Croatia has been the up and coming destination for a new wave of travelers. After heavily suffering the destruction of the Croatian War for Independence in 1991-1995 this now thriving nation has been rebuilt. One of the most popular places to visit is Dubrovnik, a true paradise hidden beside the sea.
This is where I started my journey in Croatia, this city on one of the most southern coasts of the country. While Dubrovnik is slightly larger with outlying suburbs of locals, the walled in Old City is the tourist location. This city has recently skyrocketed in popularity for one very simple reason… Game of Thrones. Yes, Dubrovnik is one of the filming locations for the popular TV show! You can go on a walking tour that will take you to all of the spectacular sights they have used in the real life King's Landing. Some of them might be completely unrecognizable without any CGI so tours can help you spot them. To all of those who don't have much interest in the show, have no fear because there is still a lot to do and see.
Still From Game of Thrones & Photo by Jenny Hamren
The Old City inside of the wall is quite small and you will notice an incredible difference in crowds depending on the presence or absence of any cruise ships. The first thing to do is go walk around the entire city on top of the wall. There are a few locations to get up there and from up high you can see every building and out to sea. If you are lucky enough to be there without a crowd then do yourself a favor and explore by foot. These narrow streets, hidden alleyways, and steep staircases don't allow for cars. Pedestrians rule and there are so many little side streets to see. There are ancient churches, a 14th century fountain, outdoor markets, wide stone paved streets, and all of this is easy to see in a short period of time.
Photos By Jenny Hamren
Within the walls is a bustling tourist scene full of restaurants and bars. If you want to stay up late then the main plaza will be your favorite spot. Dubrovnik is a popular destination for young Europeans looking for a getaway because airfare is so cheap between Croatia and mainland Europe. Among the many restaurants you can find some serving traditional Croatian and Bosnian cuisine. I mean we all travel so we can eat new foods, right?! For a real treat, find the door hidden on the city wall that leads just beyond to a joined bar and cliff diving spot.
Outside the walls lies the rest of the city up and down the coast, the harbor, and small island. The sea is so clear that you can see the ocean floor many feet down below. In the shadows of the walls are the tiny beaches that are a popular spot. There is no sand but pavement over the jagged rocks that form the coast. Ladders have been built into the sides and you can enjoy the cool refreshing salt water for as long as you'd like. Showers are built into the sides of the wall so you can wash off if you need. If you are looking for beaches a little less city centered then take a short trip to the island across the way or along the coast to local beaches. Kayaking is a popular activity for those who want to get out on the water!
Photo By Jenny Hamren
Dubrovnik is becoming more steadily a tourist destination. A Disneyland amongst the picturesque buildings, instead of the ancient small community it once was. If you want to see the real Dubrovnik then go and stay there for a few days. Let the cruise ships come and go and talk to the locals, the people who don't leave with the crowds. You'll be amazed to hear their stories of life in the city, of surviving the horrible months long bombardment of the city that saw so many people evacuated in their war for independence, and the rebirth of their country in recent years. The locals are strong and kind, and they do Dubrovnik proud.