Dubrovnik or Kings landing as it known these days after the huge GoT effect is called the pearl of Adriatic and that’s not because of any pearl industry in the city or around it, it really is a pearl in itself, smooth, beautiful and rare.
The city has a long history that I am sure you can read on Wikipedia so I’ll spare you but it is so vital to Croatia, it claimed it as its own even though it is on a separate piece of land with a 7 mile stretch of Bosnia between mainland Croatia and the Dubrovnik part.
The city has an old city centre with beautiful but high walls, an endless array of stairs throughout its structure because it is located on the side of tall mountains and the fall is quite steep. The walls of the city have their own history with castles, monasteries and ancient gates nested within them. They were useful as late as the late 20th century is the war that ripped apart Yugoslavia and gave independence to Croatia and 5 other states.
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Stairs are a permanent feature of this city, you just can’t escape them and I realised that when I reached Dubrovnik. The port area is a bit far and I took an Uber to get to my place which was right outside the old city walls and in front of the cable car that takes you to Mount Srd.
I started climbing the stairs with my bags and after some 180 stairs came to the right door, the host was nice and showed me around after which I realised I hadn’t eaten all evening and headed down to get some food only to realise I had forgotten my wallet in my bag in the house. I wanted to sit on the road and cry like a child throwing a bad tantrum but I controlled, sighed and went up to get the wallet so that was the case of my first 720 stairs in Dubrovnik, more to come…
Pile Gate –> City Walls Tour (Starts and ends near Pile Gate) –> Church of Saint Ignatius –> Dubrovnik Cathedral –> Church of Saint Blasius or Blaise –> Dominican Monastery –> St. Jacob’s Beach
The view from the balcony was just out of the world, that’s exactly what I had hoped to wake up to in Dubrovnik and my wish was granted. A coffee, shower and a generous application of sunscreen later I headed to the town to be part of the Dubrovnik city walls tour.
I crossed the city walls and got to the square outside Pile Gate which is a big bus stop and you will see a lot of people selling tours etc. on the roadside with a couple of restaurants. I would recommend buying a kayaking tour for sunset which takes you to Lokrum and brings you back and to make it even more beautiful you can go on a transparent kayak.
This is the entrance to Stari Grad or the old walled city of Dubrovnik. It was around 9 in the morning and hoards of tourists from cruise ships hadn’t arrived yet so it was relatively calm. I got my favourite peach iced tea and waited for the tour to start. There was another Australian couple with me and we started around 10. We bought the tickets which cost 200 Kuna and started climbing the stairs to start the tour.
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City walls were made and remade in different times and at some points, these are really thin where only 2 people can pass side by side and other points they are vast enough to make viewing platforms which have some great views and the cityscape changes quite rapidly. If you start from the right side you will see the castle where the battle of black water was shot in Game of Thrones, it has a neat little beach on the side called xxx, it came highly recommended. The tour overall was a bit of a drag but you could see how beautiful the new Dubrovnik is within the old walls and structures and you will see a LOT of street cats everywhere which I love so happy times…
We ended our tour and grabbed a nice easy, relaxed lunch near the city door and then it was time to explore the actual city centre which is a bit of a labyrinth but the amazing thins is you will get to see one gem after another after each turn and Dubrovnik has plenty, don’t you worry!!!
I went to Main Street ‘Stradun’ that runs on the left side of the city centre and you can reference that for directions. I would recommend going around to the three main churches and the Dominican Monastery after which it gets a bit mundane. You should start from Gundulic Square where you will head to Saint Ignatius Church near the City walls towards Buza Bar moving to Dubrovnik cathedral to Church of St. Blasius and finally, Dominican Monastery.
1- Church of Saint Ignatius – The beautiful church is the shooting location for GoT and the grand Baroque staircase is grand and stunning both. The interior is grand and beautiful and entry is free.
2- Dubrovnik Cathedral – Beautiful and grand Romanesque cathedral with a relatively plain interior. Entry is free again.
3- Church of Saint Blasius or Blaise – The church was dedicated to Patron Saint of Dubrovnik; St. Blasius. It is located at the end of Stradun and it is very elegant and beautiful, Entry is free again.
4- Dominican Monastery – Located next to Ploce Gate the main church is richly decorated and don’t forget to see the Golden Crucifix in the central arch.
You will finish on the other side of city centre And a swift exit from the city walls will lead you on the path o St. Jacobs beach. The city beach is called Banje beach but our guide recommended this beach because it is a little farther and less crowded and water is clearer plus you get to see the sunset on Dubrovnik; triple treat.
The walk to the beach is about 20-25 minutes and very pleasant and you will get to see Banje beach and how crowded it usually is. You need to go down some steep steps to get to the beach and by this time you will be used to the steps. It’s a beautiful sight from upstairs that eats even better down there. A quick swim, water and ice cream later I was fast asleep and woke up just in time for the sunset on the lounger, a good intro to Dubrovnik…
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Dubrovnik Cable Car Bus Stop –> Cavtat –> Mount Srd –> Copacabana Beach
I woke up and after a nice breakfast, I took the bus to Cavtat which came highly recommended by a local friend. It takes around 20-25 minutes to get to the bus station cum port of Cavtat which is a very beautiful, relatively unspoilt town with much fewer tourists and equally beautiful beaches and town centre.
When you get off the bus take some cash out if you need it and head to the right side to the town centre. You will find yourself in narrow streets intertwined that will eventually lead you to the promenade and Main Street. I walked around a bit and then headed to the path that took me to the beach which was absolutely beautiful, serene and very much undiscovered and unspoilt. The first beach was Kljucice which is a good point to take a nap and after freshening up I headed to the second beach which is closer to the city. An ice cream and lasting about with the latest episode of GoT, I packed my bag and headed back to the bus station. Buses run quite often and I took the next one and before the sunset, I was back in Dubrovnik.
I got off in front of the cable car that takes you above Mount Srd; the most amazing and perfect viewpoint not only for Dubrovnik but you can see three countries at once, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I had bought the tickets in the morning when there was no one around so I had to get in the queue and 15 minutes later I was at the top of the mountain enjoying the view. The viewing deck is quite nice with a restaurant but if you want to see the beauty of the sun setting on Dubrovnik go out of the building and turn left and walk past the Imperial Fort (it is so mundane looking I didn’t even check its name at the time) and you will reach the mountain on the far left where you can see the islands on all sides and the sun going down, find a place to sit down and count your blessings.
There’s something about the view that just filled my heart with contentment, I didn’t want to talk or think or do anything that would disturb the moment and my friend thoroughly enjoyed it by laughing at me later.
Finally when the sun went down and the red turned to orange to brown and back to blue getting darker by the minute…
We stayed for a bit and drove back down to Dubrovnik and my friend decide he wanted to show me Copacabana beach (I instantly reacted with a YES thinking of Copacabana beach in Rio, I wish!!!) and after a little over 15 minutes drive, we were there. This is not a beach per se because it is rocky but the area near it has been very nicely developed with lights and comfy seating including beany bags which are perfect for a chilled out evening after a nice long day.
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It was my last day in Dubrovnik and my last day of an amazing holiday and but I didn’t let the thoughts weigh me down and got ready to get to Lokrum island which is right in front of Stari Grad. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes and you need to buy the ticket on the spot which includes the island entrance fee which you pay if you don’t use this ferry. The day was quite hot and there was no sun so I went to sit next to the Dominican Monastery with some ice cream. Finally, the ferry boat arrived and we were off to Lokrum which took about 10-15 minutes.
The island is extremely beautiful with plenty of bunnies running around with some peacocks and a hell lot of crickets; you will hear them trust me. I didn’t bring anything to eat which was a mistake because the only 2 shops/cafes near the entrance there did have excellent Wifi but the food was almost non-existent and really bad.
I walked around and finally got to a sign that said ‘No clothes beyond this point’ and I instantly started thinking sexy but a few more steps and the place was sparsely populated with humans of older nature who didn’t have much use of clothes so I turned back.
Finally, I reached the pond area and the rocky beaches that face Stari Grad and I chilled out with my bottle of water, bad sandwiches and chocolate. The sandwiches were much more useful to feed the fish in the sea which came in herds; good time pass with clear sea and beautiful weather.
Finally, around 4pm I came back to Dubrovnik to get some proper grilled fish lunch and got ready to meet the lovely Carla and Laura to go watch the famous sunset in Buza Bar. Now you have to be careful because there are two Buza bars in Dubrovnik. I met the girls at Pile gate and we walked to the end of Stradun and towards the end, we turned right to Gundulic Square next to St Ignatius’s church and from there aks around for Buza bar and you will pass through a hole in the wall to get to Buza Bar. It gets full rather quickly so come early to grab the seats especially if you want to swim here. We didn’t realise how quickly the time passed in chit chat with long silences to absorb the beauty of the sunset and watching the kayakers with a little envy going on their colourful kayaks.
We had dinner in the streets of Dubrovnik, I don’t remember which one and you don’t need to worry either, the place is loaded with good food.
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It was time to check out, pack the bags and head back to Split to catch my flight but I had woken up early to spend some time on the Banje beach which is the city beach. I left my luggage with my host to go for a quick swim and splash and luckily there weren’t that many people because it was still early; great ending to a perfect holiday!!!
The bus station is 10 minutes away on Uber and buses are usually late and ours was 45 minutes late. I preferred the bus to the ferry because it is not only more comfortable, it took only 3 and a half hours and is quite affordable. The views on the way are just absolutely stunning and you will get a little surprise on the way; there is a 7 mile stretch in the middle that belongs to Bosnia and for about 20-25 minutes you will be in a different country (There is a rest stop for buses in there and they sell amazing pastries) but be careful you will be in roaming area so use your phone carefully or put it in flight mode.
I would recommend booking bus tickets in advance as well through BusCroatia website and keep your passports with you, you will need them because Croatia is an EU country whereas Bosnia is not!
The bus from Split to Airport runs every half an hour to an hour so check in advance or take uber like me.
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