Gorgeous whatever the season, this leafy garden, 14km northwest of Dubrovnik, is the oldest of its kind in Croatia. It was during the Renaissance that Dubrovnik’s noblesse started to pay extra attention to their gardens. Ivan Gučetić started the trend at his Trsteno estate in 1494, and his descendants maintained the garden throughout the centuries. The land was eventually taken over by the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences & Arts, which turned it into a public arboretum.
The garden has a Renaissance layout, with a set of geometric shapes formed with plants such as lavender, rosemary, fuchsia and bougainvillea, while citrus trees perfume the air. It's set around a stone villa (built around 1500), with a cliff-edge pavilion in front and a chapel behind. There’s also a small hedge maze, a fine palm collection (including Chinese windmill palms) and a gorgeous pond overlooked by a statue of Neptune and filled with white waterlilies and dozens of bullfrogs and goldfish. It’s only partially landscaped, though – quite a bit of it is wonderfully wild.
Don’t miss the two giant plane trees at the entrance to Trsteno village – each is more than 500 years old and around 50m high. They're among the largest of their kind in Europe.
To get to Trsteno, catch local bus 12, 15, 21, 22 or 35 from Dubrovnik's bus station. Otherwise any intercity bus bound for Split will stop here.