Summertime in Dubrovnik
This summer, I got to return to Dubrovnik with one of my best friends. I first visited Dubrovnik in March of 2011, and although it was grey and rainy, it was still one of my favorite cities I'd ever been to. I was very excited to be there in the summer this time, and it did not disappoint!
Dubrovnik is a relatively small Croatian city on the Adriatic sea. It is known for its "Old City," which is contained within towering 16th century limestone walls. There are two main entrances to the Old City: Pile gate on the Western side and Ploce gate on the Eastern side. Pile gate is much more crowded, because this is where tourists enter after disembarking their tour buses or cruise ships.
When planning for this trip, I knew I wanted to stay in the Old City. There are fewer accommodation options within the Old City walls, so I made sure to book early and do my research. I settled on Fresh Sheets Kathedral Dubrovnik-- a small hotel located above the Troubadour Jazz Café (expensive cocktails, outdoor seating and good music in the square) and right next to the Dubrovnik Cathedral (Katedrala Uznesenja Blažene Djevice Marije). It was a fantastic choice!
Upon arrival, the woman working greeted us with a welcome drink/snack (salami, truffle cheese, olives, and ice water with a sage syrup), and gave us a helpful orientation while marking her recommendations on a map. Her recommendations included a boutique owned by the hotel proprietors, Kawa-- it was really cute with lots of handmade Croatian goods.
We stayed in a twin room with a "separate, private bathroom" which was slightly annoying but I think it was the cheaper option. We loved waking up every morning to the sound of cathedral bells, and going to bed with a low hum of activity as the jazz was finishing up below. The sound was not a problem for us at all but the owners did provide ear plugs if you are more sensitive. The hotel had a small communal kitchen which we used for some afternoon snacks and wine. Overall, it was a clean and comfortable hotel in a convenient, central location, with an incredible view!
We stayed in Dubrovnik for 3 nights. On our first afternoon, after checking into our hotel, we went to a small beach as per our hotel's recommendation: Beach Sulić (Suluci). It was a short walk outside of the city walls, and it was just what we needed after a long flight! It was gorgeous, not crowded, and had 2 small restaurants for drinks and snacks.
After naps on the beach, we stopped by our hotel and changed before walking to dinner in the Old City. We ate at Kopun, which was a recommended spot for traditional Croatian cuisine. I had a truffle risotto with rooster, and it had the biggest slices of truffle I have ever seen!
That night, we went to check out Dubrovnik's famous cliff bars. They are both in "Buza" which is the Southern area of the Old City. The bar pictured below (from above, and inside) is Bard Mala Buza. The other one, called Buza Bar, is pictured at the end of this post. To get to each bar, you walk through a passageway in the city walls! They both boast incredible views and sea access, so they are a great place to swim and have a drink in the late afternoon, or a cool place for a night cap in the evening.
The next morning, we found our favorite breakfast place: Gradska Kavana Arsenal. They served a few big breakfast options for about 10€. The trick is to go between 10 and 11am, when you can eat breakfast on the gorgeous back patio overlooking the harbor (below).
We spent the rest of our first full day in Dubrovnik at the beach! We walked out of Ploce gate, and headed towards Banje Beach. It was a short walk with beautiful views of the harbor and Old City walls. Banje Beach was nice but sooo overpriced! The double loungers cost 50 or 60€ for the day and the drinks were expensive to purchase on top of that. We opted instead to walk 10 meters further to the free beach and lay on our towels! It was a hot day on the pebble beach but the water was beautifully clear and cool.
That night, we ate at Taj Mahal which serves traditional Bosnian cuisine. We split the "Genghis Khan Platter" for 2 which came with a variety of delicious grilled meats. For dessert we had cheese and honey. This was probably my favorite meal in Dubrovnik!
On our second morning we got up early to walk the city walls first thing. The walls open at 8am, and I would definitely recommend going at 8am sharp. We entered the walls at Ploce gate which is the less popular entry point to Pile gate-- and I would definitely recommend that as well! You sort of end up at the opposite side of the early risers who start at Pile gate. There are a few cafes on the southern portion of the wall where you can have your morning coffee or fresh squeezed orange juice. The 2km walk takes about 1 hour in total.
After walking the city walls, we continued our active morning by taking the cable car up Mt. Srd. Between the summer heat and the hoards of tourists that come into the Old City between 10am-5pm, it is best to do things in the morning and plan to be out of the Old City or take a break during the heat of the day/height of the crowds! Taking the cable car early was definitely a good idea. The views are spectacular and the restaurant at the top, Panorama, is good for coffee or an early lunch (it opens at 9 but doesn't really have breakfast options).
That night, we ate at Azur, an Asian fusion style restaurant. It wasn't our favorite, but it had an interesting menu with lots of fresh seafood options, and it might be a nice change if you've been traveling or living in Europe for a while. They did have good cocktails!
I got to spend one more night in Dubrovnik after a few days away, and went to Taverna Otto for dinner which came highly recommended. It was located in Lapad outside the city walls. It was a cute tavern with a grotto-like feel, and I had ceviche and rare tuna steak. Both were delicious! That night, I stayed at Hostel Free Bird (outside the Old City) which was an easy walk to Lapad. I stayed in a female-only dorm and it was clean and comfortable, with a private bathroom and shower. It was extremely affordable!
That night, I went back to Buza Bar to watch Croatia play in their 3rd world cup match. Watching the game with the sun setting on the city walls was something I will never forget! At the end of the match, when Croatia won, all the supporters jumped off the 10 meter cliff into the sea.
After spending time in Dubrovnik during the summer, it is safe to say that it is still one of my favorite cities in the world. I was there at the end of June, just as the tourist season was picking up. It felt crowded and July and August are meant to be worse! Next time, I will plan to visit Dubrovnik in September. The water will still be warm enough to swim, and the crowds will have died down.
There is so much more to do in Dubrovnik! There are lots of islands that are close enough for a daytrip, sea kayaking, and diving. This trip, we decided to relax in Dubrovnik, and then travel a bit farther up the coast to visit the island of Korcula. Stay tuned for a post about it coming soon!
Have you been to Dubrovnik? If not, what is your favorite city? Comment below!