In 2013, the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, also known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” received record breaking tourism numbers.
Just how many people visited this old fortified town in 2013?
I have to admit. Those are some pretty impressive tourism numbers right there.
I don’t know what the numbers looked like when we first visited here back in 2008, but they were likely nowhere near what they are today.
While the city of Dubrovnik is busy thriving with increasing tourism numbers year after year, it’s the exact opposite for the little old village of Kupari, a long forgotten resort area located less than 5 miles south of Dubrovnik.
With the increasing numbers of tourists visiting Dubrovnik these days, it’s hard to understand why a fellow beachfront resort located just a few miles down the road hasn’t hosted a single guest in over 22 years.
The Story Behind Kupari, Croatia
The tiny seaside village of Kupari was once home to a posh military resort which served as a vacation hot spot for the Yugoslav military elite and their families.
This beautiful seaside resort was built in the
Although Kupari really started to form a resort area in the
Fun Fact: Kupari was also home to a beach front auto-camp ground which could accommodate up to 4,500 guests.
Each of the hotels were blessed with views that you could only imagine in your wildest dreams.
Kupari had it all.
That is, until 1991 when the Yugoslav Army blew the place to smithereens during the initial stages of the Croatian War of Independence, or what Croatians refer to as the Domovinski rat (Homeland War).
Fast forward to 2014 and the military resort of Kupari still remains. In pieces, that is.
Over the course of the last twenty years, the hotels have been completely torn to shreds and looted for everything of value from the ground up.
When I say everything has been looted, I mean everything.
What was once a highly sought after summer holiday destination, Kupari, is now lifeless having lost its character and charm to war and thievery.
Hitchhiking from Cavtat to Kupari
In late September of 2013, we made our second visit to Dubrovnik and the surrounding area.
The only difference between our first and our second visit to the city was that instead of staying in Dubrovnik this time around we decided to change things up a bit and shack up in a cozy one bedroom apartment in a sleepy little village known as Cavtat, just 16 miles south of town.
The fact that we were located in Cavtat and didn’t have a car or motorbike really didn’t matter too much thanks to the public bus system that runs up and down the D8 highway from Dubrovnik to Cavtat and beyond.
After spending a couple days wandering the alleyways of Old Town Dubrovnik and cliff jumping at Buza, I was on a mission to do something different.
I searched for things to do in Cavtat but nothing came up.
It was only when I started to search for
That was all I needed to see. Before I knew it, the little old abandoned village was high on my list of things to see.
While Liz wasn’t as interested in the adventure as I was, I thought that it would be a great little solo adventure for myself.
You know, something to do. Something that will get me out of the house for a few hours.
The following morning I woke up early and headed out to the local bus stop across the road in hopes that I would be able to catch the next bus heading north.
After 25 minutes of standing in the sun as well as a slight build up of anticipation, I said screw it and threw out my thumb in hopes that someone headed north would be kind enough to let me hitch a ride with them.
I can remember it as clear as day. It was one of those spontaneous, half-assed decisions that you make without thinking of the potential consequences.
I’m in a foreign country. I don’t know the language, and I’ve never really hitchhiked before.
There’s no way that anybody will pick me up.
Sure, I was dressed nicely, cleanly shaved and fresh out of the shower, but still. Who picks up strangers these days?
Sure enough, the second my thumb started to raise into the air was the same time that a small red car decided to jack on its brakes and throw it into reverse.
I was borderline speechless.
Especially considering I hadn’t fully committed to the whole idea of thumbing just yet.
Do I tell this person that I was just simply giving the thumbs up to motorists as they passed by? I couldn’t lie.
An older male likely to be in his late 50’s rolled down his window and asked me where I was headed in severely broken English.
I reply “Kupari” as he confirms with a nod of his head and his hand swiping through the air as if he was saying, “C’mon, get in!”
I hop in the car, my knees squished up against the dashboard with my backpack nestled tightly between my legs.
I begin to ask him if he speaks English and he struggles to tell me that he used to know English but he hadn’t spoken it in years.
We start to approach some traffic up ahead and as we begin to slow I feel the first two fingers of his
I turn my head to see what he thinks he’s up to and he immediately asks “You ride bicycles?”.
Me: Well, ah. Um. Yeah, I like to ride bicycles. Why?
Him: “You are wearing shorts for bicycle” as he points to my boxers showing above my knee.
Note: To clarify, I generally wear long boxer briefs, six to nine inches long to be exact. They’re the Under Armour style, long, quick-dry boxer briefs and they sometimes show under my shorts if I’m sitting down and my shorts are riding up my legs.
Me: Oh, ahh. No. No, these are just my quick dry boxers that I like to wear under my shorts. Nothing to do with cycling.
Our conversation immediately changes due to the language barrier. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about and I don’t even want to begin to try to figure out where he’s trying to go with this.
Him: “You go to Kupari? For what?”
Me: I want to take photos.
Him: I go to nude beach. You want to come?
Him: Best nude beach. Private.
I pause as if I’m trying to come up a good reason as to why I can’t join him on his nudist adventures.
Me: Umm. No, I’m going to Kupari. Thanks, though.
Him: Okay, no problem.
A few minutes of awkward silence later and he makes a left into a hotel.
Although, instead of turning into the parking lot, he starts to drive down a dirt road that is heading straight into what appears to be a wooded area along the coastline.
Me: Ah. I’m going to Kupari.
Him: Yes, I will drop you off down here and you can walk from here. It’s about 2 km walking distance along the beach.
As we make our way down the bumpy dirt road he begins to stop the car. I look around but I can’t see the place where he’s planning on letting me out.
Him: Here. You get out here. Nice to meet you.
Me: Ah, same. Thank you. Thanks for the ride. Thanks!
It was all a big miscommunication
As I step out of the car and he slowly starts to drive further into the woods towards the private beach, all I can think of is that my first ever hitchhiking experience was simply a huge miscommunication.
Why, you might ask?
I know I personally use the pointing and hand gestures that come along with not knowing a language, all of the time.
When it comes to the issue of him heading to the nude beach, it really wasn’t that weird after all.
While I do understand that it would seem a bit odd from an American’s perspective, stripping down on the beach isn’t uncommon for most Europeans.
Combine all these seemingly odd situations and add the language barrier and just about anybody would feel the same way as I did, in the moment.
Fortunately, after all was said and done I realized that it was highly unlikely that I was in as dangerous of a situation as I had thought.
My first ever hitchhiking experience — A success!
Exploring the Abandoned Hotels
By the time I made the trek out to the first abandoned hotel, I had sweat dripping down my face and down the back of my neck.
It was a beautiful, partly cloudy day yet the sun managed to lock its rays on me throughout the entire walk.
As I approached the south wing of the first hotel I started to have second thoughts. Is it safe? Would I get robbed?
Have junkies taken up residence here over the course of the last few years?
I entered the side door of the south side of the building and this is what I saw.
Initially, my mission was to be as quiet as possible so that I could hear if someone was going to pop out on me.
You know those times that you think you’re going to outwit the
I had one of those moments. At the same time, I was trying my best not to step on any nails because that’s the last thing I’d need.
After navigating my way around some of the debris, I hung an immediate left and entered a room that had a beautiful sea view in the distance but the views were quickly overshadowed the fact that it looked like it had been hit by a tornado.
After I had explored a good chunk of the top floor, I decided to head down to the main entrance.
After moving on to the hotel next door, I stumbled upon some pretty interesting photo opportunities.
Right after I snapped the shot shown above a black cat leaped straight through one of the broken windowpanes on the right hand side of the photo and scared the living crap out of me.
The switchboard shown above made for such a cool shot. Don’t you think?
After climbing a seriously unstable set of stairs, I arrived at an area of the abandoned hotel which looked as if it had been host to a few parties over the course of the last twenty-something years.
I walked straight ahead through the yellow doorway area shown above and took my first right to find this shower room area where it seems someone tried to start a little bit of a bonfire.
I spent about forty minutes wandering around the more easily accessed parts of the hotel.
There were harder to reach places that would have required me to take some serious risks but I knew it wasn’t worth it.
Especially since I was exploring the place on my own.
I decided to move on to the last and final hotel.
The same square shaped one that you can see perched up on the cliff on the
One last hotel.
After climbing a rather large set of steps, I reached the entrance of the hotel.
Just about every window in the place had been shattered by rocks, chunks of wood and whatever else you could imagine picking up and hurling through a pane of glass.
I carefully tiptoed my way around the shards of glass, window frames covered in rusty nails and sharp metal edges sticking out from every which angle until I reached what was once likely a grand staircase leading to the second floor.
I made one final ascent up the staircase littered with bits and pieces of who knows what and upon arriving at the second floor I quickly realized that this hotel that was once home to some of the best views in Kupari.
The mountains, trees, white sand beaches and beautiful little villages seen far in the distance reminded me of what this place must have been like back in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s — A true slice of paradise in Croatia.
If you’re into photographing or simply exploring abandoned buildings, you will absolutely love this place.
This was my first time ever wandering into an abandoned property before and I have to admit that while it can be a thrilling experience, it can also be quite dangerous.
Oh, and did I mention the creepiness factor? Exploring these types of places on your own can be a real test for your nerves.
Nobody knows what lurks around the next dark corner.
Will someone pop up behind you?
That being said, if you do decide to visit Kupari, do yourself a favor and take a friend along with you.
Well, do you think you have the guts to visit Kupari? Leave a comment below.
- For a more historical spin on a visit to Kupari with more cool photos, click here.
- If abandoned buildings aren’t your cup of tea, you might like my wildly popular list of things to do in Dubrovnik.
How to Get to Kupari
If you’re staying in Dubrovnik, hop on the public bus heading south and mention to the driver that you’d like to exit at the bus stop in Kupari.
Once you hop off the bus, you’ll be on the
Follow it until you reach the sea and you’ll find yourself right in the middle of all the action.
Note: All photographs (except for the first image) featured in this post were taken by me. The first photo featured in this post can be found over here.
Nice stuff ryan. Creepy and cool. There is a great empty building in Bangkok also. You should check it out sometime. Or another cool one Six Flags New Orleans, Since hurricane katrina its been closed. All the rides are still there and its in pretty good shape. Just completely abandoned.
Thanks James! I’ve been wanting to visit the one in Bangkok for years now. I need to get around to that one of these days. The abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans sounds incredible!
Merci pour votre récit..nous sommes tombés sur cette plage paradisiaque par hasard …avec ces parasols cocos et son bar à cocktail ..la 1ere réaction de ma fille de 8ans a été de dire : “maman, regarde, c est l enfer au paradis.”nous avons été très marqué par cette visite ..les impacts de balles..le silence…la nature qui recouvre les pierres…c était glaçant et ca fait réfléchir…on ne ressort pas indemne de cet endroit …à voir mais en bonne compagnie.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Great article,Ryan, and great pix!
Cool stuff, but I think I’ll leave the abandoned building exploring and hitchhiking to you. I’ll be at a beach bar in the next village over…
One of the best articles at I have ever read…. Thanks for sharing this post with us.
Appreciate the feedback.
I agree with Peter, brilliant post. In Europe we speak a lot about the wars in Africa etc… and we have to remember, what could happen in Europe if we are extremists
Great pictures, and a great experienced as well. :)
Great pictures.Places that are left in ruins I really like for the ghostly kind of feeling you get when there. I would visit!
So true! I highly recommend a visit to Kupari if you ever happen to find yourself in the area.
Hey Ryan, I was in Kupari this summer, late July. I rented a place in Mlini, the friendly pretty village two bays further, but the appartment turned out to be in Kupari. I had no idea of these ruins and was slightly shocked when I walked up the beach with my family. What also struck me, is that the beach is quite busy with people anjoying the sun, not minding at all the war zone around them. There is even a beach bar where people enjoy coctails and techno with a view over the ruins. Seemed quite surreal to me. The rest of our stay we visited the beach in Mlini instead. But it was fascinating!
Hey Willem. Yeah, it is a little weird that these ruins still stand tall over the edge of the beach there in Kupari. Glad to hear that you enjoyed yourselves. Thanks for stopping by.
I just stumbled through your article ’cause I searched for more information about ‘Kupari’. At the moment I’m in Cavtat, and yesterday we visited the abandoned resort too and I loved exploring it.
Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading your article :)
Thanks! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.
Been into the hotels again this week. Such a shame they aren’t being refurbed.
Second year of visiting these hotels, and they fall further into disrepair.
Hi, here in Mlini as I write ,walked to the abandoned hotels today with a friend. the destruction we saw gave us the shivers, bullet and shell scars very evident, having first seen it from the sea on a boat trip to Dubrovnik. We were told by a local that a rich Russian has purchased the hotels and work should start next year, wether they will be pulled down or refurbished no one seems sure .It is one of the most beautiful bays in the area but is certainly over shadowed by the past. We were very moved as we walked around, did you notice there was no bird songs. Wendy
Hey Wendy. Isn’t it an incredible place? Oh, I’m sure they will need to be completely torn down and rebuilt. I don’t think there’s anything that is salvageable at this point. Nice to hear someone is going to put money into what would and could be a beautiful coastal area for a resort or two. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I have just got back from dubrovnik today and had only heard off these hotels on our way back to the airport we did visit another abandoned hotel closer to dubrovnik called the belvedere if they are gonna be renovated then I’m gonna have to go back out there before this happens great article
Awesome! I haven’t heard of the Belvedere. Sounds really interesting!
I made a video of this eery but incredible place. Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6gqt_NWWWg Your pictures are fantastic!
Hi I visited today and got a number of videos and some pictures, funny enough I was in many areas you were in Ryan and with much more deteriotation. They are very damaged and I imagine with modern building and safety regulations, they are most likely to be demolished. Im glad ive seen what war can do to what looked a very beautiful place.
Thanks for the update, Kevin. Sad to hear that they’ve suffered more damage but at the same time I think something really needs to be done with that area. There is so much potential there!
Visited the site yesterday, really deteriorated more since your pictures. Security and workmen milling about. Very eerie and kept me awake most of the night but well worth the visit. Got some great pictures.
Thanks for the update, Emma!
Your post remembered me to the perfect holidays that I had in this resort long time ago.My best holidays!!!!I have a lot of memories from this perfect place and when I saw your photos I felt very sad.I shared your post with my sister and I sad that if I somehow got money on some lottary(20-30 millions $) I PROMISE that I will buy this place and will renovate it exactly like it was before the destruction.
Thanks for the comment! I hope you end up buying it and turning it into a paradise!
Staying in an apartment just over the headland in Srebreno and had a walk around the hotels yesterday evening. Our host has said that redevelopment of the site is due to start sometime ‘soon’ the site having been bought by Russian investors – the big 60’s hotels will all be demolished although apparently the beautiful 20’s building in the middle of the bay will be restored. It’s a creepy place but a great reminder of the region’s turbulent recent history. Great photos……
Thanks for following up. What’s funny is that I heard the same story about the Russian investors way back in 2014. That bay sure does have a lot of potential for the future though. I hope they end up doing something with that land at some point in the near future.
Kupari is a place i definatly would like to visit whislt staying in Cavtat. Were there many people looking around whilst you were there? I am a solo female traveller and i know from looking around abandoned places its good to be with someone. Question is… is it safe for me to go alone?
Thanks for sharing your pictures.
I think you would be totally fine exploring Kupari on your own. Just be sure to go during the daylight hours. Enjoy your trip and take lots of photos!
Ren we have just returned from Catat ourselves and visited the site it was perfectly safe as long as you are sensible and don’t go too close to the open fronts. When we visited a man had taken up residence in one of the rooms. I had expected the place to be totally free of people but their was people everywhere milling about taking photos.
Glad to hear you had such a positive experience! It must be getting more popular as I didn’t see too many people there when I was wandering around.
I know I’m late to this thread but thanks for a great article. This is our second day of our holiday in Mlini with friends and our kids and visiting these abandoned hotels is top of our list so after breakfast we will head down the coast (walking) to see them. We’re all excited about seeing a bunch of war torn hotels! I see that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but even the kids are excited :) Your photos are sublime – I’m glad you made it there in one piece after your hitchhiking episode!
Great article Ryan! We’ve been staying in Plat a few km away and exploring the Dalmatian coast for a week. We’re currently sitting in a small beach bar having just finished exploring the resort in Kupari… Decided to google its history and stumbled across your article… It is mind-blowing! A wonderful find on our Croatian adventure!
Hi Shelley — Thanks for following up! It’s true it really is mind blowing. It’s been a while since I last visited Kupari. I’m wondering if one of these days someone will buy it up and turn it into something amazing. There has been talks of this for many years but I don’t think anyone has actually made any progress. In any case, enjoy the rest of your vacation!
We are in Kupari now. We have been parking our hired Motorhome on the kupari autocampsite and wandered down to the beach. Having watched the video on the shelling of Dubrovnik yesterday while doing the city walls, it was poignant to come across these bombed out hotels. It also put into perspective our experience in the very tired and run down autocamp where we stayed for less than 200 kuna for two nights – the autocampsite in Dubrovnik wanted more than that per night! And the no 10 bus from Cavtat yo Dubrovnik served us very well once we realised that buses marked m went through the village at the back of the campsite before coming back onto the d8 road just beyond the campsite. Thanks to the South African honeymooners who helped us with the bus detour
Really enjoyed reading your article, we have been to Kupari today and it isn’t quite the same as your photos. We have heard that the Marriott chain have brought out some of the hotels but the Grand Hotel will remain a historic place to visit.
Really? Wow, this is interesting to hear. I’m hoping they do end up developing there as it’s a waste of what I consider to be a beautiful piece of land. Somebody has to do something with that place at some point, right?
We stayed in Srebreno (the next town along) over the summer and I had chance to explore the Kupari ruins. One of the most amazing, surreal and desolate places I’ve ever visited. It is all still pretty much as in your photos, but there has been talk of Russians having bought the land for redevelopment. As of August 2018 there is absolutely no sign of redevelopment starting though.
Thanks for the update!
Just got back from a holiday in Dubrovnik old town and Cavtat. Could see these hotels from the water taxi. Took some great pictures, would of loved to have gone in but my wife wouldn’t appreciate it. Even seen couple of cars parked up and bathers. There was another hotel right by Dubrovnik, huge! Apparently it was 5* Hotel Belvedere. Good looking at your pictures. I’ve been in Hotel Fjord in Kotor, Montenegro, also abandoned. And Chernobyl, Ukraine. Love things like this, and the ghostly history.
Hi Ryan Visited today and the place is really beautiful sandy beaches good views and still derelict hotels with nothing left inside but plenty of bullet and shell holes outside. This place could be a goldmine if only I was a man with unlimited finances. Good article and yes nothing has changed in the village
Hey Len. Thanks so much for your feedback. I find it quite interesting that not a single person has yet to do something with this land/property. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Hey great read! We are just back from our 2nd time In Kupari. I used to holiday in Croatia regularly in the1980’s and seeing Kupari in 2017 was a must but also very moving.
Last time we ventured just a couple of floors up and took hundreds of photos, this year we reached the top of the pelegrin, the Kupari and the Gorčina – amazing views but quite scary climbs!
There is also the hotel Belvedere a few kilometres nearer to Dubrovnik that is abandoned and also now the hotel Zupa on the d8 near to Mlini that can be explored.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I haven’t heard of the Belvedere hotel. Maybe I’ll check it out the next time I’m in the area.
Hi Ryan enjoyed your story so me and the wife visited the ruined hotels today. I’m a professional photographer and got some good shots but there was a weird feeling there which I last felt after a photo project I did on Auschwitz last year. I know the two places are totally different but there was just something about this place that sent shivers down you spine. There were no security about and only saw two other people were seen. According to the local media the hotels are now being looked at by the Rex group with the plan of renovating The Grand as a centrepiece with new hotels being built around that. I can imagine that being doable as I’ve renovated deselect buildings myself and that is certainly a project with potential.
Hey Richard. Thanks for the reply. Glad to hear you enjoyed the site. It’s definitely a creepy place. I hope they do something with the property eventually. It would be a beautiful place to develop.
I’ve been staying in Mlini for a few days and wandered across here today on my own ! Reading your blog about it was very similar to my experience. It was so interesting but eerie at the same time.
Cool! Thanks for sharing. Hope you had a great time.