The 2km long city walls encircle Dubrovnik’s old town and are one of the most popular attractions at the UNESCO World Heritage listed town. The city walls protected Dubrovnik during numerous sieges over the centuries including the most recent siege in 1991/2 during Croatia’s War of Independence.
In September, I finally made my way to Croatia for the first time. I think I fell in love with Dubrovnik before I even hit the tarmac. Mountains on one side, the sea on the other. As soon as I got out of the plane the 30 degree heat hit me. I can’t believe how much I have missed that kind of hit you in the face heat, especially after this year’s cold and wet summer in Paris. While taking the airport shuttle bus to the city, I was able to watch a pink sunset over the sea. For 20 years I have wanted to visit Dubrovnik, my dream destination. I wasn’t disappointed.
We stayed in a nice little apartment (thanks to Marija, the very friendly and helpful owner) in Lapad, about 3 kilometres from the centre of Dubrovnik. At first I thought it was going to be too far from the action but it the end it worked out great. It’s much quieter than bustling Dubrovnik and its overpriced tourist restaurants. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in Lapad, plus there are numerous beaches where you can rent lounges or lay down on the pebble beach and Dubrovnik’s old town is only a short bus ride away.
It seems most tourists head straight for the city walls and it’s not a bad idea as it gives you a great overview of the city and fantastic views of the sea and nearby Lokrum Island. We wandered around for more than two hours, admiring the cute houses and beautiful churches. Then it was off to explore the town. I would have loved to have spent hours or even days wandering around the little streets but it was so crowded in most parts that it wasn’t that enjoyable. I think later in the evening would be a better time to explore but I never got the chance to do that. Instead I left the old town and wandered up and down the coast, checking out the pristine beaches along the way.
From Dubrovnik we did day trips to Lokrum Island, Korcula, and Mostar and all were incredible. I was reading a blog post today on how so many travel bloggers exaggerate when they describe a destination but the region around Dubrovnik really is stunning and unbelievably beautiful, to me anyway. I would have liked to have gone to Mljet and some of the other nearby islands but time was running short as I wanted to visit Split and the islands up that way.
As for the food, I was a little disappointed with the lack of variety between restaurants. It seemed like 90% of places offered the same menu: grilled fish and meat, pasta, pizza, and salad. Not very adventurous but delicious nonetheless and reasonably priced.
I will definitely visit Dubrovnik again, in particular to explore the islands a little more and the nearby towns like Cavtat. Croatia as a whole was fantastic and hopefully next time I’ll be able to take it slowly and enjoy everything it has to offer.
Lokrum Island is small island just off the coast of Dubrovnik. It takes less then 30 minutes to get there and is well worth spending an afternoon.
The island is covered with forest and as it’s a nature reserve so you’re not supposed to touch any plants or leave rubbish and smoking is strictly forbidden. This means the island is pristine although I think every Croatian island I visited was pretty clean anyway.
At Lokrum you can visit the ruins of an old monastery. It’s very beautiful and the only inhabitants now are a few families of peacocks. I saw at least 20 peacocks while walking around the island and a couple even joined us for lunch at the monastery restaurant.
After eating another delicious fish lunch, we explored the island some more and went swimming off the rocky coast in the freezing, crystal clear water.
Lokrum Island is quiet, beautiful, clean and with loads of native birds and secluded swimming locations. This was one of my favourite islands in Croatia.
Korcula Island is one of the many breathtakingly beautiful islands of the coast of Croatia. It’s easily accessible from both Dubrovnik and Split and makes a great, albeit rushed, day trip. If you had the time you could spend a few days here relaxing, swimming, and wandering around the old town where Marco Polo was (possibly) born.
I loved everything about this island. The old town is gorgeous, you can sit peacefully admiring the harbour, or swim on one of the rocky beaches. The only negative is the 1000s of other tourists and the touristy restaurants in the old town but that seems to be a common problem throughout Croatia. I guess there’s not much chance of having such a beautiful place to myself.
I don’t drink much wine and I never drink rakija but it was fun tasting various Croatian specialities at a winery just out of Dubrovnik. The lighter wines were quite nice, the 14% alcohol wine too strong for me, the sweet white wines extremely sweet, and the cherry rakija was delicious (although I was quite drunk at that point so maybe my judgement was impaired).
Before heading to Korcula Island for the day, I stopped off in Ston, a little town known for its salt production, the longest fortifications in Europe, and its locally farmed oysters.
Back when salt was traded like gold, Ston was a very wealthy town as can be seen in the quality of the stone buildings in the old town. Salt is still produced and sold for use as salting roads in winter and along with a little tourism, that’s about all they have here. Most tourists stop on their way Korcula or to walk the 5.5 kilometre wall which is the second longest in the world after the Great Wall of China.
I enjoyed my quick stop here as well as a brief visit to neighbouring Mali Ston for a tasting of local oysters.