August 2021. Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik and due to the strict schedule we pre-planned, we had less than 2 full days. And as you might have heard, Dubrovnik offers dozens of options on how to enjoy your visit. There are options for every type of visitor. You can relax at the beach, enjoy the local cuisine and nightlife, explore the ancient city and learn its history, visit its museums, experience amazing day cruises in nearby islands and day trips to nearby cities, parks and waterfalls. There is at least one option for every type of tourism, either you are up for relaxation / wellness tourism, adventure tourism, cultural & food etc.
Dena and I squeezed some things in less than two days, because after Dubrovnik we had to drive to Makarska, Split, fly to Zagreb and a bunch of other places in between. We didn't do everything we wanted in Dubrovnik, but even so, the other cities we visited were important too so if you wanna know more about them, I will soon be posting, links below for each city we visited and a generic article about Croatia and how we planned our trip in 9 days.
How did we spend our 2 days in Dubrovnik, what we did and what we saw?
First of all, just walk. Walk in the walled city to get an understanding of where you are and feel the city. We walked around the walled city, discovering the mysterious medieval alleys, without any schedule or certain destination for a couple of hours. The city is so old, with so much history behind it, that every corner, every building, even some rocks on structures have their own history. Without any planning, we left our cozy little room (I will get back on this later on) and within 5 minutes of walking we reached the famous Pile Gate of Dubrovnik and the crowded yet beautiful Stradun street.
I cannot remember a single moment that we stopped staring at that medieval architecture and wondering ‘’how is this still, so well preserved?’’. We turned to the Gundulićeva poljana street and while we were still surrounded by that same architecture of detached buildings, we passed through the old market with its lovely smells and the colors of local fresh fruits and other goodies. We climbed the famous historic baroque staircase (you might recognize it from Game of Thrones) and reached the Church of St. Ignatius. Headed back to the early 18th-century baroque cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, passed near the 14th-century Gothic-Renaissance Rector's Palace and reached the 16th century Renaissance Sponza Palace. We turned to Ribarnica str. passed through two huge arched entrances and reached the old port. If you walk across the dock and look back you will realize how extraordinary the walled city is. The walls built as a fort were constructed at the edge of the land and sea, making it a spectacle to the eye and of course a damn difficult target for the invaders.
During our walk, which lasted 2-3 hours, I felt like I traveled through time and at some points felt like being inside the famous series of Game of Thrones. You definitely get that feeling that this city was really important at some point. AND IT WAS.
The city of Dubrovnik (Latin: Ragusa) was built on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages it became the only city-state in the Adriatic to rival Venice. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a remarkable level of development during the 15th and 16th centuries. Furthermore, Dubrovnik was one of the centers of the development of the Croatian language and literature, home to many notable poets, playwrights, painters, mathematicians, physicists and other scholars.
Evening free walking tour
Even though we already had a very enjoyable walk of our own as mentioned above, we also had pre-booked an evening free walking tour. And I can definitely say we haven’t regretted it at all. The tour guide was very polite and helpful and the organizer allows only a small group of people to participate on the tour, in order to be more efficient and enjoyable. A lot of the places I mentioned above, me and Dena just had a glimpse of them or passed nearby, saw and left without getting the information and the story behind it. In this tour though, our tour guide did a great job giving up details, names of the temples, names of architectures and dates of structures and stories of important events of the city. I will not get into details, but I think this is a MUST. You can find information for free walking tours in Dubrovnik here freedubrovniktours.
Note: Although it is not obligatory, people tend to leave a tip to the tour guide. So do we. It is appreciated by them and it is very important for these young guys and a good motivation to keep this tour going.
Relax and Swim on the Beach
Apart from the historic and cultural side of the city, Dubrovnik has a great coastline and offers various beach options, rocky shores, cliffs, sandy beaches and secluded swimming spots. It is after all a part of the bigger Croatia coastline in the Adriatic sea. I will not be naming beaches and swimming spots I haven't visited or swim even though I know off. We only had a few hours on our second day in Dubrovnik and from what we saw from our walks and some research I did, we decided to visit Beach Šulić and Beach Bar Dodo.
Beach Sulic is a pretty hidden little paradise, away from the crowds where you can enjoy calm and clear waters. Good for swimming and perfect for relaxing. You can book a kayak if you like, which will make your time there even greater. And to complete that perfect vacation experience have some drinks and/or food on Beach Bar Dodo. I am supposed to be naming and giving advice for food and drinks at the end, but this was part of our Beach Sulic experience and I wouldn't want it any other way. Beach Bar Dodo is a few steps above the beach, and after our long swim we went there, sat on the bar stools facing the beach and ordered our first local beer. I cannot describe how beautiful this place is. Its location, the cool people in service, the local beer...I could go on all day.
It is an easy walking distance (app. 10 minute walk) if you are staying inside the walled city. I believe it was a great option. By walking there, you will find yourself on some great photo shooting spot of the city outside the walls.
Walk outside the walled city, along the walls for great photographic spots.
Banje Beach is a beautiful and clean beach too. We stopped for a while there but it was too crowded. Just to know that you have that option too.
Cable Car - Sunset at the Fort Imperial
I love cable cars in general and I always find them a beautiful experience. From this cable car though, the view of Dubrovnik, the islands of Koločep and Lokrum is something else. Hop on and enjoy the ride. Once you reach the top, take some time to discover the area and find your perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. Don't go, if you are not planning to enjoy the sunset, so organize your schedule accordingly. On the mountain top there are some observation decks, a restaurant, a gift shop, a huge stone mountaintop cross, the Fort Imperial and countless spots where you can sit back and enjoy the sun diving in the endless Adriatic sea. It was such a great experience. And I noticed that same smile of satisfaction i had, into the couples, families and groups of friends up there. Anyone enough said that's not a poetry text :)
Fort Imperial: Napoleon during the French occupation of the city gave the order to build it on this highly strategic position in 1806 and completed in 1812. A part of the Fort recently became a war museum ‘’Homeland War Museum’’ regarding the 1991 war (a huge subject, we will not be getting into now), if you want to visit.
HIKING: For the adventurous one and those that have enough time, you can hike your way up instead of using the cable car. Or even do it one was and hike the other. Just keep that in mind that you have this option. Click here for the spot on google maps.
Food and Drink
Croatia being a Central European and Mediterranean country has a very good cuisine. Dubrovnik, though I must say didn't impress me, in relation to other cities. And the reason for that, is not actually the cuisine but I think, is the HUGE number of tourists gathering in the small city during summer and especially August. So the food was ‘’just good’’, a bit expensive, big waiting cues to ALL the restaurants. August is not a good time to visit Croatia in my opinion and I will be posting soon more about it.
We did manage off course to find some places and here are they:
Beach Bar Dodo - Maybe the best beach bar in town (not crowded)
Konoba Nava - Surprisingly Good Food
Barbra - Very nice fast food (crowded)
Beer Factory Dubrovnik - GREAT for Beers. Haven’t tried the food because we went after Barba, but heard good comments from other visitors.
I don't have much to say about it, other than you need to do your research. The main question for you is ‘’’outside the walls or within the walls of Dubrovnik'’ ? Because if you choose to live within , you need to know that no vehicles are allowed entering and you need to carry your bag while walking to your property. Me and Dena stayed within and didn’t mind the carrying. It is totally worth it, living in such an amazing surrounding and being close to everything important in Dubrovnik. If you stay within I recommend this place ''Studio Tony'' , that we stayed at. Spacious, Cosy, perfect location, value for money and the owner was very polite.
This is what we did and how we enjoyed Dubrovnik. I hope you liked my blog post and that you can find some useful information if you are planning to visit. This is my 1st article regarding Croatia and more are coming up soon enough for the other cities and one with useful information about the whole country (renting a car, when to visit etc). Next we are driving to the town of Makarska for a night. Off we go...
Make sure you check you subscribe below if you like my posts and you haven't done it yet! Until the next post .. Cheers!