Travelling through Dubrovnik, Croatia
Day 1 – Dubrovnik
We woke up at 3am to get the coach to Stansted. Got some breakfast from the airport and then we both slept practically the whole way on the plane. We have been to the country twice now, once for Outlook festival in 2014 and during our 2015 Europe Road Trip to visit Plitvice National Park. This time our flight took us to Dubrovnik where we start our journey up the coast, we’ve booked to stay in a number of Air B&B’s with a little bit of camping in between before ending up in Outlook Festival in Pula in the north. We finally managed to track down the company Jack had booked our hire car through Active Rent and jumped in our air conditioned Polo. 16 days away and I am very excited to properly explore Croatia.
Upon arriving to our first Air B&B, our host Ana showed us around and then proceeded to give us all the insider tips for our stay in Dubrovnik. This is just the first reason I love staying in Air B&B’s! Why waste your time and money visiting or eating crap when you can get recommendations from someone who lives there! The view from our apartment is to die for and we’re a 20 minute downhill walk from the Old Town Walls.
For £25 off your first Air B&B stay on us, click here.
We freshened up and headed out in search of Barba for lunch; a fish fast food place. We sat on the steps outside and enjoyed our fried calamari and octopus burgers. They also serve a range of fish, mussels and oysters in sandwiches, burgers or fried. The platter for two also looked pretty incredible. It was really nice food and just the first on our list of recommendations. If you’d like to see the whole list of restaurants, check out my post on recommendations for restaurants in Dubrovnik from a local.
The whole of Dubrovnik is built into the cliffs and so you’re permanently walking up and down stairs! When we arrived at the outside or ontop of the Old Walls you just look down into the city which is level at the bottom and then raises higher as you get to the outskirts.
We wandered through the main square down to the harbour which in itself is really pretty, back past the old churches and architecture down Stradun (the main road in Dubrovnik with it’s slippery floors), past the fountain and out towards Pile Gate, one of the other entrances. There was an amazing artist sitting by the fountain where we bought two pieces of work, one of his own and one of a friends. Neither Jack or I are fans on typical souvenirs, but now we own our own house we are starting to collect artwork from different places we visit.
We had been recommended to go and find a cave bar called Buza Bar on the outskirts of the old wall which faces out onto the sea. The bar was built into the cliff just on the outside of the wall and had steps right down to the sea. We grabbed a drink and managed to get a table where we sat for a while laughing at people jumping off the cliffs into the sea and watching the kayakers disappear into the distance.
As the day got cooler we decided to head up onto the city walls and do the full walk around the entire edge of the city. The view from this high up was pretty incredible and there are several little cafe stops along the way. You can see right across the city and harbour from one side, and right out to sea from the other.
For dinner we headed back up the steps to another recommended restaurant called Lady Pipi, aptly named due to the fountain outside the front gate with a statue of a woman peeing. This was our hosts favourite restaurant in Dubrovnik and we were warned that you could queue for quite a while to get in. She wasn’t wrong. An hour and a half later we were in and had ordered a steak and chips and a tuna steak and grilled vegetables. We were seated in the top part of the roof terrace where we could see right across the city, but also watch the chef BBQ all of the fish and prawns on the menu.
After dinner we rolled out of the city walls back to Pile Gate. Ana, our host, had delighted us when she told us that Dubrovnik had Uber. We use Uber all the time at home, so it made our trip amazingly easy. Tourists often get mugged off by taxis, it even happened to us when we were away but Uber means that this absolutely does not happen! We used it numerous times while we were away and if you want a free trip to test it out on us, click here.
We were up early, picked up some food for the bakery and headed to the meeting point for our kayaking trip. This is something we booked beforehand and I specifically chose the one with Adventure Dubrovnik because of the route they take and the reviews they have.
We started from the beach below the Pile Gate where Jack and I put on our life jackets, loaded up our goodies in our waterproof barrels and jumped in our kayak. Neither of us had done this before, we’ve rented a paddle board in both Lake Bled, Slovenia and in Dubai, but this was our first go in a kayak. Along the way we stopped to look back across the Old Walls where our guide Matt (or Help – he did suggest he’d answer to both) gave us lots of insight into Dubrovnik itself and about Croatia fight for independence, something only granted in 1992.
One of our favourite facts was about when the walls where still being built. In order to enter the city, men had to bring with them a boulder the equivalent of their weight and women had to bring an egg. The boulders were used to continue the build and egg was mixed with urine and sand in order to make a paste for the walls. I don’t know how true it is, but it still made us laugh.
Our first stop was a little bay just along the edge of the coast where we had 45 minutes to eat some food, have a swim with the snorkelling equipment provided and generally chill on the beach. The instructor and one of the couples we were with on the tour climbed one of the cliffs and jumped in. Jack quickly decided that he also wanted to join in, got his landing a little bit wrong and, much to my amusement, ended up with huge bruising to the back of the top of his legs over the next few days.
We packed up our boat again and headed towards the Island of Lokrum. This island used to be home to Monks who were then moved when Croatia was taken over Austria. The royal family took it over as a private island; however, prior to them leaving they put a curse on the island. Anyone who stays on the island longer than 2 days is subject to this curse and bad things then start to happen.
My favourite fact about the island is that someone about 3-4 years ago thought it would be funny to take two bunnies over on the boat and leave them there. There are now hundreds of bunnies running around the island along with peacocks. We were looking for something to do tomorrow as I hadn’t made a plan, so this was then sorted. Any island full of bunnies has definitely got to be worth a visit.
We made a second stop by another cave before heading all the way round the rest of the island and crossed the open sea back towards where we started. It was a really cool trip and we were both exhausted when we got back to the Air B&B.
In the evening we headed up to the highest point to watch the sunset. You can get a cable car up but as Jack and I had the car we thought we’d drive up and just park up somewhere to save the money. We sat up there for about an hour and a half watching all the lights come on around the city and you can see for miles across a number of the islands to the north which was pretty cool.
We headed back down to another recommended restaurant called Taj Mahal which served traditional Bosnian food. They have two restaurants, one inside the walls and one on the outside which is the one we went to. We quickly learnt in Croatia that if you book ahead of time (even if it’s a few hours) they will reserve you a table with the best view, if you don’t you’re normally placed on a table inside. I ordered cevapi in bread served with cream cheese and onion, these are the minced sausages that we fell in love with in Slovenia. Jack ordered a traditional beef stew with veg, both of which were really nice and we treated ourselves to a baklava for pudding to share.
We had a nice lie in and had bought some pastry from the supermarket for breakfast at home, where we sat out on the terrace and enjoyed the view.
We packed up a bag and headed into town grabbing a sandwich and jumped on the boat to the island of Lokrum, the island we kayaked round yesterday. You can get the boat from the harbour inside the walls of Dubrovnik, just head past all of the tourist touts. Anything filled with bunnies has got to be visited and we knew due to the fact we live with two of them, that you’d have to wait until dusk to see the true amount of bunnies there were on the island. The peacocks however were wandering round all day, some with tiny tiny little chicks. It was just all a bit bizarre.
We headed up to the highest point (obviously) in the midday heat (stupid) to admire the view across the island and back towards Dubrovnik. After that we generally wandered around, saw the donkeys chasing the bunnies away from their hay and went back down to the beach in search of ice cream. We chilled out for the rest of the afternoon by the sea until about 6pm when the bunnies came out to play in full force! There were hundreds of them in various different colours and sizes and I wanted to steal them all.
Back in Dubrovnik we headed home to change and watch the sunset from our balcony.
For dinner Jack had booked us a table at Horizont. This was the only restaurant we ate at that wasn’t recommended by our host, but one we would definitely recommend. It sits just outside one of the main gates into the old town and the seating is on the steps down towards the gate, providing great exercise for the servers. Here I ordered the lamb with diced veg and Jack ordered the sea bass. Jack was more jealous of mine, but both were nice. We both ordered the chocolate lava cake, which according to our waiter is the best invention in the world, I have to say that I might agree.
I hope you enjoyed my post of travelling through Dubrovnik, Croatia. To read more about my Croatia Road Trip, click here.