Dubrovnik

When you think of Dubrovnik, many may not think beyond it being set dressing for the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. The image of Dubrovnik is synonymous now with that of the hit TV show. One look at the city transports you to the fictional world of King’s Landing. But there is so much more to this ancient Croatian city than mere fiction.

Located in southern Croatia, Dubrovnik enjoys the beauty of the Adriatic Sea. The Old Town – surrounded by its 16th Century walls – provides the perfect compliment on-land to the sea-view with its distinctive orange-roofed buildings and hillside backdrop.

So while Dubrovnik may not be the capital of the country, it certainly is one of it’s most visited cities.

The city has seen a great deal of turmoil over the centruies and it is only recent years that has seen this Adriatic paradise become a welcome tourist retreat. Once a key part of the former Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik became the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the Yugoslavian War.

In October 1991, after the Croatians had declared its independence from Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) attacked the city. What resulted was a seven month siege of Dubrovnik where 114 civilians were killed and many buildings within the Old Town were either damaged or destroyed before the siege was lifted by the Croatian army in May 1992.

That’s the gory bit out of the way, I promise.


The ancient city of Dubrovnik has many hidden charms in its winding streets

Move forward to 2019 and my girlfriend and I were excited to head off on our summer holidays to the Croatian city. We had seven nights here and planned to see as much of Dubrovnik as we could during our stay. It was a place that we both had set our sights on visiting, and one that we were both really keen to explore in full.

Due to my girlfriend’s professions – she is a primary school teacher – we had to travel during the school summer holidays in August. Whilst not ideal, it did guarantee that we would be in for great weather for the entire trip. Average temperatures range from around 23° at the coolest times to the mid to high 30°s. Top tip number one; if you are very pale (as I am) pack lots of high factor sun lotion. You will need it!

A few other things to know before you travel to Croatia. The currency in Croatia is the Croatian Kuna. At the time of writing, you would get around 8.5 Kuna to the pound. It’s not the cheapest city you’ll ever visit in Europe due to them cashing in on the vast number of tourists that visit each year, but it is also not the most expensive. Average prices are probably just below what you’d expect to pay for similar in the UK.


Google Maps view of Dubrovnik

I can’t state it enough. If you, like us, are planning a trip to Dubrovnik in August then expect crowds and lots of them. People flock here for the sun and sights every year and it’s only increasing. Given that the population of the city, sits between 40,000 and 50,000 residents there are, on average around 1.2 million tourists arriving in Dubrovnik each year; most of them in the summer!

And when those tourists arrive they are welcomed by a friendly nation of people with a wealth of attractions to offer. So whilst my girlfriend and I did not experience absolutely everything there was to sample here we did see a lot and I’ll go through a few of my favourite experiences that I’d recommend to any first time traveller to this fabulous city.

One quick piece of advice. Before you travel buy a Dubrovnik Card. You can get different length cards but we found a one-day card costing 225 Kuna each (£26) to be value for money. This card is a pass allowing entry into nine cultural and historical monuments including the Old Town city walls. Even if you just do the city walls alone you’ll have saved money.

You can buy the card before you travel and pick it up in the tourist office located just outside the Pile Gate.


Getting there

A good point about travelling to a popular tourist destination like Dubrovnik is that flight’s are both frequent and readily available from most major UK airports. For our trip we bagged return seats on the Easyjet flight from London Stansted to Dubrovnik for £428.88 total (£214.44 each) that also included one suitcase for the hold area of the plane. Now I don’t usually buy hold space on a plane as, more often than not, I can get away with one carry on bag for all my needs for a short weekend away break. However, as we were going for a week, it felt like we may need more than the usual amount of clothes and items to see us through.

The flight from London to Dubrovnik takes around two and a half hours so make sure you charge up your kindle and table before heading on board. Top tip, as you approach Dubrovnik – and so long as you’ve got the correct side of the plane for your seats (think it works best if you are seats A and B in an aisle) – take a look out of the window and you’ll get some stunning views of the Old Town of Dubrovnik.


The view of the Old Town from the air will make you want to arrive even faster

Once you’ve arrived, and safely on terra firma, you’ll feel that first wave of Croatian heat as you take your first steps off the plane. You’ll then need to settle in for a bit of a queue as you (and everyone else who arrives at the same time) go through the slow passport control lines. Don’t worry, it’s a bit tedious but the lines are far better than ones I’ve experienced elsewhere (looking at you Naples) that never seem to move forward!

Dubrovnik Airport is a small stylish airport located just over 20km, south-east, outside of the city itself. It means you’ll need to either catch a taxi (make sure you go to the official taxi rank at the airport) or, like we did, book an airport transfer to take you to your destination. This, for me, is the best option as it guarantees that you’ll get picked up and dropped off at the airport and the accommodation; which is especially helpful if you are staying in an AirBnB rather than a hotel.

I’d suggest you use a company called ConnectoTransfers.com. Before we left the UK we had pre-paid for a return journey – meaning we didn’t have to hand over any extra cash when we were first arriving. The return booking cost us 31.35 Euros or about £28 and was a short 30 minute drive alongside the beautiful Croatian coastline. This was probably one of the best visual journeys I’ve experienced from an airport to the place I am staying in. The modern car also had free Wi-Fi for us to log onto which allowed me to contact our AirBnB host to let them know we were on the way.


Where to stay

While many people travelling to Dubrovnik may opt for a hotel either next to or inside the Old Town, I’d say broaden your horizons a little and check out the vast number of AirBnB rentals available in the area.

For us, one of the most important aspects of our stay was going to be to get an amazing view out across Dubrovnik. It’s a beautiful city so we wanted to make the most of it. For that, we booked an AirBnB located higher up the hillside, just off the main Jadranska cesta road. This spot afforded a stunning vista of the surrounding area, was quiet during the nights and gave us a lot of room to move and live in.

We had high hopes for our booking, and paid £824.12 for seven nights. It’s fair to say that we felt that we got our money’s worth.


The spacious bedroom of this lovely AirBnB. Note: girlfriend pictured not included
This view is what you pay your money for. One down side is that the walk back up the many stairs on the hillside from the Old Town in the heat is exhausting
Coming into the air conditioned living room was always a welcome experience

The apartment was perfect. From the moment we arrived, our host – a lovely young lady called Barbara – met us and informed us that they were just finishing cleaning the property. Given that we were early we didn’t mind the chance to just sit outside and start to soak in the heat and the breathtaking views.

Soon the apartment was ready for us. Barbara showed us around and we were surprised by just how much space there was given that it is just for two people. A shared entrance area with the apartment next door provided a small functional washing machine and then we were into the air-conditioned embrace of the apartment. Immediately to our left was a well designed bathroom (although remember when showering other people staying in the apartment complex can walk past the frosted windows so don’t go opening the windows wide) before entering the kitchen and living space.

This area was large and roomy and provided us with a substantial fridge to keep drinks inside and a fully equipped kitchen should we wish to eat in. There was also a sofa, TV, table and chairs available to relax on and around. Wi-Fi is also included in the apartment.

Next up was the bedroom with a double bed. The bed was extremely comfortable and made for a great night’s sleep after a day out exploring. Think I got some of the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long time here. Finally, the bedroom opens up onto a balcony that overlooks the Old Town of Dubrovnik. This was what we spent our money on! The views were stunning and we enjoyed waking up each morning to have our breakfast on the balcony while the sun came up and also a nice glass of wine in the evening as the city went to sleep.

A final word about our host also. Barbara was a delight to deal with. She was extremely welcoming and – as she lived next door – made herself available during our stay if we had any issues (we didn’t but it was nice to have the option) or if we had any questions. She also gave us a map and pointed out some of the key things to see and do and explained what busses we could use to get us around during our stay. More on that later. Should I find myself in Dubrovnik again in the future I’d jump at the chance to stay at her apartment again and advise anyone reading this to do the same if you’re planning a trip.


Getting around

The joy of Dubrovnik is that if you are staying near the Old Town then nowhere is too far to walk. The downside to this is that whilst this is true, most of the walking will either be up or down hill!

Also Dubrovnik is a very busy city when it comes to cars. It’s not that there are lots of cars, it’s just there are not many roads. Then trying to find a parking space looks almost impossible. My advice, don’t bother renting a car.

Depending on where you stay will certainly shape how much hill walking you are doing. If you stay down at the bottom of the hill near the Old Town itself, then you are likely to have an easier time of it by foot. If, like we did, you are staying at the top of the hill, then you are going to find walking down to the Old Town very pleasant and walking back up less so.

I cannot stress enough, buy comfortable shoes before you go! Trainers and walking shoes are best. Don’t try and do the walk in loose flip-flops or high heels. Honestly you won’t make it very far at all. We found in general it took us around 20 minutes to walk back to our AirBnB from the Old Town but the pace you walk will dictate things.

If you plan to walk but as you leave Old Town don’t fancy the prospect any more, then there are options available. A cheap one is to catch a Bus. Just outside the Pile Gate, there is a small kiosk that sells bus tickets by the side of the road. Go to the cashier and say where you want to go and they will tell you what bus to catch, where to get off and how much it costs. From my experience you can buy tickets very cheaply and the busses are pretty frequent as well with good information provided at the stops.

Tickets for the bus journey within the city costs 12 Kuna each (around £1.50) if you buy from the kiosk. If you buy directly from the driver that price increases to 15 Kuna each (closer to £2). You can also buy a daily bus ticket for 30 Kuna (around £4) which is great if you plan to catch more than one bus that day.

Failing a bus there is also Uber. During our stay we caught one Uber. That was because the route the bus was taking was hugely congested so we thought we’d get an Uber driver to take us to our door. This had mixed success as our driver didn’t know where our AirBnB was and so we had to direct him even though we barely knew ourselves. The price of the journey from near the Old Town to the top of the hill was 25.62 Kuna or about £3.30.


Top sites

Let’s start with the obvious first must-see; Dubrovnik Old Town. The Old Town is the heart of Dubrovnik and is the location where all tourists – both those staying in Dubrovnik and from the many cruise ships that dock here – descend to on on a daily basis.

The first thing you should do in the Old Town is enter through the Pile Gate. This is the main entrance to the Old Town and can get really busy so expect a slow stagger through the narrow entrance. Arrive early! I can’t stress this enough.

Once in, I’d then suggest you take an explore of the streets. There are many tight roads and pathways around the Old Town and they are worth an explore. There are so many beautiful things to look at here and it’s well worth a good couple of hours explore.

My girlfriend and I did so and found many great little restaurants, souvenir shops and ice cream parlours to sample. You’ll also find your way to the docks which is where you can get access to water-based activities and ferries to some of the many islands in the nearby area – including Lokrum.

Another activity you have to do during a stay in Dubrovnik is a walk around the perimeter of the Old Town walls. This costs 200 Kuna per adult (around £24) but is worth it. If you have the Dubrovnik Card then this is already covered as part of that deal so you should have made a good saving here.

The walls give you stunning views of the sea, islands, and the Old Town and its surrounds in general. There are a few stops along the way – including a rather uninspiring maritime museum – where you can shelter from the heat as well as a number of shops selling water and other drinks. Probably best to take a bottle from your accommodation and refill it in the fountain just inside the entrance of the Old Town next to the Pile Gate to avoid unnecessary expenditure.

As I mentioned before. Arrive for opening time for the walls which is 8am. The queues get long and the walls busy. In the heat, this trek turns more into a battle of endurance than a pleasurable walk.


In the height of summer, entry into the Old Town via the main Pile Gate is extremley congested
The Old Town city walls are worth the admission price for the views. Go early to avoid the busiest and hottest periods of the day
View up at the Old Town from the docks in Dubrovnik
The Old Town of Dubrovnik as viewed from Fort Lovrijenac
The streets of the Old Town get extremely busy so get there early to keep numbers to a minimum

The next suggestions is for those who love Game of Thrones. As many will know, Dubrovnik did provide the backdrop to many of the scenes from the hit TV show and through one of the many guided tours you can take you can see some of them.

You can book all day tours which take you outside of Dubrovnik to see some of the other locations but despite being big fans of the show we felt our time in Dubrovnik would be better spent on a shorter tour. For this we opted for the Game of Thrones walking tour.

This two-hour tour is hosted by one of the firms enthusiastic guides. Costing around £18.36 per person these tours meet each morning outside the Pile Gate (this really is a focal spot for tour operators so most tours will meet here) and then set off to a number of locations used in the show for scenes in King’s Landing.

During our tour we headed up to the Fort of St. Lawrence (known locally as Lovrijenac) and heard about scenes filmed there as well as ones shot from the walls of the Old Town. It’s worth noting, however, that the 50 Kuna entrance fee to the fort is not included so you will have to pay that on arrival at the door.

The tour will continue into the Old Town and take in the beautiful West Harbour; a location used to film the spot where the Gold Cloaks arrived into King’s Landing to kill Robert Baratheon’s bastard children, before finishing up at the stairs where Cersei Lannister started her Walk of Shame.

At all these spots you’ll have ample time to take photos and pose and there is also the chance, at the end of the tour, to have your picture taken on a replica Iron Throne in one of the nearby shops. This is something you’d normally have to pay for, but on this tour it comes included.


One of the stops on the Game of Thrones tour is the stunning Dubrovnik West Harbour; the spot where the gold cloaks go into King’s Landing to murder all of Robert Baratheon’s bastard children
Shame! The site where the infamous Walk of Shame for Queen Cersi was filmed

As evening draws in a great way to get those panoramic views of the city is to take the Dubrovnik Cable Car to the top of Srd Hill. The cable car can be picked-up just off Ul. Kralja Petra Kresimira IV road which is about a 10 minute walk, uphill, from the Pile Gate. Tickets for the cable car can be purchased at the cable car station and cost 170 Kuna, per-person, for a round-trip (around £20).

While it seems costly, it is worth doing for the views. When we visited, we planned to go for sunset. To ensure you get a great spot and a great view, make sure you go up at least an hour before the sun does down. That way you can get some shots of the Old Town while it is still light and experience the whole sunset. Also, once you have a spot next to the railing, don’t leave it. If you do, others will take it and you’ll lose your opportunity to see the sunset unencumbered.


The cable car station where you pick up your ride. Prime spots in the cable car go fast
The view back across Dubrovnik is stunning to see as you ascend the hillside
As the sun sets the moon comes out in all its glory
The sun setting across the sea is a beautiful sight to behold

These sights are some of my fondest memories of my time in Dubrovnik, and really showed what a beautiful city it is. Watching the sun go down over the water is a joyous experience.

Outside of the the Old Town you’ll see a host of islands. The coastline here is littered with them but the one everyone wants to get to is Lokrum.

You can catch a boat to Lokrum from the Old Town Harbour. Trips run every 30 minutes in the summer months and cost 40 Kuna each (about £5) and take about 15 minutes to get you from A to B.

Once on the Island there are plenty of things to see and do. You can hike to the highest point of the island (do this early before the sun gets too strong as it’s exhausting) and get the views from the Royal Fort or take a trek around the botanical gardens.


From the coast of Lokrum you can sunbathe and swim in the clear sea waters
One of Lokrum’s many peacocks
The view from Fort Royal is worth the climb
The wildlife on Lokrum is not afraid to get up close and personal with you

If walking isn’t your thing then there are plenty of sunbathing and swimming opportunities around the island’s coastline and inland. Remember to pack your swimwear; although there is a naturist beach which I’ll speak about later on.

When we arrived we headed straight for one of these swimming spots. The Dead Sea, as it’s known, is a salt-water filled solace located inland towards the south of the island. This haven is a great spot to unwind with the family and get the unique floating sensation only attributed to water with such a high salt content. Kids will love to snorkel here and if you have an underwater camera, then make sure bring it as there are lots of small fish just below the surface to see.

Near the entrance to the island (that being where the boats drop you off and pick you up) is the Benedictine Monastery of St. Mary. This area of the island boasts an impressive ancient monastery situated alongside a nature reserve and some of the island’s most beautiful gardens.

The Monastery is also the home of another Game of Thrones exhibition – provided by HBO. This exhibition has a number of behind-the-scenes images and interviews to see and hear and also another replica of the Iron Throne to sit on and have pictures taken. This one, however, is free of charge so a must-see for die-hard fans of the show.

During your visit to Lokrum, you’ll also witness two of the islands’ most abundant residents; the rabbit and the peacock. When we visited the latter outnumbered the former by quite a long shot.

What’s great about these animals, is that they are not bothered at all by human presence. In fact they pretty much just ignore you. When we were sunbathing and swimming by the water’s edge a number of young peacocks came and walked straight through the middle of everyone and started investigating people’s belongings. So long as they don’t try to steal anything, this is a great chance to get up close and personal (although don’t try and get too close) to these interesting birds.

Now that you’ve seen the island from the land the next way to see it is from the sea. For this I’d highly recommend signing up to one of the sea kayak tours that take place from the cove under the Pile Gate.

These three-hour tours (that include a light snack) are best to take ahead of sunset. It makes the heat of being exposed on the open water less overbearing and you also get the joy of seeing the sun set from the sea.

You don’t need to worry about kayak experience either. While both my girlfriend and I have used a kayak before, we are by no means experts. However, the range of abilities means that the pace of the tour is suited for everyone with frequent stops at sea to talk and hear about the city’s history. Booked in advance online the tour costs £25.25 per person. You can also book the tour in person on site.

The tour is basically a big loop around the island of Lokrum. While alongside Lokrum you’ll go into a small inlet where the brave amongst the group can try some cliff diving, while those more suited to the water can take a swim.

The tour will take you on a full circle of the island and on the way back stop into a cove where you get to step out of the two-person kayak for a while, snorkel in the sea using their equipment and enjoy an well-earned sandwich. Again bring an underwater camera with you.


The inlet stop on Lokrum where you can cliff dive and swim during your kayak tour
The sun setting as we rowed back to the main land
Getting out in a kayak in the sea is a great way to see the area

As you return to the mainland you’ll see the abandoned Hotel Belvedere on the cliff edge – some two miles outside of the centre of Dubrovnik (more on that later) and also get the chance to experience the sun setting as you make those final inroads back to your starting position.

This one may seem like an odd choice, but for those with a sense of adventure and willing to take a bit of a risk it really is fascinating. Hotel Belvedere is a former five-star hotel from the Yugoslav era that closed its doors permanently back in 1991 after suffering damage during the Siege of Dubrovnik.

Yet while it closed its doors to paying guests almost 30 years ago, those keen on a spot of urbexing can still gain entry. Located outside of the main part of Dubrovnik, the best way to get there is to walk along the coast and aim for the bottom of the hotel (don’t go to the original entrance at the top as that is totally closed off).

I’ll point out now, that entering the hotel is both risky and, as far as I can tell, seen as trespassing. There are numerous signs up around the base that inform you not to enter. However, there are no guards and no security and many places where you can get inside.

Once inside, you’ll notice that the area is a mess. It’s pretty disgusting too as the opening areas have clearly been used for parties over the years by locals. However, as you press on through the cold, dark corridors you’ll find your way into the main heart of the hotel.


Hotel Belvedere would have been a phenomenal place to stay before it shut in 1991
You can get a unique view of Dubrovnik from Hotel Belvedere but be very careful where you step
Now painted in Hajduk Split colours, this was the location where the Mountain and Prince Oberyn fought in Game of Thrones
The dark, silent corridors can be creepy to explore
A view up from the outside of Hotel Belvedere
The former nightclub in Hotel Belvedere; Club Trubaur
The inside of the hotel is in ruin as are its main stairwells and lift shafts

Floor upon floor of guest rooms are accessible, while you can also take a wander around the former kitchens, nightclubs and restaurants as you make your way up the deserted building.

The higher you get, the more you need to ensure that the floor underfoot is still solid. Remember this hotel is in ruin and based down the side of a cliff. It’s unclear how stable it remains. During our hunt around we managed to get up to the second-to-top floor only to find the stairway blocked by a piece of fallen concrete flooring and a newly built brick wall. I guess someone at some point was trying to stop people getting in.

Remember this hotel is massive and it can be easy to get lost. Most floors and corridors look alike so try and remember your route in and out. Finally, there are a number of places towards the top of the hotel where there are balconies. You can go out onto these but watch your footing. Some of these sections are somewhat spongy.

The sea plays such a large part in life in Dubrovnik that if you are able to and get the opportunity you really should go scuba diving. During my stay I did two dives with the wonderful Blue Planet Diving Centre.

Located a short drive out of the centre of Dubrovnik at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace this dive centre is one of the best I’ve ever dived with. They really take a keen interest in your past diving experience and ensure that all safety checks, paperwork and dive briefings are done properly before you step foot in the water.

Ahead of going to Dubrovnik I had found the company via TripAdvisor and seen a lot of good reviews. I had also seen the vast number of dive sites available for all abilities in the area and was keen to see some of what they had to offer myself.

The company also picked us up from a pre-appointed spot in Dubrovnik near a small multi-story car park. This allowed us to get to and from Dubrovnik easily and without hassle.

Two dives – with full equipment – cost 800 Kuna (£95). My girlfriend who doesn’t dive also wanted to come out on the boat with us and was able to do so for 270 Kuna (£30) giving her the chance to snorkel in the area our group was diving in. With equipment checked, dive suits on, and loaded into the speedboat we shot off from the hotel for our first dive.


Scuba diving from Dubrovnik gives you a great view of life under the sea
Looking closely at the life growing on the side of the vast underwater rocks
Swimming up between two rocks with the surface of the sea shimmering overhead
A small fish takes shelter in the undergrowth on the side of a rock

The first dive took us over an old ship wreck. We got down next to the ship and could see the damage it had sustained causing it to sink. I believe it had been bombed as part of the Second World War and has now in pieces on the bottom of the sea. From there we went around a large underwater rock and up through an archway taking in the many fish that call this place home, before surfacing and doing my least favourite part of a dive; climbing very unceremoniously back onto the boat.

We then returned to land and had a break for lunch. The second dive was one from the shore and we swam through the underwater grasses searching for sea life. We were far from disappointed. One of the most exciting finds was an octopus that had buried itself into the sand and as we drew near sprung out and swam off at speed. A truly beautiful sight.

As mentioned, there are loads of dive sights in the area and depending on your qualifications you can access a lot of them easily. Make sure you speak to the dive master before you head out if you are hoping to see something in particular as they can try and gear the dive around your needs. Also, again, don’t forget your underwater cameras!

Now for some general fun and games. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, my girlfriend and I love an escape room. They are so much fun. So we decided that it was a must to find one during our stay in Croatia. That’s how we ended up going to Dubrovnik Escape Room.

Being as it’s Dubrovnik it felt only right to choose a Game of Thrones themed room; so we chose to Save King’s Landing.

This escape room is about a 45 minute walk from the centre of Dubrovnik although you can catch a bus or use Uber. We chose to walk.

Once we arrived we were made to feel extremely welcome by the game’s host; a lovely young lady called Pamina.

Pamina talked to us before we went in about our past escape room experiences and then gave us the latest challenge that we faced. I won’t give anything away about the game’s plot, or secrets, but it’s fair to say this is a well thought out room with some very neat little tricks that I’d not seen elsewhere.

While the game was challenging, it was logical meaning that we were able to escape (with the help of a few clues – thanks Pamina) in 45 minutes and 23 seconds.

But even once we were out – and had done the team photo – we did not get the feeling we were being forced out. In fact the opposite. We spent a while speaking with Pamina and her co-hosts about the room and Dubrovnik in general and she happily supplied us with helpful information that we could use during our stay.

In fact, despite not having to, she also obliged us by sorting us out with an Uber driver to take us back to our AirBnB as we couldn’t face the long walk back up the hill at that time. Pamina – like pretty much everyone else we met in Dubrovnik – was the perfect host and helped make our stay in this unique and beautiful city an unforgettable experience.


Dubrovnik Escape Room was great fun and the staff were super friendly and helpful

Where to avoid

So while Dubrovnik has many stunning places to experience there are a few of things I’d give a wide berth to. The first of those is Lokrum nudist beach. Located on a corner of Lokrum Island, this ‘clothing optional’ beach is not a place I personally wanted to explore. In fact, I got to see more of it than I’d have liked simply by taking the kayak tour around the island.

Located on the south-east corner of the island the beach (known as HKK beach) is frequented by naturists looking to top up their all-over tans. Many men – unfortunately – also like to stand, looking out at the sea, as people pass by on boats and kayaks. On the plus point, the beach is free of charge and secluded from passing people on the island. Itwell signposted so those looking for it can go and those trying to avoid it can also. If naturism is your thing, then knock yourself out, but not one for me I’m afraid. You’ll be pleased to know I have no photographs to put up here!

The second one to avoid is the Dubrovnik’s Naturhistoriska Museum. On the face of it this museum should have been really interesting as there is plenty of wildlife and history in the area. However, what is presented to you in the Old Town-based establishment across numerous floors is a very shoddy exhibition.

Cheap looking exibits that have not been refreshed in, what looks like, years are sparse at best and a real lack of information really doesn’t help the museum’s cause much either. Sad to say the best thing we found about the museum was a free-standing air-conditioning unit that we ended up standing by for quite a while trying to cool off from the fierce heat outside. For the steep price of 120 kuna each (around £13.50) this museum is one you can easily avoid without missing out on much.


The cheap looking shark at the museum gives you an idea of the quality of the exhibitions

My final suggestion to miss is the many glass bottom boat tours available from Dubrovnik Old Town harbour. You really can’t miss them as you enter the harbour area as numerous sales teams hand you leaflets for their glass bottom boat tours. There are probably over 10 tours available but honestly they all look the same. The prices are around 75 – 100 Kuna each (or about £8 – £12).

My girlfriend and I thought it would be a great way to see some of the underwater life. Even though I scuba dive, my girlfriend doesn’t so this was a way for her to see some of the sea-life too. Problem was you don’t actually see anything. The boat tour lasts about an hour and takes you from the harbour out and around Lokrum (check out this great chance to get a view of the nudist beach again).

The boat barely slows down and ours didn’t stop at any point either. It means that all you can see through the glass is a load of water and many bubbles made by the boat itself. If you spot something below, chances are it’s just a mark on the glass. The only positive to this was that it was a relaxed way to get some views across the bay and over at the coastline. My problem was that the whole point of the tour was to look through the glass bottom, but you soon realise that this is futile and you may as well just look at the scenery above water.


Great places to eat

There are plenty of great restaurants to experience and enjoy during a stay in Dubrovnik; including a couple of Michelin Star establishments too. However, for me the best place to eat in the entire city is Nautika.

Now when you look at the Nautika website there are a couple of options. One is up at the top where the cable car goes to and is called the Panorama Restaurant & Bar and affords beautiful views of the city. However, as my girlfriend and I had already experienced these views during our cable car trip we opted for the restaurant located just outside the Pile Gate next to the water.

This stunning setting saw us seated beside the sea and looks out at the city walls to our left and the fortress to our right. When I made my booking (always book here as you’ll struggle to get a seat as a walk-in customer), I mentioned that my girlfriend and I were celebrating a special anniversary for ourselves and the restaurant made sure that we were seated next to the water. Perfect.

Upon arrival we also enjoyed an aperitif from their substantial cocktail menu. These are more than drinks. They are the start of what is a showcase of a culinary experience. There is real theatre in their presentation and my only regret is that I didn’t choose something more adventurous.

When it came to the food we decided to push the boat out and order the seven course taster menu at 920 Kuna each (around £110 per person). This was totally the right choice. From start to finish the courses were a delight. Filled with exciting and interesting flavour, the chefs at this restaurant know exactly how to prepare the best quality food. Given the location the courses are primarily seafood so bear that in mind when booking.

After a palette cleansing amuse bouche, we were presented with the first course of Beef Charolais Carpaccio. This was followed by a Shrimp Bisque and then Cuttlefish.

As the food came out the evening rolled on. Day turned to night and the lit-up city walls and fortress provided the perfect backdrop to this special meal.

We then went on to the first of the main courses which was a delicious Tuna Fillet with capers and fennel triptih closely followed by a Veal Fillet and Dubrovnik Malvasija Sauce. While it is a lot of food we still found space to enjoy the local delicacy of Carob Cake and then the locally-sourced Pag Island Cheese to finish.

We were also treated to a mouth-watering special anniversary drink during our meal which was most welcome. Another quirk of this charming restaurant was that with each course we were presented we were given a different olive oil to accompany it. A nice touch from a superb restaurant.

The facts of the matter with Nautika are this. It is expensive. The meal for two including cocktails and wine cost around £350 total so make sure you have worked out your budget before you go. With that in mind make sure you ask for outside seating as well so you don’t miss those wonderful views. Finally, once you are there just sit back and enjoy.


The entrance to Nautika
Just one example of the superb food available at Nautika. The Tuna Fillet with dehydrated capers and fennel triptih
The vast selection of olive oils is quite special; although not as special as the view

While Nautika is perhaps somewhere you’d only eat once at on holiday there are plenty of much more affordable restaurants all over the Old Town. One of my favourites was the harbour-based Poklisar.

This pleasant restaurant provides a wide variety of Mediterranean cuisine at good prices. When we went for a spot of lunch we enjoyed thirst-quenching mojito each and knocked it back alongside a pizza.

However, for those looking to expand their culinary experiences further there are also octopus salads, pan fired Adriatic prawns and homemade tuna confite salads, as well as burgers, meat dishes and vegetarian options to tuck into while watching the world go by.


Enjoy a mojito by the harbour at Poklisar

Useful links

Game of Thrones

Dubrovnik Card

Easyjet

ConnectoTransfers.com

AirBnB

The apartment described above on AirBnB

Dubrovnik bus

Uber

Dubrovnik Old Town

Game of Thrones walking tour

Dubrovnik Cable Car

Lokrum

Sea kayak tour

Hotel Belvedere

Blue Planet Diving Centre

Dubrovnik Escape Room

Dubrovnik Naturhistoriska Museum

Nautika

Poklisar

Published by Steve Kennedy

42 countries visited and counting....

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