Hotel: Rixos Libertas
Hello everyone! It’s been a HOT MINUTE since I’ve been on a trip away, but I’m pleased to say that I have recently returned from not one, but three, international excursions. Today, I am here to tell you all about my recent trip to Croatia. Croatia’s reputation as an amazing holiday destination has been steadily building over the past 5 years and so my visit in 2016 felt long overdue. Not only does it have a better climate than a lot of Europe, it has islands, beaches and a hell of a lot of history! It is also the home of Game of Thrones, if you’re into that kind of thing.
So without further ado, let’s get into what there is to see, do and eat in this beautiful city.
Things to do
- Walking tour
These tours are being advertised everywhere in Dubrovnik, in fact you can’t really walk down the road without being asked whether you want to take a tour. They’re fairly inexpensive at 90 Kuna and last around 1.5 hours. I have always found tours to be the best thing to do when you first arrive in a new place because it gives you a great background into the history of a country and the significance of the landmarks.
During the tour we learnt all about the war that had taken place across this region during the 1990’s and you could tell it was still incredibly raw for a lot of people. Dubrovnik is still scarred by the bullets and shells which hit its buildings, and a lot of renovation is taking place to repair everything. Our guide told us how the war had affected her personally when she was young, with neighbours coming to her house to hide in their basement while the bombs fell. People were naturally very interested in this, as it is not often you can speak to a survivor of a historical war who is still in their 30’s.
Our guide also told us about the patron saint and protector of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise. This man had predicted the attack of the Venetians after seeing it in a dream and as a result, the city was successfully able to defend itself. There is now a church dedicated to St. Blaise in the middle of the city, and you can see statues of him all over the place.
- The City Walls
These walls are now a UNESCO world heritage site and were originally built in the Middle Ages to act as protection against invading forces. It costs 120 Kuna to enter the walls of the Old City and after this point, it takes between 1-2 hours to walk all around them.
The walls turned the Old City into a fortress with only 2 entrances on either side, Pile gate and Ploce gate. These gates have drawbridges to seal the city shut. This walk gives you great views of both land and sea, and it is especially charming to see the rows and rows of terracotta tiled roofs across the town.
- Sea kayaking
I normally try to avoid anything which will involve me potentially falling into the sea, but after recommendations from two different people, I thought it was probably worth a try. The sea is very calm and so the first thing to point out is that the chances of you falling in are highly unlikely, unless you’re doing something stupid.
The tour goes all around Lokrum island, with a stop every 20 minutes or so for some history. It is tiring work but you can go at your own pace and there is always an instructor close by if you run into any trouble. Halfway through, we went into a beach cave and people were then able to go snorkelling or cliff diving if they wanted to.
On the way we were also shown the most expensive villa in Europe which is only hired out by celebrities willing to pay €7,000 a night. Apparently, the footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic hired this place out for a month but only turned up for 4 days and left the bell boy a €5,000 tip! Other famous guests have been Johnny Depp, Beyoncé, Jay Z and Rihanna.
It costs 240 Kuna for a 3 hour trip and this includes all of the equipment, a bottle of water and a small sandwich. You can take all of your belongings with you in the kayak and these are put into waterproof barrels for safekeeping. This was a really fun way to spend an afternoon and see Dubrovnik from a different angle, so I would recommend incorporating it into your trip if you can.
- Buggy safari
Alongside the sea kayaking, this seems to be one of the most popular activities to do in Dubrovnik. It costs 240 Kuna per person and lasts for approximately 45 minutes. You do stop a couple of times so that the tour guide can explain about the area and so there is an opportunity for each person to drive if they wanted to.
Be warned! We did this just before heading back to the airport, not knowing that we would be literally COATED in dirt by the end of the experience. You don’t need to have a driving license with you, but you obviously do need to be able to drive otherwise you may see yourself accelerating off the top of the cliff.
Granted, this isn’t an activity that’s exactly unique to Dubrovnik but it is fun, messy, high speed and worth it for the views from the top.
- Cable car
A trip in Dubrovnik’s famous cable car costs 120 Kuna per person, which was in my opinion, a total waste of money. The view you got from the top was nice but the cable car ride lasted a minute at most and there was nothing much to do once you reached the top.
- A day trip out of Dubrovnik
There are a multitude of day trips you can make from Dubrovnik, such as to neighbouring Bosnia or Montenegro. There are also trips to the Elaphite islands available by boat. I chose to take a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia, which you can read about in a blog post coming very soon!
- Boat trips
There are many different trips on offer from Dubrovnik’s harbour area, but I chose a one hour trip which went all around Lokrum island. This unfortunately had no commentary, but it was a useful way to spend the sunshine hours and cost only €10 per person.
Things to eat
Being a harbour town, Dubrovnik is naturally very famous for its seafood. While I would recommend that you indulge in as much of this as possible (especially the monkfish), I would also suggest the following:
In whatever flavour, this is always a winner. I had both prawn tail and squid ink risotto during my trip and the combination of fishy flavours with that comforting sticky rice was always delicious.
- Burek & fruit pastries
Available at all bakeries around the city, burek is a made up of thin layers of flaky filo pastry and filled with soft cheese or meat. Extremely filling and entirely delicious.
I have never seen such delicious and cheaply sold gelato in any country I’ve visited. Only 10 Kuna for a massive scoop and available in any flavour you can think of, this is sure to take the edge off the Croatian heat in summer time. My flavour recommendation is coconut!
Check out the slideshow below to see some of my food highlights from the trip.
Other Croatian culinary delights include their love for truffle, figs and fuzi pasta, so be sure to give these a try if you’re in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik really is the perfect holiday destination, because there is something for everyone. I look forward to returning to Croatia soon to explore some of its other cities and would definitely encourage everyone to visit before the place becomes too overrun with tourists.
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji