Dubrovnik, Croatia was easily one of my favorite cities that I got to spend time in during the first half of my Europe trip. It was also the hardest city to get to (cough *27 hour travel day*), but was totally worth the travel headache because the city itself was stunning, the people were so kind, and I left with countless incredible memories. If you don't know much about Dubrovnik, it is one of the largest cities in Croatia, it borders the gorgeous Adriatic Sea, and it's a massive filming location for the likes of Game of Thrones and more recent Star Wars movies, which has become a big tourism draw in the last few years. Whether or not that matters to you, I can't fangirl enough and say that everyone should make it a priority to visit and experience all that Dubrovnik has to offer. Here is a short list of things to do when you find yourself in Dubrovnik, Croatia!
Before you set off exploring, make sure that you've got some local cash on hand. Croatia has their own currency called the kuna (kn), and in my travels I found that some smaller establishments only took cash, so just be sure to either grab some before your trip or stop by an ATM in town. Keep in mind that the kuna is quite different from the euro (€) or UK pound (£) in that the rate is a lot lower to the US dollar. For example, when I bought a ticket for the city wall, it cost 150kn, or about $23. And when you find yourself somewhere that accepts card — and this goes for anywhere abroad — make sure to always pay in the local currency in order to get the best rate. Just a few things to keep in mind as you're spending money abroad, especially in Croatia.
Thing to Do in Dubrovnik
Walk the City Wall. Seriously, if you can only do one thing, make this it. The city walls surrounding the Old Town date back to the 14th century, and are one of the oldest defensive structures in mainland Europe. On top of that, only about 8,000 people are allowed to walk the city wall per day. I'd recommend going around 4:00pm (16:00) to avoid both the crowds in the morning and the hottest parts of the day. There are multiple entrances to the wall throughout Old Town, but I would recommend avoiding the one near the front for a better experience. The cost to enter the city wall is 150kn ($23). Your ticket for the City Wall also includes same-day access to Fort Lovrijenac, which is situated on a hill just outside of of Old Town. Making the climb up to the Fort provides some of the most spectacular views of Old Town, the hillsides, and the Adriatic Sea.
If you fancy some time out in nature, I can't recommend visiting Lokrum Island Nature Reserve enough. Lokrum Island, which looks to be completely covered in trees, sits out in the Adriatic Sea just off of Old Town. For a total cost of 150kn ($23), you can hop on a boat from the Old Town harbor that will take you out to Lokrum and you'll immediately have access to the entire island. There are hiking trails, beaches, swimming holes, and more to explore! Plus there are wild bunnies and peacocks everywhere. There is also a small museum in the center of the island that has information on the origins of the island (it was inhabited by monks for a long time), as well as a small Game of Thrones museum.
If you're looking for one more way to take in the city, especially around sunset, be sure to check out the Dubrovnik Cable Car. For another 150kn ($23), you will ride up the hillside to a beautiful view point where you can look down to the orange rooftops of Old Town, the harbor, and Lokrum Island. You can also look out toward the many islands of Croatia to the north, or toward the mountainsides that lead to Montenegro to the south. Be sure to grab a drink or small bite to eat at the outdoor bar, where you can watch the sun set over the city and sea.
Eating in Dubrovnik
Simply put: eat all the Croatian things. Everything I ate, whether from a restaurant or random street vendor, was absolutely delicious. Definitely make sure to try some of their local seafood dishes.
Also, make it a point to swing into any and all local bakeries you can find, because chances are that their treats are going to be amazing. There was a bakery right around the corner from my AirBnb that I visited each morning on my way into Old Town. With the language barrier, I didn't always know what I was ordering, but wasn't ever worried because everything looked so good! From savory cheese pastries to sweet chocolate croissant-like treats, I was never disappointed.
One of my favorite places I found, with much thanks to my good friend Emily, was called Barba. It was so good, I went twice, getting a different seafood burger each time. I tried the salmon and shrimp burgers, plus some local beers they had on tap. If I ever find myself back in Dubrovnik (fingers crossed!), this would be my first stop, and I would promptly order their octopus burger and fries. YUM.
Game of Thrones Spots
Last, if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you probably already know that Dubrovnik is a major filming location for the TV series. The city has become a hot spot for tourists and fans of the show, as it has served as the backdrop for King's Landing for almost a decade. So if you're a GOT fan, be sure the visit the following locations in and around Old Town to live out some of your favorite Lannister dreams.
Old Town -- a.k.a. King's Landing, as well as parts of Qarth (visit St. Dominic Street, Ploče Gate, and Rector's Palace)
Jesuit Stairs -- the infamous spot where Cersei Lannister began her walk of shame in King's Landing
Tvrdjava Minčeta -- where Daenerys tries to find the entrance to the House of the Undying in Qarth while searching for her dragons
Lokrum Island -- as well as being the setting of Qarth, other scenes were shot here in the Botanical gardens
Fort Lovrijenac -- the Red Keep in King's Landing, and if you're looking toward Old Town, you'll recognize the small pier that resides in Black Water Bay
I hope that you put Dubrovnik somewhere near the top of your travel bucket list, because it really is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. From the lovely language to the incredible food to the kindest people, I'll never forget my few, lovely days in Dubrovnik and already can't wait to return.