About the city:
Aptly named the Pearl of the Adriatic – Dubrovnik is a medieval, walled city on the Dalmatian coast. It’s hardly believable that most of what you currently see was rebuilt. Dubrovnik was a Republic since it was established, and remained so, until it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then communist Yugoslavia. After the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991, the city was significantly damaged from shelling. The city has since bounced back, is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and rakes in millions from tourism revenue. Go you Dubrovnik!
Take a 2-hour trip out to the glittering Adriatic on a kayaking tour. This cost us 250 Kuna – which equates to about 25 GBP. Prepare to paddle 4.1 miles, around the beautiful Island of Lokrum, exploring cave beaches along the way. Don’t panic, you stop for small breaks every 15 to 20 minutes – so your arms don’t fall off from rowing. Our wonderful guide Marko also treated us to some mini history lessons along the way. Paddle along the rugged coastline before hopping off into a cave to have a snack and a paddle. The tour company are called X-Adventures, who I would highly recommend. You can access their website by clicking here
No trip to Dubrovnik would be complete without a walk along the marvel of the city walls. From here, you can truly appreciate the sublime contrast between the Adriatic and the terracotta roofs. Tickets can be purchased at the Pile gate – for 150 Kuna they grant you entrance to the walls and surrounding forts. Make sure you take water with you to the top. And also be prepared to stop for a photo op (or 70). The views are irresistible.
Mount Srd is approximately 412m high and boasts breath-taking views of the Old Town below and the Island of Lokrum. You have the option to hike up to the top or catch a cable car. It takes about an hour to reach the top by foot and is quite challenging – if that’s what you’re into. Dubrovnik, in general is quite hilly so don’t worry about missing the gym, by day 3 I was hobbling about like a 90-year-old.
Enter the famous Old City through either the Pile or Ploce Gate. You’ll notice the statue of St Blaise – the cities patron Saint and protector since the days of the Republic. Wander along the polished cobbles of the Stradun and stumble up the quaint little side streets. There are plenty of cafés and bars that are an absolute delight to sit in and watch the world go by.
Dubrovnik’s beaches are to die for, and you are spoilt for choice! Banje beach and Dance beach were my favourites, situated near the Old Town. There are plenty more in the surrounding areas – such as Lapad. In Lapad, visit the beautiful pier or challenge yourself to the Total Wipeout style assault course in the sea.
Game of Thrones Tour
We took the Game of Thrones tour on day 3. Our guide was wonderful and knowledgeable, however, the tour included spots that we had already visited. I would maybe recommend googling these areas yourself, they’re not too hard to find!
The island of Lokrum is situated a short distance across the water from the Old Harbour. We didn’t get a chance to visit, but our kayak instructor and GOT guide highly recommended it. Our instructor also told us the chilling tale of how the Island was cursed by Benedictine Monks. A few people met their grim end after staying overnight on the island, including two members of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg family. On a lighter note, there is a replica Iron Throne and you might see some peacocks!
Food and drink:
One of the many reasons I fell in love with Dubrovnik was that there were no franchises. No McDonald’s, no Burger King, no Starbucks. Now, I don’t know the first thing about economics BUT I assume that money being spent is pumped back into the local economy and not going towards some CEO’s 4th holiday mansion. Coffee addicts, don’t fret! Dubrovnik is renowned for its coffee culture and it’s not hard to find a good cup.
Nishta – Vegan food and cakes! (Highly recommend).
Bona Fide – Mexican cuisine with plenty of vegan-friendly options!
This is situated at the top of Mount Srd and offers insane views of the Old Town and surrounding islands. Definitely worth a visit.
Banje Beach Club – Amazing cocktails, I suggest a Bramble! Happy Hour is from 5-7pm.
Karaka – Irish Bar. We found it hard to find a nice rose wine in the Old Town, but here they have a bottle called Laguna for 120 Kuna.
D’vino – Good for wine tasting.
Anywhere else really, what’s not to love about getting drunk in a UNESCO world heritage site or a beautiful beach.
Dubrovnik is enjoyable whatever your budget. It is easily doable on £70 per day, which includes excursions, eating out, and going out at night! Here’s what you might expect to pay for:
2 Course meal for 2 (Relatively un-fancy) – 4/500 Kuna
Domestic draught beer – 30 Kuna
Sea Kayaking – 250 Kuna
Access to the walls – 150 Kuna
Cable Car – 130 Kuna
GOT Tour – 150 Kuna
Airport return transfer by bus – 70 Kuna
£20 = 180 Kuna
€20 = 150 Kuna
$20 = 130 Kuna
When to go and where to stay:
We were advised by several locals that May or late September are the best times to visit. In the high season it gets really crowded and temperatures soar. High season is from June – mid-September.
Staying anywhere near the Pile Gate is recommended. This way, you are about 5/10 minutes away from the Old Town. Look for apartments or an Airbnb and you will find something to suit your budget, whether it be basic or luxury.
We stayed in Cib&Co Apartments. The apartment itself was beautiful, 10/10 for cleanliness with minimalist chic décor. The only downside was that it was situated almost half way up Mount Srd, (hence aforementioned hobbling). Although this was challenging it meant we got a good old workout in. YAY.
As usual, I packed way more than I needed because I didn’t quite know what to expect. In May, right before the season starts, the weather is hot – but bearable!
For Sea kayaking – Swimsuit/comfy shorts T-shirt.
For the city walls – Consider a hat and something to cover your shoulders. There is NO shade from the sun up there.
People weren’t overly dressed up in the evenings, so most of my fancier clothes stayed inside my suitcase.
Definitely opt for comfortable structured shoe. There are a LOT of hills in Dubrovnik.
Those frightening looking shoes made for the beach. Most of the beaches here are pebble so you will be thankful to have packed a pair of these if you love the beach!
GoPro Hero 4 – The wide-angle lens lets you capture landscapes beautifully. The waterproof housing and compactness meant I could capture our sea kayaking adventure!
Canon EOS 1300D – I love this camera, as it captures the smallest of details. It has versatile settings meaning its good for close-ups, portrait, landscape and action shots.
The trusty iPhone! I love shooting in HDR mode during the day.