By Anna Fishman
Croatian beaches are popular destinations for the European tourists but are mostly overlooked by the American vacationers. The Lapad Beach is located west of the Dubrovnik’s Old Town. It’s a clean and family-friendly pebble beach, flanked by hotels and restaurants, sitting at the end of the (arguably) nicest promenade in Dubrovnik. There is no entrance fee, but you do have to pay for the chair and umbrella rentals. Because the Lapad Bay is nestled in the shallow bowl between the hills of Dubrovnik, it has the benefit of a spectacular view of those hills rising up on three sides, the Adriatic Sea on the fourth, and the Elaphite Islands in the distance – something truly special to enjoy while you are lazily floating on your back.
The water is shallow and crystal blue near the shore and the bottom is even and soft, a mixture of gravelly and sandy areas. In the summer, that shallow strip of water gets quite warmed up by the sun and is an ideal place to swim with children. The hill slopes around the beach are densely covered with hotels and rental villas that can be reached by winding steps (quite a work-out, so you don’t have to feel guilty ordering dessert every night). The Lapad can get crowded, but the quality of the beach experience makes it worthwhile to visit earlier in the mornings (before 10 am) and later in the day (after 4 pm).
The view only gets better in the evenings, with the twinkling lights of the surrounding hotels and the promenade. The promenade is just the place to enjoy dinner, grab a gelato cone, pick up some souvenirs or choose a local tour, as well as just taking an after-dinner stroll. Admittedly, the restaurants on this strip know they are catering to tourists and thus are both somewhat pricier and not really Michelin three-star rated establishments. But all of them are simple and clean, carry fresh seafood that Dubrovnik’s culinary scene is known for, and boast friendly, hospitable staff (a real differentiator from the service industry in many other European tourist destinations). I, personally, am partial to fried sardines with Karlovačka Light beer at one of the smaller cafes right at water’s edge, to catch the best view of the setting sun. There is an abundance of places to stay, eat and drink around the Lapad.
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