There’s a good reason Dubrovnik is considered the “pearl of the Adriatic”. Surrounded by brilliant azure waters, the medieval city is a picture-perfect ensemble of marble streets, orange-tiled rooftops and stone churches. This royal city has endured the test of time and continues to awe people with its beauty and history. There’s also delectable cuisine to enjoy. It’s the starting point for summer sailing itineraries and serves as a popular weekend holiday destination. As with every city, the best visits combine the most popular tourist sites with hidden gems that the locals swear by. So today guest blogger, Ashley Colburn, shares her inside knowledge of the city with a guide on how to spend a day in Dubrovnik.
In the morning
Your first stop of the day should be Pile Gate (west gate), which leads you to Stradun, the main thoroughfare of Dubrovnik’s UNESCO-listed Old Town. Measuring 300 meters (1,000 feet) in length, every single stone has a story of its own. On the right from Onofrio’s fountain there’s a booth where you can get an entry ticket for the city walls, or the Dubrovnik Card. Getting the one-day Dubrovnik Card is a great idea for any history and art lover, as it includes entry to six museums, two galleries and the city walls, as well as a bus ticket valid for 24 hours, all for 170 Kuna (approx. $24).
Once you’re all set, arm yourself with some water to stay hydrated while walking the city walls. A morning or late afternoon walk is highly recommended, as the combination of heights and heat can be overwhelming. It takes approximately two hours to complete the walk around the walls with many opportunities to rest and refresh at one of the fresh juice stands along the way.
Ending back on Stradun, take a break from wandering and join the locals who have made drinking coffee a part of their daily lifestyle. ‘Pomalo’, they say, which translates as “take it easy, no worries”. Take a seat at La Bodega or Café Cele and soak up the sun and your surroundings. Coffee in this area is $7 but if you wander into any of the side streets you will find it for $5. This is not a typical price for coffee in Croatia, but the price you have to pay in magnificent Dubrovnik.
If you’re feeling hungry, Restaurant Rozario offers excellent seafood and a variety of meat specialities, a cozy atmosphere, an affordable price range and friendly staff. Tucked in a small corner, you can indulge in the charm of the city and its residents away from the hustle and bustle. If you would prefer a good steak, Paparazzo steakhouse near the Dubrovnik Cathedral is the place to go.
After you’ve eaten, it’s time to work off those calories with a bit of activity. The clean waters of the Adriatic Sea beckon – either go for a swim at Kupaliste Sulic (next to fort Lovrijenac) or get a different perspective of the city from a kayak. You’ll start out alongside the walls and travel along the coastline visiting caves and the island of Lokrum where you will hear some of the local legends from your accompanying guide.
If you’re feeling a little tired after this, what better way to relax than with a refreshing drink and a view? If you want a taste of luxury and prestige, visit Buza Bar for a priceless view (though perhaps a pricey bill). Hugging the cliffs, the bar’s terrace offers unforgettable panoramic views across the ocean. However, that’s not your only option. Ala Mizerija has just as beautiful surroundings, more affordable prices and it is only a few blocks away from the entrance to the city (Pile gate).
In the afternoon
Once your thirst has been quenched, take the cable car to Srđ ($20) where you will see beauty beyond measure. This mountain backs onto Dubrovnik and from up top you can enjoy views of the stunning city and the walls that have protected it all these years. If you would rather hike to the top, this is an option as well, but you must be fit! History lovers can go inside the Museum of Croatian War of Independence at the top of the hill to learn about what took place in the city some 25 years ago.
Once you’ve returned back to the city again, make sure to indulge in a little souvenir shopping. Items to look out for are lace from the Konavle region and lavender products that smell like summer in Croatia.
If you’re feeling like it is time for dinner, Konoba Lanterna offers great local dishes and wine right beside the old city. A meal to be remembered full of several courses and a taste of the region can be found at Portrait. This is a more expensive option, but chef Jeffrey Vella will not disappoint.
If you managed to do all our recommended daytime activities in time for a ferry to Cavtat, push the boat out and go enjoy restaurant Galija, but make sure you’ve checked your boat and bus schedules. This would also be a lovely lunch spot for all those who would prefer to follow their own schedule.
Create your own bespoke day itinerary or plan a second day in Dubrovnik with these extra recommendations:
- Visit Cave Bar More in Lapad and while you’re there have a delicious lunch at Pantarul, which locals describe as pure perfection.
- Check out Kula Gornji Ugao Museum – locals say the man running it is a pure delight and the content of the museum is interesting too, especially for history lovers.
- Take a trip to the Konavle region and see how lace is made in Cilipi (not far from the Dubrovnik Airport). Every Sunday morning you can watch traditional folk dances and see the embroidery specific to the region.
- Enjoy some wine at Skar Winery Dubrovnik because wine is always a good idea.
- Go to some of the local bars in Ulice and have an Ozujsko (Croatian beer).
- Take the ferry from the city walls to spend a few hours on Lokrum, the “island of love“, where you can go for a swim or jump from the rocks. You can also swing from ropes into the “Dead Sea,” a small lake-like pool full of fresh and sea water inside the island. The monastery is also worth a visit, but be warned – if you hear the legends, you might have nightmares.
Ashley Colburn is a California native who spends half the year living in Croatia. Ashley began her career as a host, producer, and writer for Wealth TV in 2009 and has since won awards, including an Emmy, for her travel shows. She now runs her own production company, www.ashleycolburnproductions.com, and is teaching a Travel Journalism course. You can follow Ashley on Instagram @ashley_colburn.
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