croatia

Surviving Dubrovnik – And Falling In Love With It

Alright, so I’m not gonna lie to you guys: I was a little apprehensive about Dubrovnik.

Not only has it become one of the world’s hottest tourist spots, which escalated exponentially thanks to Games Of Thrones, but it only flew onto the radar and into people’s top spots within the last 10 years. That’s a dramatic increase in footfall for anywhere to deal with, let alone a place as small as Dubrovnik.

View from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Articles and blog posts have been popping up everywhere on how to survive Dubrovnik; how to deal with the overcrowded streets; how best to walk the city walls and not want to throw someone over the edge (I suppose that’s pretty tame for Game Of Thrones anyway).

So naturally, I was a bit worried. And where I had always envisaged that I would visit in April one year, to keep my crowd-dealing to a vague minimum, here I was visiting in June. It wasn’t quite July or August, but it would still be at the start of prime tourist season, and in Dubrovnik, it felt like the tourists were going to be unavoidable.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

I was a total nerd and checked in advance to see what cruise ships would be in that day. This became routine when I was working in tourism in Orkney; after all, I needed to tell our guests to avoid Skara Brae when a 5,000-strong cruise ship was in. Dubrovnik would only have one ship in, and it was barely 1,000. A dip in the ocean, if you excuse the pun. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Dubrovnik was not that busy. I mean, it wasn’t quiet by any stretch of the imagination, but alleyways were clear, and between the unnecessarily large walking tours (of which I’m afraid we were one), we had tons of space to move on the main streets. I feel like we may have been lucky, but it may just be that we weren’t quite in primetime cruise ship tourist season yet.

And so it was that I fell in love with Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The first thing that amazed me was that the old town isn’t just narrow, crowded streets – there are entire avenues. It wasn’t what I expected at all!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Even so, inside the city walls, the place is tiny and it doesn’t take long to get your bearings and walk pretty much every street. It’s a nice size though; there are lots of side streets to get away from crowds, and it’s quite easy to while away an entire day exploring.

That’s why I’m glad that’s exactly what we did. Our tour had the option of taking a sail boat out to an island; an excuse to get drunk and find a beach. Which isn’t a bad thing to do in Croatia by any means, and if we’d had a couple of days, then sure – but we only had one day in Dubrovnik, and I didn’t want to spend half of that out on the water. Thankfully, my group of girls didn’t fancy that either, and so we spent the day together, wandering and eating and losing ourselves in the narrow streets. It was perfect.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

We started the day with a walking tour; a common theme of our tour, and something I am becoming more and more of a fan of!

It was a great way to find our bearings in the town, and we learned of the history, the effects from the war, and a whole load more, including a bunch of tips that I’m going to reveal in this post. One of my favourite fun facts, that I would never have noticed otherwise?

All the statues of Dubrovnik’s patron saint, St Blaise, hold the city in his hand to protect it.

St Blaise statue holding Dubrovnik, Croatia

I started noticing it everywhere!

After the tour, we left the old town – for about five minutes. It’s easy to forget that there is a lot more to Dubrovnik outside the old town, but to be honest that’s what we wanted to explore, and nothing was enticing us out of it (we thought we might be able to find a cheaper lunch, but absolutely nothing caught our eyes, so we headed back inside).

We were greeted with these views, and it was enough to make us stop for a while.

Port, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Port, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Also, how much of a fairytale does this town gate, Ploce Gate, look like?!

Ploce Gate, Dubrovnik, Croatia

After wandering some alleyways, we picked a place to eat – and I have to concede that it’s the most expensive place I went on the entire trip. I had, erm, some very traditional Croatian food. It’s called… uh… Pad Thai. It was expensive Pad Thai, but it was actually really delicious and certainly hit the spot!

Food done (and a little people-watching), we continued exploring, and although the clouds had rolled in, the rain was holding off.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

That said, it was still the perfect time to get lost in the narrow streets! I must have been so shocked about the wide streets that that’s all I’ve posted photos of so far, but trust me, there are plenty of alley ways, and they are ALL ADORABLE. (So much so that I’m planning an entire photo post of them!)

(Side note: I LOVED all the lanterns! They’re used as shop signs!)

Our walking tour guide had given us some advice for a great view at a bar, which a few of our group took to mean as a replacement for walking the city walls. However, assuming we found the right place, it is not.

Regardless, it does have pretty damn nice views.

Bar with a view, Dubrovnik, Croatia

It would have been nicer if the sun had stayed out, but it was a peaceful escape from the town walls, and completely tucked away – you have to find a small doorway and basically walk through the wall, down some steps!

It’s called Buza bar, and on researching, it looks like there is another one further along the wall. Admittedly, the other one looks like it’s higher up and has a proper terrace, but other than that, I don’t think the views are too dissimilar.

Of course, I took a photo of the only “clue” that anything was through there…

Bar with a view, Dubrovnik, Croatia

We had decided to leave the best til last, if just to beat the crowds: the city walls themselves. (After some more wandering, of course. More cute alleyways? Yes please!)

I will admit, walking the walls is bloody expensive. Considering it has doubled in the past couple of years, the price is now a whopping 200 kuna, or ยฃ25. To put into perspective, that is more expensive than the Tower Of London (which I have never done because I thought it was extortionate!), and verging on the Empire State Building (which I did when it was $18 – the difference is, that’s doubled in ten years, not two!). It is ridiculous, especially seeing as Croatia is overall a pretty cheap country.

But money talks, and with the overtourism problem Dubrovnik has been experiencing, people are still more than happy to pay it. I wouldn’t say I was happy to pay it, but I did hand over my money regardless, because it’s been on my list forever.

I will say it’s still worth doing.

I got some of my favourite photos from the whole trip, and the views were astonishing (I was worried I’d be a bit let down, to be honest!).

We also did it the right way. Our guide had recommended going from one of the entrances away from Pile Gate, the main entrance to the old town. So we started from near the piers instead… and we were the only people there.

As we worked our way up, taking the north side, the views just kept getting better and better and better.

View from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

View from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

View from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Because we’d started in the late afternoon, the cruise ship tourists had left, and you could tell.

Me with the view from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

(Yeah, who expected to see a sports court?! Not me! Question is – what surprises you the most? The ball court or the empty walls?!)

It was perfect!

And because of the time of day, the glow on the buildings started to get pretty special towards the end.

View from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

View from the city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia

What’s also great, and I didn’t realise this, is the ticket also allows you access to the fortress just outside the old town. Fort Lovrijenac may look familiar to Game Of Thrones fans – it’s the Red Keep!

We decided it was worth checking out, and boy, was it ever!

This is where you get THIS VIEW.

Dubrovnik from the fortress, Croatia

It just looks like a fairy tale! If you really don’t want to pay for the city walls or go into the fortress, it’s still worth heading up there as you get this view from the entrance:

Dubrovnik from the fortress, Croatia

Of course, we headed back into town for an ice cream to round the day off – and managed to catch the changing of the guard!

Can you see St Blaise above Pile Gate with Dubrovnik in his hand?

What a way to end our short time in Dubrovnik! We’d only had a day, but it felt like we’d seen a lot; in fact, I’m pretty sure I walked almost every alley and street in (and above!) the old town.

Little did I know that we were about to end the day on an even bigger high. As our bus left the city, I took a quick snap of the glowing sunset through the window, and assumed that would be the last of it.

Nope. We stopped.

HOLY BANANAS.

Sunset over Dubrovnik, Croatia

Now that’s how you end a day!

Dubrovnik is one of my favourite places that I’ve ever photographed. Even when the clouds rolled in, everything was photogenic. Everything was seeped in history, and everything felt like a fairy tale. It was expensive; but equally it’s easy not to spend much money (that Pad Thai filled me up for the rest of the day!) and just soak it all in instead.

It would be nice to spend longer than a day there, especially as so many people don’t. But a day was definitely long enough to fall in love with the place, and I’m really glad that after all my apprehensions, it didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Have you been worried about a destination being overrated? Were you disappointed, or did it live up to the hype?

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Surviving Dubrovnik & Falling In Love With It

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40 thoughts on “Surviving Dubrovnik – And Falling In Love With It

  1. Dubrovnik is beautiful, and I enjoyed my time there, but it’s definitely become a touristy, “fairy tale” kind of spot, as you mentioned in the last few years. I first went in 2006 (and second time in 2018), and it has changed A LOT. Gorgeous as Dubrovnik is, it is also important to be aware that it doesn’t represent the entirety of Croatia and its people. Overall, though, definitely go for the views and sunsets– truly magical!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, that must have been amazing to see it in 2006! I imagine it was a lot different, but was the old town very different? I mean apart from I imagine it was quieter, had the actual place changed much, do you think? I feel like it must have always had fairy tale-esque qualities! But yeah I absolutely need to see more of Croatia. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dubrovnik was definitely different back in 2006. Less tourists, more space to move around in town. Croatia wasn’t a huge, touristy country back then, but now it’s become huge. Really amazing to see the difference in a mere decade!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Holy bananas is right, Dubrovnik looks amazing. I’m in love with it already and I haven’t been there yet. Your pics are awesome. Sounds like such a great place but I worry about the rate it might be growing in popularity like you said. I’ve heard lots of great things about Croatia but this really just adds to that

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes, ยฃ25 is a lot to go round the walls BUT the views do look stunning. Gorgeous sunset shot, too โ˜บ๏ธ I’d love to go to Croatia, but I’m a little wary of places like Dubrovnik which have exploded in popularity. Living in an insanely touristy place (Cambridge) has really put me off crowds, so it’d have to be an off-season trip for me, I think!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean!! Edinburgh is the same. I think it’s especially tough for Dubrovnik because it really is tiny. The rest of Croatia looks amazing though, and I’d love to explore some of the less touristy places. (And yes, the walls are so overpriced!!! But it’s such a must-do, ugh)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At least you get two-in-one (castle plus walls) in Dubrovnik – that makes the steep ticket price more palatable! It’s crazy how attraction prices can increase so much in a relatively short space of time.

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  4. Dubrovnik is one of my most favorite places on Earth. I have been sad to see how crowded it has become, however, I still encourage people to visit. I am glad to see you enjoyed your visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been keen to see Dubrovnik for years but not made it there yet – certainly looks gorgeous. ยฃ25 to walk the walls though?! I just shared that with my parents who visited back in the 1980s when it was part of Yugoslavia and they’re horrified!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dubrovnik is one of those cities that somehow stays on my bucket list, but never quite at the top. Yet, it’s so beautiful. When you say walking the walls, do you mean on the walls, or along the walls? And if it’s along the walls, I am surprised you have to pay for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s walking along the top of the walls. I don’t mind paying because I imagine they’ve got to maintain them, but it’s gone from a token price to extortion.

      Haha I’m exactly the same! In fact, the main reason I ended up going is because Montenegro was at the top of my list! So it made sense to tie in Dubrovnik (and then I ended up going to 7 countries, but that’s another story lol).

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  7. I was just in Dubrovnik in May and absolutely loved it! It is my favorite city in Croatia and somewhere that I can visit many times! I can see why you loved it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I though Dubrovnik was a fun city to wander through. I enjoyed doing the walls even though it was soooooo expensive. Itโ€™s definitely a thing to do once but I donโ€™t feel the need to do it again. You got some awesome sunset pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! I loved just wandering. ๐Ÿ™‚ Always seemed to notice something different. And I’m the same, annoyingly my partner hasn’t been and he really wants to go, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to pay for the walls again!!! Haha. Thank you – that sunset was astonishing!

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  9. Such a great idea to check the cruise ship schedule! Makes so much sense, hahaha! I’ve had Dubrovnik on my bucket list for a while but have been worried about the tourists. I’m so glad to know that it’s possible to visit without it being THAT crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

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