One day in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik, called “pearl of the Adriatic”, is probably one of the most popular destinations in Croatia. If you ask someone who hasn’t been in Croatia yet, to pick one place where she/he would like to go, you would probably hear the answer: Dubrovnik. We are usually suspicious when it comes to the most popular travel destinations. However, we had simply to check it out. Damn you, curiosity 😉
How to get there
Dubrovnik has its own airport, so if you are travelling from far away this is definitely the most convenient way to get there. Many people coming with a plane decide to rent a car in Dubrovnik and visit some other attractions in the Balkans. The choice is really big, as from Dubrovnik you can make trips to the other parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Montenegro. Our tip: if you are coming by plane, don’t make Dubrovnik the one and only place on you travelling list.
We, on the other hand, were making our Balkan trip with a car. Between Dubrovnik and the northern part of Croatia there is a few km part that belongs to Bosnia and Hercegovina. You will see the border check points in the middle of the road. Checking the documents usually goes pretty fast and smoothly, as there are no waiting lines. If you are driving to Dubrovnik from Montenegro, crossing the border shouldn’t be as well a problem.
We were on our way back from Montenegro, so in order to have more time for sightseeing, we decided to sleep one night close to Cavtat, a small town close to Dubrovnik, and only in the morning see Dubrovnik itself. This is the best solution, if you have your own transportation. Accommodation in Dubrovnik is far more expensive than in the nearby towns and villages. You as well save on parking places fees.
Things to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th / 8th century and is among the 10 best preserved medieval walled cities in the world. It was under Austrian rule and it was a part of Yugoslavia. Nowadays, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a favorite tourist destination. We will try to visit Dubrovnik in one day, let’s see what we’ll manage.
We arrive to Dubrovnik in the morning and till noon we are looking for a parking place. OMG! Dubrovnik is a hell for drivers. We drive around in circles, through those tiny tiny cute streets, that by the way are not so cute any more if you are driving through them for the 3rd time. And when we finally find a place, there is no other way but to pay around 5€ fee per hour. Ridiculous!
By the time we find a parking place, the heat is already unbearable and our 7 months old gets really impatient and moody. No wonder, we are beaten up, too. As we visit Dubrovnik just for one day we decide to focus on the Old Town. So off we go!
Tips before sightseeing:
- put sunscreen,
- take an umbrella to protect from the sun
- take sth to drink (the prices in the Dubrovnik city center are really high)
Dubrovnik’s Old Town
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is surrounded by defensive stone walls that are known as the Walls of Dubrovnik and became THE trend after appearing in Game of Thrones as the city of King’s Landing. By the way I’ve never seen the series but it is impossible not to know it, as the closer you get to the Old Town more posters of Game of Thrones will you see. It seems like the history, location, and medieval buildings of Dubrovnik are not enough to visit the city. The present walls were defined in the 14th century and they have four city gates: Gate of Pile, Gate of Ploče, Gate of Buža, and Gate of Ponte. The most convenient way to start your sightseeing is to enter the Old Town through the Gate of Pile.
Here you will find one of the three access points to the city walls. A walk through the city walls is definitely a nice experience, as you can see the Old Town from the top and admire views of the Adriatic Sea. However, if you start your sightseeing at noon in a very sunny day and a 7 months old baby, this is what you actually fear the most: a few km walk in the sun with no possibility to sit in a shade or go down. No, thank you! Especially that it cosst more than 10€ per person. Maybe the next time, if there will be next time 😉
Instead we decide to take a walk along Placa (Stradum), the main street of Dubrovnik. Placa connects the Gate of Pile and Gate of Ploče. On both of its ends there are two Onofrio’s Fountains: a big and small one. When you pass the Large Onoforio’s Fountain, on your left you will see the church and the bell tower of the Franciscan monastery. It was originally built in the Gothic style, but reconstructed in the Baroque style. There is a museum, a library, and an old pharmacy in the complex. If you would like to read more about it, here is where you can find a more detailed article: Franciscan Monastery – Dubrovnik
At the eastern end of Stradum you will find the Luža Square with the Sponza Palace, the Clock Tower, the Rector’s Palace, the St. Blaise Church, and the Small Onofrio’s fountain.
Everything looks really nice. There is only one tiny thing, ok, two tiny things:
- there are millions of tourists there (believe you me: MILLIONS!)
- as we were looking for a parking place for eternity we are walking in a horrible heat; it is so hot, our daughter almost starts to melt 😉
Therefore, we skip all of it and go to the place which is still not known by all who visit Dubrovnik. For further information about tourist attractions and historical buildings we recommend Lonely Planet.
Dubrovnik’s biggest secret
It might sound weird, but the place we liked in Dubrovnik the most was neither historic, nor old. It was a bar.
Buza bar (meaning “hole in the wall”) is located on the cliffs in the southern part of the Old Town. It is quite easy to find, as there is just one “hole” in the city walls through which you get to the bar and a swimming / sunbathing spot. This is the best place to rest and get a drink. During the day it was less crowded than other places we passed by. After Buza bar we walk through less crowded smaller cobbled streets of Dubrovnik’s Old Town and enjoy this place.
To sum up – tips for visiting Dubrovnik:
- parking space: difficult to find and expensive; plan some additional time;
- not so special: According to us Dubrovnik is far more famous than it deserves to be. Of course it is a nice place to visit. However, do not make Dubrovnik the one and only destination you will visit in Croatia / Balkans.
- avoid heat: A hot day is not the best time to visit Dubrovnik. Our advice: pick low season or be there early in the morning
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Arturo(8th July 2016 - 4:53 pm)
Really good information here. Thank you for sharing. I think it is really nice that you demystify popular or trendy tourist destinations. It happens a lot that trendy places are not really as nice or beautiful as people sell it and I say again, thanks for telling the stuff as you experienced it.
lovetravellingfamily(15th July 2016 - 10:21 am)
Thank You Arturo. Apart from the fact that other places are usually at least the same beautiful, they are not that overcrowded, which makes them even more beautiful. The most popular destinations are as well much nicer if there are less people.
Thank You for commenting 🙂