Ever heard of Dubrovnik? Thanks to a little show called Game of Thrones, it’s fair to say that this beautiful coastal city of Croatia, has made a stellar rise to fame- and tourism… But there’s more to Dubrovnik than seeking out the nooks and crannies that graced our TV screens over recent years.
Perched on the iconic blue waters of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is situated in the Dalmatia region of Croatia. Near Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro, in the southernmost tip of Croatia, Dubrovnik was historically based on maritime trade. Today, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean and proudly boasts a place on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
What you do have to know about Dubrovnik, is that it is downright enchanting. Stone buildings with red clay roof tiles tells a story worthy of Disney princesses. The myriad of stone stairs with hollowed out treads, lead to whimsical views of this ancient town- complete with laundry lines adorned with colourful garments. Residents of Dubrovnik’s old town keep to the quieter, narrow alleys, to avoid being trampled by the herds of over-eager tourists. Advice that came in very handy…
What to pack
This tourist destination has no pretense. It’ s casual all the way. From locals to visitors, the general uniform is relaxed and casual. If you plan to visit Dubrovnik, you’ll be on your feet in the old town, so make sure to pack a pair of comfy walking shoes. During summer, this coastal town is hot! Dress in cool natural fabrics and pack a sun hat. If you plan to get in the Adriatic, and participate in the numerous water sports and activities, don’t forget your swimsuit.
On a side note: I found Dubrovnik to be a shopping haven for leather goods. To my surprise, the Croatian ladies are tall and statuesque, unlike the typical stereotypes for mainland Europe. It was delightful to find shoes in larger sizes- and on sale no less! Clothing is also suited for taller shoppers.
How to get there
Travel to Dubrovnik by air, water or road. Dubrovnik Airport (Airport Code DBV) is situated about 22km from the old town and has a regular bus service to the old town, running 7 days a week. Driving yourself from the airport, shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes. Ferries, cruise liners and independent transport options are available from several nearby European ports.
When arriving with larger vessels, you will disembark about 4km from the old town. Regular bus services and taxis are available, but heavy tourist congestion and narrow roads leading to Dubrovnik old town may result in travel times close to 30 minutes.
What to eat
With great Italian influence, expect some old favourites with a twist- Pasta and black risotto is popular. Add to that the geographical location of Dubrovnik, and you have all the makings of a seafood wonderland, doused in local olive oil, rinsed down with (you guessed it) local wine.
- Risotto or black risotto
- Seafood- try the Mušule na buzaru (mussels stewed in white wine with herbs)
- Rozata- think crème caramel
- Zelena Menestra- a traditional Dubrovnik green cabbage stew served with meat
- Makaruli Šporki- think pasta Bolognese
- Psut- think prosciutto (see the Italian theme here…)
- Local olives and olive oil
- The myriad of local stews: Sauerkraut stew, wine goulash and Pašticada (beef stew with prunes and dried figs)
What to drink
- Local beer
- Local wine- Plavac Mali is a local variety, and some claim Dingač is the best red Croatia has to offer…
- Kadarun if you’re in the mood for rosé
- For something with kick, try the local aperitif of choice: Brandy. Popular Croatian varieties are sljivovica (plum brandy), lozovaca (grape brandy), kruskovac (pear brandy), travarica (herbal brandy), and perhaps orahovac (walnut brandy).
What to see and do
- The iconic old town wall that surrounds the city (tours are available onsite)
- The crystal-clear Adriatic waters make for great snorkelling and kayaking. Many tour operators are situated in the old port.
- Don’t feel like getting wet? Opt for a glass-bottom boat trip along the coastline and see the city wall from the water.
- Hike up mount Srd for breath-taking views of the old town’s red clay rooftops… or take the 3-minute cable car.
- The Rector’s palace.
- Local wine tours.
- Get lazy on the beaches near Dubrovnik is you have some time on your hands.
- Get lost in the old town streets and alleys, and sit down in the narrow passage restaurants for drink to escape the masses.
Dubrovnik is a maze of old-world wonder. Markets and street cafes line the walkways, and there’s no shortage of architecture to admire. If ever the opportunity presents itself, We hope you find your way there.