View of Dubrovnik from Fort Lovrijenac

Rediscovering the Joys of Travel and Visiting Dubrovnik

On our first evening in Croatia I stopped to watch the sun from our balcony, and as it sunk towards the black mountains on the horizon, I tried to remember the last time I’d paused to watch this everyday ritual. For me, sunsets and sunrises are entwined with travel. In my ‘ordinary’ life back in the UK I rarely took notice of the sun’s daily rounds, it was travel that made me stop and look properly at the world, inspired me to hike up hills or seek out special spots to witness this simple beauty.

Sunset over Dubrovnik

As orange stained the sky that evening, I watched a cruise ship cut its way towards the sinking sun and felt, for the first time in a long while, truly grateful for the simple joys of travel and the freedom Andrew and I have in our lives. I hadn’t visited a brand-new country since Taiwan in 2014, so being in Croatia felt like a new adventure, one I was excited to begin by exploring one of the country’s most famous treasures: Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik's historic Old Town

Visiting Dubrovnik

From our hill-top hostel overlooking the Adriatic Sea, it was a calf-busting half an hour walk down steep stone steps to Pile Gate, the grand entrance to Dubrovnik Old Town. Tall turrets and watch towers poked out periodically from the thick grey walls which wrap around the town and its seaport, acting as protection against invaders in centuries past. Dubrovnik’s most recent battle was in 1991 during Croatia’s struggle for independence; the town was attacked by the Yugoslavian army and suffered a seven-month siege which killed over 100 people.

Church of Saint Blaise, Dubrovnik

Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik

Today, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations, packed with ancient churches, palaces and monasteries. The Old Town has also been used as a film set for Star Wars and Game of Thrones, which has spurred themed tours. The pale stone paving has been worn slippery smooth by years of constant footfall; narrow steep alleys branch off from the wide main street and everywhere you look there are ice-cream parlours, terraced restaurants, souvenir shops, tour agencies, buskers dressed in period costumes and an ever-churning sea of visitors.

Visiting Dubrovnik's Main Street

Dubrovnik Old Town Streets

On the other side of the Old Town boats rest calmly in Dubrovnik Port, floating on water clear enough to reveal the rocks on the seabed below. Day-trippers line up on the pier to take excursions to nearby islands while others file along the city walls above or take a ride on the cable car up to Fort Imperial overlooking Dubrovnik, a popular panoramic viewpoint.

Dubrovnik Old Town's Port

What to See in Dubrovnik

We had just two full days to explore Dubrovnik, so we started by walking the city walls early one morning. The 120 Croatian Kuna (£12) entrance fee is used to preserve and restore the 1.2 mile stretch of thick snaking wall, its many steep flights of steps, towers and turrets. We spent two hours making our way slowly around the walls, taking a million photos of the Old Town below with its red-tiled roof tops, church spires and bustling, winding streets. On the east side we were able to look out over the sea to nearby Lokrum island.

Dubrovnik Old Town Walls

View of Dubrovnik Old Town and Lokrum Island

The ticket for the city walls also granted us access to Lovrijenac Fort, which lies just outside the Old Town and provides fantastic views of the city. We spent the rest of the afternoon on a bench overlooking one of Dubrovnik’s stony beaches with cheese pastries and cherry strudel from one of the Croatian bakeries we quickly fell in love with.

Dubrovnik and Lovrijenac Fort

That evening, rather than pay 120kn (£12) each for an eight-minute round trip on the cable car up to the panoramic view point, we caught a number 17 bus to Bosanka for just 14kn (£1.40) per person. It took around half an hour to walk from this tiny village to the viewpoint at the top of the mountain; on the way we passed a group of grazing goats and a billboard displaying photos of Bosanka after it was virtually burned to the ground during the war in the 90s. Although the evening had turned cloudy and cold, we took in the views of Dubrovnik spread below us before making the hour-long descent down a rocky, zig-zag path – I don’t recommend this in flip-flops.

View of Dubrovnik from Fort Imperial

There are plenty of day trips in Dubrovnik you can take; tour reps crowd around the entrances of the Old Town selling popular boat trips to the surrounding islands and sea kayaking experiences. Andrew and I considered buying a Dubrovnik tourist card, which gives you access to some of the city’s famous buildings including the Rector’s Palace and St Saviour Church, but in the end we were content to spend the last of our time in Dubrovnik simply wandering the grid-like streets, trying out a few restaurants (Nishta was our favourite vegetarian pick), sitting in the port and sampling different flavours of ice cream.

Us sampling Dubrovnik's delicious ice cream

We left Dubrovnik on the third morning of our Croatian adventure on a bus bound for Split, the base from which we planned to island-hop and explore more of the stunning Dalmatian coast.

Visiting Dubrovnik Pinterest

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Have you visited Dubrovnik, what did you make of it?

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 14:22h, 17 June Reply

    Amy it is lovely to see you have your travel mojo back and you are so right about how sunsets bring back memories of past travels and we seldom notice a nice sunset in our everyday lives. I have been to Dubrovnik and Split few years ago, but just for few hours. The two cities were ports of call on our Mediterranean cruise. I hope to go back to Croatia one day, since I was not able to see much of it’s treasures. I am looking forward to find out what you and Andrew are going to get up to there?

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:13h, 18 June Reply

      Thanks Gilda, I’m glad I got my travel mojo back too 🙂 Croatia has been great to us so far and I have many more adventures to share with you about our time here. I hope you make it back to Croatia one day.

  • Patti
    Posted at 20:09h, 18 June Reply

    Abi and I need to visit Croatia. I have read so many posts and seen so many beautiful photos, it’s crazy. It’s like the place to go! One day, hopefully. There are so many choices in the world! 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:01h, 19 June Reply

      Yes, Croatia does seem to be quite trendy at the moment! It really is beautiful here, I think you guys would love it 🙂

  • DLR
    Posted at 20:26h, 18 June Reply

    I’d love to visit Croatia one day. I went to Yugoslavia in 1989, but have no recollection of the town I stayed in (it was a bus tour from Germany). I often wonder what country that would be now. Love your pictures and your descriptions.

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:02h, 19 June Reply

      Thanks very much Donna, glad this brought back memories for you. It would be so interesting to return after all that time to see how things have changed.

  • Victoria@ The British Berliner
    Posted at 06:36h, 22 June Reply

    You’re on the move for interesting adaventures. And I can “hear” it in the tone of your writing! Asia here we coooooooome!

    I haven’t yet visited Dubrovnik or Croatia! I thought about it for the summer, but we’re travelling by train for a weekend (That’s our Summer Challenge), and it would be such a waste for such a short period of time, as we’re not allowed to fly lol!

    Have fun!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:52h, 23 June Reply

      Thanks Victoria, we have loved Croatia and have just a week to go now until we head on to exciting adventures in Budapest, Bratislava and Prague. What a great summer challenge, I look forward to hearing more about it!

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 00:56h, 05 July Reply

    Croatia is such a hot spot now.I have Croation friends and said the islands are more of a subtropical look with brilliant blue crystal clear waters, but you must wear shoes as the beaches have pebbles which can cut your feet .The buildings in your photos have alot of character and look fantastic Croatia is Awesome.Keep up your wonderful adventures ,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:05h, 06 July Reply

      Hi Louisa, yes I’d definitely agree with your friends about the islands, the sea is a beautiful colour but you really have to be careful with your feet 🙂
      Thanks for reading.

  • Garth
    Posted at 20:03h, 17 October Reply

    Dubrovnik and croatia for that matter look wonderful. Enjoyed reading your post, great tips! thanks for sharing

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:05h, 18 October Reply

      Hi Garth, thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you enjoyed 🙂 We would love to go back to Croatia, it was lovely: beautiful scenery, lovely people, history, architecture and loads of amazing food!

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