Thursday, 24 February 2022

Will Russia-Ukraine Crisis Hurt 2022 Tourist Season? Dubrovnik Tourism Experts Weigh In

February 24, 2022 - Dubrovnik tourism experts weigh in on the developing Russia-Ukraine crisis and answer if we should worry about it hurting what is meant to be a stellar 2022 tourist season. 

Slobodna Dalmacija asked Dubrovnik tourism experts if the tense situation between Russia and Ukraine could shake up the upcoming Croatian tourist season, from which we all expect a lot.

"My first impression is that it can and will, but I hope that it will not to a large extent," says Đuro Market, a tourism expert with many years of experience.

"In addition to COVID-19, which is here now and will be here for a long time, we have this situation with Ukraine and Russia. The question is how things will turn out. Certainly, this crisis will shake the wider area, not just Europe. In general, it will affect the results of tourist countries, and since we are still where we are, maybe a little more on us," says Market, who remembers other events that threw Dubrovnik tourism off track.

"When was the standstill? In 1995, the war in Croatia ended, and tourism began immediately. But NATO's bombing in the region in 1999, from March to June, is a stalemate. This significantly slowed down the sudden rise of tourism in Croatia after the war, and in 2000 everything started again.

When the Cypriots went to a part of the country that is still Turkish today, there was turmoil in tourism at the time. Tourism was also affected by diseases, such as smallpox. So it was a health situation, like today's corona, with the smallpox being controlled quite quickly," Market added.

Asked whether Americans and Russians will still travel as tourists despite tensions over Ukraine, he said:

"If there is an escalation, we are all in trouble. And as for travel, they will both travel. If it stops at this, life and tourism will go. But, in any case, the greater torment and pain is the pandemic. 

The other day I spoke to an agent who works in Germany and told me that guests booking the Adriatic, the Croatian coast, ask first about the vaccination rate, indicating what could affect this season's tourist achievements, which will be certainly better than last year. However, they will not be close to 2019."

Successful tourism entrepreneur Goran Hrnić believes that "this situation is quite problematic and critical for us, given that both Ukraine and Russia were our significant markets."

"Maybe not so much in Dubrovnik as in other parts of Croatia, but it also has an impact on the American market because Americans will find it difficult to decide to travel across the ocean to Europe if this is already the case. So if that conflict escalates, I’m not exactly optimistic. The whole of Europe is too close; people will not travel if that is the case. I still believe it won’t happen, but if it does, then I’m not very optimistic. It would certainly affect the season," Hrnić says. 

Can something be done to mitigate the possible consequences?

"I don't have a formula. To do additional promotion and throw money at it, and the result depends on the political situation, not on us? Tourism will be bad in Greece, Spain, and Croatia. One should pray to God that reason prevails," Hrnić answered.

Tourism expert Filip Marinko Žaja, the mayor's tourism adviser, says that the situation with Ukraine is "a bit more serious," and it is difficult to predict whether it will affect our tourist expectations.

"If they don't start fighting each other, it's good; it doesn't matter, it's far away. However, tourism is strange and sensitive. A long time ago, in the 1970s, something happened to the mussels down in Venice - they were poisoned. At that time, tourists didn't even come here because we also had Ston and mussels. God forbid there is war because in that case it will be felt in our country as well," says Žaja and continues:

"Istria and Kvarner will not be hurt, again they have the advantage because they have car guests. It takes them a four-hour drive from Munich to Poreč, and it takes at least 10, 11 hours to reach us."

Last year's tourist season was marked by the launch of direct lines between Dubrovnik and the United States, flying over the ocean eight times a week. In addition, we were connected to Moscow by Aeroflot, which opened a massive market for Russia. Can we expect Russians and Americans this season as well?

"If there is a conflict, it will be difficult for Russians and Americans to travel as tourists. They need to come by plane and cross the ocean. It's back to the same thing - if! And that "if" is trouble," says Žaja.

What kind of season can we expect if the Russia-Ukraine crisis remains calm?

"I hope it will be better; there is no fear of corona. They aren't shouting "put on a mask" in the store. So maybe only Spain, Portugal, and Greece will take a little bit of traffic, which they didn't have last year."

Nino Dubretić from Direct Booker, another experienced connoisseur of tourist opportunities, especially in private accommodation, believes that the tension in Ukraine has no impact on our tourism at this time.

"If the situation changes for the worse, it would be safe. It depends on what kind of escalation there is; if NATO is against Russia, then we all have a problem because practically the whole world is interfering. It is not seen in the numbers, but God forbid it escalates, as it would undoubtedly be noticed. But again, the question is in what number? I don't see that guests would give up traveling if there were some problems up there unless it was World War III," says Dubretić and adds that the pandemic is still our greatest danger.

He mentions that we are objectively entering a better season for everyone, the congress industry is alive, cruisers are returning, and announcements from the airport are optimistic.

"When we look at private accommodation, the numbers show that in the worst case, we will work 80 percent of 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised if we reach or overtake 2019. A lot depends on how you enter the season and how active the pre-season is. If it fails, there could be a lack of those 10, 15 percent of 2019 figures, but June, July through October should be repeated or even jump 2019," Dubretić is optimistic, concluding that "tourism will happen in April, especially bearing in mind the 'last minute' booings, which have been vital in the pandemic era. 

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Monday, 21 February 2022

Zagreb to Dubrovnik: the Ultimate 10-day Road Trip Itinerary

21 February 2022 - It’s never the wrong time to start planning the perfect getaway to the paradise that is Croatia. We decided to give you a hand in planning the perfect 10-day road trip from Zagreb to Dubrovnik (plus some bonus island time!) that showcases the best the country has to offer.

The best way to discover Croatia is by car, giving you the freedom to go off the beaten path and chart your own adventure around the country, all the way from Zagreb to Dubrovnik.

Before we jump into it, do be aware that most car rentals in Croatia are manual transmissions! Automatic cars are available for rent, though mostly by larger rental companies like Sixt, and are more expensive.

If you’re not a confident driver, no need to worry, there are plenty of private bus companies that run daily trips to most cities and tourist attractions during the high season (June - September). In larger cities such as Zagreb and Split, bus schedules are also available online. Transfers between major ports and the islands are also regularly serviced by ferries and catamarans.

Day 1: Zagreb

Welcome to Zagreb, the capital and largest city of Croatia! Nicknamed the city of museums, Zagreb is home to over a dozen award-winning museums such as the Archeological Museum, with over 450,000 artifacts and monuments.

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The gorgeous buildings of Upper Town in Zagreb. Visit Zagreb/Facebook.

Cultural landmarks of the city include Ban Jelačić Square which has existed since the 17th century, the Zagreb Cathedral, or the magnificent Croatian National Theater whose unveiling ceremony was attended by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I. So, make sure you squeeze in some time for a walking tour to absorb the sights of Zagreb’s Old Town.

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Evenings on Tkalčićeva Street, Zagreb. Visit Zagreb/Facebook.

Hungry? Head to Dolac market, Zagreb's main open-air farmers market to pick up some fresh, seasonal produce and souvenirs. You can also choose to end your day with a tasty meal and local wine from any of the excellent restaurants, bars, and cafes along Tkalčićeva Street.

Day 2: Rovinj

After a bustling day in Zagreb, the enchanting city of Rovinj is a splendid change of pace. Perfectly situated on the Istrian peninsula, the city boasts a rich heritage, from being settled by Venetian tribes, to becoming part of the Byzantine and Frankish Empires, all reflected in the diversity of the city’s architecture, art, and culture.

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This stunning setting has been a popular film setting for movies such as "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard". Rovinj Tourist Board/Facebook.

Stroll along the beautiful cobbled streets and narrow alleys of Rovinj Old Town and make your way towards St. Euphemia Cathedral. Along the way, you should pass by Grisia Street, lined with souvenir stalls and galleries with the most unique pieces to add to your collection.
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The charming, picturesque streets of Rovinj's Old Town. Rovinj Tourist Board/Facebook.

If you have time to spare, take a day trip to Sveta Katarina, a small picturesque island that’s a mere 10-minute water taxi ride from the pier. Spend the afternoon taking a dip in the aquamarine waters of the bay, or hike on one of the numerous trails dotted around the island, or both!

Alternatively, sit back and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in Istria such as Amarin, Borik, or Valdaliso Beach.

Day 3: Pula

Before leaving the Istrian Coast, make Pula the next stop on your road trip. Serving as the capital of Istria, Pula was the main military port for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the height of its military glory. Today, remnants of these times are reflected in the city’s breathtaking landscape.

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The Pula Arena frequently hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year. Pula Plus/Facebook.

The famous Pula Arena, one of the most well preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, is a must-see! Another not to be missed landmark is the Temple of Augustus, a monument dedicated to the first Roman emperor in honor of his rule.

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The unique shape of Fort Puna Christo. Pula Plus/Facebook.

Also check out the impressive Fort Punta Christo, which includes an underground section to explore and a well-stocked rooftop bar for refreshments after. You can also enjoy magnificent 360-degree views of Pula from the Venetian Fortress (Kaštel) which also houses the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria.

Day 4: Plitvice National Park

Although Croatia boasts some of the best coastlines in the world, Plitvice Lakes National Park consistently appears in the top must-see places to visit in Croatia, and for good reason! This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the title as the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, famous for its gorgeous turquoise lakes. Well worth the detour inland.

plitvice_lakes_national_park_facebook_small.jpgThe main walkway of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Plitvice Lakes National Park/Facebook.

Be aware that the park can get very crowded during the season! To avoid this, just be prepared to visit early (7-8am), or better still, stop by during off-peak seasons where the park transforms into the perfect winter wonderland.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park/Facebook.

Day 5: Zadar

After a day in the lush forests, take a scenic drive back to the Dalmatian coast and spend a day in the charming city of Zadar, the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city. Today, cozy cafes and art galleries are seamlessly woven into remains from the times of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus.

Enjoy a relaxing stroll through Old Town and admire the historical architecture including the Church of St. Donatus, the Landward Gate, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, and the Roman Forum.

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Ruins in the Old Town of Zadar. Zadar Region/Facebook

Along the way, catch the famous Sea Organ, and a sunset so beautiful, it even captivated Alfred Hitchcock! Just after sunset, take in the light show at the Sun Salutation, an installation created by Nikola Bašić, the same artist who designed the sea organ.

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The Landward Gate, Zadar. Zadar Region/Facebook

If you have some time in between, head to Pag Island to try some of the famous Paski Cheese or to Nin, home to Queen’s Beach, the longest sandy beach in Croatia. Other gorgeous beaches along the coast of Zadar include Kolovare and Borik.

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Award-winning sheep's cheese from Pag Island. Pag Tourist Board/Facebook.

Day 6: Split

Welcome to Split, the largest city in Dalmatia, and second-largest in all of Croatia. The city was founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos between the 3rd and 2nd century BC.

It was later where Diocletian's Palace was built for the Roman emperor in AD 305. The palace also houses the Peristil, or the main square, another great place to enjoy some coffee and people-watch in addition to the Riva promenade.

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Enjoy a drink inside the walls of the Diocletian's Palace, Split. Visit Split/Facebook

While exploring the Old Town, stop by the Green Market, the largest farmer’s market in Split, to pick up some fresh, organic produce. Turn the corner and it is difficult to miss the 8.5-meter statue of Gregory of Nin, sculpted by world-renowned artist Ivan Meštrović. Rubbing the statue’s toe is said to bring good luck, so much so that it has been worn smooth by visitors over the years.

You can also squeeze in a light hike up Marjan Hill, also known as the “lungs of Split”. Its summit is an ideal place for a picnic, offering marvelous views of the harbor and neighboring islands.

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The crystal clear waters of Bačvice beach. Visit Split/Facebook

Fancy another beach day? Bačvice beach is a popular hangout spot in the center of Split. Relax at one of the many cafe bars and watch the locals play picigin, a traditional ball game. Rumor has it this beach is also where the sport originates from.

Day 7: Krka/Omiš/Trogir

Don't be too quick to leave Split. From here, there are several options for day tours to surrounding attractions.
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Some of the most stunning waterfalls in Croatia can be found at Krka National Park. Krka Nationa Park/Facebook

For nature lovers, Krka National Park is another national park about an hour’s drive from Split. Spend a day walking along well-maintained trails that wind along some of the most stunning waterfalls in the country. Again, make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds!

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Try white water rafting in Omiš. Tourist Board Omiš/Facebook

For those craving more action, head to the picturesque town of Omiš which offers one of the most dramatic scenes on the coast. The city is nestled in a canyon surrounded by gray, craggy mountains, contrasting the peacock blue waters where the Cetina River meets the Adriatic Sea. Omiš offers white water rafting, free climbing, ziplining, abseiling, and canyoning, amongst other activities for visitors seeking a bit of a thrill on their vacation.

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Just one of the many well-preserved remains scattered around Trogir's Old Town. Visit Trogir/Facebook

For the history buff, head to Trogir which has the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex in all of Central Europe. Take a walk around the Old Town, surrounded by walls comprising a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.

Day 8: Hvar

With over 1,000 islands, it wouldn’t be a complete trip to Croatia without doing some island hopping. From Split, take the 1-hour ferry ride over to Hvar. Its beauty and vibrant nightlife have made it a regular vacation spot for the likes of celebrities such as George Clooney and Beyonce.

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Hvar is one of the longest and sunniest islands in Croatia. Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook

Start by wandering around St. Stephen’s Square, the largest square in Croatia and don’t miss the Cathedral of St. Stephen and the Hvar public theater. For the best view, climb to the top of the Španjola Fortress to get an unobstructed view overlooking Hvar Town and nearby Pakleni Islands. You can even rent a small boat (no license required) to explore these islands on your own!

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The view from the top of the Španjola Fortress is unparalleled on the island. Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook

Once you’ve taken in all these sights, enjoy another relaxing beach day at one of the many pristine beaches such as Malo Zaraće, Dubovica, or Pokonji Dol.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for another day trip, book a tour with one of the local travel agencies to the Blue Caves on Biševo and marvel at its clear, iridescent blue waters.

Day 9: Korčula

After the buzz of Hvar, take the ferry to the tranquil town of Vela Luka on the island of Korčula, the birthplace of famed explorer Marco Polo and home to some of the best Croatian wines.

From Vela Luka, take a scenic drive towards the town of Korčula, also known as “little Dubrovnik”. Along the way, stop by the numerous family-run vineyards that welcome visitors for wine and cheese tastings.

Grk is a white wine variety grown almost exclusively on Korčula, other white wines such as Pošip and Rukatac are also premier Croatian wines, often served on celebratory occasions. For fans of red wine, do grab a bottle or 2 of Plavac Mali.

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Vineyards of Korčula island. Visit Korčula/Facebook

In Korčula, walk off the afternoon’s indulgences exploring the streets of the Old Town with its architectural influences by the Venetian Renaissance, before capping off the night with a meal and more wine at any of its superb restaurants.

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Korčula town. Visit Korčula/Facebook

Day 10: Dubrovnik

There’s no better way to end the trip than with Dubrovnik. And yes, there is no shortage of Game of Thrones tours to indulge your senses, but there is so much more to this medieval city than where Cersei Lannister did her walk of shame.

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The beautiful Saint Blaise's Church in Dubrovnik was built during the 10th century. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

Talk a walk along the city walls and through Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main street. From here, you can also catch Onofrio’s Large Fountain that used to supply Dubrovnik with fresh water during the Middle Ages and other impressive structures including the Clock Tower, Saint Blaise's Church, Saint Ignatius Church, Cathedral of the Assumption, and the Franciscan Monastery.

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The view from beyond the walls of Dubrovnik looking upon Fort Lovrijenac. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

Watch the sunsets and reminisce on your amazing road trip through the country at one of the cliff bars along the city walls, before capping it all off with an exquisite meal at one of the many Michelin-starred or recommended restaurants Dubrovnik has to offer.

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Nothing like a luscious meal to top off a fantastic experience road-tripping in Croatia. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

And that’s all folks, you’ve done it! Croatia in 10 days! Bear in mind, this is merely the appetizer of what Croatia has to offer. Customize this guide to better suit your tastes and pace and remember, don’t hesitate to ask the locals in order to unlock the best secrets each location has to offer.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

13 SAS Croatia Lines from Scandinavia this Summer, Most Flying to Split Airport

February 19, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as 13 SAS Croatia lines from Scandinavia have been announced to Split, Pula, and Dubrovnik this summer. 

Croatian Aviation reports that SAS Scandinavian Airlines announced the upcoming summer flight schedule in which it plans to operate on 13 international routes to Croatian airports.

Namely, SAS Scandinavian Airlines is planning 13 regular seasonal routes to three Croatian airports - Pula, Split, and Dubrovnik. The summer program to Croatia announced for this year offers far more flights than last year, especially compared to 2020.

Most lines to Split
SAS is planning the largest number of operations to Split Airport, with seven lines announced:

Copenhagen - Split, from 16.04., once a week, from the end of June to the end of August every day, two weekly flights available until the end of October,

Oslo - Split, from 14.05. once a week, from the end of June to the middle of August every day, one weekly flight available until the end of October,

Stockholm - Split, from 07.05., twice a week, from the end of June to the middle of August every day, one weekly flight available until the end of October,

Bergen - Split, from 27.06., twice a week until mid-August,

Gothenburg - Split, from 14.05., once a week, from the end of June to the middle of August every day, one weekly flight available until the end of October,

Kristiansand - Split, from 28.06., twice a week until mid-August,

Stavanger - Split, from 27.06., twice a week until mid-August.

Scandinavian Airlines is planning 34 flights a week on these seven routes to Split Airport in the peak season. 

Four lines to Pula
SAS also announced four international flights to Pula Airport:

Copenhagen - Pula, daily from 26.06. to 13.08.,

Oslo - Pula, from June 27, twice a week until mid-August, three flights a week announced in July,

Stockholm - Pula, from June 24, four flights a week until mid-August,

Gothenburg - Pula, from June 26, three times a week until mid-August.

Only two lines to Dubrovnik
This summer, SAS will operate on only two regular lines to Dubrovnik. Namely, a line from Copenhagen has been announced, which should run daily from the end of June to mid-August, and a line between Stockholm and Dubrovnik, which will run twice a week in the same period.

SAS is announcing CRJ900, E195, B737-700 / 800, A319, A320, and A321 aircraft on routes to Croatia, with a capacity of 90 to 200 seats, depending on the aircraft type.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Edelweiss Summer Flights to Croatia Announced from Zurich to Pula, Split, Dubrovnik

February 16, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as Edelweiss summer flights to Croatia have been announced from Zurich, Switzerland to Pula, Split, and Dubrovnik. 

The Swiss leisure airline Edelweiss has announced several flights to Pula, Split, and Dubrovnik in the upcoming summer flight schedule, reports Croatian Aviation.

Namely, the sister company of the well-known Swiss International Air Lines is planning three routes to Croatia in the upcoming summer flight schedule, as it has operated in previous years. Compared to last year's summer flight schedule, slightly more weekly operations from Zurich to Pula, Split, and Dubrovnik have been announced, which is great news for all Swiss tourists looking to soak in the Croatian sun this summer. 

A320 aircraft with a capacity of up to 174 seats in the passenger cabin in this carrier's fleet have been announced on all routes to Croatia. The only exception is Split, according to which Swissa A220 aircraft should also operate at the peak of the summer season.

The Zurich-Pula line should begin operating on May 28, and two flights a week have been announced, every Wednesday and Saturday, until the end of the summer flight schedule, i.e., on October 22 this year.

The Zurich-Dubrovnik line has been announced from April 15, also twice a week, every Monday and Friday, until October 24 this year.

Significantly more weekly operations have been announced between Zurich and Split, and at the same time, this line will be the first to start operating on April 8. Edelweiss will gradually increase the number of weekly operations to Split, and as early as June, 5 flights a week have been announced, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

In addition to Edelweiss, a few other airlines fly from Croatia to Zurich, such as Croatia Airlines and the British EasyJet.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Maestral Hotel Group Investing 150 Million Kuna in Dubrovnik Hotels

February 15th, 2022 - Hotel Adriatic in Dubrovnik is to be transformed from a two-star facility into an elegant four-star hotel

The Maestral hotel group from Dubrovnik has announced a major investment cycle. Over the next few years, the group is planning to make significant investments in its hotels in order to become a luxury hotel chain of the highest category, reports Morski.hr.

Hotel Adriatic is the first announced investment of the Maestral group. It’s to be transformed from a two-star facility into an elegant four-star hotel, retaining the same capacity of 140 luxury accommodation units that offer a beautiful view of the sea and the Petka forest park.

The five floors of the hotel will host a shopping promenade and a modern restaurant with a spacious terrace offering a superb gourmet experience, among numerous other facilities. The hotel will also have a beach and its own parking garage.

A spectacular infinity pool on the rooftop is another attraction the group has planned for Hotel Adriatic, along with a sunbathing area and an exclusive rooftop bar offering a spectacular view of the Elaphites.

Hotel Uvala, a four-star hotel with 51 accommodation units, will undergo an adaptation as well. Remodelling is planned for the interior of the hotel, the accommodation units, the wellness and spa centre, and other hotel facilities.

Together, the reconstruction of Hotel Adriatic and adaptation of Hotel Uvala amount to an investment of 150 million kuna in total.

'We are raising the bar of Dubrovnik's tourist offer with another luxury hotel that will directly contribute to economic growth of the destination as a whole, as well as the Maestral Hotel Group', said Maestral's president of the board Joško Prkačin.

A construction permit has already been obtained for the reconstruction of Hotel Adriatic, and the investment planning will begin immediately after the permit becomes final. Work is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2022, after the tourist season; the new Hotel Adriatic will welcome its first guests at the end of 2023.

Once the works on the two hotels are completed, the investment cycle of the Maestral hotel group is planned to continue with the reconstruction of the Wellness Hotel Vis, for which the necessary permits are currently being obtained. Maestral is planning to turn Hotel Vis into a superb five-star facility from its current category of three stars.

Hoteli Maestral d.o.o., a hotel group owned by PND Strategija d.o.o., consists of five hotels: Uvala, Splendid, Komodor, Vis and Adriatic, ranging from two-star to four-star categories, and with a total of 482 accommodation units. All hotels are located in the Lapad bay, 4 kilometres away from the Old Town of Dubrovnik.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Adriatic-Ionian Highway to Pass through Trebinje, Not Dubrovnik?

February 14, 2022 - Is the regional branch of the Adriatic-Ionian highway going through the hinterland, from Pocitelj to Aranđelovo near Trebinje and completely bypassing Dubrovnik and Croatia?

While there is euphoria in Croatia about the imminent launch of the Peljesac Bridge, the first neighborhood Public Company, FBiH Motorways, has just announced a public call for a preliminary and main project of the Adriatic-Ionian Corridor, section Stolac - Interregional junction Pocitelj, about 23 kilometers long, reports Dubrovacki Vjesnik.

This news would not be so crucial for Croatia if it did not lead to a new possible traffic (dis)connectivity problem for Dubrovnik-Neretva County.  And it has people wondering if Pocitelj is becoming the central hub from Trieste to Greece, and the new Peljesac bridge just a local bypass?

After 20 years of waiting for the road junction, no one on this side of the border wants to think that the Peljesac Bridge and access roads could 'lose out' if the regional branch of the Adriatic-Ionian highway goes through the hinterland, from Pocitelj to the endpoint Aranđelovo near Trebinje on the Montenegro border and completely bypasses Croatian territory. 

So far, the Adriatic-Ionian traffic route has been talked about as a benefit for the traffic-isolated south, primarily due to the completion of the Peljesac Bridge and the expected passage of the highway through the Neum area.

Whether our largest infrastructure project will fit into this mold should be more apparent after March 15, when the deadline for applications from contractors interested in building the Stolac-Pocitelj section expires. The contractual value of the documentation is estimated at 6 million convertible marks without VAT, and the planned completion date is 18 months. The designers see the beginning of the route in Pocitelj as a connection with the Pan-European Corridor Vc (from Venice to Kyiv). In addition to Stolac and Capljina, it would include Ravno, Ljubinje, Trebinje, and further towards Montenegro, without a visible connection with Croatia.

However, in Croatian professional and political circles, they do not believe that the Peljesac Bridge will remain marginalized on the future road route.

On the topic of road construction in the hinterland, Dubrovnik-Neretva County Prefect Nikola Dobroslavić points out:

"Each state is thinking about how to connect its territory, so we do not want to comment on these intentions and moves of our neighboring BiH and the Federation of BiH. As for the Republic of Croatia, it is planned to connect the extreme south of Croatia by highway from the Metkovic junction to Osojnik with an exit to BiH (as part of the Adriatic-Ionian highway), the expressway Zračna Luka - Dubrovnik - Osojnik, and the expressway Brijesta - Perna. This is stated in Croatia's National Development Strategy and all spatial plans of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and supported by the conclusions of the Government at the session in Dubrovnik in 2019," said Dobroslavić and reminded that for all the listed planned roads, study documentation is being prepared from Hrvatske ceste, i.e., Hrvatske autoceste, and realization is expected.

Last year, at the seminar of the Croatian Engineering Association and the Society of Civil Engineers in Zagreb, Dobroslavić reiterated that the position of Dubrovnik-Neretva County has always been to connect the extreme south of Croatia to the motorway network as strongly as possible.

"We must do it quickly to benefit our fellow citizens and tourists, but these are, let's not forget, geostrategic solutions for the Republic of Croatia. We see instabilities around us, and we need to think about ourselves and our security. Therefore, the only possible connection of Croatia is by a highway, which in our opinion should be the Adriatic-Ionian highway that passes through Dubrovnik-Neretva County," said Dobroslavić.

The position of the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure in the field of road construction towards the southernmost county is also unequivocal:

"Southern Croatia must be connected by highway after constructing the Peljesac Bridge. Therefore, this part of Croatia deserves to be the largest construction site in the road segment. Apart from the Peljesac Bridge and the highway to Dubrovnik, one of the biggest segments must be the connection of Dubrovnik Airport with the City of Dubrovnik. We are also planning to reconstruct the Peljesac road with the Orebic bypass with a new ferry port in Orebic," said the State Secretary at the Ministry Tomislav Mihotić last autumn at the same meeting in Dubrovnik.

Croatian Motorways, meanwhile, has intensified talks on building 47 kilometers of motorways with another 14.7 kilometers of connecting roads from the Metkovic junction to the Dubrovnik (Osojnik) junction at the cost of 1.2 billion kuna.

The highway project from Metkovic to Dubrovnik was divided into two sections. The first section is the Metkovic - Peljesac junction - Duboka junction, about 22 kilometers long, which includes the construction of 17.5 kilometers of motorways from Metkovic to the Peljesac junction and 4.45 km of highway from the Peljesac junction to the Duboka junction.

The second section would go from the Rudine junction to the Osojnik junction and include the fast road from the Ston junction to the Doli junction (5.5 km) and the connecting road Slano junction to DC8 (4.7 km). The motorway section from the Rudine junction to the Osojnik junction is 29.5 kilometers long and includes constructing a connection between the Rudine junction and the existing road network.

According to HAC, these two motorway sections will continue on the access highways on Peljesac and the Peljesac bridge.

However, domestic road construction experts find it difficult and reluctant to talk about projections for the future because they have repeatedly proved ungrateful. However, it is enough for the layman to remember that the complete profile of the highway includes four lanes, which is not feasible due to the narrowed territory in the extreme south. It isn't easy to go with much narrower roads.

Minister of Transport Oleg Butkovic commented on his visit to the City of Dubrovnik two years ago about the strategic project of the expressway to the Dubrovnik Airport and explained why everything still stands:

"We are currently investing 6.7 billion kuna in transport infrastructure; these are large infrastructure projects. We cannot do all projects at the same time. The project is announced, and we will make it when the project and study documentation is ready, done, and finished, and it will be a candidate for the next operational period. We are completing the Peljesac Bridge, the Airport, and of these big projects, this will be the next one we will work on. There will be no problems; the expressway will relieve the state road. The D8 road is congested, and there must be a relief," said Butković.

For more news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Meet We{dn}esdays, Digital Nomads Croatia Nationwide Drinks Night

February 13, 2022 - Another milestone of cohesion in Croatia's digital nomad journey, as DNA Croatia announces the first We{dn}esdays Digital Nomads Croatia nationwide drinks events. 

After 19 years living in a country famed for its bureaucracy and infighting among interest groups, I am finding the Croatian digital nomad story to be beyond refreshing. So much cohesion and positive energy from talented and motivated stakeholders, who are gelling and forming a focused and cohesive roadmap to develop this new sector and opportunity for the country. 

At the heart of everything (at least it seems to me) is the energy of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia - the first of its kind in the world, if I am not mistaken - which is coordinating, connecting, advocating and promoting the sector with vision and energy. 

The recent Digital Nomad Reflection Day was the first time all the key stakeholders got to know each other and find out what others are doing in the sector. Four hours on Zoom flew by, and it was one of the best brainstorming sessions I have been part of in my time in Croatia. Read more in Cohesion, Unity & Planning at Croatian Digital Nomad Reflection Day 2022.

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The latest landmark on the journey is DNA Croatia's announcement of we{dn}esdays, drinks for digital nomads and friends this Wednesday (16th) from 19:00 in bars in several cities all over the country: Swanky Monkey in Zagreb, The Daltonist in Split, Mama's in Dubrovnik, Beach Bar Bamboo in Zadar, and Rakhia Bar in Rijeka. A chance to meet other nomads, or find out more about the lifestyle if you are interested in becoming one or getting into the nomad tourism sector. There will be special drinks discounts for those coming. 

This is the first such event, and it will be repeated. All welcome. I will be raising a glass at Swanky Monkey, which is something I have been known to do there on occasion. So all welcome and please join. 

In other news, DNA Croatia has also launched its new Facebook page, which will be powered by the community. You can follow it here

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

First Gay Bar in Dubrovnik to Open this Summer, Locals Pleased

February 9, 2022 - The first gay bar in Dubrovnik should open this season. Although there is no official confirmation yet, one well-known Dubrovnik catering duo decided to make this business move, which is supported by the fact that Dubrovnik is a gay-friendly city.

The first gay bar in Dubrovnik should be located in Marojice Kaboge Street, allegedly where there was a shop before. The caterers who intend to open it did not want to comment on anything until the opening was 100% certain, but the citizens were happy to share their opinion with the press, writes Dubrovački vjesnik

"There were so many gays, male and female, this summer that it's not normal. Thirty percent of the restaurant work I had was thanks to them this summer, and that's no small thing. They are the best guests in the world, the best consumers, extremely smart, intelligent, decent and cultured people," said Nikola Nikić, who is also a caterer.

"I said this summer, whoever opens a gay club first will bring in a lot of money. And first and foremost, it's my idea, the story has spread, and lo and behold, I've heard about it opening too," he added, stressing that the announced location would be ideal because no one would mind the noise. Besides, it's the only dead-end in town.

"Indeed, those who have traveled the world know that every city in the world has one or more gay clubs. Will I go there? One hundred percent, I will! I am ‘open-minded.’ I've been to gay clubs in Florida. It's a lucrative business. Just as we knew Hard Rock would come one day, here it came, just as Mcdonald's would come one day. As everyone arrived, so did the gay club. Welcome! It is high time that they also have a post where they will hang out, which is better. I welcome the first gay bar!" Nikić concludes.

"Dubrovnik needs everything. Of course, as long as it is tasteful and in some standards, it is not debauchery," said Edi Jertec from Dubrovnik, who added:

"Dubrovnik is a city that is open to everyone. After all, Dubrovnik is one of the few to host a cruise ship for gays, men or women. Dubrovnik has even had gay conferences. Everyone has always been welcome in Dubrovnik. They are cultured people, specific like everyone else. I don't see a problem with that."

"Excellent, I am in favor," agrees fellow citizen Katarina Dadic, adding:

"It should have happened a long time ago, and other things, not just a gay bar, because there are more and more guests in Dubrovnik looking for something different. In my opinion, it's a complete success; whoever opens it will profit. There are a lot of gay guests in our country. I have my customers, believe me, they are the best guests. They say they're best friends with women, too."

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Solardo Presents Higher Dubrovnik Announces Biggest Lineup Ever!

February 3, 2022 - After two years of unforgettable sell-out shows in Dubrovnik, mighty Manchester duo Solardo aims for a hat trick in 2022. In conjunction with Pollen Presents, Solardo announces their largest festival to date from September 23-27th: Higher Dubrovnik. 

The pair curate their biggest-ever lineup with international tastemakers, showcasing some of the world's top house and techno talent, a testament to the Manchester duo’s musical depth. The first wave of names includes Marco Carola, FJAAK, Nicole Moudaber, Mall Grab, Maya Jane Coles, Vintage Culture, Nic Fanciulli, Lee Foss, and many more. After multiple sell-out shows at WHP, Circus Liverpool & London, Higher is now set to grow into a multi-venue event across this historic city. Accommodation and ticket packages start at just £529, with party passes for what is one of Europe’s leading house and techno weekenders starting at only £249. 

Dubrovnik is famous for its vibrancy, with enchanting views sweeping over the terracotta rooftops, distinctive cobbled Old Town streets, numerous plazas and museums that detail the rich tapestry of Croatia’s past. Many may also recognise the city from hit series and films like Game Of Thrones and Star Wars. It is a truly unique backdrop for a series of world-class house and techno parties and this now globally renowned weekender takes place across its most essential sites, from an ancient fortress to a panoramic terrace high above the city and overlooking the piercing blue Adriatic Sea. 

Each location has its own charm and character and will be brought to life with world-class sound and production. You can expect plenty of stunning views over the walled city and glistening sea, with breathtaking sunsets and sunrises every day as you enjoy beachside takeovers, pool and fortress parties and terrace sessions like no other.  

House and techno duo Solardo lead the charge and since being crowned DJ Mag’s Best Breakthrough Act of 2016 and Best Duo of 2017 has never looked back. They have released on the likes of Elrow, Toolroom Records, and Green Velvet’s Relief Records, have topped the Beatport charts, and run their own vital Sola label. Now they bring their excellent curatorial skills to another mouthwatering Higher event. 

They will be joined by a who's who of house and techno talent from across the board, including Music On's Marco Carola, Berlin outfit FJAAK, Mood label head Nicole Moudaber, party starter Mall Grab, the always cultured Maya Jane Coles and global star Vintage Culture, as well as plenty more from wAFF, Lee Foss, Mason Maynard, Andrea Oliva, Ben Hemsley, Eli Brown, Shermanology, Nic Fanciulli and plenty more. 

Away from the music, there is a rich array of cultures to explore around the city, whether you meander on foot through the lime-paved streets, travel via cable car up to the fortress or simply lay back on the beach and soak up the good vibes. For those wanting an even more unique experience, add ons include VIP upgrades and sea-faring boat parties.  

There is a wide variety of accommodation options for Higher, including the elegant suites, luxury spa, and spectacular views of Valamar Lacroma, the beautiful Valamar Argosy Hotel with its fine restaurant, terrace, wellness zone and infinity pool, the exquisite 5* Valamar Collection Dubrovnik just a few minutes from the Old Town and Tirena Sunny Hotel, a quiet haven close to the historic centre of Dubrovnik.

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PHASE ONE LINEUP 

Andrea Oliva

Ben Hemsley

Chelina Manuhutu

Cici

Elli Acula 

Eli Brown 

FJAAK

Joshua James

Kettama

Late Replies

Lee Foss

Libero 

Mall Grab

Marco Carola 

Mason Maynard

Maya Jane Coles

Nic Fanciulli

Nicole Moudaber

Shermanology

Solardo

SOSA

Steel City Dance Discs

Tini Gessler

Vintage Culture 

wAFF

ABOUT POLLEN

Pollen has all the best travel and destination experiences in one place with two special offerings: Pollen Presents and Pollen+. Pollen Presents works with artists like J Balvin, Justin Bieber, The Streets, Jamie Jones, Patrick Topping, Drumcode, and many more to create experiences you can’t find anywhere else. These multi-day experiences combine live entertainment, parties, and relaxation in the world’s most exciting destinations. Pollen+ always gets you more at music festivals and events. Pollen+ partners with the biggest promoter brands and music festivals, including We Are FSTVL, Printworks, Boardmasters, C3, Electric Zoo, Live Nation, and more. You can discover and book these experiences exclusively on pollen.co/uk

Solardo Presents Higher Dubrovnik is a high-class musical getaway in a beautiful location with some of the underground's most vital DJ talent. 

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Saint Blaise 2022: Dubrovnik Celebrates Patron Saint and City Day

February 3, 2022 - On February 3, Dubrovnik celebrates its most important day, the feast its patron saint, Saint Blaise (Sv. Vlaho), the man who saved the city from the Venetians in 971. A look at the Saint Blaise 2022 festivities, the 1050th celebration. 

By traditionally releasing pigeons and raising flags in front of Dubrovnik's Saint Blaise Church, the 1050th Festivity of Saint Blaise officially began on Wednesday. 

For over one thousand years, Dubrovnik has celebrated the feast day of Saint Blaise by staging one of the most impressive and iconic annual festivals in Europe, and indeed, the world: the Festivity of Saint Blaise (Festa svetoga Vlaha). The celebrations encompass the whole city and surrounding region.

The festival commemorates Saint Blaise’s salvation of Dubrovnik on the eve of a surprise attack in 971. According to tradition, Saint Blaise’s miraculous intervention successfully thwarted a planned invasion of the city. As an expression of gratitude, the residents of Dubrovnik embraced the saint’s cult, proclaiming him their patron saint and their eternal protector.

The Ragusans' ideal positioning and famed diplomacy made them the arch Adriatic trade rival of the jealous Venetians to the north. Lacking in the diplomatic abilities possessed by the Ragusans, the Venetians would often use force, plotting numerous attempts to attack and invade the Republic and bring it to its knees over many years. Saint Blaise's intervention in the foiling of the surprise Venetian attack, whose boats were already silently waiting outside the city walls, meant more to the city than could ever possibly be expressed.

This tradition is still an intrinsic part of the city's deep sense of not only culture and tradition but also identity. Saint Blaise's likeness can be found all over Dubrovnik, watching over the city and its people, and is as much a part of Dubrovnik's soul as the walls themselves. 

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Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

The saint's flag was raised by this year's hosts (festanjuli) - sailor and captain Teo Grbić, and craftsman Toni Cvjetković, to mark the 2022 Saint Blaise celebration on Wednesday. 

After reading Laus, the traditional text that opens the festivities and which ends with the exclamation 'Long live Saint Blaise!', the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Roko Glasnović, greeted the crowd.

Bishop Glasnović said that 'the connection between Dubrovnik and Saint Blaise is not only a testimony to the wisdom and ability of the old citizens of Dubrovnik to happily unite faith and tradition, universal and local, sacred and secular but also a testimony of the primordial tradition of the local church that inherits Christ, under the protection of its patron saint.'

"The festivity is a testimony to this relationship, from the apparition to don Stojko and the defense of the city in 971. Over the centuries, it has developed, changed, and supplemented, going through all the good and bad moments with the city," said the Dubrovnik bishop.

Rector of the Saint Blaise Church Hrvoje Katušić then read congratulations and greetings from all over the world from those who couldn't attend the Festivity of Saint Blaise this year. After that, the gifts were blessed, and in the end, white doves flew from the hands of Bishop Glasnović.

The inauguration of the 1050th Festivity of Saint Blaise event was attended by the President of the Republic Zoran Milanović, Vice President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica, Envoy of the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Envoy of the President of the Croatian Parliament Branko Bačić, Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak, Neretva County Prefect Nikola Dobroslavić, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković and others.

On the morning of February 3, Dubrovnik City Day Saint Blaise Day, a Mass will be held in front of the cathedral, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, followed by the relics and flags of the parishes in honor of Saint Blaise.

On the final day of the Festivity of Saint Blaise, Sunday, February 7, a solemn procession will be held to Gorica, after which the flag will be solemnly lowered in front of the saint's church.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

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