A bit of a sleep in today, and then back on that crowded bus into Old Town Dubrovnik. I bring Anthony and Emily, a young American girl who has joined the group for the second half of the tour. We head to the Old Port to catch a boat over to Lokrum Island, which is only a short 20 minute ride leaving every half hour. The boat pulls away from the dock, offering fantastic views of the Old Town from the water.
As we reach the island, we tie up to a small dock and there is a cute pink house that is the Tourist Information center- a necessary stop to get some ideas of what to do on the island. Today, no one lives on Lokrum – and no one is allowed to spend the night here. It is strictly a nature reserve but it was once inhabited by monks, Richard the Lionhearted and then eventually King Maximilian. He rebuilt the monastery and added botanical gardens – a perfect place for his summer home. He also brought over peacocks from the Canary Islands; they are the main inhabitants of the island today and are bold and friendly (use caution!).
Lokrum is a popular destination for locals and tourists who want to escape the bustle of the city by relaxing on the beach, hiking the forested trails, and learning some history. We head to the ruins of the Benedictine monastery, first built in the 11th century.
This location has been featured in the TV series Game of Thrones, and there is a small museum featuring filming locations for the show. And the best part – you can sit on the Iron Throne! It is one of the originals used in filming, donated to the city of Dubrovnik. Just outside of the ruins is the Botanical Garden that has over 500 plant, flower, bush and tree species from around the world!
It is while I am admiring the vegetation that I lose sight of Anthony and Emily, and oddly enough, cannot find them again! I continue on and find a rocky beach, the deep blue water lapping gently at the shore.
I don’t get too close…rocks might be slippery! I venture back into the center of the island and come to Mrtvo more, a small lake popular for swimming. Now I wish I’d brought my swimsuit!
There are a few restaurants here, but it’s also cool to bring a picnic lunch. I decide to head back into the Old town for lunch and exploration.
I head into the Franciscan Monastery, just off the main Placa. I have a brief look at part of the inside, but I don’t want to pay to go in further. Cool fact- inside the monastery is the oldest pharmacy in Europe! I walk back up to Prejiko Street to look for the Dominican Monastery, but I come across this cute little church called St Nicholas.
This is what I love about exploring cities….things you don’t expect to find! I have difficulty finding the monastery, so I give up and go back the other way. Off to my left is a small alcove and a woman is sitting among hundreds of her paintings of Dubrovnik. So many options and sizes to choose from; I buy some of her artwork and move along. Back over to Luza Square, and now I will head to the Rector’s Palace-I have a quick look inside but I don’t feel like exploring museums today.
Across from the palace is Dubrovnik Cathedral. It has also been damaged by a couple of earthquakes, and redone. The Romanesque style of the Cathedral with the Corinthian columns in the front makes it a spectacular sight. It also houses a treasury with many relics from early centuries.
I stop for lunch in Gundulic Square, and find an outdoor seating area (of course), and I choose a place that I’ve heard has the best pizza!
It’s called Pizzeria Castro and I order the Hawaiian pizza and a Karlovacko beer, enjoying people watching while the sun shines down on the Square.
It is a great lunch but the service is very slow and it takes forever to find someone to pay for my meal. Bad service, or laid back European lifestyle? Who knows! At the other end of the square I find the large Baroque staircase that was also a famous filming location for Game of Thrones.
At the top of the stairs is St. Ignatius Church…I have a quick look inside; the main altar is gorgeous.
I keep walking up towards the city walls, down the narrow streets to look for the entrance to the popular bar called Buza. If you want to find it, keep your eyes peeled…it’s just a tiny door through the wall. It leads to the cliffs overlooking the water, where they have built this trendy bar. It is impossible to find a seat today, so I climb down the steep steps for a look around. Not gonna lie…I am a bit nervous because there are some parts that don’t offer the best safety guarantees. So if you’re going to drink here, best to not get too wasted! But if you don’t want to drink (it’s a bit pricey), at least climb down for a look. In addition to sitting at the bar and tables, there are people sunbathing on the rocks and swimming.
My exploration is done, so back to Babin Kuk to meet the people that are joining us for this next leg of the tour. We go for dinner at Madonna, a small traditional restaurant with patio seating upstairs. I try the cold octopus salad, and it is fantastic!
Who knew I’d be enjoying so much octopus/squid/calamari!! Today is Vid’s birthday, so this can only mean one thing…a big party night! The first stop on our pub crawl is a cave bar..there isn’t any room inside for our larger group so we find a table outside along the waterfront. When it starts to get chilly we pack up and head to a place along the promenade where I enjoy one of the biggest mugs of Ozusko beer I’ve ever seen! I can barely lift it (I have really small hands!).
The final stop is an Irish Pub (Vid manages to find an Irish Pub everywhere we go). I try to behave because tomorrow we will spend the entire day on a boat. Who wants to be hungover on a boat??
The next morning we embark on a 6 hour boat cruise to discover the Elafiti Islands. It is me, Emily, Anthony and Gay joins us this time (one of the older ladies on the tour). I am a little hesitant because I don’t always do well on boats, especially if it is windy and the boat is rocking. The copious amount of beer consumed last night doesn’t help either. But I seem to be ok, and settle in for the 40 minute ride in the beautiful Adriatic Sea – first stop is the island of Lopud.
There is a promenade that leads to a small beach…I lay down my towel and have a much needed nap in the sun. There is a larger more popular beach here but we don’t have enough time to get there and back. If you come here and have more time to explore there are also ruins of churches, monasteries and palaces destroyed in the big earthquake of 1667.
Lunch is served on the boat; a simple chicken breast and salad. And did I mention there is unlimited wine all day? I try to be smart about it, but come on, I’m on holidays! The next stop is the island of Sipan, the largest of the Elafiti Islands. It is famous for its wine and laid back atmosphere. We have enough time for a quick wander along the waterfront of the port of Sudurad.
Final stop of the day is Kolocep Island; we hop off the boat and walk down the boardwalk and there is a woman selling her jams….it is so hard to decide which ones to get. Emily and I have fun sampling the different flavors and I finally settle on the fig jam. We then head over to the small beach, and I go for a quick swim before getting back on the boat.
On the way back, I sit on the edge of the boat, my feet dangling in the cool water with a glass of wine in hand. Doesn’t get much better than this!
My 3 days in Dubrovnik are full of discovery, relaxation, and celebration! There are many things to see and do here, but I think I made the most of my time and experienced a variety of activities. This city is definitely worth visiting; you’ll easily fall in love with its charm and hospitality!