Croatia Calling: Dubrovnik

[trip style = urban + beach & sun]

Dubrovnik is a modern city whose rugged beauty rivals the Mediterranean, as well as a medieval city that serves as a metaphor for freedom and Croatia's complex cultural past as a Republic of the former Yugoslavia. These elements, coupled with the affordability of the region in relation to the Côte d'Azur or the Amalfi Coast, make it a charming and cost-effective destination. Not quite a hidden gem, as charter flight and cruise ship crowds descend in droves over the summer months, Dubrovnik — the Pearl of the Adriatic — is still the country's single best destination. Check out our Drink and Do recommendations below. Must-do's: walk the wall, swim the sea and drink the wine!

DO // Explore the side streets of Old Town. Above left: The view from our apartment.

DO // Explore the side streets of Old Town. Above left: The view from our apartment.

DO // Rent a kayak and paddle to the nearby island of Lokrum.

DO // Rent a kayak and paddle to the nearby island of Lokrum.

Kayakers outside the city walls

Kayakers outside the city walls

DRINK // This literal hole-in-the-wall bar — accessed through a hole in the ancient city walls — boasts spectacular views and pricey beer. To find Buza Bar, follow the signs that read "Cold drinks with the most beautiful view".

DRINK // This literal hole-in-the-wall bar — accessed through a hole in the ancient city walls — boasts spectacular views and pricey beer. To find Buza Bar, follow the signs that read "Cold drinks with the most beautiful view".

DO // You may notice it's more difficult to swim in the saltier waters of the Adriatic Sea, but swimming off the rocks outside medieval city walls is not to be missed.

DO // You may notice it's more difficult to swim in the saltier waters of the Adriatic Sea, but swimming off the rocks outside medieval city walls is not to be missed.

DO // Walk the walls of Old Town [~$16] to get a feel of the place.

DO // Walk the walls of Old Town [~$16] to get a feel of the place.

City walls view

City walls view

City walls view

City walls view

City walls view

City walls view

DO // Hop a boat to a nearby island — Lokrum, Mljet or the Elaphiti Islands — for the best beaches and hikes.

DO // Hop a boat to a nearby island — Lokrum, Mljet or the Elaphiti Islands  for the best beaches and hikes.

The cliffs below Dubrovnik castle, included in the city walls walk

The cliffs below Dubrovnik castle, included in the city walls walk

DRINK // Try a flight of Croatian wine at d'vino wine bar on a charming side street in Old Town. 

DRINK // Try a flight of Croatian wine at d'vino wine bar on a charming side street in Old Town. 

DO // Ride the cable car high above Old Town for a history lesson and panoramic views. Buy a one-way ticket [~$10] and hike down the mountain and through the steeply set hill homes.

DO // Ride the cable car high above Old Town for a history lesson and panoramic views. Buy a one-way ticket [~$10] and hike down the mountain and through the steeply set hill homes.

Things to know

  • The best time to visit is April to October. Avoid the charter and cruise ship passengers by visiting in shoulder season or staying away from Old Town in the mornings and early afternoons.
  • Staying inside the walls of Old Town is charming, but consider an apartment or hotel up the hill or in the newer area of town for a quieter atmosphere and a view.
  • I booked our apartment on Booking.com, which doesn't charge the booking fees of Airbnb [but offers many of the same properties for rent!]. Another option is to wait until you arrive, where in the summer months you'll be greeted by homeowners advertising their suites at the city gates.
  • I still miss the lemon, lime and grapefruit beer in Croatia. Seek out the refreshing and affordable radlers from Ožujsko and Karlovačko.
  • Our best meal in Dubrovnik was in nearby Cavtat at Bugenvila.
  • English is widely spoken throughout the city.
  • A member of the EU since 2013, Croatia still has its own currency, the kuna, for now.
  • Rick Steves' Croatia and Slovenia Guidebook is a worthwhile sidekick for history tidbits and self-guided walks.

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

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[images by @heatherlovesit]