The enchanting and beguiling ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ sits on Croatia’s shores, jutting out into the sea with a dream of medieval walls and imposing churches. From Game of Thrones fanatics to history-lovers, everyone will find something to enthrall and captivate them in Dubrovnik and it is certainly one of the most memorable places I have ever visited. But where do you start in this meandering sea of cobbled streets and majestic stairwells? Read on for my very own Dubrovnik Survival Guide packed full of all the tips and tricks I picked up during my time there.
Wander a UNESCO World Heritage Site
For an extremely small sum you can climb the jaw-dropping medieval walls of the old city for yourself and enjoy the astounding views afforded of Dubrovnik and the nearby islands from every angle. If you look carefully you can see the difference in the colours of the roofs with the newer-looking bright terracotta-coloured tiles covering damages from shelling in the 1990’s. Be sure to take a bottle of water with you if your are climbing the walls as it gets pretty hot up there in full sun.
Game of Thrones
Despite Dubrovnik’s many, many other attractions there is no getting away from the fact that this was a major filming location for much of the Game of Thrones series and you will see familiar sights (and a memorabilia shop to go with it) around every corner. Perfect for Game of Thrones super nerds (like my companion) Dubrovnik is packed full of sights pulled straight from the television series. So, if you want to take a shot of Kings Landing or follow the path of Cersei Lannister on her walk of shame, Dubrovnik is the place to be. Personally, I would advise saving a few pounds and finding these sights for yourself, but, if you are after more of a guiding hand, a ton of Game of Thrones tours leave at various points around the city year-round so just join whichever gives you the best options at the time.
Speaking of Game of Thrones, the island of Lokrum just a short boat ride away from Dubrovnik harbour is used for a number of the Quarth filming sequences but is also, conveniently for me, home to GIANT BUNNIES (yes that is a thing). A nature reserve in itself, Lokrum has a healthy population of rabbits and, strangely, peacocks and you will have plenty of time to appreciate these brightly coloured birds as you wander the island’s sights (there are many). If you have time, hop on a ferry to some of the nearby islands for a glimpse of local life with many being car-free. My personal favourite, Koločep is just a short ferry ride away and offers a sand beach (a rarity in these parts) with an extremely photogenic bay to snap away at.
Top Tip: Although there is an Iron Throne replica in one of the tourist shops in the old city, it does charge for pictures. Instead, head to bunny island (Lokrum) for a much better shot (and a better Iron Throne) where you can pose to your heart’s content for free or just spend your time doing your best ruler face and terrifying those walking past.
For the Best View…
Peer out over the beautiful terracotta-roofed buildings and the captivating bay from the best vantage point in Dubrovnik. Take the cable car up for magnificent views the entire way up with several platforms to get your angle. Go up just before sunset for the most spectacular setting of the sun over the sea as it dives down over the old city. There is even a restaurant up there for those planning a truly romantic splurge but book ahead or be prepared to wait as it is an incredibly popular spot.
Easy Excursions from Dubrovnik
With two more beautiful countries lying just a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik’s doorstep it would be a crime not to take an excursion beyond Croatia’s borders. Those wanting to gather those all-important passport stamps should head to the Bosnia & Herzegovina border for that stamping goodness. The famous bridge of Mostar is the perfect place to visit for first-timers with brave individuals jumping from its heights in the summer months (and pretending to in the later months). The enchanting twisty-turny streets of this mini city are the perfect place to jump into a trinket shop and enjoy a full three course meal for the smallest amount of money I have ever parted with for food (with a view of the bridge to boot). Those looking for instagram-worthy sights should look no further than the fortified old town of Kotor where the more energetic (we vastly underestimated the climb) can walk the snaking medieval walls and be rewarded by some incredible views at the top of the bay of Kotor for the admission price of around €3.
From beautiful island vistas to film-like vantage points, Dubrovnik offers a world of sights to explore with just a few of them listed above. The most important thing to remember is to just wander, with every corner offering a new surprise you will always find something new to explore in this amazing city so be sure to take it all in.
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