What to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a beautiful city in Croatia, nested on the coastline over looking the Adriatic Sea. It is the perfect mixture of an old life wandering the streets of the old city and today as you can explore the modern city of Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik also known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ has been a major port in the Mediterranean Sea since the 13th Century. It was first established in the 7th Century and it has been a jewel as it was an independent republic that rivaled the Venetians. Dubrovnik was independent during the rule of the Romans, the Venetians, and the Ottoman Empire until the city surrendered to the Napoleonic Army who wanted to use the port as a way to lets his troops pass until it was abolished as a republic becoming part of Naploean’s Kingdom. In 1814 the city surrendered to British and Austrian Troops which led it to becoming part of the Austro-Hungrian Empire for 100 years when it became part of Yugoslavia until 1991 when the city suffered a seven month siege finally becoming part of the Republic of Croatia after suffering so much after it spend most of its history being a city that was protected from attacks. The city was restored into what we see now which is what we can only imagine what Dubrovnik was like in its golden days.
You made know Dubrovnik nowadays due to it being the film locations from Game of Thrones and Star Wars but this beautiful city has it’s own story to tell from it’s rugged coastline and beaches to kayak to, the chance to lose yourself in the many alleys around the city and the majestic views of the city from high above on the City Walls.
What to see
There are so many beautiful gems to see in Dubrovnik from the Old City to the Water’s Edge.
Exploring the Old Town
The Old Town is full of beautiful alleyways, hidden secrets and 100s of staircases. The most wonderful thing to do in Dubrovnik is to get lost inside its walls, I discovered how the locals lived; walking their shopping up those many stairs, having gardens where ever they could find space and enjoying the evening time as the weather was cooler and the stars began to light up the sky. From walking around the alleyways I discovered great places to buy traditional jewellery, wonderful local restaurants along Prijeko ul, the many cats and Buza Bar that is on the rocky edge of the city walls which leads to a rock beach with many jumping into the water, to find the bar follow signs that say Cold Drinks and it will lead you into a doorway on the edge of the walls leading you to this amazing views of the deep blue waters and Lokrum Island. So many different twists and turns.
Inside the the Old Town you will discover many wonderful sights.
The Old Town has many gateways to enter the city but nothing as impressive as the front door known as the Pile Gate. It takes you across a bridge with wonderful views of the sea and Fort Lovrigenac on your right, as you enter the gate you begin to get a sense of what life what like in the Town as you weave down the cobble steps into the city itself.
Stradun is the main street through the Old Town of Dubrovnik. It is the heart of the city with all its alleyways that will lead you off onto your adventures. You may known it from The Last Jedi but it really shows off the beautiful architecture of the city.
Along the Stradun you will discover a long list of places to view.
Onofrio Fountain is a fountain that is right next to the Pile Gate, it was build in 1438 and has been a drinking fountain ever since, you can even fill up your bottle of water today. It has the feeling of a Star Wars world, but it is a beautiful place to sit down and admire its stone work as well as sitting down with a ice cream watching the world go pass.
The Cloisters of the Franciscan Monastery
Directly opposite the Onofrio Fountain is the the one of the Oldest Pharmacy in the world being founded in 1317 which is still in use. It was originally used for the Franciscan Friars who lived in the Monastery. The monastery is worth a visit for the Cloisters, they are unique to me as they are covered in brightly painted frescoes and a glorious Mediterranean garden, all laced off with stone lace arches. It cost 30 HRK (4€) to enter the Cloisters and Museum.
At the end of Stradun is Luza Square, the square leads you off onto many different paths. You can visit the leading to the Old Port which you can get boats to the Island of Lokrum or just stroll around.
The Church of Saint Blaise is in the square which is a lovely example of Churches in Dubrovnik’s old town. The mini fountain of Onofrio is nested underneath the Bell Tower. Follow the Archways to witness the wonderful architectural designs carved into the stone of the Rector’s Palace. It is the perfect place to people watch but even better is to enjoy the evening lights in Luza Square as it becomes truly beautiful especially with the sparrows singing above your head.
Gunduliceva Poljana Market
In a square around the corner from the Rector’s Palace is the Gunduliceva Poljana Market, it is a place to get local produce from delicious peaches to ripe tomatoes, as well as traditional hand sewn embroidery, lavender and paintings to name a few. It is a great place to get a feel for living in the Old Town Walls.
Cathedral of the Assumption
Following the path onwards from the Market there is a staircase that leads you up to the Cathedral of the Assumption. It is the largest church in Dubrovnik that over looks the city. The Cathedral is glorious full of Romanesque architecture, inside is also a grotto which feels like the rugged coastline is growing inside the Cathedral. It is the must see church in Dubrovnik, not only for the architectures but for the views of the city below.
The City Walls
Walking the City Walls is a must to in Dubrovnik. It offers the most stunning views across the city creating a sea of Burnt Orange and Blue. You will be able to see all walks of life from above from the Stunning Cathedrals and Bell Towers, right through to seeing local life as they weave through the streets to their homes, their places to sit out with their neighbours and their secret gardens growing all sorts. Not only do you get to see inside the City but you can look over the rolling mountains and the deep blue seas, it is easy to understand why this city was never breached. From every step you get unbelievable views far and wide and feel the connection to this beautiful city. To walk around the city walls it is best to do it at 8am to avoid the heat and tourist or even later in the day around 5.30/6pm when the day is beginning to die down. It takes around 1.5 Hours to walk around the City Walls. It cost 150 HRK (20€) tickets can either be bought online or at the ticket office near the Pile Gate.
Paddleboarding/Kayaking the City Walls
From walking the high walls of the Old Town you can also paddle around the rocky shores that the Old Town is build on. You will soon discover many people on little tours paddling around on a Kayak. It is absolutely a must, not only is it a chance to see the city from a unique angle but you can explore the coast line and all the secret beaches and it is so much fun. You can do it as a group or if you are a keen Paddleboarder like I am you can hire a paddleboard or Kayak for half a day. I loved hiring a Paddleboard, I got to spend hours enjoying hidden caves, beaches and crystal waters using Adriatic Kayak Tours was the perfect way for me to experience the city walls by water.
Outside the walls of the Old Town is Fort Lovrijenac that sits high on a rocky outcrop. It once was a second defensive of Dubrovnik that helped protect the Old Town even more from invaders especially from the Venetians. Today it offers a wonderful walk up into the Fort with stunning views of its surrounding landscape. It cost 150 HRK (20€) to visit the Fort.
In Dubrovnik it can get extremely warm in the Summer heat. There are many rocky beaches to enjoy around Dubrovnik to cool off. All the beaches are pebble beaches so if you have swim shoes I would suggest bringing them as it can get temperamental getting into the water. The main beaches are Kolorina which is located right next to the Pile Gate, Banje Beach which is a small walk from the Old Port, Sveti Jakov Beach which is best reached via a Kayak, one of the beaches on the edge of the Old City Walls at Buza Bar or Mala Buza Bar, or visit my 2 favourite beaches I went to Sulic Beach which was more of a local beach and to Lapad Beach which has wonderful little rocky perches to swim from and even better sunsets.
Dubrovnik has a rocky mountain edge that looks over it. You can reach the top by a long walk or by grabbing a Cable Car to the top. It has views of all of Dubrovnik from the Old Town to the new city to the Port with the 100s of boats that are docked. It is the perfect view in any light, from the morning and to sunset and the dark sky that shows off all the lights of the city. I really loved going up there to watch the Sunset and see the Nightlife, but I wish I had joined the queue earlier as everyone had the same idea. You can buy tickets at 2 shops outside the City Walls on the way up to the Cable Cars or at the Cable Cars itself or even online. It cost 150 HRK (20€) for a round trip.
Where to stay
Staying in Dubrovnik I felt was an easy choice for me, I decided to stay inside the City Walls. How often do you get to stay inside such a historical place? I just wanted to absorb as much of this lifestyle and it was easier than staying somewhere were I would need to get in a bus or taxi to get back and forth. I was lucky enough to book a room on Prijeko Ul which runs parallel to Stradun as well as being on the street with the best restaurants in town. I was so lucky to have a balcony where I could sit and listen to the people below enjoying their meal and be in the heart of the city over looking the orange burnt tiled roofs. I couldn’t ask for a better place to have rested my head in Dubrovnik. You can either use a booking website or Airbnb as most accommodation inside the Old City is styled as apartment hotels.
Where to eat
Croatia is full of delicious fresh food, not to mention the seafood. There are so many gems to eat at in Dubrovnik, just wander up any little alleyways or ask a local for there favourite place. But in my travels I found some nice little stops to eat a great meal at.
Buza Bar- Buza Bar offers a great place to enjoy a refreshing cold drink and a snack overlooking the crystal waters.
Wine Bar Matusko - Full of local wines to try out, the bar is carved into the stone of the mountain giving a cool atmosphere.
Konoba Moskar - The best seafood you will eat in town, make sure you try the Cuttlefish Risotto.
Rozario- Little restaurant that is layered on the streets with a variety of food.
Cave Bar- Cave Bar is a short bus ride and stroll out of the city walls, it is perfect to watch the sunset while enjoying a yum meal.
Peppino's Ice Cream Shop - One of the best ice cream places in the Old Town.
Tips for Visiting
3 to 4 Days is the perfect amount of time you need to visit Dubrovnik. You can take your time to explore the Old Town, swim along the beaches and have a relaxing visit or even explore further to Lokrum Island.
HRK or known as Kunas is the currency. You will soon discover there are alot of ATMs around the city as shops/restaurants prefer is you use cash to pay your way. It is a bit shocking when you are handing over 150HRK for a something but it is best to think of it as £15.00 or 12HRK as £1.20 then you can convert it to Euros.
When visiting Dubrovnik it can get extremely hot as it is in the Mediterranean Sea so make sure you bring a hat and have a bottle of water.
Dubrovnik is also part of the Cruise Ships Itinerary which makes it horrible during the mornings in the Old City as the streams of Tour Groups take over the city. They sadly are too busy taking photos to pay attention to their surroundings, which made them walk into me alot so it is best to leave the city walls in the morning and visit the Old City from Midday onwards when they go back to their cruise ships in the port.
You can get every where with a bus from the Port to Old City or to one of the Beaches or the Airport. Bus Tickets can be bought at a kiosk with a single costing 12HRK. For the shuttle buses to and from the Airport it cost 40HRK for a single and 70HRK for a return with the bus stopping at the Old Town Pile Gate, the Port and Main Bus Terminal. All bus information can be found at bus stops.
Dubrovnik was somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time, to discover a old city and a new place/country, I can tell you I wasn’t disappointed it was a lovely place to explore. I loved the food, the sunsets, the rugged coast not to mention the water, it was the perfect way to get the last of the summer sun and not to forget relaxing in this wonderful place.