Okay guys, you need to get to Croatia – QUICK! You may not be familiar with Dubrovnik, so it’s likely not on the top of your list. It certainly wasn’t on mine until my husband convinced me to go – and now I still consider it one of my favorite places. If you like a fairy tale Old Town, gorgeous sunsets on the sea, and inexpensive price tags, read on!
Despite Wikipedia saying Dubrovnik is “one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea”, I think the city is extremely underrated which is why prices are still low and crowds are manageable. My own personal prediction is this place will soon be as popular a place as Italy or Greece are to Americans, and prices/crowds will surge.
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is an immaculately kept city surrounded by stunning walls built in the 7th century. The walls now serve as a beautiful/somewhat challenging walkway with views into the entirely limestone inner city, the outer red-roofed houses, and of course the surrounding sea with jagged-rock coastlines. Although walking these walls is the most touristy thing you can do – it’s a must. I recommend getting there early (8am) to avoid the heat and crowds, giving you time to take in the best views.
Inside the city walls are just magical, with white marble streets giving you the feeling of being inside a grand hotel. Upon our arrival to Dubrovnik, we walked through a huge wrought-iron gate, and down a wide natural ramp into the “Old Town”, also referred to as City Center. That beauty you immediately see is mind-blowing, and you feel as though you’ve taken a step back in time. Every building in the Old Town is built with limestone, and every shutter of every building is green. Even the ground, made of marble, seemed like it was sparkling tiles. As you can see below, the city was so clean. Although the main street is gorgeous, my favorite was exploring the side streets. Locals hang their laundry from building to building, church doors are open with music resonating, and there are adorable cats everywhere ready to get some food from tourists! Although it is hilly, venture up the steps to explore because the views down are worth it.
I love to be near water and was impressed with the marina and all the expensive yachts residing there. However, the marina isn’t the place to be. With a little exploration and need for alcohol, we found ourselves climbing through a hole in the city wall following a sign that said “Cold Drinks”. Although I was skeptical where this was leading, as soon as we came out to the other side, I realized there was no reason to doubt. There was a small, cliffside bar called Café Buza with just a few tables, but availability was not an issue. We sat down under a big white umbrella with the ocean stretched in front of us, and stunning rock faces to both sides. Locals in their speedos were urging each other to jump into the sea, causing more and more people to participate. As the sun was just starting to come down, my husband and I jumped into the warm, clean water and watched the colors around us turn to pinks and oranges as the sun set. It was an experience of a lifetime (so go there with a bathing suit!)
We were only in Dubrovnik for a few days, but one activity I loved was kayaking into different bays and a nearby island. The guides were great, with a good sense of humor while providing interesting history on the city. We kayaked around the Old Town, turning into caves and stopping at a nearby island for lunch, drinks, and snorkeling. It was a great experience to see the outside of the city walls and all the detail within them.
The rest of Croatia has so much to offer as well. Since Dubrovnik is tiny and you can cover most of it in a couple of days, consider renting a car to travel up the coast to Split. The drive itself was an amazing aspect of the trip, and Split was a beautiful, more modern version of Dubrovnik. You could also island hop by boat to get more of a beach/relaxed vibe, and summertime offers some amazing parties on each island (most famously the island of Hvar)!
Looking to plan your next trip to Croatia? Let us know!!