It’s Sunday, and many will be watching Game of Thrones, so it’s only fitting to dream of Dubrovnik today.
Croatia was on our travel radar for a few years, but, after watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode about the country in the midst of travel planning, we knew it was not to miss. And when I say we watched the episodes, I mean dozens and dozens of times, to the point we perhaps have it memorized.
Not to give a history lesson (much like Bourdain did) but it wasn’t too long ago that Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia, and neither safe nor desirable to travel. The country was war torn in the early-to- mid-90s. Even I vaguely remember the news coverage of Milosevic relinquishing his power during the Clinton (Bill) era in the United States. It is hard to believe that this former version of Croatia did not even come to mind as I was packing for my trip.
To put it in perspective, one of the waiters at our hotel, who we will call “Ivan the Great”, was a young child during the war. We enjoy connecting with locals and somehow got on the topic of restoration to the walls of the City of Dubrovnik. During the summer months in Dubrovnik, thousands of birds race across a small, privileged portion of the Adriatic Sea towards the old, walled citadel of Dubrovnik. They innocuously fly overhead, occasionally darting simultaneously between the walls and narrow corridors with more precision and grace than seasoned Blue Angel pilots flying in formation through the Grand Canyon. I can’t recall the vast majority of our conversation, however, Ivan did say something I will never forget. “I don’t remember, but my Mother tells me I was scared of the birds as a kid. I used to run from them because I thought they were fighter planes coming to bomb us.” I can’t imagine being a young child, fearful that a flying bird may actually be a fighter jet swooping down to drop a bomb.
There are lots of things to do in Dubrovnik aside from the “Game of Thrones” tours and the city walls. I do like to skip the ‘touristy’ things in many cases, but definitely recommend walking the entire city walls.
Top Things To Do While Staying in Dubrovnik
Hike to The Top of the Mountain (skip the cable car)- There’s a great hiking trail that goes to the top of the city, where the cable car goes. I’d say it takes about an hour and a half to get up if you stop and take some photos. The views are gorgeous and you will get plenty of panoramic scenery in a quiet setting (we were the only ones ascending via foot during the first week of July). The trail is a mix of dirt and stairs. Not a very steep incline but fairly steady. You can walk up and take the cable car down, or vice versa.
Relaxing Seaside- Croatia has beautiful beaches. If you can, secure accommodations with a private beach, or slightly outside of town, where they are less busy. For those wanting more of a party and scene- Buza Beach bar has a nice restaurant, club, and chairs to rent.
Get Sporty- There’s no lack of Snorkling, Windsurfing, Kayaking, and Cliff Jumping.
The City Walls- While they get busy, they aren’t to skip. Go first thing in the morning, or late in the afternoon for a quieter walk. I’d say they slow down around 4.
Take a boat- There are many group and private tours ranging from 4-8 hours. I’d recommend going to the Elaphiti Islands.
Eat Oysters- While there are no lack of Oysters and seafood, take a few hours and drive to Ston. On the way you will pass a Bay with a bunch of Oyster Farms. We stopped by Antonios. Don’t expect swank. You’ll get a paper plate, lemon, and Oysters that were just pulled out of the Ocean.
Day Trip to Montenegro- There are plenty of busses and excursions to see Kotor & Budva. PS- Don’t drink the water.
Day Trip to Mostar- Mostar is a beautiful Village in neighboring Bosnia, only a few hours away.
Explore Inside the Walls- Inside the walls there are plenty of restaurants, shop and bars intertwined in tiny streets. Ensure you work your way to the top for the path less traveled.
Indulge in Local Cuisine- Heavily a Mediterranean Seafood Diet, focus on what’s local and recommended. Octopus, Tuna, Oysters galore. Croatia also has amazing Olive Oil, don’t skip the carbs on your visit, the bread is an amazing vehicle to soak up the spicy oil.
We stayed at Villa Dubrovnik and had a wonderful experience. The rooms all have terraces and they customize each of their dining experiences depending on the meal. Breakfast is included. They have a private beach, and a boat to taxi hotel guests to and from town every hour all day. The rooms are on the smaller side but, between the beach chairs, relaxing patio furniture and roof top bar, there is no lack of places to lounge around.
Villa Allure of Dubrovnik- http://www.dubrovnik-villaallure.com/opis/
Villa Dubrovnik (Wanderlust Wednesday Pick)- http://www.villa-dubrovnik.hr
Lady Phi Phi- No reservations, no large group, open weather permitting. Antuninska ul. 21, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Flights from Madrid and Rome as low as $150.00 round trip during high season.