Dubrovnik has been on my bucket list ever since I was planning a tour of Europe using my Rick Steves box set. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out to make it down to Dubrovnik during that stay (although we did pass through Zagreb) and we continued to fail at planning a trip there. When Game of Thrones brought the travel hype to the city, I was concerned that Dubrovnik would be overly crowded and expensive by the time I eventually got there. Granted, it was crowded and things were more expensive than we expected them to be, but it didn’t take away from how absolutely stunning the city is. The water is a deep clear blue and the surrounding area is quite breathtaking. I continue to be sad that it took us so long to get there.
Getting to Dubrovnik isn’t entirely easy. The flights took about four hours (plus an hour for delays), but we had to leave the house around 5:45 to catch our early morning train to Zurich for the flight. Getting through airport security was a breeze, which gave us plenty of time to stock up on some airport chocolate for the trip with different flavored Lindor truffles (coconut and champagne were my favorites). We flew through Vienna and eventually made it to Dubrovnik, where we met up with the rest of the group.
What We Did
After checking into our apartment and settling down, we walked down to Old Town, where we spent the afternoon and early evening wandering the walled city. Our last minute attempt at doing one of the free city walking tours failed, so we ended up walking along the walls. This is the big thing that people do in Dubrovnik and while the price is pretty steep (~$23/person), the views are spectacular, especially at dusk. I didn’t realize before coming to Dubrovnik that the walls aren’t a breezy stroll along city walls. No, you are climbing up and down stairs in warm weather, so you need water, a hat, and some sunscreen if you’re doing it. I think we were up on the walls for about an hour and got through half of it. We could have gone through more, but we were hungry and got the seaside views, so were satisfied. I should also note that while the walls were pretty crowded, we only felt them in the tighter spots of the climbs, where someone stopping to take a photo (usually me, admittedly) could hold up the line.
Our first night, we also wandered the Stradun (which is the main street where all of the shops are) and ate food in the Old Port of Dubrovnik.
On our second day, after we toured the local islands and dealt with the cold water fiasco in the apartment, we returned back to the Old Town to shop, eat and explore. We did some shopping along the Stradun and got our Croatian soccer scarves. I will note that I loved the attitude the people in Dubrovnik had about the World Cup results. They were happy to be there, happy to get that far, wished they could have won, but it was what it was. At least, that seemed to be the sense we got from the few people we spoke to.
After some shopping, we walked out to Fort Lovrijenac. The admission for the fort was included in the price of our wall ticket and I had read that the view of Old Town from the fort was not to be missed. Unfortunately, James and Umma both threw away their wall tickets, so we were left with three. It’s not that far from the Old City despite the fact that it looks like it’s so far when you’re on the wall. It also is on a hill, but the climb wasn’t quite as bad as we expected. It was still hot and we were still gross by the time we made it up, though. As advertised, the view from the fort is amazing. It also was not that crowded, especially considering how crowded the wall was. The lack of crowds gave us a little room to breathe and explore in peace before we wandered back down to Old Town.
After we ate, we wandered Old Town some more, this time changing the Stradum for the many narrow alleys and side streets. They were still filled with touristy shops (including one Christmas shop) and restaurants, but was fun to get lost in an explore.
We ended our tour of Old Town at the Jesuit Staircase, aka the scene that Cersei does a naked walk of shame in that one episode of GoT. The stairs were crowded but still pretty, especially at night. We also ended up missing the Spanish Steps in Rome, so these were a pretty good substitute.
There was a folk singer or opera event going on in the city Sunday night, so you could hear the sounds of the singers echoing through the city as you explored. The sounds were so prevalent that it was sometimes hard to tell if it was a recording playing around the city, or people were actually singing. We caught a small glimpse of it on the way out. It gave the city that extra touch of magic. It didn’t need it, but I can’t complain about it.
What We Ate
On the way to town, our driver told us that the big thing to eat is peke. We were told it was hard to get, though, because it takes hours to cook. We live too hectic of a day to plan to order something a day in advance, so we stuck to a lot of seafood for most of our stay, something you cannot complain about at all. We ate seafood in the Old Port our first night and for lunch the next day. My favorite of the seafood dishes we had was the seafood risotto, but the fried small fish (which actually was small) was also pretty delicious. I can’t lie, though, it was all pretty good. We had rozata for dessert, which kind of reminded me of a sweeter and creamier version of flan.
We had a number of regional cheeses for lunch during our boat tour, including the more famous local sheep cheese.
For dinner on day two, we tried something a little different and got cevapcici, which is a minced meat dish that kind of looks a little like a hot dog mixed with a hamburger. It’s popular not just in Croatia but in that region of Europe generally. We’ve had it back in the States a few time, so we were super stoked to seek it out in Dubrovnik. We ended up going to this tiny fast food restaurant, Presa, where we had so. much. food., as well as some local Croatian lagers.
Of course, we also had a lot of ice cream, as one does on these hot days.
What We Didn’t Do
There was a lot we didn’t do during our weekend in Dubrovnik, which obviously means that we need to go back. We didn’t do a historical tour of the city, which is something that I do wish we were able to do to give the city a little more depth. We also didn’t do the cable car. I’m sure the view would have been great, but the prices were a little high for the trip up. We also just didn’t have time.
We didn’t end up doing a Game of Thrones tour during our stay. We could have, but felt it would have been lost on the half of the group that doesn’t watch Game of Thrones. And, honestly, Dubrovnik is King’s Landing. You see it everywhere. You don’t need to do the tour to tell you where to look. (Alternatively, a search for Game of Thrones filming sites will list you the main points of interest). Actually, what I didn’t remember was that the casino scenes from The Last Jedi were filmed in Dubrovnik. The end result is that you see a lot of Star Wars stuff in all the touristy shops in town in addition to the GoT merch.
There are also a number of day trips that you can take out of Dubrovnik, such as to Moster and Kotor (both of which I really want to go to at some point), as well as the nearby wine regions. Before we booked the boat tour, the plan was to explore Lokrun Island since it’s so close, but that didn’t end up happening. I also really want to take a trip a little more inland to go to Plitvice Lakes at some point.
In short, Dubrovnik was just as incredible as I hoped it would be and more. Our weekend trip gave us a small taste of the city and surrounding area, but just like Jack and Kate in Lost, we need to go back.