As it was Sarah’s 30th birthday in March, it only seemed right to celebrate in style by jumping on a plane and visiting a new city. This was a surprise trip for Sarah and when I told her that were we heading to Croatia over Instagram she nearly fell off her seat. We’ve always spoken of how we’d like to travel to Croatia together so after some research I landed on the idea of Dubrovnik and I must say, the city well and truly delivered. I always tell you that the most recent place we visited was the best and I’ll make no exception here – Dubrovnik is the one! Maybe one of our favourite European cities 😉
Dubrovnik has undergone a number of changes over the last few decades. After the break up of Yugoslavia in the early 90’s, the city suffered significant damage. However, after repair and restoration works in both the 90’s and 2000’s, it has become one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. From the moment we arrived, we were somewhat astounded by the city’s beauty, the cleanliness of the streets and the calm, laid back energy the place radiates. With a population of around 40 thousand people across a mere 21km, the city almost feels like a huge village.
Upon arrival, we headed straight out to the Old Town. Arguably, almost everything worth seeing in Dubrovnik is situated within these walls. The place oozes history with the walls encompassing a large number of majestic historical buildings, amongst an abundance of laid back bars and restaurants. Vehicles have long been banished from the Old Town resulting with a somewhat peaceful ambience. However, the streets do fill with up tourists for most parts of the day and although this can feel quite busy at times, when compared with other cities around Europe – in my opinion – it never feels hectic in any way.
The Old Town is a maze of dead ends and this provides a sense of wonder as occasionally you’ll find little hidden gems dotted around in places least expected. We happened to stumble across what we originally thought was a hole in the wall and this led us out onto the rocks to what looked the perfect set up for a cool scene from Game of Thrones;
if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, the Old Town is full of famous locations scattered throughout the area. However, having only made it to Season 2, most of this was completely lost on us.
On our first full day, we walked the city walls. We were told by friends that this is must do activity when visiting Dubrovnik. However, it doesn’t come cheap at £50 for two. But they truly are fascinating, providing you with real insight into the history of the town – the views are seriously nice from above. The walls probably take an average of around two hours to complete, but as the views are so good, you occasionally find yourself just staring out into the distance meaning that this activity could easily take up most of your morning or afternoon. With a couple of bars and pit stops available throughout too, there’s plenty to keep you entertained up there for a good while.
To the north of the Old Town is the cable car station, from where a wobbly yet seriously fast cable car sores up to the top of Mount Srd, revealing some incredible views of Dubrovnik, the island of Lokrum and the Elaphite Islands. We headed up during the afternoon for a peek of Dubrovnik from above and it’s one hell of an experience. The price for this is £40 for two and although it only lasts for two minutes, once you reach the top it’s all worth it. Soaring up the mountain at high speeds and seeing the the city of Dubrovnik turn in to a make-believe toy town was one of our favourite experiences of the trip.
The final instalment for Sarah’s birthday was a table I had booked at Restaurant Panorama, situated right next to the cable car station at the top of the mountain. If you are planning on visiting Dubrovnik yourself then you HAVE to eat here. I will not be satisfied hearing about your trip unless I know that you ate at this restaurant. The setting is incomparable to anything else. We debated whether it was possibly the best setting for any restaurant we’ve visited before and the result was an unanimous YES.You’d think that eating at a restaurant like this would come with prices that are through the roof. However, reflecting on all of our meals throughout the trip, I believe that this was the cheapest place we ate at. The food was incredibly fresh, tasty and complimented the views perfectly.
To find out more about the restaurant and to peek at the menu yourselves, click here
If you’re thinking of coming here, I would advise booking ahead to ensure that you get the best seats. Although, to be honest, most seats provide a pretty spectacular view. Throughout the spring time, the restaurant is open until 9pm and during the height of summer, 12am. The cable car is the means of transport for both getting there and getting back.The first day had been a story of success. We headed back to out guest house which was located just outside the Old Town, two miles up the road. Having only recently opened and being at its’ early stage if life, the guest house is very cheap and has quickly built a reputation of 9+ reviews on booking.com over the last few months. At £35 a night, it was exactly what we were looking for. To book your own stay at Guest House Nikolina, click here
There’s something very cool about the side streets within the Old Town. In my opinion, they’ve got a very Spanish feel to them. These little streets are always filled with life, whether it be people eating at different restaurants, having a drink or – in this case -sitting on the steps for a very long time to get the perfect picture.
LoVe ThE StEpS
There are times where I’ve been at work day dreaming about being on holiday and for some reason, it’s streets like these that I usually think about. That feeling you have when it’s a Tuesday night and you’re in a place like this down a little side-street that’s full of life, ordering another drink at 10pm – you can’t beat it!
Dubrovnik has an abundance of great restaurants to choose from, offering all sorts of fresh food. Whether it be down these little pockets within the Old Town or out in the open, you won’t go hungry in this city! The problem is deciding which one to choose, as they all look so good!
Over the period of four days, here is a list of the restaurants we visited, in order of preference.
3.Paparazzo Steak House
4.Gil’s Little Bistro
5.Mea Culpa Pizzeria
3.Gradska Kavana Arsenal
The Harbour side is definitely worth a visit and perhaps a drink, if you’ve got time. There are a number of boat trips that go out from here to the neighbouring islands. Day trips to Lokrum, an island situated 600 metres from Dubrovnik are very popular (this might be for a number of reasons, one being that it’s home to the famous throne from Game of Thrones). Although we didn’t visit here ourselves, I know a number of people that have and enjoyed their experience. With a number of beaches, ‘beautiful’ scenery, peacocks and supposed wild bunny rabbits running everywhere, it’s a place a little bit different to Dubrovnik. We have out own bunny rabbit so we thought we’d skip the island hopping this time.
The last day was spent wandering around places we hadn’t yet discovered. We came across Banjee Beach which cuddles up nicely to the Old Town. With a great view of the city walls and a number of bars dotted along the short stretch of beach, it’s a worth a visit. You’ll notice that the sea in Dubrovnik is crystal clear. The feeling of cleanliness can felt throughout the whole city and the sea makes no exception of this – if only it had bean a little warmer, we might have gone for a dip.
On our last afternoon, on a recommendation from a friend (thanks Helen!) we visited Cafe Buza, a cool little bar embedded into the cliffs of the Old Town. This place was the epitome of the term chill, with seats dotted upon the rocks, all facing out to the calm sea. Forget looking for this place on your own – google maps will navigate you just nicely to the little hole in the wall that you need to wander through to get into this bar.
to an end.
Up until this visit, for me Barcelona had always been one of my favourite cities in Europe. One of the reasons why I’ve always loved it so much is that it’s a place that has it all: unique architecture; an abundance of good restaurants and bars; the beach; museums and more. Until this trip, we’ve always said that we’d probably not revisit a place that we’ve already been to as it means we wouldn’t discover somewhere new. However, we definitely look forward to heading back and exploring some more of Dubrovnik at some point in the near future. We truly felt that Dubrovnik was a special place and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Dubrovnik gets an easy five coconuts