Dubrovnik – Quintessential Croatia
Dubrovnik is delightful, an amazing walled city with much to offer the traveler, so I suggest staying for at least a few days. It has become well known recently due to the filming of the show Game of Thrones here, which I haven’t seen, but you can take theme related tours if that’s your thing. Best advice – go in May or September, as June, July and August get super busy and hot, and also, get going early in the day before the cruise ships dump their hordes.
You’ll see beautiful churches…
…and ornate fountains…
…as well as decorative doorways.
And interesting details abound, like this wall made of stone!
Many streets are also made of stone, so make sure you take comfortable walking shoes!
One of the best things of all to do in Dubrovnik is to take a walk up on the top of the wall that surrounds the old town. From here, you will have stunning views of tiled rooftops…
…as well as expansive views of the ocean and harbor.
The panoramas are beautiful, but so are the small details, if you look for them. Best travel tip here is to go right when they open the steps to the upper walls, at around 8:30 or 9am, not only because it’s a lot cooler then, but by the time you leave around 10:30 or 11, the place will be packed. I was there in May and followed this advice from a local, and it was worth the effort to get there first!
What a lot of people miss is that your entry ticket also allows you into the tower outside of the walls, on the other side of the smaller harbor. I had to ask 3 different people in order to find out how to get there. It was worth the treasure hunt to find the path (hint: down a flight of stairs next to a restaurant outside one of the gates), and I was rewarded by lack of crowds, because apparently hardly anyone can find it! There are a lot of steps, but amazing views looking back at the walled city await you. And if you prefer to be at sea level, on the water, you can rent colorful kayaks nearby.
Cats seem to have some of the best seats in the city…
…although there are plenty of seats for you as well. The streets of old town Dubrovnik are lined with restaurants. (Another insider tip: it’s fun to eat inside the walled city, but if you go only a block or two outside, the prices are about half). You can even have a drink in a bathtub if you’d like!
As far as accommodations go, you can stay at fancy hotels, hostels, or “apartmans” inside the city walls or out. I chose to stay a 20 minute walk from the old town, as it was a lot more affordable than those closer in ($27 per night for a private room with shower). It had a beautiful view, was a lovely walk along the sea to town, and saved me at least 50% in accommodation costs. (Way more if you opt for hotels such as the Hilton, which goes for $300-500 per night).
“What about wars,” friends have asked me. “Isn’t Croatia a place full of wars?! Is it safe to travel there?” Um, yes, there have been wars in Croatia. There have been wars in the US too, a long time ago. The Serbo-Croatian war took place from 1991-1995, which means it ended 20 years ago. In December of 1991, the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) bombarded Old Town Dubrovnik, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Over all, there were 20,000 deaths in this war. A tour guide told me he was there during the war, but doesn’t like to talk about it. When you see how beautiful this city is, you wonder how anyone could try to destroy it.
So in answer to those questions, yes, Dubrovnik is safe. I never once felt unsafe, and I walked many times alone at night in this vibrant city.
If you’re lucky while you’re in Dubrovnik, you might catch a free choir or dance performance in the town square…
…or for a small charge, a classical concert at night.
In fact, evening and after dark are some of the most magical times, when the cruisers have boarded their ships, and the moon and lights cast a glow on the old stone streets. You may even hear a solo musician singing you a serenade as you exit the gates of this storied city…
wow! Amazing photos!
Thanks Ginny! I think you’d like it there 🙂
Your photos have really captured the unique character of the walled city of old Dubrovnik.
Thanks Grahame! I really enjoyed meeting you there 🙂