A delightful old town on the Adriatic Sea that has existed for over 1000 years, it is difficult to believe Dubrovnik was the target of bombing during a siege in the Yugoslavian War from 1991 to 1992. After the end of hostilities, the old stone buildings and streets were carefully repaired, and in recent years it has instead come under siege from tourists, eager to experience the city. Its recent use as locations in the popular TV series Game of Thrones has only contributed further to its popularity.
With its beautiful blue waters, abundance of hotels and apartment accommodation, reasonable prices and its location as the departure point for sailing trips heading further north to the islands of the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik is a beautiful place to visit, particularly in the summer months. Either head directly to Dubrovnik or visit it as part your Croatia itinerary. Just be warned that when cruise ships pull up at the nearby harbour it can get very busy during the middle of the day. When you are visiting, you cannot miss the following must-do experiences in Dubrovnik.
? Dog-friendly: Many of these attractions are dog-friendly – see my notes below!
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1. Wander the Old Town Walls
To get the best view of the Old Town, it is a must to wander around the walls of the Old Town. Stretching almost 2km in length and up to 6m wide in places, the walls and its towers enable you to look down into the steep, narrow streets of the town, without the chance of getting lost. On the seaward side gaze into the deep blue waters that surround the town, and make note of interesting places down below that you spot, and want to return to later.
During the Summer months it is best to do the walk early or late in the day, both to avoid the heat of the day and the cruise ship loads of tourists. Entrance to the wall isn’t that cheap at 150 kuna from the Široka Ulica selling place (about €20), but it is a must-do. If you’re also interest in visiting other historical sites, a 1-day Dubrovnik Card can be purchased for 200 kuna (about €27, or 180 kuna with a 10% discount online), which includes entry onto the Walls.
? Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed on the walls, with free entry. Just make sure your dog is on a leash for the sections where only a railing separates you and your dog from a tall drop.
2. Enjoy a Meal or Drink with a View
Whilst wandering the walls of Dubrovnik, it is likely that you notice that there are some picturesque restaurants and bars that you can head to for a meal or drink afterwards. On the upper slopes of the old town is the restaurant Lady Pi-pi, with its terraces of tables. This is a very popular spot, both with locals and visitors, but it is worth queuing up for the views and the excellent food.
Alternatively, on the seaward side of the walls are two bars, Cafe Buža 1 and 2. Enter through a hole in the South Wall following the sign that says “cold drinks”. During the day stretch out and sunbathe, or head here during the evening for the glorious sunset. Not surprisingly given the stunning location, the drinks are not the cheapest here.
? Dog-friendly: Croatia is quite dog-friendly, so dogs are likely allowed in the outdoor areas at both of these venues.
3. Sample the Local Croatian Wine
Situated mid-way between Italy and Greece, it is not surprising that wine has been grown in Croatia for thousands of years. However, it is likely that most of the types of grapes grown in Croatia you have never heard of, as they are unique to the area. Most restaurants and bars in Dubrovnik will have many good-value Croatian wines on the menu, that you can sample.
To try multiple at once, head to D’vino Wine Bar, located on Palmoticeva, the third street on the left hand side of the Stradun, after entering from Pile Gate. They offer both white and red wine flights, with three glasses of different Croatia wines along with tasting notes.
? Dog-friendly: While I’m not sure if dogs are allowed inside, I recommend asking if you have a small, well-behaved dog.
4. Explore the Recent History of Dubrovnik and Croatia
With evidence of bullet holes and mortar shell explosions still present on the streets and buildings of Dubrovnik, it’s hard to ignore the recent history of this region, despite it being so hard to understand that such a beautiful location could have been bombed. Whilst visiting, take some time out to find out more about the Yugoslavian War.
In the heart of the Old Town on Antuninska street is War Photo Limited, a photographic gallery with a permanent exhibit on the Yugoslavian conflict, plus changing temporary exhibits on other conflicts worldwide. The exhibits are of excellent quality and very touching; a small entrance fee is changed.
Alternatively, head up to Srd Hill behind Dubrovnik, accessible via either a 90 minute walk or the easier option of the Cable Car (150 kuna per adult round-trip, about €20). At the hill is the Museum of Croatian War of Independence, again with a small entrance free, with photographs and newspaper articles on display. The hill also offers spectacular panoramas of Dubrovnik and the surrounding coastline.
? Dog-friendly: Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the cable car, but you can instead hike up the hill with your dog.
5. Stroll the Stradun and Laneways with a Gelato
Despite gelato being Italian rather than Croatian, the gelato prices are far cheaper in Dubrovnik than in the touristy parts of Italian I’ve visited, but just as delicious. No matter whether it’s mid-morning, afternoon or late at night, take your choice of the many gelato shops and the many flavours in each. Then wander up or down the wide, main street of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, known as the Stradun, or explore the maze-like laneways branching off.
? Dog-friendly: Naturally dogs are allowed to join you for your stroll, although I don’t recommend feeding them gelato!
6. Take a Game of Thrones Tour
Dubrovnik has been one of the main locations used for the filming of Kings Landing during every season of Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of the TV series, don’t miss the chance to check out the exact locations used for filming. Even better, some of the tour guides were extras and stand-ins for the series, so can share gossip and behind-the-scenes stories.
? Dog-friendly: For more dog-friendly recommendations in Croatia, check out what to do in the coastal resort of Opatija.
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