Climate: Mediterranean climate, hot, muggy summers and mild, cool winters
Known for: Its Old Town, Game of Thrones, red roofs
Dubrovnik – the pearl of the Adriatic. The city is best known for its terra cotta roofs, breathtaking views, crystal clear water and medieval limestone walls that surround Old Town. If you’ve ever seen Game of Thrones (of course you have it’s the best show on TV) then you’ve probably heard of Dubrovnik. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if the city would live up to my expectations but in fact, it blew my expectations out of the water.
A bit of history: The name stems from dub, which means oak, and dubrava, which means wood. Can you guess what the city was built near? An Oak forest. The Old Town, as it stands today, was completed in the 13th century and remains pretty much untouched. Through wars, earthquakes and all these years, the walls never once fell. We need to call those architects and get them out here to California because they did something right. Anywho… Dubrovnik is now one of the most popular tourist destinations and enjoys a constant stream of visitors year round.
How to get here: There really aren’t any direct flights from the US to Croatia. But that’s not an issue. More than likely you’ll need to fly to a European hub like London, Paris or Amsterdam and then catch a connecting flight to Dubrovnik. From the Dubrovnik airport you can either take a taxi or hop on the bus. The bus is recommended and will cost you around 40 KUNA or about $7 (Cheep!) No matter what you choose both will drop you off at the Pile Gate (the entrance to Old Town) No cars are allowed inside the walls!
Getting around: Your own two feet! Seriously though. During our entire stay we only used a taxi one time and that was to take us to the cable car for our dinner at Panorama Restaurant. We could have walked from Old Town but we were in heels (girls will be girls lol).
Lingo: I’m just going to put this out there, Croatian is a difficult language. But I always think it’s important to give a new language a try – even if you struggle through it. I’ll be honest I only mastered hello.
Hello: Bok (bohk)
Nice to meet you: Drago mi je (dra-goh mee yeh)
Good morning: Dobro jutro (doh-broh you-troh)
Good night: Laku noć (laa-koo notch)
Goodbye: Bok (bohk)
Please: Molim (moh-limb)
Thank you: Hvala (hva-lah)
Yes: Da (da)
No: Ne (ne)
Excuse me / Sorry: Oprostite (oh-pro-sti-teh)
And the most important phrase to learn, which ironically is the hardest of all of these:
I can’t speak Croatian: Ne govorim hrvatski (neh goh-voh-reem hurv-ahts-kee)
My friend Rachel and I were debating between staying in a hotel or an AirBNB. I have to say Dubrovnik has some gorgeous hotels but when it came to finding something in our price range, in Old Town, AirBNB was the better option for us. I cannot say enough about our AirBNB. It was perfectly located, impeccably decorated and the service was by far the best. Upon arrival, our host sent someone to meet me at the gate and he graciously rolled my suitcase (harder than it sounds when you’re on cobblestones) all the way to our place. Not only that, but I needed to buy a curling iron and beauty products and wasn’t sure where to go. He walked me all the way to the drug store to make sure I found it alright. Talk about hospitality. Oh and on top of all of that, breakfast was included with the stay at this cute café right near the Pile Gate.
Definitely consider an AirBNB. But if you’re more into that five-star life, I’ll link to some of the hotels my mom suggests for her clients.
Walk the Walls: While I shy away from touristy attractions, I have to say a walk around the city walls is something you can’t miss when in Dubrovnik. My advice: get up early and go straight to the walls. Not only will you beat the heat but you’ll also beat the sea of tourists wanting to walk the walls at a snail’s pace lol. The ticket to walk the walls is about $25 and it takes around 2 hours (or more if you take a lot of pictures like me lol) to walk around the entire thing. I highly suggest a drink and a trip to the beach following a walk around the walls. In my opinion travel is all about balance and after all that walking it’s important to treat yo self!
To the top! If you like #views like me, then you can’t miss a trip up the cable car. In my opinion the best time to embark on your journey up Srd Hill is just before or right at sunset. Just be aware you won’t be the only one with this bright idea (there will be crowds, so allow for some extra time). It’s about $23 for a round trip ticket or you can buy a one way and hike up or down if you’re feelin’ sporty. I wasn’t. Instead I was feelin’ fancy. My friend who studied abroad in Croatia suggested dinner at the Panorama Restaurant at the top of the mountain. I cannot say this enough, it’s totally worth it. The views of Old Town were out of this world and the sunset we enjoyed while we were dining was something out of a movie. DEFINITELY make reservations ahead of time (I made ours a month in advance but I think that’s a bit overkill).
OTHER THINGS TO DO:
Game of Thrones Tour: If you’re a GOT fan you really should take a Game of Thrones Tour. I went through Game of Thrones Tour Dubrovnik and had an amazing experience. What I liked best was each of the guides was an extra in the show and had personal experiences with some of the actors. Our tour guide Vito played one of Cersei’s guards and was an incredible guide.
The Island of Lokrum: Visit the island of Lokrum. This was an extension of our Game of Thrones tour but you can also easily snag a ferry for around $5. The boat ride is about 15 minutes long and once you’re on the island it’s as if you were transported to a tranquil forest. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy an afternoon swim, leisurely walk or cliff jump if you feel so inclined.
Beach Day: If you’d rather stay closer to Old Town, Banje Beach is the closest spot to sunbathe. Just a short walk outside the walls and you come upon a bustling beach filled with umbrellas and lounge chairs. While in the states renting a cabana can be expensive, here a lounge chair was about $20 for the day (totally worth it because the beaches are kind of rocky).
Panorama Restaurant: Gorgeous views, delicious seafood, great wines. Definitely worth a trip up the cable car and make sure to ask to be seated outside if you can and the weather is nice.
Taj mahal: Great Bosnian food! It’s located right in Old Town down one of the small alleyways the city is known for. Great traditional food.
Nautika: I did not personally eat here because we couldn’t snag a reservation but I heard great things. The restaurant is owned by the same company that owns Panorama so I imagine the quality is similar. The restaurant is located right near the Pile Gate outside of Old Town with beautiful views of the Adriatic.
Konoba Dubrava: Again, I did not dine here but when we asked where to get an authentic meal this is where most people told us to go. I did however try authentic cuisine similar to this while on Yacht Week and I have to say you need to try this food. Peka is a signature dish in Croatia. Basically it’s a combination of vegetables and meat cooked under a bell like dome. It’s bomb and you need to have it at least once before you leave.
Buza Bar: THIS PLACE IS AWESOME AND IF YOU DON’T GO I’LL BE MAD AT YOU! Okay, so Buza translates to hole in the wall and you quite literally walk through a hole in the medieval walls to get to this bar. It’s not anything fancy but the views of the Adriatic and the island of Lokrum are worth it. Enjoy beer or wine or both and watch the sunset.
Razonoda Wine Bar: Best cheese board I had on the trip, and it was the first, so it was all downhill from here lol. This cute wine bar is where my friend Rachel and I waited on our reservation one night. They serve delicious Croatian wines and yummy tapas. Definitely worth a stop.
Poco Loco: This fusion cocktail bar was really close to our AirBNB. We stopped by after our dinner at Panorama for a few drinks. It’s located in a little square with a few other bar restaurants. They were playing music one night and it was a really cool vibe. Definitely a night spot if you’re looking for a fun time!
Iron Throne: You’ll have to take the ferry to Lokrum for this one but I mean…come on it’s worth it to sit in the OG iron throne
Cersei’s Walk of Shame: Yea that part where she walks naked through the streets… that was filmed here.
Pretty much anywhere along the walls