Sometimes I think that places that are a standard tourist day trip destination are deserving of more time. Sometimes I am really wrong but in the case of Lopud I was bang on the money. It’s tiny (5km square), just less than an hour’s boat ride from Dubrovnik, with a cluster of bars and restaurants and a bay of sand. Yep sand, it was weirdly disconcerting. I know Croatia has sand but not much so I still get excited when I get some between my toes. It’s easy to see why this wee fella is in the top day-trip lists of Croatia but if you stay longer than a few hours then you get to experience the island’s true offerings.
There are no cars allowed on the island so it’s the perfect place to walk in peace. The paths make the entire island accessible, the trees and vegetation are luscious and the views of the surrounding islands and over to the mainland are sensational. And then there’s that beautiful, dazzling blue everywhere – the Adriatic sea. I think that the tone of blue near Croatia is very particular, a sort of sapphire blue with a hint of turquoise nearer the rocky edges and when you are on Lopud it’s in every direction.
Lopud has been inhabited since before medieval times and has a played a role in various countries’ history including France, England and Austria. In the 15th Century it had over 1,000 inhabitants but now it’s nearer 200. It had over 30 churches, two monasteries and some noble palaces, most now ruins or disappeared completely but the bits that do remain provide an interesting glimpse into the island’s past as you wonder through the lush forests.
Croatia’s tourism, in the modern sense, goes back to the 1920s and Lopud cemented its part in this with the Grand Hotel, which opened in 1936, built from concrete. It is now closed and close to being a ruin itself, but it has recently started to be rebuilt. Apparently this hotel was used in WW2 as a prison for Jews arrested in the Dubrovnik area, it is confirmed that 600 to 700 were held captive here. The only other big hotel on the island is the luxurious Lafodia Hotel at the end of the main bay – which, incidentally, makes a splendid Mojito, perfect to sip whilst the sun sets behind the neighbouring island of Sipin.
If luxury hotels are out of your budget then there are plenty of apartments on the islands, book yourself in for a few nights, soak up some of the 2,584 hours of sunshine which shines on Lopud in a year, loose yourself in the trees, paddle in the sandy bay without fear of stepping on a spiky sea urchin and settle into the peace of no cars, no rush, no worries.