CITY GUIDE: An Insider's Guide to Dubrovnik, Croatia
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CITY GUIDE: An Insider’s Guide to Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Heading to Dubrovnik this summer? Here are a few useful tips about where to eat, sleep and what things to do whilst visiting this lovely historic town.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the places that have been on top of my travel bucket list – Dubrovnik, Croatia. I visited Old Town, mainly, but there were many other things to do nearby, aside from walking around the beautiful main square or visiting the gorgeous, sun-kissed beaches. Although Dubrovnik is a small area, I felt that it would have been useful to know, beforehand, a few tips about where to eat, sleep and what things to do whilst visiting the lovely town. So, continue to read for the best tips for a perfect holiday in Dubrovnik, Croatia! 

The History

Firstly, however, a little bit of history is needed for an interesting trip to Dubrovnik, to complete the ultimate experience, especially as it is such a historic town. Dubrovnik was an independent merchant republic, trading with many nearby countries – until Napoleon abolished it in the early 1900s. Although the infamous Castle in Dubrovnik took a good few hundred years to complete, it is one of the most astonishing landmarks and accomplishments to this day. In 1815, Dubrovnik became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and after World War I, Dubrovnik became a part of Croatia, which itself became a part of the states that made up the former Yugoslavia, after World War II. Although Dubrovnik was one of the cities that was most attacked by the Serbs, due to its geography, the Old Town was restored and its beauty still shines out today. Recently, it became a well-known tourist destination, due to it being used in the series ‘Game of Thrones’ and it boasts its wonderful landscape and historic buildings to many tourists, from all around the world.  

Eat

An absolutely beautiful place with a gorgeous view which you just cannot afford to miss out on is ‘Panorama Restaurant & Bar’, which is a little far from the main area of Old Town, but close enough to travel by taxi or, if you are one for trekking, even by foot. This beautiful restaurant comes to life especially in the late afternoon, when the sun is setting so you can catch the vivid oranges and romantic pinks of the sky, or also in the evening when you can see the amazing panoramic view of the beautiful, glistening lights of Old Town down below. This restaurant provides excellent service, not to mention the delicious, traditional food – both vegetarian and meat options were amazing – and the selection of drinks also did not disappoint at all. If you want a romantic evening out with a loved one, I would recommend coming in the evening and enjoying a slow dinner in the great atmosphere or, if you came to see the panoramic views of the city from the top of Mount Srd, I would recommend getting a small bite-to-eat and heading down by foot (there is a trekking route) just before sunset, so you can catch the amazing view as you walk down. 

There are many places to enjoy a lovely meal at – an elegant restaurant, or you could catch a light bite-to-eat – in the streets of Dubrovnik. In the small streets that branch off from the main square in Old Town, there are restaurants with both indoor and outdoor seating – perfect for the summer, as the weather is hot and dry. If you are in a rush or want a small bite-to-eat, with less of a traditional or formal atmosphere and, if you are a killer for seafood, which is great because you are in Dubrovnik, Barba is the place for you. With cheap meals but huge portions, this place is definitely a cool stop before you head back out into the hot streets of Old Town. The service is quick and easy-going and they are also really friendly and the food is just as great. They cater for just a small bite-to-eat, such as a burger or some tasty calamari, or you could get a set meal which will definitely fill you up just as well as any other restaurant. A highlight of Barba is that you can decorate a wooden fork and slot it in place amongst many others, those of previous tourists who have already been and left their two cents on the beautiful place. Tasty and fun – a combination you just cannot ignore! 

Stay

In Dubrovnik, whilst there is a range of hotels and Airbnbs to stay at, there are places that vary hugely according to the price range. Those on the lower end will tend to be a little bit far away from the main Old Town, and you would have to walk up and down the town’s narrow steps (but the atmosphere is great and you can get wonderful holiday pics), or a taxi or bus is never out of the option. Those on the higher end of the range will be closer to the Old Town, and you might get a nice hotel with a seafront view or with a swimming pool, etc. It really depends on who you go with – if you decide to travel with children as a family holiday, I think the hotel would be easiest. One of such hotels is ‘Hotel Atlanta’ – with four stars and it is just a fifteen-minute walk from Old Town. The hotel is situated right in front of the sea, so you are guaranteed an amazing view! 

If you are looking for a more quiet, traditional place to stay and if you do not mind walking a little bit, why not try an Airbnb just a few minutes away from Old Town? I recommend ‘Rooms Ivo’ – it is a small Airbnb, hosted by a lovely lady, and she really makes you feel welcome. Aside from offering a hot cup of coffee every morning (which I was in dire need of) and small snacks, such as Croatian biscuits, Rooms Ivo has the great advantage of having a beautiful terrace, which boasts not only a panoramic view of the whole Old Town and the calming sea, but also a romantic atmosphere which you can quietly enjoy with friends, family or lovers, alike. Comfy and homey, this place is also a walkable distance to the opposite side of the city to Old Town, which is the area near Gruz market. 

Explore

There are tons of activities you can do in Dubrovnik – from swimming in the beautiful, clear and cool sea to visiting the traditional museums or cathedrals – you will not be disappointed. Although you might imagine that the sea is the first thing to do – which it is in most cases – it is relatively easy to find the best beaches there and have a wander around, exploring the wonderful scenery and sandy/pebbly shores. Therefore, I would like to emphasise a few other activities, which also were the highlight of my trip, to say the least. 

The first is the tour of the city walls of Dubrovnik. Although you have the choice of getting a guided tour or just exploring by yourself, I personally went by myself and another friend as we wanted to take as many photos as we could. However, I definitely think that this is a piece of history which you cannot miss out on, and so getting a guided tour of the walls might also be a good idea. Also, if you are worried about the heat (as it will get very hot and sticky in June), there are a few cafes and spots to rest during the trip, not to mention the option to end the tour early during the way. This tour is amazing, as you can see the beautiful city of Dubrovnik on all sides – from the sea view to the mountains to the houses – and it is definitely worth it for the memories that will last a lifetime! 

For more information, visit: https://www.wallsofdubrovnik.com

For a little more adventurous activity, I highly recommend trying out a kayak tour, preferably during the sunset hours to make it extra fabulous. There are very many guided tours to choose from and they usually last around three hours, with a 30-minute break in the middle for a small snack in a cave, on an island somewhere near the main Dubrovnik land. During the break, the tour guides provide snorkelling gear so you can take a look at the wonderful wildlife and take a swim through the clear, cool waters. Although some tours might include a small snack (such as a sandwich) – which is very much needed after paddling for about one and a half hours – it depends on which tour you book, so if yours does not include anything to eat, make sure to have had a small bite-to-eat beforehand. To finish the experience off, you can stop by to take many photographs either of the fun people you tour with, or the beautiful landscape or, my personal favourite, of the enchanting sunset with its spectrum of warm colours. 

Aside from these two special activities, there are also many other things to do and the best option, if you like to visit many galleries or museums, is to purchase the ‘Dubrovnik Card.’ The card includes discounts and access to many historical museums, new art exhibitions and even a suburban bus ride ticket to Cavtat, which is not so far from Dubrovnik Old Town. 

For more information, visit: http://www.dubrovnikcard.com 

Buza Bar

Drink

Although wine might be very fitting for the occasion and the atmosphere, there are other things that are needed during the day, when walking around in the hot Croatian sun. The first of those is beer – but not just any beer, lemon beer. I would personally recommend trying this speciality at the ‘Buza Bar’, which is an outdoor seating area in which you can chill during the day or evening and gaze out at the panoramic view of the clear, turquoise sea. With a slight cool breeze and a wonderful view out front, the lemon beer completes the trio of a perfect moment, capturing the relaxing Dubrovnik summer. (P.s. if you are with some adventurous people, there is also an opportunity to go cliff jumping at this spot, but make sure to bring water shoes and that you are extremely careful in following the safety procedures, as safety is the most important thing.)

Walking around the streets of Old Town from early morning, or an afternoon after some touring, might mean that a well-earned break is needed – what better place to take this rest in none other than the ‘Cogito Coffee’ shop? They make their homemade drinks, with the menu ranging from deep-flavoured coffees to refreshing, exotic teas. The place is secluded, so there are fewer tourists about, meaning that a quiet moment of tranquillity, alongside the replenishing beverages, can be enjoyed. Further, the interior is quite small, but there is also a small outside seating area, so you could sit and watch the picture that is Dubrovnik itself – people passing by, the shops nearby, or just feel the warm sun which encompasses it all. It’s a good place to relax and just talk for a while with a friend, which sometimes is easily missed when a place, such as Dubrovnik, is so exciting. 

Hamilton Island

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