Dubrovnik’s Perfect Escapes: Zaton

Lauren Simmonds

Continuing our look at some of the beautiful townships and villages close to the City of Dubrovnik, let’s travel approximately 8 kilometres north of the Pearl of the Adriatic and meet Zaton…

This picture perfect coastal town in the Dubrovnik Primorje municipality is a popular resort on the Dubrovnik riviera and is situated close to the village of Orasac, just a short drive from Dubrovnik.

Enjoyed by nobility and officials from the former automomous Republic of Ragusa (modern day Dubrovnik), Zaton has been a ”must go” for relaxation and respite for centuries, with a great many prominent noble families local to the area building and owning lavish summer homes in Zaton, notable names include the Sorkocevic family, the Gucetic family and the Lukarevic family – who all built summerhouses in and around Zaton bay. Sadly, most of these stunning Renaissance properties were devastated by JNA aggression during the Croatian War of Independence, with only a handful of them properly restored or preserved.

The main source of income for the people of Zaton is tourism, but traditions like fishing, olive growing and agriculture have stood the test of time and still make up a large part of regular life for locals. Owing to the rise of tourism, Zaton has seen a considerable boost in excellent restaurants which serve high quality wine and a variety of food, but generally specialise in traditional Dalmatian cuisine and fresh, local produce. Water sport activities have also been seen to be on the rise, and Zaton’s truly beautiful 3 kilometre long bay, surrounded by thick evergreen vegetation and divided into the villages of Veliki (big) and Mali (small) Zaton, couldn’t be a more suitable place for water enthusiasts. The large bay has numerous small settlements along its fringes: Stikovica, Zaton Mali, Zaton Veliki and Vrbica. Two unusual points of interest are Vrelo, the local natural spring which used to power the old water mills, and a path just above Zaton to the village of Podbrezje, a hiking path (not recommended in the height of summer!) leading to the Mociljska Cave.

While there are no actual hotels in Zaton, there are numerous types of private accommodation on offer, from rooms to apartments and houses rented by local people, something that makes the area special is that it is encouraging of lovers of camping and the outdoors, with various tent-friendly places and a surprisingly well equipped auto-camp to be found. A promenade connects the villages of Zaton Mali and Zaton Veliki and a walk along the shore as the sun sets is second to none. Veliki Zaton, the bigger of the two settlements, boasts several restaurants as well as a bakery, a supermarket, a tourist information agency, a post office and numerous other shops and cafes.

While it is always recommended to arrive to the many coastal gems close to Dubrovnik by car, there is a regular bus service (Libertas) from Dubrovnik to both Zaton Mali and Zaton Veliki and back again.



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