The small yet enchanting seaside city of Dubrovnik, Croatia has been capturing the hearts of visitors for centuries, and after my first visit, it isn’t hard to see why. I was drawn to this European playground not because of its beauty, its rich history and culture but because of its now historic role in the famed HBO series, Game of Thrones. Dubrovnik serves as the filming location for the fictitious ‘King’s Landing’, and many integral scenes were filmed in the Old Town and surrounding areas.
Yes, my love for the Starks, Targaryens, Lannisters and the Seven Kingdoms introduced me to the “Pearl of the Adriatic” but the charming and spellbinding walled city proved to be so much more than a prop in a cult classic. This UNESCO World Heritage Site deserves a spot on your bucket list and I’m here to show you why.
BEST TIME TO GO
I visited Dubrovnik during PEAK season, August. Whatever you do, stay clear of visiting during the summer months, June – August as it is the most popular time to visit. I highly recommend you visiting during the shoulder season – May, September or October when cruise ships are calling on the port less. The weather dips a bit and the sea is still warm enough for you to take a dip. As Dubrovnik is a tourist destination, the peak months see higher rates on everything from accommodations, food and attractions, so for an even more affordable trip, you’re going to want to take advantage of the short shoulder season. The least preferable time to visit Dubrovnik is the low season which ranges between November and April. The temperature gets very frigid and you may find it to be a ghost town as most establishments shutter their establishments during the low season but you can roam freely without the throngs of tourists.
If I could do it all over again, I would’ve probably visited Dubrovnik in the shoulder season. I can not begin to tell you about the massive crowds in the Old Town. It was nearly impossible to get a clean photograph without hundreds of people walking through your shot.
There are many airplanes that service this South Dalmatia town. I flew into Dubrovnik Airport in ?ilipi from London Gatwick Airport via British Airways. There are many other European airlines, like Easyjet and Croatia Airlines that provide direct flights to the city, but only if you are in Europe already. The airport is located twenty minutes or less from the city’s centre so you would have to catch a taxi, shuttle, bus or an Uber to your accommodations.
If you’re not already in Europe, my suggestion is to fly to a large city like London, maybe Paris and then buy a roundtrip to Dubrovnik. While the ticket cost may be a little expensive, remember, spending money on travel and experiences is the best money you will ever spend.
If you are already in a different city in Croatia, you can catch a bus or an Uber boat to Dubrovnik and also use Dubrovnik as a base to visit different parts of the country like Hvar, Zagreb or Split.
WHERE TO STAY
There are tons of accommodations to fit just about any budget in Dubrovnik. Personally, I stayed at the newly renovated Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik located a stone’s throw away from the Old Town. The views of the Old Town were to die for, and the Adriatic Ocean literally was my back door. The hotel features include a private beach, three restaurants an indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness centre.
When you are booking your hotel, ensure that you stay as close to the Old Town as possible. Doing so will eliminate the need for transportation or if you would like, you can stay in the middle of the action as there are hotels like the Pucic Palace and Airbnb’s located in the Old Town.
Personally, I don’t think that I could stay in the Old Town during the season, there is simply too much going on and dragging a suitcase through the city is not for me. The city is pedestrianized, therefore no cars are allowed in the city. It’s a no for me, but that may be your thing. When you think of the Old Town, think of Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
WHAT TO PACK
If you’re planning to travel to Dubrovnik in the summer, think heat! The first day I got into Dubrovnik, I sweat my clothing off, I’m not even joking. It was some kind of heat wave and it was torture.
Pack shorts, tees, cute sun dresses, swimsuits, cover-ups sandals, sneakers, sunglasses and a hat! I didn’t pack any heels because I had no intention of wearing any. The streets aren’t conducive to heels and you’re either going to end up slipping and falling or ruining your heels unless they’re chunky heels. It’s just something I wouldn’t do. You’ve been warned.
Don’t skimp on the sunblock, it’s absolutely FIRE! If you’re a naturally curly girl, pack all of your hair moisturizers as the humidity sucks the life out of your curls.
Pro Tip: I usually love to match outfits with the city that I’m travelling to, it makes for a good picture. Pack a little bit of orange to match the terracotta rooftops.
WHAT TO EAT
Everything! If you love seafood, you’re in for a treat! I had some of the best mussels, shrimp, octopus and fish while in Dubrovnik. You must absolutely try the buzara mussels. Buzara, is a style of Croatian cooking which includes white wine, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. It’s simply delicious!
If you have an allergy, there are lots of other options like pizza, meat pasta and salads. Oh, and ice cream/gelato, it’s a must to beat the Dubrovnik heat!
I ate from two awesome eateries while in Croatia that you should absolutely give a try.
- Lady Pi Pi – It’s a struggle for me to give you directions on how to get to this small gem but Google Maps will get you there better than I ever can. It is tucked away off an alley and up some stairs and is very hard to grab a spot at. There is usually always a line and I’m telling you it’s worth the wait. A friend recommended the restaurant and I had no expectations but was blown away by how well the food was seasoned and how fresh it was. If you make it there be sure to look up at the vineyards that drape the roof. If you’re tall enough you can pick the grapes off the vine and have a taste.
- Barba – This modern seafood joint is a great place to grab a quick bite of food and a great place to people watch. Also located through an alley, Google Map it, I would suggest you try their speciality, the octopus sandwich (which is more of a patty) the calamari, and mussels. You can grab a table inside of the tiny restaurant or grab a pillow and sit on the steps, people watch and enjoy your meal.
WHAT TO DO
I spent four days in Dubrovnik and was able to find something different to do every day. The town is small enough to do quite a bit in 1-2 days, but I would recommend spending more than 2 days as to not exhaust yourself. Here are some of the more popular things to do.
Visit the Old Town – Walking through the Old Town was like walking through a medieval movie. I was in awe at the preservation of the town, it was as if I was transported through time. Encircling the Old Town is the city walls which are said to be one of the greatest fortifications of the Middle Ages, the walls built which were to protect the city were never breached and is fully intact are a major attraction. As you stroll through the cobbled streets, you will find so much history, Baroque & Gothic styled churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains. The Old Town isn’t exceptionally large and it can take you about an hour to see everything, more if you want to stop and take photographs, less if you don’t stop to see anything. As it is still an active city, you will find homes, street markets, shopping centres, lounges and a club located within the city walls.
Walk The City Walls – Walking the entire length of the city walls is the number one attraction in Dubrovnik and you shouldn’t miss it! The impressive limestone fortifications which were built and strengthened over various centuries provide protection for the city is said to be the most impressive fortification of the Middle Ages. Walking the walls should be done as early in the morning as you can to beat the massive crowds and the heat! It took me about an hour and a half to walk the entire wall, but I stopped a lot to snap photos and grab a fruity drink. There are tons of restaurants and cafes on the wall and if you get exhausted just take a break. From the top of the wall, the views are simply amazing. You will be able to see the famed Lokrum island, you can look down into the Old City and people watch and you can view the surrounding areas of Dubrovnik.
Game of Thrones Tour –Truth be told, HBO’s Game of Thrones was the reason I ended up in Dubrovnik. The popular show filmed many of its scenes around the Old Town and on the island of Lokrum and you can experience it with the help of a guide, or you can do it on your own. You’ll stumble on most of the shots even if you’re not looking. The most popular filming spot is Cersei’s walk of shame alley which is always filled with fans trying to snap a pic.
Lokrum – The island of Lokrum is located a short ferry boat ride away from Dubrovnik, 8 minutes at most. The island which is roaming with wild rabbits and peacocks is beautiful and a great way to escape the crowds of Dubrovnik. Lokrum also serves as another Game of Thrones filming location and there is a Game of Thrones media centre and a replica Iron Throne. Additionally, the island features a medieval Benedictine monastery, a botanical garden and a saltwater lake known as the Dead Sea. It also has a gay nude beach, so be careful where you wonder if you are with children. It’s raunch!
Sea Safari – Experiencing Dubrovnik and the surrounding Elaphiti Islands is a must. I booked a full-day tour to visit a few of Croatia’s popular grottos and a popular white sand beach Sunj on Lopud Island. If you’re an islander, like me, you will be less impressed by the beaches. On the tour we were able to watch the sunset from boat which was simply incredible.
Cable Car – The best place to enjoy a 360 view of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area is by taking a cable car up to Mount Srdj. The ride takes 2-3 minutes and the view going up is incredible. Atop the mountain, there is a viewing deck, restaurant, gift shop and a museum. If you’re adventurous you can take a hiking trail or a buggy safari.
Have I convinced you to do Dubrovnik yet? If I have and you have more questions and need a little bit of help in planning your trip, hit me up in the comments. Don’t forget to share the love on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter! 🙂
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