Travel to Dubrovnik
Raise your hand if you’re a hard-core Game of Thrones fan, like me! Raise your other hand if you’re already making comparisons between the beloved original and the new prequel, House of Dragons, now running on HBO. Prior to the show, I’m not sure how many people would have vacationed in Croatia. But, it’s undeniable that Dubrovnik truly is a gorgeous place! Dubbed the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the city offers a wealth of stunning attractions for you to explore. Erin absolutely loved it when she vacationed there with her family last year. She even said, “I could hear the [GOT] theme song in my mind as I walked the medieval walls.” So, if Croatia has made your must-see, bucket list here’s everything you need to know about Erin’s fabulous weekend getaway in Dubrovnik.
You can read all about the exciting Busbee family excursions here.
What to Do
Did you know that Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century? Pretty amazing! It’s probably most popular for its spectacular seafront location on the Dalmatian Coast. The old city walls of Dubrovnik are clearly the star of the show. After all, it was home to “King’s Landing” for 8 seasons. Built in the 10th century, these formidable walls provided a solid defense against invaders. Dubrovnik’s city walls make a great place to take family photos, especially because of the gorgeous views over the Adriatic. For centuries, Dubrovnik’s famous Pile Gate has served as the main entrance and is still the most interesting access point to the old city.
There’s a lot more to experience in Dubrovnik beyond the HBO show, so if you’re not a fan, don’t worry. You’ll be blown away by a walk through the Stradun, also known as Placa. It’s undoubtedly one of Europe’s most picturesque pedestrian thoroughfares. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants and it’s a good spot to get in some shopping. The street dates back to 1468 and is famous for its white limestone paving. Simply beautiful!
Next up on the to-do list is the Dubrovnik Cathedral Treasury. You’ll love the incredible Baroque-style building, known for its over-the-top interior décor. The cathedral highlights include paintings by Italian and Dalmatian artists from the 16th to 18th centuries. The most popular is the “Virgin of the Chair” by Raphael. You’ll also see many important relics from around the world. The most famous is a portion of the cross that Jesus is thought to have been crucified upon.
There’s More to Do!
Loggia Square features some of Dubrovnik’s most famous buildings and public monuments. Highlights include Orlando’s Column, built and designed by sculptor Antonio Ragusino, and the Loggia of the Bells, used as a warning system by residents in the 15th century. It’s there that you’ll also find the Church of St. Blaise, the small fountain of Onofrio, and Sponza Palace, home to the city’s archives.
Dubbed “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar” for its rocky location just outside the city’s western wall, Fort Lovrijenac is one of Croatia’s most important fortresses. It rises an impressive 37 meters above the Adriatic. It was an impenetrable fortification during the many sieges undertaken by the Venetians in the 11th century. Fort Lovrijenac was featured prominently in Game of Thrones, but it’s also currently used as a venue for Dubrovnik’s Summer Festival and many theatrical and musical performances.
If you’re looking to catch some rays in this beautiful city, Lokrum Island is the picture-perfect place away from the crowds of Dubrovnik. About a 15-minute ferry ride away, this forested island offers beautiful views and a small saltwater lake. Aside from the beach, Lokrum has a historic attraction of its own–the 19th-century Napoleonic Fort Royal. It houses a restaurant and a replica of the iron throne from Game of Thrones. When you need a break from the sun, wander through the botanical garden. Keep your eyes peeled for the many rabbits and peacocks that roam the island freely.
Where to Stay
To see Dubrovnik’s most popular sites and absorb the city’s rich history, the best place to stay is near the busy and touristy Old Town. If you prefer a quieter location, the Lapad peninsula, about two miles northwest of Old Town, is where many of the high-end hotels feature stunning sea views.
Some luxury hotel options are Villa Dubrovnik, with breathtaking views of the coast and Old Town. The clifftop hotel takes guests to the heart of the historic action within minutes in a private speedboat! On the Lapad peninsula, above a beautiful seafront promenade, is the Royal Princess Hotel. They offer beach access as well as gorgeous sea views. Also, with easy beach access and within walking distance of the Old Town, the waterfront Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik has a contemporary feel and beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows. Want to vacation with your dog? The pet-friendly Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik offers great value in a convenient location.
For mid-range hotels, in Gruz harbor, a short bus ride from the Old Town, the boutique Berkeley Hotel, with a spa, pool, and free breakfast, offers modern rooms and apartments. You can walk to the Old Town in about 20 minutes from pet-friendly Hotel Lero.
For the full Busbee experience, you can stay at the same Airbnb Erin and her family did. Fair warning—there are 473 steps to get to the loft and the road to it was very steep. You can get the details here.
Where to Dine
Dubrovnik offers a variety of restaurants for all styles and budgets, from fine dining, bistros, and simple taverns to fast food joints, street food stands, and pizzerias. Be aware, however, that the food offered in the restaurants in Dubrovnik is heavily based on fish and seafood. From high-end Michelin star restaurants to cheap eats, typical dishes include octopus, shellfish, squid, and various grilled or baked Adriatic fish. These are some stand-out choices:
For upscale and fine dining, try Oyster & Sushi Bar Bota, a beautiful fusion of Dalmatian and Japanese cuisine. Nautika Restaurant is Michelin and has a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. It lies on the very edge of the sea at Pile, alongside the entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old City with one-of-a-kind views. Forty Four Restaurant is a fine dining, romantic place, perfectly positioned on Main Street, Stradun.
For a local and affordable dining experience, check out Orsan Yachting Club. They offer vegetarian and vegan options alongside the typical seafood and Mediterranean fare. Konoba Bonaca is another moderately priced restaurant that offers barbecue, vegan and gluten-free options.
Is Dubrovnik on your travel bucket list? Please share if you’ve already visited and any recommendations you may have in the comments below. And, if you know someone who might be traveling to Croatia, you can share this post with them using the buttons below.
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