Surrounded by the world-famous city walls and the clearest water imaginable, Dubrovnik is a dream. Welcoming over a million tourist in 2017 alone, Croatia is in full tourist bloom which means I simply had to go to see for myself what the fuss is about. Towering over the perfectly clear turquoise water of the Adriatic and framed by golden walls, Dubrovnik has become the newest jewel of the Mediterranean and is fast-tracking southern Croatia in becoming one of the most popular holiday spots this summer. To make the most of your time in Dubrovnik, make sure you do these 5 things:
1. Live on the streets
Be sure to pack your walking shoes when visiting Dubrovnik as the entire Old Town is a pedestrian-only zone. With a grand total of 4 343 steps just within the Old Town, the city will have you working up a sweat in no time. Being on foot is however the best way to experience Dubrovnik and walking through the small streets lined with shops and cafes really shows off the city’s best assets. The main street, Stradun, runs a 300m straight line through the Old Town and is paved with polished limestone, making it one of the most beautiful streets in Europe.
What you should do:
I highly recommend walking the Stradun at sunset when the entire street is flooded in gold. The popular Banje Beach is only a 15 minutes’ walk from the Old Town and strolling through the Old Port at dusk is as romantic as it gets.
2. Climb the walls
Adding another 1 080 steps to Dubrovnik is the world-famous city walls that enclose the Old Town. The series of defensive stone walls joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. Never breached by any army, the walls are considered a marvel of the Middle Ages and today it is one of Dubrovnik’s main tourist attractions. Starting from the Pile Gate, steep steps lead you up onto a piece of working history. Up to 25 meters high in some areas, climbing the walls offers magical views over the entire Old Town as well as the glistening Adriatic below.
What you should know:
Climbing the walls of Dubrovnik cost 150kn per person and the entire walk takes 2-3 hours, depending on how often you stop for photos. During the summer months I highly recommend climbing the walls as late as possible. The heat is unbearable and there is little to no shade to hide from the sun. Cruise ships dock in port during the day, so going later will also help you avoid the crowds.
3. Have drinks with a view
No bar in Dubrovnik comes close to Buza Bar. Hanging onto the city walls for dear life, the bar has one of the best views over the Adriatic at sunset. Not only is Buza Bar probably the most Instagrammable bar in Dubrovnik, it also has a great vibe and drinks are good and reasonably priced.
What you should drink:
Order the frozen strawberry margarita. It is absolutely delicious and everything you want a cocktail to be when watching the sun go down.
4. Eat for your life
With an uncountable number of restaurants in the Old Town, Dubrovnik offers something for every type of taste. Ice creams, local lavender sweets and fig cakes are everywhere you look. Seafood is in abundance and traditional meats and dishes make up for all calories lost on the city’s steps.
What you should eat:
Even if you do nothing else in Dubrovnik, go to Mea Culpa Pizzeria-Trattoria and order the Frutti di mare pizza. Smothered in tomatoes, cheese, garlic, shrimps and shellfish of all sorts, it might just be the best pizza I have ever had.
5. Find an escape
With much to do, see and eat, the city is bustling to the brim and finding a quiet place to relax can be a challenge. But if you are willing to venture out of the Old Town, pristine beaches and lush green islands will be your reward.
Less than 3km of comfortable walking from the Old Town will lead you to a small piece of paradise. 151 steep steps lead you from the cliffside with gorgeous views over the Adriatic to Stevi Jakov – Dubrovnik’s best kept secret. With a large white pebble beach with warm turquoise water lapping at its shores and a cheap restaurant for beers and burgers, visiting Sveti Jakov is an absolute must. On top of that the swimming is also fantastic. In summer the water is warm and clear with visibility around 15 meters and almost no current, making it the perfect location for a refreshing dip or a long swim way out into the bay. The beach rarely gets crowded and with an unobstructed view of Dubrovnik and its golden walls as well as the lush green Lokrum Island, Sveti Jakov is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun.
How you should get there:
From the Ploce Gate in the Old Town, walk along Ulica Frana Supila and then Ulica Vlaha Bukovca that both run parallel to the sea. Upon reaching the Sveti Jakov church, walk around it and take the steps behind the church down to the beach. Remember that what goes down must go up again and battling the steps back up after a day of sea and sun will surely leave you breathless.