Posted - 23rd September 2018
Even though I’ve traveled quite a bit around Europe, I’ve never been to Croatia before. I decided to surprise Sam with this trip, so he had no idea where we were going, and it meant I got to plan it all by myself, which was part of the fun. Once I’ve finally told Sam about the trip, and we were starting to get ready to go, I realised how many people actually went to Croatia this year, I think it must be on trend? Surely it means that it’s a great country to visit? And so it is! We completely loved it, and I had to admit to Sam that it may be my favourite destination yet…
Here’s our week itinerary to spending a nice and relaxing time in beautiful Dubrovnik… or King’s Landing?
Day 1: Old Town | Banje beach | Old port
We touched down on Croatian soil at 10 am on day 1, and as soon as we were on the bus, heading to Dubrovnik Old Town, all we were thinking of doing is going swimming in the beautiful sea we could see from the window. The airport close to Dubrovnik is really well connected with the city by many bus companies, which are super easy to get. We were really lucky to find a moderately cheap airbnb, right in the heart of old town, close to all the amenities we needed. And by moderately cheap, I mean by Dubrovnik standards! Be prepared, it’s not a cheap place to visit…
As soon as we stepped through the big and impressive stone walls of Dubrovnik Old Town, we felt like we stepped into a Game of Thrones set. Every street, every alleyway and all the buildings just looked like King’s Landing, which is just so special. Old town is fully pedestrianised, which we loved, as it meant there was no traffic and we could walk everywhere (although it does get quite busy with tourists).
Another special thing about Dubrovnik Old Town is that it is fully surrounded by these walls I mentioned before, and actually this enclosed area is very small, meaning that you can walk from one side of the city tot he other in under 15 minutes, although you must be ready to climb a lot of stairs!!
We visited Dubrovnik in mid September, which meant: the tourists died down due to holiday season being over, the weather was still amazing (hitting 30C every day and no rain) and the sea was still warm from the summer! So if you ask us, September is the best time to go (according to the locals too!!)
So next for us was to grab our bikinis, our beach towels and head to the “best beach” around Dubrovnik: Banje Beach. I put “best beach” in quotation marks, just because we wouldn’t agree with that statement, but according to many, that is the best place to go! There is a beach house, where you can rent a sun lounger and can get drinks, with loud music playing for entertainment, and the beach itself is sort of sandy, with beautiful and clear sea water. We were too cheap to go to the beach house, so decided to just lie on the floor with our towel. After about 15 minutes of lying there, we decided we didn’t like it there, and moved to lie by some rocks on the right hand side of the beach, where you could jump into the water and got a stunning view of Dubrovnik’s Old Port.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the reason the beach is called Banje beach is due to the fact that sailors/ visitors to Dubrovnik had to wash themselves in the water before going into the town, to avoid any diseases such as the black plague? They also had to be quarantined for 40 DAYS in the building just next to the beach, for the exact same reason.
We decided that on this trip we were going to take it easy, and spend at least a few hours every day swimming/tanning/relaxing. And that’s just what we did!
After soaking up enough sun, and swallowing enough sea water while cliff jumping, we decided to head back to Old Town, got showered and went straight out for dinner. For more details on our dinners out in Dubrovnik, read our blog on Eating out in: Dubrovnik.
We then realised that we actually had dinner right by the (now) famous SHAME! stairs from Game of Thrones. Do you remember the bit where Cersei Lannister is shamed and she has to walk through the town naked, and starts down some stairs? Well.. those are THE stairs! And I must confess, it’s now very difficult to take a photo without people posing in the background 🙂
For the evening, we decided to walk through the Old Port of Dubrovnik, and watch the sun set over the sea from there. We then realised that if you walk all the way around the walls in the port, towards the Lighthouse, you’ve got lots of benches and rocks to sit on. We ALSO realised that this is actually a great spot to swim right by the walls of Dubrovnik, and see the island called Lokrum! We decided that this would be our beach spot the next day.
After a long day of walking around, we head back to the airbnb for an early night’s sleep, because the next day would be an early one for us…
Day 2: Dubrovnik Walls | Fort Lovrijenac | Hidden Beach
As it gets pretty hot during the day, and the Walls get really busy with tourists during the day, we decided to go visit the Walls as soon as it opened, which was 8am! And we were so happy we did that, as it meant that we were able to take our time looking around and no people standing in the way of our photos 🙂
The golden roofs of Old Town looked like they were glistening in the morning sun, and we could literally see the entire city, from east to west, north to south!
And that’s when we realised that this Old Town isn’t just a historic place, where people come to stay in the King’s Landing experience, but this is still a city where people live in. We could see their beautiful terraces, their back gardens, schools with basket ball and football courts, some houses that were demolished / unfinished.
On the wall itself, we ran into another Game of Thrones famous filming location!! Do you remember the part where Daenerys Targaryen is looking for her dragons and she is at the House of the Undying? Well, that’s actually on the wall itself, but the Minceta Tower.
I would strongly recommend bringing your own snacks/drinks on the wall because it does get quite tiring walking around it, however, there are also quite a few cafes around the wall, where you can sit and have the view of the sea. Be prepared though, it is quite expensive and they don’t take card!!
Once we walked all the way around the walls (you can literally walk the whole way round to your starting point), we decided to go visit Fort Lovrijenac. The ticket you buy for the walls is also valid for the fort, and you can still use it days after, which means you don’t have to do it all in one day! But we felt that we were in the mood to see more, so went straight away!
Fun fact: Did you know that Fort Lovrijenac is the location used for filming the Red Keep scenes in Game of Thrones?
When we visited Fort Lovrijenac, it was getting prepared for an event that evening, which meant that there were lots of things in the way unfortunately, but we could definitely see the resemblance to the Red Keep!
We also got to see another side of Old Town, so we could not miss an opportunity to take a cute photo of the two of us.
On the way to the Fort Lovrijenac itself, we actually spotted the nicest view of the bluest of waters, and another secret beach, which we would go to the next day.. But I just couldn’t get over how clear that water was!!
After a long day of walking around, we decided to spend the rest of the day at the beach we discovered the day before, just past the light house by the port. There were barely any people there, and the sun was beaming. We sat against the big wall, which was radiating the heat from the sun, so actually had to cool off in the sea quite a lot 🙂
We spent the evening strolling around Old Town again, just because we couldn’t get enough of it, and having another early night in as we had something fun planned for the next day…
Day 3: Sea Kayaking | Lokrum Island | Cable Car | Fort Imperial
We wanted to make sure that we got to see the Lokrum Island from up close, but actually because this is a nature reserve, getting the taxi boat out there is quite expensive (150 kuna each). We felt that it was quite expensive, for just getting the ferry there and walking around, so we decided to merge our visit to Lokrum Island with 3 hours of sea kayaking (around 8km)!
We went with Adventure Dubrovnik Kayaking, and we loved the tour. Our two guides were so knowledgeable, fun and supportive. It was such a nice atmosphere within the group. We started off from Pile Gate and kayaked by the walls towards Lokrum island, where we stopped off at a beautiful cave where we were allowed to cliff jump and swim around.
We paddled around the ENTIRE island of Lokrum, which was much more challenging than we thought due to the waves and wind. Our arms were starting to give up by the end of it. We then stopped off a another cave back on mainland called Betina Cave, which is only accessible from the sea. Our guide provided us with some lunch, water and snorkelling gear, and we spent around 30 minutes relaxing..
Then we ended our kayaking adventure by paddling back to Pile day. We passed by the famous Buza Bar, and guess what? We spotted another beach location for the next day for us. I have to be honest, we were completely exhausted after this long kayaking trip, so all we wanted was to relax and lie in the sun. So we made out way to the beach we found the day before. Luckily it was right next to the kayaking place by Pile bay!
Now this beach isn’t as easy to find, and I think that is what makes it the best location. It’s called Beach Sulić (google will be your friend for this one). When we there, we realised that it was full of local people! The sun actually shines there the longest (until about 5pm in September), and also has a few bars by it, that play some music too.
We wanted to make this evening much more special, and wanted to see the sun set over Dubrovnik from up top, from the hill called Srd (very hard to pronounce…). There are two options to go up there, either by hiking for about 1 hour all the way to the top (we heard it was quite steep) or by taking the cable car up. We were all dressed up nicely, and wanted to have dinner up there, so decided that the cable car was the best option! Again, it is quite expensive to take the cable car, but what you can do is take it one way and hike down/up, as that makes the ticket much cheaper. When taking the cable car up, you get some great views of Dubrovnik Old Town.
Once you get up to the top, you get to see the entire panorama of Dubrovnik, both the old town and the new. We had dinner at the Panorama restaurant up there, and waited until the sun was getting close to set. Once it was time, we walked towards the big cross statue and just watched over this romantic sunset.
And we got some great photos up there! You just have to claim a great spot on the rocks, and you can just get the best bird’s eye view of Old Town. And if you do want to get that perfect shot, don’t be afraid to climb over the fence, and get down to the rocks below the cross.
Once the sun set, we made our way back down with the cable car, and strolled the Dubrovnik streets.
Day 4: Buza Bar | Swimming | Lizard hunting
Now for our last day, we had two options: take it super easy, wake up late, have a nice brunch and then spend the day on the beach OR take the water taxi to Lokrum and walk around there, because when we Sea Kayaked over, we realised that there’s lots to see there! We were too lazy… and shamelessly, we decided to spend the day relaxing 🙂
Fun fact: Did you know that Croatia has 1244 islands in total, and ONLY around 60 of them are inhabited?
So after we had our huge brunch in Old Town centre, we made our way to our next beach location. I think this place is again, unknown, because it isn’t obvious that it’s there! Many of you may have heard of Buza Bar in Dubrovnik and this beach is just there. Buza Bar is a tiny little bar that was built on the Dubrovnik wall, and it actually get’s it’s name from Croatian, which means “hole in the wall”. And actually, if you have to find this bar, you realise why it’s called just that (photo evidence below)!
The locals say that this bar is actually very expensive, so most of them don’t go there, but we got the tip that you can bring your own drinks and just sit on the rocks by the bar, to get the same view! Now the beach I was talking about (more like a cliff to be honest), is just below this bar. So you have to go in the same way, and just continue taking the steps all the way down to the water. It’s a very small beach / cliff side, but really fun, as it’s got the best cliff jumping (highest rocks!).
As you may know, Sam loves lizards. And this was a great location to find some cute little lizards running around the hot rocks. So we spent some time lizard watching…
After a full day of relaxing, we dressed up for our final night, went for a lovely steak dinner and walk by the port at night, headed back, packed and were ready to leave this paradise the next morning.
Just to finish off, I just wanted to mention how clean Dubrovnik is. The streets get mopped and cleaned every single day there, so we were really impressed with the cleanliness. The only thing is that there are A LOT of stray cats walking around, they are literally everywhere!! So you do have to pay attention to not step into cat poop 🙂 But we do believe that these cats keep the city rat / mouse free, which is a huge plus.
Day 5: Home time!
The morning of day 5 we made our way back to the airport to fly back home! Again, the city is really well connected with buses that go to the airport, so we had no issues with getting back.
Hope you enjoyed reading our week stay in Dubrovnik, and if you’d like to read more about our dining while staying there, head over to our Eating out in: Dubrovnik blog.
Xoxo Ani and Sam