When you hear of the city “Dubrovnik”, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” comes to mind. It’s true, Dubrovnik, Croatia tourism has boomed ever since GOT premiered the gorgeous White City of “King’s Landing”, but Dubrovnik is a beautiful city with friendly people and a storied past that goes beyond the Emmy Award Winning Drama.
I was fortunate enough to visit Dubrovnik this past May for my sister’s wedding and wanted to share all the hot spots for those of you traveling to this wonderful city. I’ll show you the best food, bars, gelato, tours, views, photo opps, and more!!
Flight / Airline
When I booked, there were no direct flights to Dubrovnik. I flew economy from Boston, Ma, USA to Dubrovnik, Croatia with a layover in Dublin via AerLingus and It. Was. Fabulous. I was anxious about fitting all my clothes, plus my bridesmaid dress, in a small carry-on but luckily I didn’t need to. AerLingus gives you ONE FREE CHECKED BAG, ONE FREE CARRY-ON AND ONE FREE PERSONAL ITEM. Thats right. Additionally, they had free new movies and were super friendly. My flight only cost $700 roundtrip. 10/10 would recommend. Pro tip: just book at least a few months in advance and in an incognito window.
Pro tip: request Kuna (the Croatian currency) from your bank at least 48 hours prior to traveling. I was misinformed & told Euros (EU currency) were interchangeably used in Croatia. They are not FYI. Most businesses in Dubrovnik are local, small businesses and do not accept Euro because they lose money in the exchange. So when you get to Old Town & see that a cocktail is 75 kn, don’t have a heart attack–that equates to ~$12 USD. If you get stuck with Euros like me or only bring US dollars, there are plenty of places to exchange currency but you will be at the mercy of the exchange rate & fees that day.
Whenever you are going to foreign country, you should learn a few words or key phrases. Not only will it improve the quality of service you receive, but it will start conversations & improve your overall experience as a tourist. Here are a few key words/phrases I was taught by Croatians:
Thank you : Hvala
Please / Response to “Thank You”: Molim
Your City is Beautiful: vaš grad je lijep
Attractions / Tours / Photo Opps
He gave my brother, sister, boyfriend, sister’s boyfriend and myself a custom tour. He asked me what I like, I said: GOT, Film, History, Culture, Food & authentic, one-of-a-kind experiences you cannot get anywhere else”. He customized the tour to include all this and more. He spent FOUR HOURS with us. AND we saw him at one of the local spots he recommended days later & we drank coffee & chit-chatted about life. I cannot recommend him enough!
Ana is the founder of Hello Dubrovnik and she is just as adorable as her IG photos. As a Dubrovnik native, she has connects to all the local brands, products & services to customers like me & you. She gave me custom recs for food, shopping, tours & photo opps. She’s the one who recommended Ivan (mentioned above). She even offered to set up reservations FOR ME at spots that were booked for months. She’s a gem! Im not even going to give you all the recs she gave me because you will just have to ask her yourself. Trust me, you wont regret it!!
Dubrovnik City Walls
The one thing everyone will recommend is walking the city walls. Old Town Dubrovnik is enclosed by a fortress of walls you can walk along to view the expansive city & coast. The photo to the left here was taken when it started randomly pouring about 5 minutes into our walk. Though, I gladly got soaked to catch a glimpse of these breathtaking views.
I bought tickets in the square for 200 kn (~$50 USD) so I don’t have a great, reliable rec for money saves here. It seems this is pretty standard in my research although you may be able to save a few bucks on websites I cannot personally vouch for. Most of the photos I took of Dubrovnik were taken on this self-guided tour. You can get a tour guide but I highly recommend booking Ivan (mentioned above) separate within the city walls and just enjoying the city wall views without a tour guide. DISCLAIMER: once you get on the wall, you cannot leave & go back. Your admission ticket is only valid once you enter the gates & is rendered void as soon as you leave.
Take a cruise in this gorgeous sea beast called the Galleon Tirena. I was fortunate enough to ride for free since it was part of my sister’s wedding package but for ~50 Euro, this sail is fully worth it. As a social media content creator, this cruise is certifiably ‘grammable. Check out some scene pics captured by moi (and a professional wedding photographer) .
Either before you board the Galleon or after you return to port, walk around the port & the surrounding walls. It has the most gorgeous views of the city. Best of all, its free to look & take ‘grammable pics. But dont take my word for it, look:
Sponza Palace is such a gorgeous building with a ton of history. It has withstood hundreds of years, fires & earthquakes and still maintains its beauty. Definetely worth a quick visit. Pro tip: Go in & look up then go upstairs to look down. Its breathtaking arcs & open ceiling will leave you swooning.
This jewelry store is unlike any other. There are two storefronts right across the ally from one another; one is commercial & the other is more demo/high end. Coral is a very rare commodity & a Croatian specialty.
I went here twice. TWICE. Once on my tour with Ivan (mentioned above) & once with my mom–who is a professional jeweler. Her & the lead jeweler talked about coral & precious stones for over an hour. He even gave her his personal email to stay in touch. I guess there are not a lot of coral enthusiasts & I can see why: it’s so rare that it’s authentic. I will let them explain the process to you but spoiler alert: its fascinating. Even if you are not a jeweler, like me. Mark my words: I will be back here when I get rich & famous to wear one of their gorgeous coral pieces.
Food / Drink
Hands down, Konoba Dubrava is the best meal I had in Croatia and perhaps in my life….and if you knew me, you would know I would NEVER say that lightly. Disclaimer: this place is not best fit for vegetarians, nor is most of Dubrovnik since their specialty is Octopus & all things seafood.
We ordered the ribeye, the octopus, grilled chicken, chicken wings, french fries, salad & lots of Croatian red wine. If you don’t go with a hungry army like I did and could only order one thing, I would HIGHLY recommend the octopus. It changed my life. The wait staff was amazing & made excellent recommendations! One drawback: it sits on top of a windy mountain so be sure to buckle up in your Uber 😉
This oddly named restaurant had one of the best views of Dubrovnik plus delicious, reasonably priced food. It’s named after a fountain of a woman with water coming out of her lady bits. I kid you not. You would think this place would be packed but its steep hike up hundreds of stairs just outside the walls borders deters most. Pro tip: wear sneakers!
I happened upon Lady Pi Pi by accident. I was on a mission to find an authentic, hole-in-the-wall spot with a good view. I climbed up hundreds of stairs toward the walls that enclose the city and when I got to the top / the wall border, there it was. Nestled just outside the wall, with an ivy-covered pergola & the best views of the city outside the wall tour, Lady Pi Pi is a MUST. Be ready to climb but what a way to burn off that free bread basket 😉
This was my favorite place to get a glass of wine. Not only did they give us a flight of wine to taste, but their Australian-Croatian sommelier explained his excursions to find each fine wine in great detail. If you love wine as much as I do, this is a must. Get a wine tasting flight & sit outside. You’re welcome.
After you get wine drunk at D’Vino’s, save your table & send someone right across the ally to Glam Cafe for lattes & craft beers. The man who works here loves nerding out about craft beers from all over. He came over to give my boyfriend (a craft beer enthusiast) a sip of a rare craft beer he himself was saving for such an occasion. Croatian people are truly the kindest & most generous people. Bonus points: if you have ever been to or heard of Treehouse Brewery –mention it to him. He is OBSESSED with their beer. Massachusetts is internationally known for its beer 😉 Yes thats their sticker on my fridge.
You cant do to Europe & not get Gelato. It’s sacrilegious. I went to two Gelato spots, one touristy one & one authentic one. Which one did I prefer? The authentic one obvs: Dolce Vita. They have amazing flavors but you have to get their namesake flavor: Dolce Vita.
Want the ‘grammable, gimmicky experience? I don’t blame you. Hell, thats why I went to the alternative spot: Peppino’s. I got their GOT themed flavor. It was super delicious, albeit not as authentic gelato as Dolce Vita but totally worth it for the ‘gram. Check it out:
Phew!! That was a lot, I know. And believe it or not, I left out a TON. There were two whole days of festivities I didn’t include among countless other gems that just didn’t make the cut as the BEST of Dubrovnik. There are quite a few expiditions I was unable to enjoy but were recommended, like cave diving, kayaking, etc. But that will have to wait till next time. Hope this was helpful!
xo, Tina Bell