Dubrovnik has long been known for it’s incredible history and striking appearance but it’s now home to a little taste of Thailand too – the much loved tuk tuk!
Eco Tuk Tours has been up and running in Dubrovnik since the beginning of the summer season, offering visitors a fun and unique way to see the city, experience it’s history and gain a local perspective. We love finding interesting ways to immerse ourselves in new places so jumped at the chance to head out on the sunset tour!
These electric tuk tuks are the only vehicles of their type in the whole country and are whisper quiet. They were specially imported by John and his brother, Ante, the owners and guides of the company. We had the pleasure of meeting both of them and could not imagine people better suited to lead these tours. With a background in hospitality and a warm, personable smile John chatted to us throughout the tour, offering insight into the varied history of the region, daily life and his memories from the civil war.
Our tour started outside of the old town where John picked us up and promptly drove us out to the striking ‘new’ Franjo Tudjman bridge, named after the countries first president. Construction began on this beauty back in 1989 but was halted when war broke out. In 1998, building began again and it was completed in 2002, making Dubrovnik much more accessible.
Continuing on towards Mt Srdj, we stopped for a series of photo opportunities looking down on Dubrovnik’s beautiful Old Town. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting a number of old towns now and none quite compare to Dubrovnik with it’s old buildings sitting safely behind the ancient city walls.
Throughout the tour, we learnt a great deal about the region and were amazed to hear that each year, locals are outnumbered by 31 times the number of tourists! Walking around Old Town the following day, I was less surprised by that statistic, but it really is mind boggling. Of course, people now visit the city not only to enjoy the region and soak up its history, but to scope out the Game of Thrones hotspots. Long before Game of Thrones though, Dubrovnik passed through multiple hands in what was a long and complicated story – you’ll need to catch up with the guys at Eco Tuk Tours to get the full rundown though!
As we talked, John spotted a piece of shrapnel – something we would have walked right past had we not been with him. It was a sombre reminder of what this country and it’s people went through all those years ago. He shared with us many personal stories of his childhood, during the civil war, when the city was without electricity or running water for the seven months it was under siege. It was incredible to hear his stories firsthand, though difficult to actually imagine living through something like that.
With the sunset beckoning, John whisked us off in the tuk tuk to the best secret viewing spots in town, ones we would have never known about had we gone up independently.
Whilst we enjoyed the marvellous colours of the sun as it ducked closer to the horizon, John snuck away and returned with two glasses of white wine, homemade by his cousin; for us that cemented everything these brothers are about – homegrown pride and the desire to go the extra mile to make their guests feel at home, you can’t ask for more than that!
Mt Srdj is home to the cable car (the original one was built before the war but destroyed and rebuilt, as was the case for much of the area) that whisks people up to the top of the mountain for views out over the many Croatian islands. Joining one of these tours negates the need to buy a cable car ticket though – not only will Eco Tuk Tours take you up the top, they’ll show you the best view around, minus those pesky cables.
August is peak time in Dubrovnik so we’d recommend visiting outside of this period if possible – John recommends mid/late September as the ideal time to visit the city, when the water is still warm and the weather pleasant. Even if you do end up there when the crowds descend, don’t worry as your tuk tuk will promptly take you away from all of the crowds in a bid to see the ‘real’ Dubrovnik.
Tourism is on the rise in Croatia, with last year being their busiest year since before the civil war, and with guys like this in the business, it’s no wonder that things are on the up. We were always looking forward to jumping in the tuk tuk and seeing Dubrovnik away from the manic crowds that set upon it at this time of year but in the end, the real highlight was our time with John. Thanks to him, we have left Croatia with a much richer understanding and appreciation of what Dubrovnik and it’s people have been through over the years. If you find yourself in town, we would highly recommend you get in touch with Eco Tuk Tours Dubrovnik to see the city like a local yourself.
If you’re in Dubrovnik and are interested in joining the sunset Eco Tuk tour, the guys will take groups as small as two out for €30 each for a minimum of two hours. If your party contains four or more people, reach out to them to see what they can do on price. Each tour contains a maximum of four people (if parties do not know one another) or six for groups and can be personalised to suit your interests. Thank you to Eco Tuk Tours Dubrovnik for having us along on their sunset tour!