Nowadays associated with the hit show Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik stands as the most visited Croatian city. The Old City epitomizes a medieval citadel with its robust perimeter wall, narrow alleyways, and Gothic and Romanesque architecture. It’s extremely charming, with restaurants and cafes plaguing the alleys and plazas, but majestic in its own right, with gates, cathedrals, and structures standing tall. Of course, Dubrovnik covers a larger area than just the Old City. Much of the surrounding residential areas serve as a getaway from the city noise and a place to experience Dubrovnik’s beaches. This is how I explored this wonderful coastal city!
Cable Car: for a full panoramic view of the city, take the cable car to the top of the mountain. The view of the Old City’s architecture, combined with the buildings’ red rooftops and the contrast of the azure sea will leave you in awe. There’s also a popular restaurant at the top worth a stop if hungry.
Old City: my strongest suggestion is to get lost within the ancient walls. Some streets are full of tourists, but if you delve into narrower alleys further from the main square (named Stradun) you’ll end up in some beautiful marble streets with Dubrovnik’s locals.
Game of Thrones: GOT fans, look no further! Dubrovnik offers a 2 hour walking tour that will show you everything. It’s a must for anyone that has been captivated by this show. Fun fact: it has been reported that when filming the show, Dubrovnik’s locals were paid $100 per closed window!
The dilemma that most people face when booking a hotel or hostel is whether they should stay in the Old City and its immediate vicinity, or just outside of it to escape the hustle and bustle. We had limited time, and thus, decided on the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik. It’s right outside the main gate and a 5 minute walk to the center. Their breakfast was very tasty and their outdoor seating area is charming. If you want a more relaxed feel, try Hotel Kompas, located just 10 minutes driving from the city center in the neighborhood of Lapad. The surrounding beaches are calm and relaxing. Another option is the vast apartments for rent inside the Old City. They vary in price, but if you want to be in the midst of it all, this might be the best way to see Dubrovnik’s center.
360 Restaurant: this is a cool place to have lunch or dinner, or simply a few drinks while enjoying the magnificent view of the city. Make sure to have a reservation, as it is quite popular.
Revelin: if you can’t get a spot at 360 (it’s constantly fully booked during the summer months), walk over to Revelin, located just 2 minutes from 360 and not only offering great appetizers and drinks but a clear view of the city as well.
Banje Beach: we visited Banje to get a taste of the beach and relax under the Croatian sun. This pebbly beach offers sunbeds and chairs (for rent) as well as an indoor restaurant with pumping house music that turns into a full blast party as the day progresses. Like many beach clubs, the music (and people) can get cheesy at times.
The list of restaurants is infinite as they’re all tucked away into the several alleys and streets. We tried the following:
Proto: for a more refined dining experience with incredible seafood, head over to Proto in the city center. The menu carries an extensive list of seafood and they do not disappoint.
Stara Loza: this restaurant is tucked in one of Dubrovnik’s extremely quaint streets. Try the black gnocchi dish, it’s delicious. The seafood is also on point.
We didn’t go crazy here. However, there are many bars that cater to everyone’s tastes. Also, Croatia’s wines, unfamiliar to much of the world, are fantastic. Posip is the Dalmatian coast’s famous white wine from the island of Korcula and should not be missed during a refreshing afternoon. At night, we sipped on an Ivan Dolac Barrique, a light red, and a Kairos, a bit heavier red.
Croatia recently joined the European Union and has been overwhelmed with tourism the last few years. Here are a few tips to make your trip smoother:
Kunas: despite its entry to the EU, this is the country’s national currency and it’s widely accepted throughout. Euros are basically rejected everywhere, so make sure you exchange some cash.
Heat: if you’re going to Dubrovnik during the summer, pack lightly, it gets hot. And I don’t mean hot, I mean ABSURDLY HOT. The combination of a cloudless sky, a radiant sun, and marble streets and buildings, makes the Old City an oven and you its roasted chicken.
Pebbly beaches and rocky coves: the Adriatic’s transparent sapphire blue waters make you want to jump right in to it, but be careful with the rocky beaches and coves; they also carry quite the amount of sea urchins.