On our recent three week trip to Europe with our kids, we spent six days in Croatia.
We had a rental car for most of our trip and drove from Korčula up to Plitvice. The drive took about five hours, so we decided to break up the drive and take a detour and check out Mali Ston and Ston.
This was such a fun and memorable afternoon, so I thought I’d share a few details about the area and what we did while we were there.
Ston and Mali Ston are two villages on the Pelješac peninsula in Croatia. Ston and Mali Ston are connected to the Walls of Ston which is the longest complete fortress system in Europe. The Walls of Ston fortress system is second in size only to the Great Wall of China.
Ston and Mali Ston are also famous for the oysters farmed in the Mali Ston bay. These oysters are known to be some of the best in the world, and this particular kind can only be found in the Mali Ston bay.
If you have time to add a day trip to Mali Ston and Ston to your Croatia itinerary, I definitely recommend it. This was such a unique experience, and I’m so glad we carved out the time to visit this area.
Ston is located 54 km (33 miles) from Dubrovnik. You can access the area by car if you have one or take a local bus–either will take about an hour.
You can also opt to take a guided tour from Dubrovnik. I saw a lot of great options for tours that will take you up to Ston and out on the water for a boat tour of the oyster farms.
The drive from Split should take a little less than three hours, either by local bus or in a rental car.
We drove from Korčula which took about an hour (via the car ferry to Orebić).
I’ll never forget driving up to Ston on our trip. We had briefly read about the oysters farmed in the Mali Ston bay and thought it would be a fun lunch stop. Outside of that, we had done ZERO research. We didn’t think the girls would be able to handle a detour on the already-long drive from Korcula up to Plitvice, so we didn’t spend much time looking into it. But they were doing great in the car, so we decided to make a split second decision to detour and “grab some lunch.”
At the risk of sounding the *most* American, we actually had no idea that the Walls of Ston even existed until we spotted them on the drive in. Even from a distance, the Walls of Ston looked crazy. As we got a little closer, I said to Tyler, “Does that look like the Great Wall of China to you? How weird!” After a few minutes of Googling, we realized that we had “stumbled upon” a really cool thing.
The Walls of Ston fortress system was built in the 14th century to protect the salt production in the bay of the peninsula. The fortress system is 7km in total, and the walls range from 5-10m tall (16-32 feet).
Many visitors choose to walk the entire system which takes anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. The walk is considered somewhat strenuous because of all of the stairs. We didn’t have time for this walk nor do I think the girls would have lasted more than 30 minutes in the direct sunlight. However, it looked REALLY cool.
You can access areas of the walls through the village of Mali Ston. I took a little walk up when we were waiting for our lunch. The medieval villages themselves were really beautiful too.
The Mali Ston oyster is a European flat oyster. It is considered one of the most valued species of oyster in the world. (This website has a ton of info on the oysters farmed here). The Mali Ston bay is protected from construction to preserve the integrity of the oyster farming.
We ate lunch at Bota Šare in Mali Ston, and it was the best meal we had in Croatia. We ordered a plate of oysters and a squid ink risotto with clams–both were absolutely incredible.
The oysters were full of flavor but really smooth and not quite as salty as many others I’ve had.
Our server brought out a fabulous fish pate appetizer on the house. The pate was served in these gorgeous shells. She told Charlotte and Emmie that if they ate the pate, they could take the shells home with them. Charlotte scarfed the entire thing, Emmie ate two bites, and she let them both take their shells home, lol.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?