10 Fun Things in Dubrovnik
10 Fun Things to do in Dubrovnik
The time of the year to plan your spring/summer getaways has arrived, so I thought it only appropriate to finally publish a post about Dubrovnik!
Up until the age of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik used to be a hidden gem, but its popularity has surged since the hit show started filming there in 2011. This historic city, with a pedestrian-only centre, is the perfect backdrop for the show: impeccably preserved city walls and fortified battlements, great gates and drawbridges and, within the city walls, countless Baroque buildings, both religious and secular.
I had never really thought about visiting Dubrovnik until one of my best friends persuaded me to go there for a weekend; and, to tell you the truth, I am so glad I did! Dubrovnik is definitely one of the most architecturally picturesque cities in Europe, with an enviably dreamy location on the edge of the blue waters of Adriatic. The lack of cars in Old Town adds a surreal touch: when was the last time you were in a city centre which is devoid of cars and their accompanying noise and pollution?
- Walk the ancient city walls.
The defensive stone city walls of Dubrovnik Old Town, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979, are a truly imposing sight. During the golden age of the self-proclaimed maritime city-state of Ragusa (1358-1808), Dubrovnik flourished in peace and prosperity for almost five centuries, and its mighty walls were never breached by a hostile army.
So, if you have time for only one activity then doing a one-hour-long walk along the stone city walls should be your number one priority. From the top, views of both the inner city with its sandy coloured buildings and terracotta roof tiles, and the glistening waters of the Adriatic are astounding. In fact, the walk will probably take longer than one hour, since you will be unable to stop taking photos!
A little tip: the walls are best visited early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, to avoid hordes of cruise ship passengers.
- Go on the Games of Thrones tour
Nowadays, many people come to Dubrovnik, because it is one of the major locations for Games of Thrones, and according to one of the show’s senior production members: “Dubrovnik was built for Games of Thrones”. Not sure I would necessarily agree, but without much alteration the Old Town, it is the perfect backdrop. You do not necessarily have to be a nerd to undertake this tour: it is more of a traditional city tour with a fun twist to it!
You can book your Games of Thrones tour here.
- Feast on fresh and delicious oysters.
I suppose, it only applies to you, if you like oysters… Personally, I love them and can never get enough!
My mother once said that Dubrovnik has the most delicious oysters, and she, just like my father, is an exceptionally well-travelled person (if I had to guess, it would be 100+ countries), so she probably knows best.
I would recommend going to Lokando Peskarija located on the Old Harbour in the vicinity of the fish market. They also serve a deletable assortment of other fresh, local seafood.
- Spend a few hours on Lokrum Island
Lokrum island is the perfect easy getaway when you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the Old Town.The island is situated a 10-minute ferry ride from the Old Town. Here, you will find wonderful hiking opportunities, with some secluded little beaches, a botanic garden and great views of the Old Town itself. There are gorgeous peacocks roaming the island, which adds a lovely decorative touch.
If you are daring enough, visit Lokrum’s nudist beach, which was actually the most beautiful rocky beach (in terms of scenery, nothing else!) that we came across. In addition, since it is an activity of an “acquired” taste, it was relatively uncrowded; being naked is not a mandatory requirement…
- Attend Dubrovnik Summer Festival
If you travel to Dubrovnik in July and August, your visit will coincide with Dubronik Summer Festival, a nightly extravaganza of music, be it classical, jazz or modern. Music events take place all over town, the majority in the open air under starry skies.
During my visit at the end of August, I attended two events: a jazz concert performed on top of Dubrovnik’s ancient city walls, and a gala closing concert consisting of excerpts from Verdi operas taking place in the main square. If you love music, then definitely plan you visit around Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
- Rent a jet ski and go to a remote beautiful beach
Unfortunately, beaches in the walking vicinity of Dubrovnik are not great: swarming with people, and the sand is a little coarse…
On the other hand, there is an array of uncrowded, very pretty beaches, and wonderful scenery in general in the environs of Dubrovnik. The quickest and easiest way to explore them is to rent a jet ski for a day, which gives you a lot of freedom of movement, and you can even get close to the Old Town’s walls from a different vantage point. Bring a picnic with you, and have a romantic getaway from the city!
You can rent a jet ski from Garitransfer.
N.B. Technically you are supposed to have a jet ski license, which, of course, I did not… It meant that I ended up spending a somewhat uncomfortable hour in my swimsuit at a police station, whilst they were checking my particulars and waiting for the jet ski owner to pay the fine. Looking at the silver lining, the policemen were actually quite friendly and chatty, and offered me a good cup of coffee!
- Have a photo-shoot with macaws and cuckatoos.
These large friendly and gorgeous parrots, which you will stumble upon along the main thoroughfare, Stradun, are an excellent and fun prop for a photo-shoot! For a small fee, you are welcome to decorate yourself like the most flamboyant Christmas tree with these birds, and take as many photos as you wish.
- Ride a cable car
For sky high views of the Old Town, its fortified battlements and terracotta-tiled roofs – for vantage points higher than 400 metres – take a cable car that whisks you all the way to the top in under five minutes. Once on top, you can wander around a little, look through telescopes at the city below which feels miles away, or simply have a coffee whilst drinking in the panoramic views.
- Have a meal with a view.
Dubrovnik with its mix of picturesque medieval and baroque architecture surrounded by the glistening seas provides some unparalleled rooftop views. Why not combine such views with delicious local food and wine? Above 5 Restaurant provides some of the best vantage points in the city, as well as excellent food. Come here at sunset – sunsets are very fine in the Mediterranean – for a magical and memorable experience!
- Have a drink and people watch on Stradun as the sun is setting
Stradun, an elegant thoroughfare with polished flagstones, is wonderfully flood lit at night and much less chaotic. With the naturally dimmed lighting and the buildings lit up in the most flattering way, the atmosphere becomes something out of a fairy-tale. One of my favourite things was watching countless alpine swifts wheel through the air above me, making their distinct mesmerising crying noises. Many cafes and bars line the streets, where you can sit down, people watch and drink in Dubronik’s unique ambience.
Where to Eat…
For some terrific, fine-dining, and affordable food, Star Loza is the perfect spot. The location is on a small street running parallel to Standun. If you fancy adding a romantic touch to your meal, consider going for going for a tasting menu, served on a small roof-top dining area.
This is the restaurant where I had my solo lunch before rushing to the airport, and I must say, it was my favourite meal of the trip. Rozario is a cosy little restaurant tucked away in the shadow of the church of St Nicholas. I feasted on a dozen oysters, followed by the most scrumptious local seafood stew with polenta.
Restaurant Dubrvonik has a very classy French-like fine-dining ambiance; it was also my friend’s favourite meal. The secluded location of the restaurant with a beautiful al fresco dining area on the second floor provided a very romantic atmosphere in the evening. The food was a sophisticated take on traditional Croatian fare, and the service was top notch.
Where to Sleep
Affordable: Fresh* Sheets Hostel
A true hidden gem if you are on a budget.
Affordable Luxury: Prijeko Palace
Hidden in one of the quiet streets, a stone throw’s from Stradun, Prijeko Palace is a recently restored boutique hotel, full of cool, sometimes eccentric art. Each room is individually decorated in an exuberant manner, and the service is top-notch.
Luxury: The Pucic Palace
If you fancy to stay in a hotel which is an epitome of old-school luxury, then Pucic Palace, situated in the heart of the Old Town, is the hotel for you.
A few more of my favourite photographs to inspire you to visit Dubrovnik in the coming months!