Dubrovnik-Neretva is the southern portion of Dalmatia and the southernmost county of Croatia. It consists of a narrow strip of land along the coast, the long Peljesac peninsula and several islands. Dubrovnik city and the peninsula are an exclave of Croatia - they're separated from the rest of the country by a narrow strip of Bosnia and Herzegovina, around the town of Neum. To the southeast they border Montenegro.
Towns and islands
Dubrovnik and the peninsula:
- 1 Dubrovnik, the region's only city and the county capital, is a must-see because of its well-preserved walled old town. It's a transport hub, with an airport and ferry & cruise port, and in summer it's mobbed with day-trippers. Plan to stay longer to enjoy it, especially in the evening when the hordes have departed.
- 2 Cavtat is a pleasant old village on the coast south of Dubrovnik, dating back to 4th century BCE.
- The airport is near Cavtat. The main road continues south through the hills to cross into Montenegro and descend to Herceg Novi.
- 3 Ston is the village at the start of the Pelješac peninsula, which is 65 km long.
- 4 Orebić further up the peninsula has ferries to Lumbarda on the island of Korčula, while Trpanj on its north coast has ferries to Ploče on the mainland.
- 5 Neum is the geopolitical oddity that separates the northern Dubrovnik-Neretva region from the city itself. It's a 9 km strip of highway that lies within Bosnia and Herzegovina, so you have to exit from Croatia and the EU to enter that country, then within half an hour you exit BiH and re-enter Croatia; and repeat the whole performance later if you're making a return-trip. Until July 2022 this was the main route, with lengthy delays at the border, but these melted away once the Pelješac bridge opened. Most transits are trouble-free but see Neum#Get in for some difficulties you might encounter.
Ploče and the north:
- 6 Ploče is a port and transport hub, on a rare stretch of flat land at the mouth of the Neretva river. It's unattractive and there's no reason to linger.
- 7 Metković, the second-largest town of the region, likewise has no attractions but might be a rest-stop on the way to Mostar in BiH.
- 8 Klek and Komarna are small villages just north of the Neum border with attractive beaches.
- Elaphiti are a chain of little islands a few km northwest of Dubrovnik. Those served by ferry and with tourist facilities are Koločep, Lopud and Šipan; a dozen more are uninhabited.
- Lokrum is sometimes considered part of the Elaphiti but it's within swimming or pedalo-churning distance of Dubrovnik city and is described on that page.
- 9 Korčula is the most developed of the islands, with an attractive old town and string of little villages.
- 10 Mljet is mostly forested, with the western part a national park.
- 11 Lastovo is also forested, and notable for its 15th / 16th century Venetian buildings. Although it's part of Dubrovnik region, the ferry is from Split.
- 1 Dubrovnik airport (DBV IATA) is 20 km south of the city. It has year-round flights from Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome, Zagreb and Zurich and seasonal flights from many more European cities.
- Pelješac Bridge opened on 26 July 2022 and has transformed routes in this region: finally you can drive between Dubrovnik and the rest of Croatia without briefly exiting the country. It also speeds access up the Pelješac peninsula to Orebić and Korčula. The bridge is not motorway, but has similar restrictions: no cyclists, no pedestrians, and absolutely no stopping to take photos! In its early months there are no bridge tolls, you just pay the existing motorway tolls. These access motorways are incomplete, and especially on the peninsula you trundle along old highways, not designed for the extra weight of traffic that they're suddenly handling. (It might even be quicker to go via Neum since the border queues have evaporated.) Completion is expected in Sept 2023 then whether the toll plazas happen to be at the bridge or the motorway on-ramps is a detail for later.
- Highway 8 runs along the coast from Split and Makarska to the north, crossing the region via Ploče and Neum to Dubrovnik, and continuing south into Montenegro. Regular buses ply this highway. Roads also go inland to Bosnia and Herzegovina but no public buses run that way.
- There are ferry ports at Ploče and Dubrovnik.
- There are buses every 2-3 hours along the coast to Dubrovnik, but they are infrequent to Ston and the Pelješac peninsula.
- Car hire is available, but involves crossing Neum to go north.
- The main ferry routes within the region are Ploče to Trpanj on the peninsula (which bypasses Neum), from Dubrovnik to the Elaphiti Islands, from Propratno near Ston to the island of Mljet, and from Orebić further up the peninsula to the island of Korčula.
- Dubrovnik's walled old town is a must-see, though it's very touristy.
- Lokrum island is only 600 m from Dubrovnik. It has a monastery, botanic garden and "Dead Sea", a small saline lake.
- Korčula is one of the most attractive islands, though the most developed.
- Usual touristy beach activities, but water-sports include scuba-diving.
- Anyone who likes grills, kebabs and other East Med cuisine will be replete, but vegetarians, vegans and GF have limited choice. The region lacks the cultural variety of west European cities, so even the place called "Taj Mahal" in Dubrovnik offers ćevapčići remarkably similar to its neighbours.
- Lots of decent Croatian draught beer and wine in the many town & beach bars.
- The local distilled spirit is rakija, the best known being šljivovica or plum brandy.
- Standard precautions about road & water safety, sun protection, safeguarding valuables, and avoiding drunks.
- North to Makarska for beach activities and Biokovo National Park, and to Split built within a Roman imperial palace.
- Montenegro to the south is less touristy. Kotor is an attractive old town, and Budva is the main resort.
- Even further south is Albania, with routes into Macedonia and Kosovo.