Whenever anyone asks my favorite place to visit in Europe there’s one place that’s always at the top of my list: Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Located across the Adriatic sea from Italy, it has so much to offer with amazing scenery, plenty of culture and a fascinating history. The crown jewel of Croatia is the walled city of Dubrovnik. It’s a place like no other city in the world.
My husband Sean and I spent three days in Dubrovnik before heading to the Island paradise of Hvar. This was plenty of time for us to experience Dubrovnik and even fit in an awesome day trip to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The highlights of our time in Dubrovnik include:
- Walking the Old Town walls – if you do one thing in Dubrovnik, you must walk the walls around the old town. This was my second time visiting Dubrovnik and walking the walls – it was just as amazing as the first time.
- Taking the Cable Car to the top of a Srd Hill where we were spoiled with the most stunning views of the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea.
- Wandering around the Old Town and getting lost in its narrow streets, doing some souvenir shopping and trying some amazing restaurants!
The old town of Dubrovnik is enclosed by 1.94 km (1.2 miles) of uninterrupted walls. The walk around the old town walls takes about 90 minutes depending on how often you stop for breaks and photos – it’s definitely not a difficult walk. We went early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat of day. Many European cruise lines make daily day stops in Dubrovnik; these crowds will arrive around lunch time so enjoy the quiet time around the town beforehand. It also get VERY hot on the wall as there’s not much shade from the sun. If you can’t do the walk in the morning I’d suggest waiting to late afternoon when it cools down again.
The views from the wall are both inspiring and breathtaking. You will see the Old Town with its red roofs, the Adriatic Sea with the Croatian islands spotted offshore and the stunning coastline that looks like it belongs in a postcard.
The cable car to the top of a Srd Hill is definitely worth the time. The base of the cable car is a short walk outside the northern part of the old town walls. We planned to go just before sunset so we could watch the sun go down in magnificent style.
Srd Hill played an important part in defending Dubrovnik during the Yugoslavia War in the early 1990’s. There’s a small, but interesting museum at the top where you’re able to learn about the impact of the war on Dubrovnik.
The Old Town of Dubrovnik has so much to offer. We spent a lot of time exploring every street within the old town. As with any tourist destination, the restaurants along the main street are over-priced and are typically not very good in quality. However, there are some amazing seafood restaurants along the marina – we also managed to find a few hidden gems on the side streets within the old town that offered amazing food at great prices. We didn’t really leave the old town much on during our time in Dubrovnik, but if you are looking for even cheaper options you can venture outside of the Old Town walls.
One restaurant we tried, which was a recommendation from a friend, was called Lady Pipi’s. This restaurant is at the very edge of the old town right near the walls. Simply keep your eyes open for a very graphic statue outside the entrance (now the restaurant’s name all makes sense!). It offers Croatian grill cuisine with rooftop terrace and superb views.
This restaurant is a popular one – we arrived rather early and still had to queue for about 30 minutes, but the time in line was well worth it. I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of the beautiful outdoor seating area and the food is simply amazing at a very reasonable price.
When we were planning our trip to Dubrovnik, we decided we wanted to do a day trip somewhere close by. Since we were headed to the islands after Dubrovnik, our options were to go to Montenegro or Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We decided on the latter as it was somewhere we likely wouldn’t go separately for a trip. We hope to visit Montenegro another time – maybe a quick weekend trip from our home in London!
This day trip was excellent. It was interesting to see the difference between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and the impact that the Yugoslav war had on the two countries.
In Croatia (the coastal towns at least), there are very few signs that there was a war just 25 years ago as the towns are thriving with tourists. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the recovery has not been quite the same. There were still many buildings damaged during the war that have yet to be repaired.
When we arrived in Mostar, we were met by a local guide who gave us a tour of the town and told us about the history of the town and stories about life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While our guide was too young to remember life in Yugoslavia, it seemed to be the general sentiment that they were better off as part of Yugoslavia.
The main attraction in Mostar is the Stari Most, or Old Bridge, which is where the city actually received its name. While it is called the Old Bridge, the bridge that now stands there was actually reconstructed in 2004. The original Old Bridge was built in the 16th century and stood for more than 400 years before being destroyed in 1993 during the Bosnian War.
We stood along the river and watched as people jumped off the bridge into the water.
It was quite the show and fun to watch as the crowds would form each time as someone prepared to take the plunge.
We were told that the jumpers are actually locals and are paid by tourists to jump into the waters below. Quite the entrepreneurial spirit!
Apart from the bridge, Mostar has a beautiful Old Town with much to offer. It’s not yet overrun with tourists and the locals are genuinely happy that you are there and experiencing their country.
Dubrovnik is about a three hour flight from London with many flight options daily. Mostar is accessible by day trips from Dubrovnik or also by train from Sarajevo.
Til next time, happy travels!