Although its world fame started after being a film location for larger-than-any-other-TV-show-ever and largest city of all Westeros – King’s Landing, story of Dubrovnik started much much earlier. Traditionally, it’s been a famous destination of every merchant and sailor on Adriatic Sea in ancient times and more recently it’s a must-see destination for anyone who sails in Adriatic Sea or sets foot on Croatian coast. Coming from land or sea one thing is sure – you’re about to have a time of your life.
I came to Dubrovnik from land with my wife, driving from Bosnia, our home and Croatia’s neighboring country. First thing you see approaching Dubrovnik is big modern bridge, built few years ago to bypass too long and too dangerous road curving around a bay on a west entrance to the city. That bridge perfectly reflects what Dubrovnik is today – a city which is intertwining its rich historic and cultural heritage with modern day lifestyle. Also, it’s a great place to make your first selfie.
What to expect of Dubrovnik should be clear enough once you’re aware of the fact that Dubrovnik is also called “Croatian Athens” and “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Whether that’s true or not is completely up to you. But one thing is true – you will not go home disappointed. I now I didn’t.
To maximize a satisfaction of your stay in Dubrovnik, you have to make sure you pick a right place to stay. If you’re planning on spending most of your time in walled city of Dubrovnik, then you should get a place that’s closer to stone walls, since getting to old city from any other part of Dubrovnik could be rather annoying. This will most likely be pricey, but hey, you chose Dubrovnik and for that you have to pay the price. But don’t worry – it’s going to worth every penny.
First you have to do when you come to Dubrovnik is get to know it and the way to do that is not to follow your travel guide and dozen of other people. Best way to do it is to go by yourself (or with your significant other). If you’re afraid you’re going to miss something, just get yourself one of countless guide books or pamphlets and you will get all the information you’ll need. Of course, walking down the Stradun is something you simply have to do. Its numerous restaurants and coffee shops will most likely lure you with their scents and hostesses will do their share to get your attention. Which ever you choose, you will probably not make a mistake, since every one of them has something that’s unique and memorable. At night time there are several places where you can listen to live music, ranging from local music to finest jazz, and I’m sure you can find yourself a decent party too, if that’s what you’re into.
Also, you have to climb the famous baroque stairs that lead to St. Ignatius church (you know, the one that Cersei Lannister finished her walk of shame on). Next to that church there are several restaurants where you should be able to eat in peace, since there are not that many people walking around. Near is a fabulous coffee place called “Buza”, placed on a sea cliff, behind the stone wall, from where you can witness unforgettable sunset. Some say it’s a best swim spot in Dubrovnik, but you’ll have to check that for yourself. Have in mind that you would probably need to get there earlier, because waiting line is very long and could prevent you from experiencing best sunset in all of Dubrovnik.
One thing that Dubrovnik is most famous for are its walls, that encircle most of the old city with its almost 2 kilometers length. Walls of Dubrovnik are open for visitors, of course, every day from 9 am to 7 pm. It’s a wonderful way to get to know Dubrovnik. You can experience how it was in medieval ages to overlook the city and the sea. Walls are high up to 25 meters so you should be careful when you step on them. It’s very crowded in almost every time of the year, but that shouldn’t discourage you – it’s one of the best memories I have on Dubrovnik. Walls are place where “Walls Run” is being held, a part of “Du Motion” festival. Beware – on a sunny day make sure you bring sun cream and a hat, and a fully charged phone or camera or else you’ll have to rely solely on your memory, like I do.
Lokrum, garden island
To list all the things that Dubrovnik is famous for would be almost impossible. But the place that I enjoyed the most is the Lokrum Island, situated around 600 meters from the city. Lokrum is the place of a unbelievable botanical garden survive and a monastery, according to legend, built by none other than Richard The Lionheart. Everyone in Dubrovnik will tell this story – Richard, on one of his cruises, was shipwrecked there and survived. To show appreciation, he decided to build a church there, which stands there from around 1192.
You can sit on any of numerous benches near the sea and have an amazing time. It so peaceful and quiet that you can almost hear your heartbeat. All you hear are waves that are crashing on a shore and peacocks. Yes, peacocks and don’t be surprised if you feel someone is watching you or approaching you from your back. Peacocks are only inhabitants of this island and were brought here from Canary Islands some 200 years ago.
Whole island is a big garden, although there actually is an area which has more than 500 different plant species . Some are very exotic, some are unique and going through the garden you can learn about those plants, since there are little signs next to every plant in it.
Best swim I had during my stay in Dubrovnik was in idyllic little salt lake connected to the sea. Its name is Dead Sea and like the real Dead Sea, it’s very salty and because of that it’s very easy to swim in it. It’s around 10 meters deep so you better be a decent swimmer before getting inside.
Like I said, it’s impossible to list all the things that are great about Dubrovnik. One thing is sure – no holiday is that long to get to know entire city and its beauties. You have to come back. And you probably will. And who knows – maybe you catch Game of Thrones team or cast while being there.