Pretty much all travellers to Dubrovnik will focus on the city’s historical centre known as the Old Town District. This is understandable seeing how it is within Dubrovnik City Walls that most notable events in its history played out. You should be vary of falling into the trap of spending your entire vacation within Dubrovnik. Surrounding area is way too interesting and diverse to leave it unexplored while here. Two historical towns to the north should pretty much be at the top of your list of things to do outside of Dubrovnik city limits.
Ston and Mali Ston are situated at the base of Peljesac Peninsula, country’s most renowned wine region. They are approximately 45 minutes away from Dubrovnik, heading north on D8 coastal road. Towns are on the sea shore, facing two separate bays. Bay of Mali Ston is renowned as Croatia’s top oysters and mussels growing area, so needless to say, you have a few wonderful dining options when visiting. I most often go for Bota Sate Restaurant. This family owned, traditional eatery boasts some of the freshest seafood around. After all, they do have their own oyster and mussel farm.
Ston is no more than a couple of minutes’ drive, around the hill which separates the two towns. Ston is famous for its City Walls built in the 14th century. These are 2.5 times longer than those of Dubrovnik and actually span all the way to Mali Ston. They are quite steep and are not easy to climb, but the views from up there will be worth it, trust me. Ston and Mali Ston were built up during Dubrovnik Republic rule where they were extremely important border towns. Ston was one of the biggest money makers in the Republic seeing how it housed (and still does) the ancient salt flats which extracted salt from the sea. Salt was worth its weight in gold back then, so having this place which produced around a 1000 tons of it yearly was well worth protecting. Ston is popular for Dubrovnik locals as well for day trips and quick getaways from the crowds. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a bit of history and a relaxing coffee break or lunch.
Both towns are wonderful in their own way and should definitely be on your bucket list when in Dubrovnik. Driving there on your own is a good idea, but if you decide you would rather have someone show you the best parts of the area and make a day out of it, you might want to check out our regular small group tours going there. Our bestselling Wine Lover’s Tour visits Ston and our brand new one – Food, Wine and History of Peljesac is to my knowledge the only regular small group tour to include a visit to the City Walls of Ston.
However you decide to go, make sure you schedule some time to visit these towns. Oh, and did I already mention they are at the beginning of the most important Croatian wine region?