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Friday, June 14, 2019

Dubrovnik, Croatia Guide

We went to Croatia a little less than a month ago and had the most amazing time. This is the first of a few guides that are coming y'all's way. Dubrovnik was our first stop, and it was magic. We adored our time there and I would go back in a heartbeat. Hope you enjoy - xoxo darling, Hayden.

How to Get There:

I'm sure there are a few different ways to get to Dubrovnik, Croatia, but the easiest would be by plane to the Dubrovnik Airport. I only flew in so I can't speak for exactly how nice it is, but from what I saw it was a small airport that had been fairly recently re-done/built. A huge tip: their free wifi only last for 15 minutes (I KNOW), so if you are calling an Uber, wait until you get to the curb to connect to the wifi. They will make you pay after that but their wifi site is only in Croatian, no English option. The airport is about 23 minutes from Old Town, so you will need to take a bus, cab or Uber — the best thing is Croatia uses Uber! I could never really get a good answer on how the bus works and there aren't a ton of employees around the airport so I would suggest Uber or a cab. I ended up taking a cab and it was about 200 Kuna (roughly $30). 

What To Do:

Walk the City Walls

Probably the most basic thing to do, but honestly the best thing we did in Dubrovnik, walking the city walls will take you about two hours. We started at the Ploča gate because it gets the hard part of the walls (the steepest) out of the way first. We went in the morning, around 9/10am and while it was slightly crowded it only got more crowded as we went on. You get such a feel for the town as you walk the walls and start to figure out where things are, so I would highly suggest doing this as one of your first activities in Dubrovnik. 

Dubrovnik Maritime Museum

As part of the City Walls, we visited the Maritime Museum. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk through. But you can learn about all of the shipwrecks that have happened right off the coast and about the naval history of the country. 

War Photo Limited

Such a powerful museum/gallery. The photos were impactful and I still think about them. If you enjoy history and getting out of your comfort zone I would recommend this. The photos were mainly about the Homeland War (from the 1990s) and I learned so much about the conflict. The gallery itself is really nice and it's worth the cost of admission. Plus, it's right off the main plaza and easy to find. 

Fort Lovrijenac

We did this in the morning and it was a great way to get up above the town without going too far. The fort itself doesn't have exhibits, and is all open air. You just walk around and enjoy the sea air. I would suggest reading the history before you go so you can appreciate it and not have your nose stuck in a guidebook. Be prepared to walk up a lot of steps — but it's totally worth it for the views.
P.S. If you watched Game of Thrones, I did not, I guess this was a big film location. 

Srđ Hill

Well, normally I would say take the cable car...but it is currently closed due to a government shutdown because they didn't pay their taxes (yeah, it happens everywhere). So, if that is open, totally do it — I'll be jealous! We took an Uber to the top...which was slightly unnerving because it's basically a one lane road with tons of cabs (remember how the cable car is shut down?) flying past. There is a restaurant, some trails and a fort on top of the hill. We did lunch (see below) and the fort. Fort Imperial is a must, in my opinion. I feel like if you travel to Croatia, you need to learn about the war that tore the country's people apart. And this fort played a huge part in protecting Dubrovnik...to the point that the citizens in the Old Town below had to fire at their own men in the fort to protect them. Pay the admission and go in. Plus, you get an amazing view of the whole Old Town and the rest of Dubrovnik. 

Just Walk Around

Seriously, just walk along the main plaza and around the entire town. It's so beautiful and there are little nooks around every corner. We walked around on our first night and Dubrovnik is beautiful in the moonlight.

Where to eat & drink: 

Amnesia Hostel & Restaurant

We did this spot for dinner on our first night...so about 20+ hours of travel for the three of us. A few giant Ožujsko's (a flagship Croatian beer) down and we ordered two pizzas and a salad both of which were good. Think more of an Italian style pizza — it is the Mediterranean after all — really thin crust and not a huge amount of sauce. But it was perfect for three weary travelers. And the salad had so much feta, it was heaven. The restaurant is in an alley right off the main plaza, in one of the narrow street corridors, so I would recommend sitting outside — you get to people watch and enjoy the weather. 

Restaurant Lanii

 When I was looking on TripAdvisor for breakfast, this place kept popping up and it didn't disappoint. They serve breakfast from 7:30-10:30am and they do eggs on multi-grain sourdough with a ton of options, plus avocado toast for the Americans reading this. They also do museli, a chia bowl, waffles with fun toppings and smoothies. I think the whole family did scrambled eggs with meatballs, which also came with grilled vegetables. Yes, you read that right, I said meatballs. They were legit too, with tomato sauce...but it was really good. We also had coffee and a fruit plate — complete with kiwi, bananas, oranges and blueberries. Would recommend sitting outside on a sunny morning. A ton of tour groups will walk by and that is fun people watching. 

Buffet Škola

Don't worry, this isn't an actual buffet! It's a really great sandwich shop located right off the main plaza. We had their basic meat, cheese and lettuce sandwich but the bread and meat were of such high quality, we loved it. There are a few tables inside, where we sat because it was lightly raining, and the people working were really nice. You do need to go up to pay, so don't forget that. This is probably one of the cheapest options for eating out in Dubrovnik and it would be great to grab before a day-trip or to take to the beach. 

Dolce Vita

This spot has some super creamy gelato. They do have inside seating, we ended up walking with ours because it was really crowded. There are lots of flavors, the Stracciatella was excellent — the chocolate pieces weren't as rough as you usually get. 
I saw this all over blogs/TripAdvisor as a good place to go. It is really close to the Buža Gate (so if you stay at the Airbnb we did, it is probably one of the closest restaurants to you). We had dinner one night and breakfast one morning. It can get crazy for dinner, we had to wait about 10 minutes. They will combine tables, so we ate with a lovely solo traveler. The best part of this restaurant? The view! At sunset, there is nothing like it. You are at the top of Old Town, overlooking the red roofs and the water below. The restaurant is almost entirely outside, so if it's raining, I wouldn't go. For dinner I had the Ćevapi, a very classic dish. They are little sausages, grilled to perfection, served with a delightful red sauce and fries. We also had a salad — full of olives and feta. For breakfast I did the cheese omelette, which was cooked so well and really cheesy. They also make strong coffee — but dang was it good. Breakfast was way less crowded, we didn't have to wait and there were only three other tables occupied. 

Dubravka 1836 Restaurant and Cafe

A slightly nicer spot just outside the city walls, on your way to the fort, Dubravka is part of a larger restaurant group. We went for dinner, arrived at sunset and sat out on the beautiful patio. The view is amazing, you really feel like you're on the Dalmatian Coast at this place. We had the lasagne bolognese and it was so fresh...my mouth is watering remembering it as I write this. The pasta basically melted in my mouth. We also shared a Four Sorts of Cheese pizza, it's covered in tomatoes, four sorts of cheese, oregano and olives. The crust was nice and crunchy and the cheeses were melted to perfection.

Panorama Restaurant

On the top of Srđ hill, Panorama is a great place to grab any meal (or coffee) for the view alone. We did lunch before going to the fort and it was perfect. Two of us had the chicken sandwich, fried chicken with herbs, bacon, coleslaw salad, iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, onion and batata fries. I loved it, and I'm from the south so I'm pretty judgy of fried chicken. But this was super good! Also, the service was wonderful. When we arrived they had a table right by the window but it was reserved, about 3/4 through our meal they came over and said if we wanted to move we could because the people hadn't shown up and they felt bad that we couldn't sit with a better view — just such nice people! 

Glam Cafe

If you are a craft beer drinker and want to stay in Old Town, this is the spot! They have lots of different options in bottles and a few on draft. We sat outside because the inside is tiny...will say there were some smokers outside so be prepared for that. They also gave us a little snack about halfway through and were very good with the service. 

Dubrovnik Beer Company

When we walked into this brewery, it was like we never left the U.S. Seriously, it's in a warehouse outside of Old Town but the beer is worth the Uber! Plus, it is right by the port, so if you sit outside you can see huge boats coming and going. The bartender was so sweet and gave us craft beer recommendations for the rest of our Croatian adventure. The GOA New England IPA was delicious as was their Fortunal Pale Ale.

Where to Stay:

My biggest tip when choosing a place to stay, is stay in Old Town. It will just make your life easier. It will be a lot of steps, but you'll have to do steps if you visit Old Town — plus whatever you have to walk if you choose outside the walls. When doing our research there weren't a whole lot of hotel options so we opted for Airbnb, and loved it. We stayed in this apartment, it's three stories, has two bathrooms and two bedrooms, which was perfect for the three of us. The wifi was excellent and we really liked how close it was to the Buža Gate — it made it easy to get dropped off with our suitcases and only have to go up/down about 20 steps. Would highly recommend it! 

Other Resources:

  • If you want a guide, we suggest Amico, we went to Sarajevo (guide coming soon) with them and loved it!  
  • Go in the shoulder season. We went in late May, had great weather and enjoyed Dubrovnik without the insane crowds. We heard that from June–August about six cruise ships come in a day + all of the people who fly/drive in. 
  • Uber — don't rent a car. Cars aren't allowed in Old Town.
  • Here is my Croatia vlog if you would prefer to watch instead of look through the photos!
  • Below is a map with everything mentioned in this guide, so you can plan your own trip.

1 comment:

  1. This is breathtaking! It looks like such a fun trip!!