After long weekend in Split, I decided to set up the tradition of the long weekend in Croatia to celebrate my birthday. The second time the choice fell on Dubrovnik, one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Croatia. I had been there as a child, before the 1991-95 war (which also affected her) and I still remembered very well its white houses, the bright fuchsia of the bougainvillea, its shiny cobblestone alleys and its open-air bars. It is no coincidence that Dubrovnik is one of the most touristic cities in Croatia (perhaps THE most touristic, and the most expensive) but also the most elegant; just walk along it Stradun (the main street of the old town) to realize it, well-dressed Croatians and tourists, nice shops, and a myriad of well-kept restaurants and bars. The city has been finely restored and is a jewel enclosed by walls, towers and ramparts. The historic center is very compact and homogeneous and it is not hard to understand why it was chosen as set del famoso “Game of Thrones”: Dubrovnik represents theKing's Landing and you expect to see Tyrion show up at any moment! By the way, Game of Thrones fans will be able to relive all the places in the series by participating in this tour of 1 hour and a half where they will cross the streets patrolled by the golden troops. They will see the place where the Lannisters greeted Princess Myrcella, leaving for Dorne, and where Joffrey was attacked returning from the Red Keep. They will visit the Fortress of San Lorenzo (Fort Lovrijenac), set of the Tournament of the Hand and, from here, they will observe the wall, where characters like Petyr baelish, Varys or Tyrion they developed their own strategies and alliances. Otherwise, with this tour, they can just get on board the sailboat of Daenerys Targaryen, a luxury sailing ship from the XNUMXth century, and observe Dubrovnik from the water, exploring the places where it turned Il Game of Thrones (Game Of Thrones).
Like Split, Dubrovnik also has many opposite islands that represent an almost unlimited source of trips out of town. It goes from Lakrum, the closest island, toElaphite archipelago (Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep) and, further north, to theisland of Mljet, the oldest marine park in the Mediterranean.
I only had 3 days and I decided to dedicate one day to visit Dubrovnik, one day to the islands of Lopud and Kolocep and the last day to the island of Mljet. Having more time and money, I recommend that you dedicate at least 2 or 3 days to Mljet and sleep on the island: the day trip is a little taste that will leave you with an irrepressible desire to go back and explore it properly.
Health insurance is recommended
Being in Europe, as Spanish citizens we have the right to health care, but there are specific conditions and ceilings. My advice is to still take a classic medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip, even for Covid-19. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!). All travel insurances also cover medical assistance in the event of a coronavirus infection, including testing if necessary. There is also coverage for the extension of the stay in the hotel due to the quarantine. Likewise, the trip cancellation guarantee includes coverage for illness or death of the traveler or a family member due to COVID-19.
See Dubrovnik from above in the video we made with the drone
Where to sleep in Dubrovnik
- St.Lazarus Room : St. Lazarus is located 300 meters from the famous Banje beach and less than 10 minutes from the center of Dubrovnik. The room is very nice and clean and from the balcony you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city and the sea. Absolutely perfect !!!
- Apartments Nikola: this apartment (found on air b & b) is perfect for both visiting Dubrovnik and reaching the port. It is located just above the walls of the old city (exactly at the base of the funicular) and in a few minutes on foot you can reach everything. Our apartment was very nice and had great views over the city and the bay. There is also a common veranda with a view. The owner is nice and helpful, absolutely recommended!
What to see in Dubrovnik: the places not to be missed
The Stradum and the historic center
If you arrive from the airport, the bus will drop you off in front of Pile holder, the main western entrance to the city. Entering from here you will find yourself walking along it with a crowd of tourists Stradum (o Placa), the main street that crosses the whole old city and ends in the square known as Luza (the loggia) with the beautiful bell tower. This street is the beating heart of Dubrovnik and is the first thing to see in Dubrovnik. It is lively from morning to evening, and you cannot fail to stop for at least a coffee in one of the bars on the street or in the square. Along the left side of the Stradun narrow alleys rise towards the walls, many stairways full of bars, shops and restaurants take you to the north gate, where there is the base of the funicular to Mount Srd. On the right side of the Stradun the alleys are even narrower and lead to the walls overlooking the sea. From this side you can't miss the square of the Cathedral and the square with the Jesuit church immediately above (Boskoviceva Poljana), home to the city fruit and vegetable market. Passing behind the bell tower you will instead arrive at the old port overlooked by the Renaissance Rector's Palace. The atrium of the building is used for summer performances during the Dubrovnik Festival (July and August) and it is really very beautiful.
The walk on the walls
If I had to tell you what the absolute thing to see in Dubrovnik it would be it walk on the walls of the ancient city. The walls are almost 2 km long and it is possible to do the complete circuit. You can go up in different points of the historic center (I went up from Porta Pile for example) by paying a ticket of 17 euros. The tour is counterclockwise (mandatory) and passes through fortresses, towers and ramparts. The view of the squares, alleys, churches and palaces from the walls is amazing! Expect to take at least 2 hours to do it calmly and maybe stop for a drink in one of the several panoramic bars on the towers overlooking the sea. The best time to do it in my opinion is late afternoon, when the red roofs are on fire and the swarms of swallows circle over the city by the hundreds.
By cable car on Mount Srd
If you hadn't understood, I love seeing things from above. Wherever I go I look for the highest point, towers, mountains, bell towers or skyscrapers to have a 360 degree view of the place. If you want to have a great view of the whole city of Dubrovnik and its surroundings you can reach the summit of Monte Srd (405 m) with the cable car that leaves right outside the walls. The panoramic view from here is really beautiful and in summer you can go up until midnight. It should definitely be included among the things to see in Dubrovnik.
A sunset drink at Café Buza
I don't usually like to sponsor a specific place, but for the Buza I feel I have to make an exception. This unpretentious open-air bar is located in an exceptional location, perched on the rocks just outside the walls of the ancient city right in front of the sea. It is accessed by a small door along the walls and it has no sign (there is only a sign that reads "cold beverages"). Wait for the sunset from here it is one of the things to see absolutely in Dubrovnik! Too bad for the music .. Croatian pop, well, on this I should make a note to the property! There is also a Buza II not far away and very similar, it is accessed from the same side of the walls and always through a door without a sign.
What to see near Dubrovnik
The islands of Kolocep and Lopud
The first trip out of town, among the things to see around Dubrovnik, is the one at Elaphite islands, in particular Kolocep and Lopud. We leave at 9 am from the Dubrovnik marina and arrive at Kolocep, the smallest of the archipelago, in about 30 minutes (the ticket costs 8 euros round trip with a stop also in Lopud). Once on the island, on the pier you will find the detailed map with the routes, paths and travel times. We only had a couple of hours available and we quickly reached the nearest "beach" (of rocks). It was just us! The color of the water is that transparent and beautiful blue / green typical of Croatia. The paths are different, so if you decide to stay a whole day you can see at least 2/3 beaches. Around h12-13 there is the ferry that from Kolocep goes to Lopud: the journey takes 20 minutes. Lopud is a somewhat larger island, with a beautiful waterfront and a fortified monastery overlooking the town. Right in front of the arrival of the ferry you will find many nice restaurants to eat fish in front of the sea. To reach the sandy beach of Sunj (the most beautiful of the island) you can take a paved path (half uphill) 2 km long, or take the paid shuttles that leave at the beginning of the path. Sunj bay is really beautiful, it is very busy in summer, but still liveable and definitely worth a visit. To finally return to Dubrovnik there are at least a couple of ferries in the afternoon / evening. The timing of this trip may seem too tight, but I guarantee you that it is absolutely feasible and enjoyable, especially if you decide to return with the last ferry which is after 20:00.
PS the ferry schedule changes every day, ask for the table at the information center located in front of Porta Pila!
Mljet Natural Park
Other islands not to be missed in the vicinity of Dubrovnik are those of Mljet Natural Park. Contrary to what was said above about Lopud and Kolocep, the times to make this day trip are really tight, the time you actually spend on the island is reduced to 4/5 hours at the most but it is still worth it in my opinion. It is such an incredible and unspoiled place that you will be breathless, you will feel like you are in a Caribbean archipelago! With an hour and a half by hydrofoil from Dubrovnik you can reach it Polace (Porta Palazzo), the city that is located in the western part of the island and was declared a national park in 1960 (it is the oldest marine park in the Mediterranean). Polace is the gateway to the Park, and it is from here that you can reach the famous lakes on foot (in an hour, with a nice climb) or by shuttle: Big and Small (Big Lake and Small Lake), which made the island famous beyond the borders. The two lakes are connected to each other by a strait where the sea water passes alternately according to the tide. From the point where the shuttle leaves you (Pristaniste) you can go along the two lakes on foot or by bike. The path is very beautiful, there is a lot of shade given by the maritime pines and you can stop for a refreshing bath whenever you want.
There is also a boat service that connects different points of the Great Lake and is also the only way to reach the beautiful islet of S. Maria with the Benedictine monastery and the church dating back to the 37th century on top. The island of Santa Maria is very beautiful and relaxing; from here you have a beautiful view of the rest of the lake and you can stop for a swim in the crystal clear water that surrounds it. What to say, the natural heritage of Miljet truly leaves you breathless: lakes, natural harbors, sources of drinking water, salt water marshes, steep rocky coasts, holm oak and pine forests, not to mention the seabed. It is one of those trips that are hard to forget and I intend to return as soon as possible for several days; the island is large (it is 3km long and XNUMXkm wide) and there are so many walks to do and places to see. It is incredible to think that a real paradise on earth is so close to us!
Tickets for Miljet cannot be purchased in advance; the port ticket office opens 1 hour before the first ferry in the morning and it is advisable to go for that hour to avoid the risk of remaining ashore.
PS According to the legend, Ulysses was entertained here with the nymph Calypso .. call him stupid!
Where to eat in Dubrovnik
- Ristorante Like: very nice little restaurant in the alleys of the historic center with outdoor tables. The food is very good and the service is impeccable. To eat fish with wine, appetizer and dessert we spent about € 40 each
- Ristorante Pi Pi: a tavern with a beautiful pergola where you eat mainly grilled meat and fish. The only flaw is that you can't book and it's small, but the wait is worth the dinner. It is cheap and popular with locals too. Cash only payment!
- Café Buza: this place is located right on the rocks outside the walls and perfect for watching the sunset over the sea. You pass through a small door in the walls; there is a sign that says "Cold Beverages"