Located on the Adriatic Sea, in southern Croatia, lies the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik. Possessing a long history, with it’s huge stone walls dating back to the 10th century, the city has been impeccably preserved to maintain its old-worldly charm. Dubrovnik is now the most visited city in Croatia and attracts tourists from all over the world. A massive contributing factor being the number of Game of Thrones scenes that were filmed there.
Breaking it’s own records year on year for the number of tourists it welcomes, and whilst it really is a truly one-of-a-kind destination, it can feel too touristy at times. Hosting a number of cruise ships each week alone, the streets can become crowded. Nonetheless, Dubrovnik is, quite simply, beautiful and an absolute must-visit location. The streets quiet down massively in the evening time and what better a place to dine out than a medieval city that has been a UNESCO listed World Heritage site since 1979?
If your interests lie in museums, festivals, churches, architecture, gothic sites, art exhibitions, wine tasting, island life, kayaking, beaches, monasteries, incredible views…(the list goes on)…then there is plenty on offer for you! Whether you visit for a couple of days, or for a longer period of time, you won’t be stuck for things to do and see. So let’s get into it…5 top things to see/do when visiting Dubrovnik for a weekend…
Walk the city walls
The city’s domineering walls are one of the things that qualified Dubrovnik for it’s UNESCO listing, and so no matter how much time you are spending in Dubrovnik, this is the one attraction you simply cannot miss. Encircling the entire old town, and offering incredible views over those infamous terracotta rooftops and out to sea, the circuit will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete depending on how often you pause to take supreme pictures (and believe me, every step feels like an instagrammable moment). I would highly recommend planning your walk later in the afternoon, not only will you be avoiding the crowds, but the sunset provides stunning lighting for your pictures and also gives some respite from the scorching sun that I imagine could be hard to bear earlier on in a summer’s day. Make sure to bring enough water with you to remain comfortably refreshed.
Explore the old town
A great way to experience Dubrovnik, and any city for that matter, is to wander the streets and let your curiosity be your guide. Approaching the city walls you will be awestruck as you walk through Pile Gate and into the old town, where you will find an abundance of rustic, narrow pedestrian streets each offering it’s own hidden treasures. Whether it be a romantic café, a charming courtyard, an ancient water fountain…there is much to be discovered! If you are a fellow Game of Thrones fan you will recognise several locations, as Dubrovnik was the main filming location for Kings Landing. Make your way through the streets to the east part of the town where you will find the old port, a wonderful spot to take a rest, quench your thirst, admire the boats and watch the world go by. Bliss!
Ride the Cabrio bus
I’m a sucker for a city bus tour, and whilst there is no “hop-on-hop-off “ bus, you can take a panoramic bus tour that is intended for tourists who want to extend their sightseeing through the eastern and western parts of Dubrovnik. Starting at Pile Gate, the Cabrio Sightseeing Tour lasts approximately 1.5hours and does a full loop of the city, stopping off at the best viewpoints to give you the opportunity to capture some incredible pictures. You can experience breath-taking views of the Old Town from a distance, travel across the impressive Dubrovnik Bridge, get up close and personal with the massive docked cruise ships in port Gruz and admire the neighbouring Lokrum island. At 100 Kn per adult, I believe this is a small price to pay to enjoy a relaxing tour and discover the beauty of this wonderful city from different angles and heights.
Visit the Elafiti Islands
The Elafiti Islands are a cluster of islands off the coast of Dubrovnik. Out of the fourteen, only the three largest are inhabited and form the focal point of many popular island-hopping day tours from nearby Dubrovnik. Exploring Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan makes for a lovely escape from the summer crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city. If you have the spare cash I would highly recommend a private speedboat tour of the islands, which typically include stops for swimming and/or snorkelling along with free time to explore the islands on foot. Most importantly, don’t pass up the option to stop and visit the Blue Cave! A beautiful, natural treasure famous for it’s mesmerising, and slightly eerie, blue light that fills the inside of the cave during certain times of the day. Otherwise known as the Blue Grotto, get out and swim here for a magical experience! Tour operators can be found in the old port within the Old Town of Dubrovnik, some even offering unlimited food and drinks within their cost. My best advice is to do your research and shop around before committing, and don’t forget to barter. There is frequently an opportunity to get yourself a better price, and if you don’t ask…you don’t get!
Catch the sunset
Boasting over 250 sunny days each year Dubrovnik is gorgeous from both the sea and from land. It’s incredible setting on the Adriatic Sea makes Dubrovnik a top destination for all those sunset lovers, offering a seductive glow of orange, magenta, crystal blue and lilac haze. Whether you paddle off into the sunset in a kayak around the city walls, book a sunset cruise, rent a motor boat, sip on sunset cocktails or enjoy a birds-eye view from the cable-car on Mt Srd…basking in a Dubrovnik sunset will not disappoint!
After two wonderful days spent exploring as much as time would allow, the sun went down on my short but very sweet experience in Dubrovnik. There are many things I simply did not have the time to do, which is always a positive for me. It’s great that I have a reason to return than feeling like I didn’t have enough to do. For such a small city I was very pleasantly surprised at just how much Dubrovnik has to offer. I would definitely recommend spending at least 48hours in this charming, iconic destination. No matter what time of year you decide to go you will be sure to enjoy the ultimate Mediterranean City Break.