Dubrovnik was on our list of city breaks since we started watching Game of Thrones.
Like many of our European breaks we did not make an advance booking however were able to get Thomson flights for £60 each from Gatwick three weeks before departure.
TIP: I always use Momondo as a search engine for cheapest flights. Before searching tick on the little boxes that are not part of the search so you cover a wider range.
Hotels were expensive and we opted for an AirBnb. This was about £50 a night. The description of the apartment said 15 minute walk from Old Town which seemed perfect.
Dubrovnik is a world heritage site and known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. The city is so clean, has no visible poverty and we felt safe walking around at all times.
Early flight from London Gatwick meant we arrived at 10am. We checked into an Air BnB in Dubrovnik. The owner Maya said she would pick us up for 220 HKR which is about the average rate.
We settled into the apartments which was clean and had the basic facilities which we were satisfied with. We then started our adventures.
Walking from our apartment to Old Town was about 15 minutes but it was a tiring 15 minutes.
A lot of Dubrovnik is on a hill/slope and getting anywhere involves climbing stairs. We saw it as good exercise but it can be tiring and you do need to stay hydrated especially in the midday heat.
Finding your bearings in the Old Town is pretty easy- if in doubt head to the Main Street (PLACA/ Stradun)
Our first stop was the Tourist Information Centre. Tour Croatia sent me a 3 Day Dubrovnik card voucher that I had to collect from the centre. The card is normally 250 HKR each and is worth it for the following reasons:
- includes the City Walls Walk (normally 150 HKR)
- you get 6 free bus rides around Dubrovnik if you want to tour
- there is 10% off at almost all the restaurants with the card
- admission to many museums is free
Whilst at the Tourist Information Centre we booked the Game of Thrones Tour with the Dubrovnik Tour Company. This was 150 HKR each. This is the average price for the tour.
There are a lot of Tour operators around and prices are similar. We wanted to pay by card which was a bit harder than we had thought hence the reason we booked the tour with the tourist centre. Prices online are similar too if you want to prebook any tours.
Pizza Mirakul: We stopped for some lunch at Pizza Mirakul. This was a place we found whilst walking around the back street. We went for the Prawn salad and Ham Pizza and this was perfect to fuel us and get us ready for a few more hours of walking.
Cafe Buza: After lunch, whilst walking around the Old Town we can across a sign that said “Cold Drinks Here”. I had Cafe Buza on my list of places to visit and it just happened to be what we stumbled across. Perched on the cliff edge, just outside the city walls in Old Town is Cafe Buza. It means “Hole in the Wall” and literally that is the entrance to the bar.
Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, this bar is perfect to get away and have a relaxing drink. Their menu is restricted and all drinks are bottled or served in plastic cups due to the location. If you are brave you can jump into the sea from the rocks the bar sits on.
After a couple of drinks we made our way to the meeting point for the Game of Thrones Tour. On route we had an ice cream of course because we were melting away. On the Main Street there is a shop that sells them for 10 HKR; the shop has a big selection of flavours and is the cheapest in the area. You cannot miss it because you will notice everyone with ice creams in the area.
The tour is a must, especially for “GOT” fans. There are several companies who run similar ones, some longer than others. Ours was 2 hours long. It gives you an insight into how they filmed the series in Dubrovnik and takes you to most of the sights. The guide was also English speaking.
Some of our tour photos are below. There is a bit of CGI in the series but I thought a lot of it was quite obvious.
After the tour we booked our adventure for the day after; Sea Kayaking with Travel Sombrero. This was 230 HKR each and they take card payments.
Restaurant Nava: Jo from the tour company recommended Restaurant Nava for dinner. The restaurant was just next door. I tucked into a Mixed Seafood platter which was rather tasty. An average meal with drinks for two costs around 300 HKR. We shared a Rozata is a very traditional local dessert. It is very similar to Creme Brulee.
Kayaking: We opted for the 10 am slot which was perfect in terms of weather. The meeting point was Banje Beach which was about 20 minutes walk from the apartment.
The instructor briefed us and we set off. It was clear I was not good at this and I think the instructor decided we should take an easy route rather than one all around Lokrum Island. The route was 6km and it was suitable for beginners too (us!).
Kayaking on the Adriatic Sea is beautiful. The sea is clean and has no dangerous sea life so you can dip your legs in the water if you wish to cool down and are confident on the kayak. The glistening clear water and panoramic views of the Old Town were lovely. I am glad I had a waterproof phone because it was not the easiest of tasks to take your phone out of the waterproof bag provided in the middle of the sea then put it back.
We passed the naturist beaches (which are popular around the area) and learnt about the expensive Blue Dome hotel. We stopped at a few points included the Purple Cave and another one for some snorkelling and fruit (we were told we would get a sandwich when we booked but that never happened. We got some bananas, apples and whole oranges. The water was about 20 degrees and clear so perfect for snorkelling. The beach is a pebbly once like most of them in Dubrovnik and getting into the water was a bit of a task for me.
Kayaking lasted for about 3 hours and after the hard work we deserved a cocktail.
Banje Beach Club was next to the watersport meeting point. We had a Strawberry Mojito, a Banje Beach Special cocktail and tucked into some fish and chips.
The beach club is perfect for people watching and just to chill out. You can hire out a sun bed for the day here too. It is a lively place to spend the day.
Lokrum Island: After people watching we walked to the port to get a boat to Lokrum Island. The return journey cost 150 HKR (which includes entry to the whole island) and with the Dubrovnik card we get 30 percent off this. The boat trip is about 10 minutes.
The locals are suspicious about the island and say it is haunted at night so no one stays there. The island has a large botanical garden, Fort Royal fortress (where you can get great views of the Dubrovnik), Dead Sea, Peacocks and Rabbits and a Game of Thrones visitor centre. You can see the replica of the Iron Throne here.
Exploring Lokrum island involves a lot of walking and climbing especially if you want to get to the fortress. Make sure you have a water bottle with you and comfortable walking shoes.
We could have spent longer in Lokrum but time was not on our side so we got the boat back after a couple of hours. The boats run every half an hour.
Bona Fide: I wanted authentic Croatian food but apart from fish all I could find was beef which I do not eat so we ended up at Bona Fide. A lovely Mexican where I enjoyed chicken tacos and my hubby had enchiladas which was flavoursome too.
Captain Candy Store: On our way back to our apartment we stopped at Captain Candy Store to get some sweet treats. Not the cheapest of places, but it has a different selection to your normal pick and mix in the UK and would recommend it to those with a sweet tooth. (Tiramisu coated almonds, sugar coated apricots and coated coffee beans were some of my favourite). I got some for my family back home and they loved them.
Day Trip to Mostar and Kravica Waterfalls: Unsure of whether to do the three island tour or Mostar and Kravica Waterfalls ,we settled for the latter. Travel Sombrero made the booking for us at 330 HKR each.
Pick up was at 740 a.m. We had a mini bus which is always better than the big buses and is more personal. Our tour guide was friendly however like many, the tour was driven by the stops he got commission on.
First Stop: We made our first coffee break at Vjetrenica caves. This is the largest cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the richest cave in terms of subterranean biodiversity. We did not see any species whilst there but many have. The caves had a lot of history and were worth visiting.
Entrance was 60 HKR each and everyone felt like they had to visit. It was nice to visit the caves however I would have preferred if we were provided with this information at the time of booking. There is a cold strong wind in the cave and on their website you are supposed to wear proper shoes and long trousers (most of us were in shorts and sandals because we did not know we were visiting the cave). Your get a thin rain jacket and helmet provided.
The cafe that we stopped at did not open until 10 am so we had nothing to do for half an hour. We didn’t leave until 1045 am which was a delay as a result of the tour guide. This meant we had less time in the main destinations we wanted to see. The cafe also only sold drinks at that time in the morning too which was a bit disappointing especially as we brought no snacks with us.
Next stop was a quick drop off at Medugorje which has a pilgrim many visit. On route the driver stopped and asked who would like traditional Bosnian Lunch at Mostar. He said queues were up to 1.5 hours for food and it was recommended we book the lunch with him and we would still get enough time in Mostar. We fell for this and got him to book our lunch.
Kravica waterfalls:We then made our way to the Kravica waterfalls. On arrival, he told us we should not swim in the water because it was very dirty and we needed to be back in 45 minutes. This was enough time but I would have liked more. The cafe was cheap and we managed to get a quick bite to eat here ( The biggest chicken burger I have ever had and it cost 25HKR).
Mostar:We got a bit delayed at the waterfalls (15 mins) which meant we had even less time in Mostar. We arrived at the restaurant just after 130pm and had an hour to finish our meal before heading to old town where we had less than an hour. It definitely was not enough to do what we wanted. We were rushed and though managed to squeeze in a Turkish Tea and Baklava we missed better photo opportunities of the bridge or even a chance to visit the mosques or Turkish houses.
It was a rush and a bit disappointing because this was the main reason for the trip. Also the restaurants in Old Town were empty and I would have preferred to give my business to them rather than the one the driver took us too.
We got back around 8pm and chilled out for the rest of the evening after a day of sight seeing. I always get more tired when I am sitting for ages on a bus/van too.
It was forecast to rain which we were dreading but when we saw the sun in the morning we quickly got ready and made our way to old town to walk around the city walls.
We stopped at the local bakeries Mlinar for a chicken roll and coconut & chocolate croissant. That came to 50HKR and they were both perfect for breakfast.
City Walls: The walk is around 2-2.5 hours and can be quite tiring in midday heat. There are a few cafes along the way where you can have a drink and cool down but I recommend you avoid the afternoon.
We stopped at Sv. Petar the first cafe and had the best iced coffee with ice cream overlooking Lokrum Island. There are a few museums along the way too which show you some history of Croatia.
Your Dubrovnik city pass includes entrances to the walls as well as museums within the walls. (The city walls tickets on their own do not include entrance to these museums).
You come across a couple of stands selling Konavle embroidery within the walls. It is always better to buy any souvenirs from the local stands rather than shops because a lot of them sell items that looks the same but are produced in China.
In the square just off Main Street you will notice a few sellers with local products including lavender and herbs. They are not always there so buy something when you see it ( a mistake I made).
Cave Bar: After our city walls walk we caught Bus No 6 to Laped for a drink at the Cave Bar in Hotel More. The bus ride from Old Town was only 15 minutes . This again is included in the 3 day city card.
From the bus stop you can walk down the promenade to the bar and take in the lovely views. There are many spots along the way on the cliffs to sunbathe and take a dip in the sea too.
The Cave Bar is a perfect place to cool down in the midday sun. I enjoyed a More cocktail which was perfectly made. Cocktails are about 60 HKR-90 HKR which is consistent with other bars. The beer was around 30HKR.
Laped has many hotels for tourists. It also looked like a lovely town to look around however we didn’t have a chance to do that.
Mea Culpa: After our drink we headed back to Old Town for a bite to eat. We headed to Mea Culpa. If you pay by card you get 5% off in addition to the 10% you get with the Dubrovnik City Pass. We shared a lovely pizza here.
The heavens decided to open and luckily it was not heavy. We went to the Franciscan Church and Monastery. They have a pharmacy that is around 700 years old in here along with a lot of history and is definately one to visit.
D’Vino: After browsing some shops we stopped for a drink at D’Vino, a recommended wine bar. I asked for a zinfandel because that is all I really have and the waiter brought out a red wine. He said that was the zinfandel they had in Dubrovnik and I am not a wine conniseur so I just went with what he said. The wine was lovely and my husband was able to enjoy a beer. The bar had a relaxing vibe and I did notice their wine tasting was very popular.
Dubravka 1836: By this time we had built our appetite for dinner and made our way to Dubravka 1836. This is part of the Nautika Restaurant group, the Nautika being the worlds 6th most romantic restaurant.
The restaurants are next to each other so the view is pretty much the same. The ambience may have been more romantic at the Nautika but Dubravka 1836 was really nice. The service was exceptional and the food was really good. I opted for the King Prawns – Dubrovnik style (flambe prawns in a tomato and capers sauce served with rice). The sauce was rich and the prawns were juicy. I got a bib too because the prawns were whole and needed to be opened. Hubby had Rib Steak Dalmatian style which he really enjoyed.
With either of the restaurants ensure you book well in advance.
We were totally stuffed so the walk up hill to our apartment was perfect. We got back, packed and were all ready for our early flight the next day.
I could have stayed longer in Dubrovnik; though the Old Town is small there are many places around to explore around it.
It is definitely a destination I would recommend however there is a lot of walking to do if you want to explore the old town. If not you the beaches are always a plesant place to relax and watch the world go by.
Croatia is beautiful and is rich with culture and history.
It’s somewhere you can spend a week in especially if you are touring the islands.
Dubrovnik is just like you imagine it to be; terracotta roofs everywhere, busy but yet peaceful. The locals are friendly and it’s generally safe.
They serve a lot of beef dishes which I cannot eat but there are many alternatives, seafood being one. An average meal is about £30 for two. If all fails their pizza is always nice.
You can either go all out and have an expensive stay or be savvy and manage to get a holiday within a limited budget. There are a lot of supermarkets around and bakeries are not that far.
Buying a Dubrovnik City Pass definitely saves you money especially if you love museums and are going to visit the city walls.
There is a lot of walking but then again you are not far from a cafe or bar where you can stop and have a break.
We were told not to use the tour operators on the street however a couple of girls we met on holiday had done that and did not have a bad experience. As long as you have a contact number and genuine materials I think it’s fine.
Tours are pretty much similar prices and available on every corner in Old Town. If they are cheaper then there may be some catch (e.g like the driver is probably going to take you on his desired route so he benefits). I would book with reputable companies like Tour Croatia or Viator so you can get back to them with any queries.
Though Jo at Travel Sombrero was lovely I sent some feedback on the trip and never heard back.
I could not get all my photos on here. You can head over to my instagram page for more on my feed.
Until next time, cheerio! If you have any questions please drop me a line.