Ariana is a 27-year-old travel blogger from Australia originating from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a charming country bordering with Croatia. On her blog The Bosnian Aussie she writes about rediscovering her roots and portraying the beauties of this wonderful country that yet needs to be discovered by world travellers. Ariana holds a special place in her heart for our gorgeous Dubrovnik, so she generously agreed to write a short guide on this lovely Dalmatian town, offering practical advice for anyone travelling to Dubrovnik!
Upon his visit to Dubrovnik in 1929, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “If you want to see heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik”. Often called the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, or “Kings Landing” for all you Game Of Thrones fanatics, is postcard perfect with its terracotta orange roofs, cobble stone narrow streets and its famous city walls.
During the summer months it can get very crowded, especially because so many cruise ships do half day tours. My advice is to explore the town in the afternoon, the sun is still up but not as strong, the crowds are less and it’s mostly locals enjoying the end of their day. It really is just the same in the afternoon – without all the tourists.
I may not remember it now, but as a baby I spent every weekend in Dubrovnik. My mum spent every school summer holiday there as well as a kid. I was born in Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina, which is about 30km from Dubrovnik.
Though my visits to this gorgeous city have always been short, and always a mix of sightseeing + family visits, this summer I am spending 3 weeks in Croatia, with a week in Dubrovnik. This way I will get more of a local experience rather than just visit the touristy hot spots.
Whilst in Dubrovnik be sure to check out the following places and things, I personally have done myself and would recommend.
Gruz, the port of Dubrovnik, is what you first will see when you arrive in Dubrovnik, either by cruise ship or bus. I spent a lot of time here as i still have family in this part of Dubrovnik. Nearby you can find grocery stores, a market, car rental agencies and a tourist office. If you wanted to visit neighbouring islands such as Mljet and Elaphiti, the boats leave from the harbour in Gruz. As its where buses and boats leave from and arrive in, Gruz is a great place to stay – only takes a short bus trip into the old town!
No visit to Dubrovnik would be complete without a visit to the Old City Walls. It is the most popular thing to see in Dubrovnik. And for a good reason! Not only does it enable to see the whole town from above, and walk where once upon a time guards who defended the city walked upon, Game of Thrones fans will notice Kings Landing as well as several shooting locations. As it can get VERY hot and busy during summer, it is best to climb the walls either in the morning, or afternoon. TIP: Go in the morning, be the first one there, and gives you more of photo opportunities without too many photo bombers!
The total length of the walls is around 2KM – a great way to burn off those extra calories eating all the delicious Croatian food. From the sea you can enjoy amazing views of the you crystal clear Adriatic Sea and the nearby island of Lokrum, about 600 metres off the coast of Dubrovnik.
Stradun is the main street in the old town where there is plenty to eat, see and do, and the narrow streets are lined with coffee shops, ice cream vendors, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
No need to buy water bottles in the old town. Bring your own bottle and fill up at the fountains at either end of Stadun. The Big Onofrio’s Fountain was built from 1438 to 1440, and the small fountain was built in the period from 1440 to 1442.
Be sure to check out The Rectors Palace. Now a Cultural History Museum, this palace was built in the late 15th century for the elected rector who governed Dubrovnik, The Orlando Column built in the 1400’s (According to the legend, Orlando the Knight and his fleet saved Dubrovnik from a fifteen month long siege), The City Bell Tower, originally built in 1444, started leaning like the Tower Of Pisa after an earthqake in 1667. It was demolished in 1929 and replaced by a new one using the same design. There are several churches including Dubrovnik cathedral, The Jewish synagogue and the Islamic Mosque worth checking out.
There are many beaches in Dubrovnik; it’s called the Pearl after all! Banje Beach is the closest to the Old Town, therefore most popular, and in summer can get very busy. Swim in the crystal blue Adriatic water, enjoy a cocktail at the East West beach club, and if you are experienced and brave enough – jump off the rocky cliffs into the water!
Lapad and Babin Kuk are also great places to enjoy the water. Lapad Bay has a long boulevard where you can enjoy a drink or a coffee, whereas Copacabana beach in Babin Kuk offers activities such as jet skis, parachute boat rides and sea slide chutes for the kids.
On my first trip back home to Bosnia in 2013, twenty years after I had left, my mother and I visited family in Dubrovnik. What I didn’t know when I first got there, is that I arrived on the busiest day of the summer season. Five cruise ships docked in that morning from Italy. Thousands upon thousands of tourists flooded the streets. Being the claustrophobic person I am, I opted for an escape from the crowds – at least for an hour. There were so many boats doing loops around the city walls but I loved one in particular. It looked like a pirate ship, and was less than $20 for 50 minutes of cruising around the city walls. The moment I could take my Nikes off (bad choice for a hot day), and just sit on the deck enjoying the sun, was a moment of bliss. And the views were incredible!
When I visited Dubrovnik in 2014 with my fiancé, we decided to do kayaking. There are several agencies offering kayak tours around the city and to a secluded beach nearby, but we chose one that was well known and most trusted. The guys and girls selling the tours wore stripped white and black shirts. It cost us $45 for 3 hours of kayaking (kayak, life jackets and water proof barrels included) + snorkelling at the secluded beach then free lunch (sandwich or fruit). As I have never done kayaking before I found it well worth the price, and would do it again
Travel Blogger, The Bosnian Aussie