Dubrovnik, August 2015
I’m a huge fan of Croatia. I must be as I’ve been over 30 times and have written six guidebooks to the country! There are loads of glorious towns and cities sprinkled along its glittering Adriatic coastline. The most famous is Dubrovnik, which Lord Bryon eulogised as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. It is easy to see why he was so enamoured with a city whose pedestrianised old town is hemmed in by mighty stone walls and flanked by rugged mountains on one side and the cleanest seas in Europe on the other. The city is also famous these days, of course, as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones and it is wonderfully theatrical and cinematic. Join me now as I share my insider Top 9 Things to Do in Dubrovnik…
- Walk the Mighty – Dubrovnik’s sturdy fortified walls sweep 2km around the city. Walking around them is the best way to get a real feel for Dubrovnik. I recommend you tackle them later in the day when the temperatures are cooler and the light on the stone much softer for photography.
- Hit the Beach – The city’s main beach enjoys warm waters and epic views back to the old town. You can hire a sun lounger, chill at the bar/restaurant Eastwest beach club, or just stroll along dipping your toes in the Adriatic.
- Head up High – A cable car is the easiest way to ascend Mount Srd, the craggy hill that looms up behind Dubrovnik. I recommend hiking one way and catching the cable car the other. They have a café and restaurant up here with epic views out over the city and the surrounding islands. You will run out of photo space on your phone! Make sure to check out the war museum here too, which is housed in the old fort that helped save the city when it was under siege in the early 1990s.
- Pose along the Stradun – The city’s gracefully tall Dalmatian people like nothing better than a good pose. Their prime spot for an evening stroll is along the lifeblood Stradun. The old town’s main thoroughfare eases along in a sweep of marble, with cafes dotted along its length where you can enjoy a bijela kava (local café latte) on the way or a chilled pivo (beer). Make sure to spruce yourself up and slip on a pair of designer shades if you want to fit in!
- Go for Game of Thrones – For Game of Thrones fans Dubrovnik is King’s Landing. If you are a fan of the series you will need no introduction to the likes of the Lovrijenac Fortress (the Red Keep) and the Minceta Tower. I did a blog for Rough Guides on the locations if you really want to go for it.
- Shop Until You Drop – Dubrovnik is home to myriad shops these days. I would steer clear of the really touristy ones on the Stradun, which cater for the cruise ship crowds. Instead break seawards from the Stradun into the wee lanes that house some more interesting wee stores and boutiques. Jewellery is a local speciality.
- Enjoy Superb Seafood – Fresh Adriatic seafood is a real treat. Don’t be tempted by the photo menus and hollering waiters of Prijeko and instead enjoy the good stuff at seafood Bota Sare. They conjure up their own mussels and oysters in nearby Ston so freshness and quality is guaranteed. Out of the old town local favourite Orsan is ideal for a leisurely lunch laden with fresh seafood and crisp Dalmatian Posip wine.
- Cruise through History – Ok so I’m not normally a fan of ‘historical’ tourist ships, but Karaka is beautiful and a lot of fun. This replica 16th century ship is all lavish wood and billowing sails. They do all manner of cruises (including weddings and Game of Thrones themed options), but the views whichever you choose are unfailingly mind-blowing.
- Head to a Bar with a View – Dubrovnik these days overflows with bars. I’ve got my own wee local favourite I’ll let you in on, but shsshh, don’t tell anyone! Head for Buza. The twin Buza bars are a bit hidden away. Look out for the etched ‘Buza’ near the old town’s Jesuit Church. They offer no frills, just a cold beer literally on the rocks as the Adriatic laps at your toes and the mighty old town walls rear above. Živeli!
Robin McKelvie has been a travel writer, broadcaster and photographer since 1997. He has written thousands of travel articles for magazines and newspapers across five continents. In recent years he has also moved heavily into online writing, social media and blogging.