You don’t even have to watch Game of Thrones to want to go to Dubrovnik. It’s that gorgeous.
Set in the mountain/ocean backdrop on the coast of Croatia, Dubrovnik is the type of place that you visit and then never want to leave. The Old City sits at the heart of Dubrovnik, with its castle-like remains giving the local imagery something amazingly archaic. For a few dollars, you can enter through the small gates at the base of the stairs and climb your way up and around, circling the entire surroundings and basking in the views that you won’t see anywhere else. The Old City is also the setting for King’s Landing in the acclaimed HBO series, Game of Thrones. There are countless tours a hungry-crazed fan can purchase that will take them through detailed film locations scattered through the city.
The Adriatic Sea is something else. It’s not baby blue like the Caribbean and it’s not rebellious like the Pacific or the Atlantic (in some parts). It’s a deep blue/green blend of mystifying calm and cold. The sand is replaced by stone and rocks, and you’ll see them as you swim, resting deep down below you. The water is clear enough to see many feet below, and you won’t know where to spend more time gazing: below you or above you, at the glorious mountain cliffs.
Speaking of cliffs….you can jump off. There are countless little perches of rock from which to take your leap. Please be sure to look below. While the water is clear, sometimes our minds aren’t. It would quite suck to break a limb in such a beautiful setting.
Croatia, in general, is quite fond of its seafood. Dubrovnik is no exception. As you walk into the Old City, with its cobblestone paths and tiny alleys to the left and right, you won’t be able to deny sitting at any of the restaurants — small or large — that are literally everywhere. I would highly recommend the seafood platter. The menu will tell you that it feeds two people, but believe me, it probably meant two really, really, really hungry people. To say the least, the platter is huge: shrimp, lobster, calamari, tilapia, tuna steaks, mussels, spinach, and palentta. You may be wondering about the palentta, but believe me, it’s to die for! Desert? Try the ice cream. There’s something about European ice cream that just tops off the eating frenzy so well.
If you have time, please take a sailing tour to the nearby islands. The Croatian coast is littered with tiny islands, spread far and wide. Some are super tiny and not always available for a tour, but others are equipped with small marinas or docks where you can explore for a day or a few hours. My favorites? Kolocep, Sipad, and Lopud. However, there are so many more! Usually, the tours will offer 2-3 islands that you can explore. A sailboat comes to pick you up in the morning and you’re off island hopping for the rest of the day. Lunch on the boat is usually included, and it’s delicious! The skipper is often a funny guy whose been on the sea his whole life; those small details often make the trip that much more enjoyable.
Now that you have wanderlust fever, it’s time to tally up your bill! In all honesty, Dubrovnik is not the cheapest place that you can visit on the Croatian coast. However, it is the most beautiful. Summer is obviously high season, littered with tourists. The city gets fairly busy and the prices jump up slightly to accommodate. I would plan on spending at least $50 on food and drinks per day, and that’s if you like the restaurant vibe. However, if you’re looking to budget, I would recommend the smaller, less-known restaurants that are not in the Old City. Those are frequented by locals and are much cheaper. It’s still great food and you save a few bucks in the end. Also, stock up on water, juice, and snacks in the morning and take it with you to the beach. That way, you won’t be hunger-tempted in the afternoon when you’re sunburned and dehydrated. As far as accommodations go, they are slightly cheaper than the food and entertainment. You can find plenty of small rooms that are available for rent by locals, and I would recommend these, as they’re cheaper than a hotel and so much more adorable. Last note: have some cash available, as all restaurants do not accept credit cards. Dollars are welcome, but having Croatian currency (kune) is also helpful.
Dubrovnik is a gem. Enjoy it. Explore it. Give it time to wow you and I promise, it will, tenfold.