The Elafiti Islands - Koločep, Lopud and Šipan

These tiny islands – the first two car-free – are fantastic places to stay: you have all the sights of Dubrovnik on your doorstep but get to enjoy the peace and cleanliness of island life, and accommodation is inexpensive. The journey by boat costs just a couple of Euro so you can travel every day and explore if you want, just like on a bus, but a million times more refreshing!
Koločep and Lopud are tiny – you can walk all around them quite comfortably. Their settlements (Koločep has two, Lopud just one) show in miniaturised form the architectural elegance of the Republic of Dubrovnik, as the city’s shipowners built their summer residences here. Thus you have fine stone villas, some of which are now super family-run hotels. Lopud is perhaps the prettiest of the Elafiti islands, and during the golden age of Dubrovnik there were thirty churches on less than 5km2 of island. (Many churches and palaces on all the islands now lie in ruins, but they’re still interesting to chance across on your wanders). Lopud village has a well-planted old park with stone balustrades and statuary framing the sea. Lopud and Koločep have true sandy beaches, very shallow ones, perfect for children and the popular local ball game picigin. Most of Lopud’s Šunj beach is given up to sun loungers for hire, but there is a naturist section to one side, and, according to a local legend,if you bathe with your loved one from Šunj, you’ll never part.
Šipan is the largest of the Elafiti islands with two little ports, Suđurađ (“soojooraj”) and Šipanska luka, plus a few tiny hamlets in the interior. A bus connects the ports, taking a trip through a fertile depression where the islanders successfully grow a variety of produce including grapes, olives, figs and carob. Both settlements boast fascinating old palaces and the ruins in the interior include the former palace of the Dubrovnik bishops. Suđurađ faces Lopud, and this is a place for a swim and a coffee; while Šipanska luka has a couple of excellent restaurants.
Despite their tiny scale and the fact that you can still find your own little Robinson Crusoe beach, these three islands aren’t really off the beaten track – there are several hotels used by tour operators and you’ll find a healthy number of tourists, particularly on Lopud. These islands are great if you need a relaxing break away from it all, and don’t expect wild nightlife or a heap of facilities laid on.

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