So I’ve convinced you to book a ticket to Dubrovnik, and your suitcases are packed fashionably early (don’t worry, we’ve all been there!). Once the new destination jitters have somewhat subsided (who are we kidding, they never fully go away), it’s time to start planning yo’ trip!
Planning any new destination can be overwhelming and daunting, in both the good and bad kinda ways. Because I’m lazy, often I don’t even plan out what I’m goin to do when I visit somewhere new, instead opting for a ‘fast and loose’ kind of approach, aka, winging it. To some extent, this works to my advantage, but mostly it really works against me (when will I learn!) as I will quickly realise how many things I’m going to/already have missed out on.
However, I am invested in not letting you do the same! So, I’ve taken the best thing’s I got up to in Dubrovnik, and the things I wish I got up to, and threw them here together in yo’ Dubrovnik bible. Learn from my mistakes, (and from my successes), and do every single thing you possibly can. Yeah you heard me right – I said do everything!
What cha waiting for? Go get yourself wonderstruck.
THINGS TO DO
Walk around the Old Town Wall
You know how I shared a million photos of me gazing wistfully over a sea of burnt orange terracotta rooftops? Well, they were all taken on the Old Town Wall! The Dubrovnik city walls are old defensive walls built to protect the Old Town. Running for about 2 kms, their beautiful white stone beauty is iconic of Dubrovnik, and the reason it is often referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic.
Perhaps more spectaculary, they have remained intact and erect to this day (despite being built centuries ago!) and provide a true glimpse into medieval Dubrovnik. In my opinion, there’s nothing else quite like them in all of Europe. And with 360 panoramic views of the city and the sea, its not hard to see why.
You know how I said my disorganisation sometimes screws me over? Yaaas… this is one of those times. Because when I saw the cable car in the ‘nik (short for Dubrovnik….glad to see it’s catching on), I literally thought it would just be a cable car lookout situation… Nope. Well I mean, yes, it’s that, but it’s also sooo much more! Sigh.
Honestly, after talking to people that have been up there, and reading stories online, I would recommend spending an entire day up top of the mountain to get the most from your day. Spend your time taking part in the ‘buggy safari‘, a short hike up to Fort Strinčjera (and I thought the views from the city walls were good!), the Museum on Homeland War, and, my favourite, the Panorama Restaurant and bar.
Panorama looks so good that I wouldn’t be judging you if you went there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Honestly… It’s that beautiful! To be honest, whilst I had always planned to head back to Dubrovnik at some stage, when I saw the photos from this bar, it was the moment I promised myself I absolutely would. It reminds me of Santorini, almost, with those indulgent city views, spread peacefully before you as you dine metres above the bustling city below. Oh the serenity… there’s just nothing quite like it!
Just make sure you give them a heads up you’re coming, if you can, so they can have a vegan meal ready for you. Every restaurant I’ve ever been to is always happy to whip up something vegan if they’ve been given a little notice, so send them an email, or give them a call if you can. Otherwise, you may be left to suffer the curse of the ‘garden salad’ meal (we’ve all been there… *rolls eyes*).
Croatia is well known for having some of the brightest, clearest and bluest waters in the world… so it would be silly to not go and explore them! From the research I’ve done, Adventure Dubrovnik tours are the best kayaking tours going round – with tours including sea kayaking, beach caves and snorkelling (yes, snorkelling!), and starting as cheap as $50 aud, you’d be silly to miss it!
Game of Thrones Tour
There is a myriad of GoT tours that operate in Dubrovnik. And I mean, a myriad of tours! If you’re looking to cut corners, you could look up the sights and navigate yourself, or if you’re lazy (like me), you could just join a tour group. Book online if you can, but don’t be too stressed if you’re having trouble doing that – at the height of the tourist season, there are many tour groups that will let you join their tour group on the day, just make sure you have cash!
Wander The Cobblestone Streets (for days!)
Hands down, one of my favourite things to do in any new town or city is to simply wander the streets for hours on end… Walk down that dead end alley, and enjoy the little window garden at end of it. Walk into the artisan, handmade jewellery store that you have no intention of buying anything from, but go in anyway, simply to admire the intricate detail of the pieces they have, and the touch of local culture they have sewn into them. Have an awful and completely overpriced juice at a dingy cafe, and enjoy every sip as much as you’re enjoying watching the tourists and locals stroll by as if nothing matters in the world except the sun shining down upon their face. Peruse local market stalls, laugh at how slippery the cobblestones are, and take note of the imperfections in the old buildings. Because ultimately, there is more character and heart to be found in these small moments of your travels, than there is when you’re doing the crazy big stuff that you vow to yourself never to forget.
Head to New Town?
In fairness to Dubrovnik, I should mention that there is actually two parts to the city – there is Old Town, which is encompassed by the old town wall, and this is where most of the tourists flock to, and there is also New Town, so to speak, which is the modern area of the city. Honestly, if you go to the ‘nik, you go there for the Old Town; the absolute heart and soul of Dubrovnik. That’s not to say you can’t go and have a cheeky squizz at what’s going on in New Town, if you wish, but don’t spend too much time there, as you will do so at the expense of incredible moments that would be experienced in the Old Town.
Places to Eat
Specialising in a full vegetarian menu, with ample vegan options, this is easily one of the best restaurants in Dubrovnik. Not to mention, the staff here are probably some of the happiest and nicest people you ever will meet! Like, literally, the nicest people you will ever meet. My only criticism is the bright purple interior color scheme; a cleaner palette (creams, nudes, off-whites) with colored accents and a softer decor arrangement often creates a calmer environment for a more enjoyable meal. I really don’t know what it is about veggie restaurants decking themselves out in block colors (this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it done)… I do appreciate their enthusiasm though!
When it comes to food, there is nothing more enticing than your two favourite meals or cuisines smashed together, right? So you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon Azur, a small restaurant that specialises in Meditarrian food with an Asian twist. Chef Vedran owned a restaurant in China for many years before he set up shop in Dubrovnik, so when he says Asian fusion, he’s talking the real Asian fusion (and not the imitation kind!). If you can, let them know ahead of time you’re vegan so they can organise something, but if you can’t, have a friendly word to the staff when you arrive!
Whilst we’re not quite in Italy, I say Croatia is close enough to enjoy a sneaky little pizza or three (hey, I ain’t judging!). Whilst they don’t have a specifically vegan menu item, the staff are more than happy to whip you up a vegan pizza (the dough is milk and egg free!), if you ask politely. The laneway location of this restaurant is in true European style, and as the sun sets and the stars start to appear, it truly is a perfect venue for a magical evening.
Places to Stay
Located slightly out of Old Town, Villa Dubrovnik is a perfectly private hotel that upon views alone is worth every penny. With stunning views of Old Town, and that crystal blue water that seems to stretch on the horizon for days and days, it is the perfect location for a romantic getaway, or by yourself if you crazy a lil’ R&R. With a private boat shuttle direct to Old Town, these Villa have everything you could possibly need!
In a town as enchanting as Dubrovnik, it’s only fitting for you to stay in a hotel fit for Royals! With condo style rooms that cascade down towards the Adriatic Sea, this is a truly mesmerising hotel. Located far enough out of Old Town to escape the tourist bustle at the end of the day, but close enough to explore it during the day, this hotel is the perfect choice for those wanting the best of both worlds!
Over to you! What did you get up to in the ‘nik? Is there any things on this list you’re dying to do as much as I am? (Panoramic restaurant, I’m looking at you!)