Once again, it's Tuesday and I'm so excited to share another travel guide! Last week I introduced you to Hvar, Croatia: how it was incredibly clean, had some of the friendliest people I've ever interacted with and the water was clearer than anywhere else I've seen in my life. From Hvar, we took a ferry 3 hours south to Dubrovnik- where all my previous sentiments about Croatia still apply (but throw in a slew of Medieval history on top of everything else).
Dubrovnik is one of the southern-most points in Croatia (flirting with the Montenegro border) and nestled right on the coast of the Adriatic sea. It's best known for it's Old Town, which is encircled in massive stone walls and dates back to the 16th century. If you're a little rusty (or lacking entirely) on your knowledge of the Medieval times, fear not: they also film Game of Thrones here (can't go wrong with a pop-culture reference).
There's so much more I wanted to see and do but just didn't have the time. Three days felt rushed and I would have loved more time to be able to relax there and sight see. But even if you can only get there for a few days, it's still worth every second it. And when you go- here's where you need to visit:
If you're asking yourself where to stay in Dubrovnik, let me help you out. Everything about Villa Dubrovnik is Hotel GOALS. They tick all the boxes you normally would look for: cleanliness, great service, etc. But there's so much about this property that I found to be unique.
First, I've often said a hotel only really needs to be somewhere clean and safe to sleep at night-- but I love how Villa Dubrovnik maximizes every opportunity for guests to enjoy their views of the city and the sea (which are epic). The walls facing the water are floor to ceiling glass- even from the bathroom (don't worry, they all have curtains if you want privacy) so you don't even have to take your eyes off that sparkling Adriatic while you brush your teeth. Some rooms even have bathtubs on the balcony... swoon.
But if you can manage to pull yourself away from your room, the rest of the property is equally as wonderful. We spent an afternoon at their spa (which was incredible) and then enjoyed dining alfresco on their beautiful terrace at sunset. They also have a rooftop Prosciutto & Wine Bar lounge with surprise- more great views! Aside from how beautiful everything was, the meal was also one of the best I've had on my entire trip so far.
They're about a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the Old City which allows for a little more seclusion and privacy. But if you're worried about convenience- fear not. They have a shuttle that runs non-stop from the hotel right to the gate where all the action is so that you can have the best of both worlds.
There's no doubt that you'll have an amazing experience staying at Villa Dubrovnik. And if staying there is still a little out of your price point (rooms start around $375 depending on the season and can range up to $1,000 if you really splurge) it's definitely still worth going for dinner or a spa treatment to soak in the views and take a break from all the energy in the city center.
Quick disclaimer: I always try to visit a few places everywhere I go in order to provide options (I realize everyone has different specifics they're looking for and budgets to work with). With that said, I only include them as a recommendation if I would actually recommend you stay there. Unfortunately, one of the places from this trip (an apartment we booked using Booking.com) isn't one I'd suggest. While the location was great and the room was clean, we found the communication (from both Booking.com and our host) to be poor, the check out process to be confusing, and the payment methods to be significantly more complicated than it had to be. I've never used Booking.com before this, so I don't want to let my one negative experience say to never ever use them, but I would advise to proceed with caution if you choose to do so. My personal takeaway is to stick with Airbnb (where I've always had great experiences) if I'm looking for something other than a hotel.
With that said, I know there are LOTS of wonderful places to stay in Dubrovnik (and you can't hit the nail on the head every single time). If Villa Dubrovnik is out of your price range, my friends over at The Glass Passage recently came to Dubrovnik as well and loved their time at Hostel Villa Angelina in Old Town, so if you're looking for a option on a tighter budget you can always check that out as well.
There are so many amazing and local places to eat in Dubrovnik! Some of our favorites included:
For dinner our first night, we went to Marco Polo- a small family restaurant nestled in the narrow streets of Dubrovnik's city-center. While hard to capture on photos (hence the daytime shot I pulled from online above), you'll swoon over the romantic, dimly lit atmosphere that allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of town and relax. The team was so hospitable and we instantly felt right at home while they encouraged us to try traditional Dalmatian food that we weren't too familiar with-- I was blown away by all of it. I recommend trying the Octopus Carpaccio, Croatian Cheese Platter, "Precious Blue" Tuna Steak and definitely leave room for "My Grandma's cake" for dessert. In my opinion, Marco Polo was one of the best value restaurants in all of Croatia: incredible food and atmosphere for a great price. Be sure to add them to your Dubrovnik itinerary!
Nestled right on the coast of the Adriatic and overlooking the fortresses of Lovrijenac and Bokar (aka- what you'd recognize from Game of Thrones) you'll find Nautika- one of the most romantic restaurants in the world (voted by Condé Nast Traveller). It's also housed in the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, and you'll notice the nod to the former seafarers in the decor and ambiance.
Brenna and I came here on our first afternoon in Dubrovnik for Happy Hour, and I'm not quite sure how we'll ever top it. Pictures can't even begin to do the view justice- but it's breathtaking. Then on top of that, our cocktails were the most elaborate I've ever seen. Brenna's arrived in a birdcage with rose petals surrounding it. Mine came on a silver platter (literally, not metaphorically) and had "blood orange essence" in a perfume bottle that our waiter sprayed and then left the bottle for me to add more to my liking. I've never seen cocktails with so much attention to detail (and they tasted incredible too). We already had dinner plans so we stuck to cocktails and a spread of fresh fruit, but next I'm in Dubrovnik I definitely plan to eat dinner there. With cocktails so incredible, I can only imagine what the food is like! Whether you go for Happy Hour or an entire meal, be sure to do yourself a favor and add this spot to your itinerary.
It's fun to get a combination of panoramic dinner views overlooking the water and also to dine within the buzzing energy of the city walls. When you're looking for the latter, Restauran Dubrovnik is a solid choice. They have a reputation for being amongst Dubrovnik's top class restaurants and serve consistently good quality food with a distinctly modern Dalmatian twist. The rooftop terrace allows you to feel some seclusion from everything going on within the city walls, but still be able to enjoy the enchanting streets. The service was exquisite, the ambience was elegant, and our food was incredible. I started with a martini with truffle and rosemary, which was so unique and delicious. For my food, I did the chef's tasting menu which let me try a wide variety of items... and literally everything was delicious. Order anything that sounds good to you on the menu, because I can almost guarantee it will be good.
A few other places worth checking out:
Buza Bar is literally a bar nestled right on the edge of a cliff. It's casual and serves pretty standard drinks, but you can't beat the view. Grab a drink at sunset (and if the views weren't enough, you may see some crazy people cliff jumping like I did for some extra entertainment).
Lady Pipi: a strange name and an even stranger statue out front (I'll spare you the visual) but hands down the best tuna steak I've ever had in my life. Go for lunch and enjoy the view from the terrace.
There are endless must-see attractions and things to do in Dubrovnik. We were only there a few short days, but our favorites included:
If you're wanting to take advantage of the beach during your time in Croatia (which you definitely should) be warned it's not just hopping over to any old beach like we often do in the states. The beaches in Europe are predominantly rocky, which means you'll have a much more enjoyable experience if you go somewhere with chairs instead of trying to lay on rocks. With that said, there are a few sandy exceptions now and then, and Banje Beach happens to be one of them. We spent our day in the sun there and loved relaxing on the day beds. They have servers that wait on you so you can eat and drink throughout the day (and umbrellas for some shade when you need a break). We loved ordering a bottle of champagne and salads after working up an appetite swimming in the Adriatic. If you're wanting a little more of a party scene while you're in Dubrovnik, you can also come here at night when the venue transforms into a night club. Whenever you choose to visit, Banje Beach has an ideal location with incredible views and is sure to provide you with a good time.
There's no question that you have to ride the Dubrovnik Cable Car to the top of the city for an unparalleled view of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic. I heard lots of people tell me I had to do this, but when we tried to go for sunset the line was LONG. I'm sure the view is incredible then, but if you're like us and don't want to deal with crazy crowds or lines, go first thing in the morning. There was no line and we still had an incredible view. Also, we could actually get a table with a view at the Panoramic Restaurant (which is impossible without a reservation if you want to go for dinner). We sat up there for over 2 hours while we drank cappuccinos, ate breakfast, and read. It was the perfect way to start our day and I loved how tranquil it was compared to the thought of fighting all the crowds later in the day (although maybe next time I'll get brave and go then so that I can see the sunset!)
While Dubrovnik is arguably the most popular destination in Croatia, it's still not visited nearly as often as other destinations in Europe-- but it should be. I fell completely in love with the city and so many places in it. I was so impressed and I can't wait to come back again someday.
If you have any questions about planning, feel free to send me a note! firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm off to soak up the most of this pretty London sunshine and get with some friends (we are going to a Mexican place in Covent Garden, and I haven't had guac in almost 2 months so I am PUMPED!) Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week!