me of the simplicity of Tulum, where buildings are constructed of the basics: stone and wood set against the backdrop of the blue sea. When I spent a good half of the day here I realized that simplicity is what this is inspired by. If you read my previous post, this is where they cracked open fresh sea urchin from the rocks below. Home-pressed olive oil, the local catches presented to the table and some of the best rakija I've ever had that was inspired by what grows around the island are a few things that make this place incredibly special. I have a feeling the owners know how special this place is judging by their effort to make it known but keep it a bit off the radar. When you sail into the cove you can always count on a day of peace and quiet, close enough to the mainland but far enough away to really get away.
Walking through the Old City in Dubrovnik, there's literally a hole-in-the-wall bar called Buza Bar that hangs off a cliff. It's the best place to watch kayakers row around the old harbor and give your feet a break from all of the stairs and walking in the old city. It's basically heaven.
Sailing the Elaphiti Islands and Swimming Secret Caves
The best way to see Croatia is by boat. There are tons of beautiful islands that are within a 30 minute boat ride or you can go a bit further and explore more medieval towns like Korcula for the day. We stayed a little closer and explored the secret swimming caves that are hidden along the islands. I wish I had a GoPro or underwater photo housing because they are spectacular to experience! The water is so crystal clear and the blue that reflects throughout the cave is a color blue my eyes have never seen before.
Sunset Dinner at Villa Orsula
I stayed at Hotel Excelsior, which is incredibly stunning and is getting a huge makeover renovation this upcoming year. The Adriatic Luxury Hotel collection also has Villa Orsula about 2-3 min walk from Excelsior and is absolutely enchanting. It looks like a scene straight out of a fairytale. The food is a mix of Adriatic cuisine and Peruvian flavor and it's the ultimate spot to watch the sunset fall behind the castles. The food is so clean and fresh. You don't even have to try to be healthy in Croatia. It's just the way life is! I also recommend eating at Portrait, which is in the Old City. It just opened and is beautiful, modern interpretation inside an old townhouse with a charming outdoor dining terrace.
Get Your Workout In Outside
While I wished there was SUP paddle boarding on the harbor, there's no shortage of kayaks and it's a fantastic way to see the city. I also suggest waking up early to be one of the first to walk the perimeter of the Old City walls. It's full of stairs and will take your breath away both from the beauty and from the sheer stamina it takes to actually complete it! Then, I suggest rolling a mat out and doing yoga by the water. It's the perfect way to experience all of the elements by being grounded to the earth, near the water, igniting a fire in your body while feeling the coastal wind brush up against your skin.
Hope this inspires your next trip! It's definitely one to put on your list for next summer! And thank you SU Paris for sending these gorgeous caftans for the trip! They are my fave!