Captivated in Croatia – a Guide to Dubrovnik

IMG_1276I spent 3 days in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  The rich history, seaside landscape and beautiful architecture make it a MUST SEE destination. It’s always very crowded with tourists, so if you want to avoid this try visiting Dubrovnik in the spring or fall (I was there in September and it was still crowded so I can’t imagine what it would be like in the summer!).  There are hotel options in and around the Old Town, but they can be very expensive.  I stayed in the Babin Kuk area on the Lapad peninsula which is a nice option. Still close to things, but away from the crazy! There are hotel options as well as many apartment rentals.

Things to See:

IMG_0147Pile Gate – the most popular entrance to the Old Town. Cross the drawbridge, admire the statue of St Blaise over its Renaissance arch, and be ready to be amazed by the sights inside

Bell Tower – get there at noon to hear the bells chime.  It’s a 31m high tower; with two bronze figures up top that strike the bell

IMG_0176

Sponza Palace – right beside the tower. Inside is the National Archives, and some art exhibits. I didn’t go inside, as these things didn’t interest me.

Big and Small Onofrio fountains – There are 16 faces carved around the big fountain and water comes out of their mouths! Feel free to fill up your water bottle, it’s safe.  Onofrio successfully built a reservoir system to bring water to the city, via the fountains

Rector’s Palace – it’s now a historical museum. I thought the price was a bit high to explore inside, so I skipped it. But have a quick peek inside and admire from the outside.

Franciscan Church and Monastery – also has a library and Europe’s oldest pharmacy.  You can explore some things for free, or pay extra to have a deeper wander inside.

Dominican Monastery – I could not find the entrance so I gave up. But it sounds like a worthwhile site to visit!

IMG_0150Lovrijenac Fortress – included in the price of your City Walls ticket, it is across the water from the Old Town and was important in preventing any land or sea takeovers from enemies.

Churches of the Old Town – the largest ones are St. Blaise’s, St. Ignatius and Dubrovnik Cathedral.  There are many smaller churches to look out for as well.  The large Baroque staircase leading up to St. Ignatius was featured in Game of Thrones.

 

Things to Do:

IMG_0155City Walls Walk – a MUST DO while in Dubrovnik. The walls overlook the city below and offer stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and surrounding areas.  The walk is 2km long, and takes an hour or so to navigate.  $30 entrance fee.

IMG_1258Stroll along the Stradun (Placa) – the main pedestrian street, paved with shiny and slippery limestone tiles.  Lots of restaurants cafes and shops.  No doubt you’ll end up here numerous times; great for people watching

IMG_1246.JPGDubrovnik Cable car – take it up to the top of Srd Hill for fantastic views. Sunset is a popular time to head up there, but you’ll be satisfied no matter what time you go! $30 for a return ride.

Game of Thrones tour – there are a few companies that offer these tours.  Most take you around to the locations in the Old Town, but there are more extended tours as well.  I didn’t have time and I felt the $60 plus prices were a bit out of my budget. But I would probably do one if I go back to Dubrovnik!

Lokrum Island – the main ferry sails there every half hour and it takes around 20 minutes. The island is not inhabited by people, just peacocks! Easy to spend a half day exploring the monastery ruins, walking through the forest paths, swimming in the lake or the beaches, hiking up to the fortress. And you can even sit on the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones.  There are restaurants and cafes here, but it’s also a good option to bring a picnic lunch.

Boat cruise of the Elafiti Islands – there are a few companies that offer different options for your full day cruise of the islands.  The one I chose went to Lopud, Sipan and Kolocep.  It included lunch and unlimited glasses of cheap wine.  The stops on the islands aren’t very long, but you’ll have time to do a bit of exploring, grab a snack or go for a quick swim.

Folklore Lindo show – this didn’t fit into my schedule and I was disappointed! It’s a performance of traditional song and dance of Croatia, in original costume.  I’ve heard it’s fantastic!

Places to Eat, Things to Eat:

Lanii

Restaurant Lanii – located up some stairs from the Stradun on the other main street Prijeko. The outdoor seating is located in the narrow cobblestone street; great atmosphere.  I had the beef gnocchi…rich and filling

IMG_0215Pizzeria Castro – located in Gundulic Square, a great place to sit outside and enjoy a pizza and beer. The service was really slow; after my food arrived no one came back to the table for a half hour and then I had to go to the indoor part of the restaurant to find someone I could settle up with. And even that was a difficult task!

lapad

Lapad Restaurant – located in Babin Kuk, this quaint place has indoor and outdoor seating, great service. I opted for a veggie risotto this time.

Madonna Restaurant – located in Babin Kuk, a cute place with outdoor patio seating upstairs. The waiter was really fun, the food was yummy. I had the cold octopus salad and it was delicious!

 Black risotto – rice with tender cuttlefish morsels, flavored with cuttlefish ink, garlic and olive oil. Amazing!

Seafood and more seafood! – Fresh, vast selection. Try it in a buzara (with wine, tomato sauce and spices) or a platter.

Oysters from Mali Ston – called the worlds most delicious!

Zelena Menestra – green stew with different types of meat potatoes and cabbage

Cevapi – minced meat in a skinless sausage, served on its own or with flatbread

Burek – a flaky phyllo pastry traditionally filled with meat. The cheese filled variety is also yummy

Rozata – popular dessert similar to crème brulee

Candied orange peel – a fun snack!

Places to Drink, Things to Drink:

buza3Buza – a popular cliff bar located through the city walls. If you want to find it, keep your eyes peeled…it’s just a tiny door. It leads to the cliffs overlooking the water, where they have built this trendy bar. It can be crowded and difficult to find a seat but you can still go and have a look around.

Rakija – potent fruit brandy….drink with caution!

Wine – so many different types to choose from – but if you like white wine, try the Posip

IMG_0234Karlovacko –local beer

IMG_0237Ozujsko – local beer

 

Things to Buy:

Olive Oil – extra virgin is the best, but there are many types made locally here

IMG_2389Paintings – one of my favorite souvenirs; I found a woman selling many original paintings of Dubrovnik and Croatia

Game of Thrones merchandise – maybe a bit cheesy, but there were SO many options…from t-shirts to figurines

Traditional jewelry – specifically Konavle earrings

 

 

 

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