21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

It’s proper Springtime!

A few weeks ago, I told you about how we had such a lovely time in Croatia, and all the unique things that we did!

However, we did more than just go to Croatia.

Yep!

We also went to..

Wait for it.

Dubrovnik!

And what a magnificent city. I really can’t hold it in any longer so this week, I’m going to tell you why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit, and that if you haven’t been, you ought to go now!

21 REASONS WHY DUBROVNIK IS ONE OF THE TOP EUROPEAN CITIES TO VISIT. IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN. GO NOW!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European citities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!
21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

If you’re just joining, this is what you missed:

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Whoopa!

LET’S GET A LITTLE HISTORY!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!
How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Dubrovnik , otherwise known as Ragusa, is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, in Dalmatia!

The name Dubrovnik is first recorded in the Charter of Ban Kulin in 1189 and was mostly explained as a Slavic name, meaning an oak grove or oak forest. However, both names Dubrovnik and Ragusa co-existed for several centuries.

Ragusa, recorded – since the 10th century – considered to stem from the Greek word Lausa – remained the official name of the Republic of Dubrovnik until 1808, while Dubrovnik – first recorded in the late 12th century – was in widespread use by the 16th or early 17th century!

The prosperity of the city was historically based on maritime trade, and during the 15th and 16th centuries, became famous not only for it’s wealth, but also for it’s skilled international diplomacy!

Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport, and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. It’s population is about 42,461, and is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

WHY GO TO DUBROVNIK?

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

Courtesy of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board who issued me with a press pass, and very kindly invited us to a Croatian traditional lunch, and organised a private customised walking tour, we were in fact, able to do quite a lot.

Thanks so much!

What now?

I thought you would never ask…

Welcome to the Old City in Dubrovnik, otherwise known as Grad!

1.  The Dubrovnik Old City & City Wall: Dubrovnik is a museum city crammed with hidden treasures. If you don’t do anything at all, make sure you climb the City Wall! Top tip! You can use the ticket of the City Wall to get into the Lovrijenac Fort – for free – and there is no need to buy another ticket!

2.  It’s a waterfront port city: You know how much I enjoy water destinations. Dubrovnik ticked each, and every box!

3.  History: Dubrovnik is an old city alive full of history and stories, and Dubrovnik like the city of Split, is a flagship heritage attraction, utterly protected by UNESCO, since 1979!

A large part of Kings’ Landing and the Red Keep was filmed in Lovrijenac – the fortress outside the City Wall in Dubrovnik – and just a few minutes away!

4.  Walking Tours: The Dubrovnik Tourist Board very kindly organised a private customised walking tour which was peppered with the history of the old Republic of Dubrovnik, tips about famous Croatians, and the secrets of where Game of Thrones was filmed. A large part of King’s Landing and the Red Keep was filmed in Lovrijenac – the fortress outside Dubrovnik’s City Wall and just a few minutes away! In fact, I’m watching the bestselling cult series again right now, and I’m ecstatic. I must have seen the complete 1 – 6 series American Amazon here, British Amazon here, German Amazon here, at least four (4) times, and I’m watching it all over again!

5.  The port of Dubrovnik is romantic: You can enjoy a very pleasant walk along the river-side or towards the castle and fortress. Or you can simply have a meal or a glass of something bubbly, while basking in the early evening sun!

Take me to the island of Lokrum in Croatia, which is a mere 15 minutes away and a special UNESCO forest vegetation reserve!

6.  You can visit an island: You can take a daytrip to the Elaphiti Islands or to the island of Lokrum, a mere 15 minutes away and a special UNESCO forest vegetation reserve! We really tried hard to get there, but either it was raining and no boats were going out, or we spent a hell of a lot of time on the City Wall!

7.  You can stroll through the very small Old City with nothing to fear but the selfie stick of other tourists!

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

8.  It’s a city of history through the ages: You only have to walk through the City Gates and history is right before your very eyes. Turn here, and you’ll see ancient sailing vessels, turn there, and you’ll hear the whisper of centuries of wealth, power and fame!

9.  Dubrovnik is known as a city on the palm of the hand: The city is so named due to it’s history, it’s beauty, and it’s openness to the world!

In a living city, there are strings of washing strewn across the window or terrace. In some places, with the horror of a pair of damp dangling knickers fluttering, in front of one’s face!

10.  Dubrovnik is an authentic living city: I always felt as if I was in somebody’s backyard, as on practically every corner and side-street, there were stairways and steps, and strings of washing seen strewn across the window or terrace. In some places, with the horror of a pair of damp dangling knickers fluttering, in front of one’s face!

11.  Dubrovnik is international: We saw plenty of American, Korean, Italian and Croatian tourists, dominated by Brits and the Irish! A quick look around and a bit of a natter with other tourists would reveal a bevy of young wealthy Indians. Many of whom actually lived in Germany!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

12.  Dubrovnik is small: I don’t know how they do it, but Dubrovnik is tinier than Split! And with a population of just 42,461 inhabitants, is perfectly walkable. In fact, no vehicles are allowed into the Old City except for those trolley-like carts!

13.  The nightlife: Dubrovnik has a great nightlife. In pretty much every corner, there’s a bar or a few tables, and in the summer, live music. As this was a family holiday, the party would have to wait however, almost every evening we found a nice little place where we could enjoy a glass of wine or champagne, while the sun set!

We found a natural cave complete with stalagmites and stalactites. It’s known by the locals, but not so much by travellers. It’s the Cave Bar More in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

14.  Secret bars: We found two bars that were not well-known, but were absolute fantastic. We stumbled upon both of them! One was whilst we decided to go cliff walking around Dubrovnik instead. We found a restaurant, but deeper inside it was a natural cave complete with stalagmites and stalactites! It’s known by the locals, but not so much by travellers. It’s called the Cave Bar More where you could have wine and cocktails. Which we did!

The other place we saw whilst we were on the Castle Walls itself. It’s difficult to find as it’s part of the cliff and sort of tucked behind a side street, that leads to the City Wall. There’s no signage, but if you’re determined, you’ll find it! On talking to one of the waiters, he told me that their customers tend to be locals or those “in the know.” It can get a little chilly, and there are no barriers or fencing, so you’ll need to keep a hold of young kids, but it was awesome.

A marvellous place to have a beer and watch the sun go down in front of the Lokrum island. It’s called Zto Bard. Go find it!

Night life in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

15.  Museums & Galleries: I love places that teach you something and give you an impression of the lives of those living there, and Dubrovnik had them in spades. We were only able to make it to the Maritime Museum, which really gave me some insight into the maritime history of Dubrovnik and how important the sea is, but I so desperately wanted to visit the Ethnographic Museum. We managed a quick peek into the Franciscan Monastery which I recognised from Game of Thrones, and a peek into the Cathedral, but we weren’t able to do it properly, and simply had no time at all, for the Dominican Monastery!

The cable car is a unique way to see the height and sights of the city of Dubrovnik!

16.  Dubrovnik Cable Car: What a unique way to see the height and sights of the city of Dubrovnik! In fact, once you’ve taken the cable car, and you’re at the top of the Srđ Hill, there’s a viewing platform where you can see enchanting views of the Old City, the Lapad Bay, and the other nearby islands!

17.  It’s off the beaten path: Croatia, not to talk of Dubrovnik, is still relatively unknown! Perhaps, it was the fact that we had arrived in the low season, but in Zagreb we saw very few tourists except for Americans and local Croatians. In Split, mainly German and Italian.

Most of the Asian and British tourists seemed to be in Dubrovnik!

There was some sort of voluntary cat home under the steps of the Dubrovnik City Wall!

18.  Cats: We saw cats everywhere. They weren’t as feral or as wild as the cats that we saw in Portugal – but quite cute. In fact, there was some sort of voluntary cat home under the steps of the City Wall! You can make a donation or leave tins of cat food, and even play with the cats. If the cats let you!

19.  A budget destination: In comparison to Italy and Austria nearby, prices are lower and the quality just as good!

OMG! The seafood in Croatia is so impressive!

20.  Croatian food: OMG! The seafood was impressive. More about that next week!

21.  Because Game of Thrones!

TAKE ME THERE?

Take me to Dubrovnik right away!

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, Croatia is quite far from Germany, so we flew!

Note: There aren’t a lot of inter-city trains. In fact, there’s no train station in Dubrovnik at all!

There actually aren’t a lot of trains in Croatia at all!

If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as MeinFernbus FlixBus also go to Croatia. But do be aware that the fastest routes are usually only sold in Croatia itself.

We decided to use the coach-bus between Split-Dubrovnik.

Split – Dubrovnik proved problematic, as the coach-bus actually went backwards in the direction of Zagreb, then dropped us in the backwater town of Benkovac, at the Benkovac Busbahnhof!

I didn’t like Benkovac in Croatia, at all!

Benkovac was yucky!

As soon as I saw the “bus station,” I wanted to get the hell out of there!

It was practically deserted and every “room” was boarded up.

We had a 1 hour stop-over at 10:30, and the next decent place was a bar. So we ran to it and ordered a few (non-alcoholic) drinks there!

It’s 10:30 in the morning remember.

An early morning shot of vodka in many East European countries, is believed to be quite healthy!

Not that it stopped any of the local punters. Ho! Ho!….!

Our journey took 8 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus was 45 minutes late, so make that 9 hours and 15 minutes instead!

We probably should have rented a car, and be done with it!

Cost: Split – Benkovac €12.00. Benkovac – Metkovic €7.35. Benkovac – Dubrovnik €5.65 per person.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Dubrovnik has the potential to be most popular!

Not in April.

But it has the potential to be, as Dubrovnik is most popular!

In fact, most of the tourists were on the City Wall, and many tourist attractions  were still very much empty as it wasn’t yet “the season.” Many a restaurant were looking for punters and luring customers in with 10% discounts, or more!

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS DUBROVNIK LIKE?

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

Marvellous!

We were only there for 4 days, but we could have stayed for a week, as we had so many things to see, and the weather put a hamper on some of the activities that we wanted to do.

It’s rich in history, is of architectural interest and has a wonderful harbour. There are castles and fortresses galore, the seafood and wine is not to be missed, and the islands nearby are attractive.

If it’s good enough to reflect the main filming location in Game of Thrones as King’s Landing, the capital city of the Seven Kingdoms, it’s good enough for you!

I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN!

I’m guessing that the parrots don’t speak much Croatian either, although I couldn’t quite understand what they were doing there!

No worries!

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.

Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You really can’t live on the Dubrovnik City Wall. Even if you want to!

Not at all.

Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This glass of beer was quaffed on our Dubrovnik apartment terrace, and was a gift from our Croatian landlord!

We’ve all been there.

Dubrovnik isn’t cheap-cheap, but if you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at budget prices!

And the seafood is delightful!

We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking lots of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!

And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.

Book your apartment here!

This was our sunny terrace at our Dubrovnik apartment. We were very comfortable!

We had great difficulty with personal space in Madrid last year, as The Tall Young Gentleman has recently turned 15 (OMG!), and is very tall. We decided to either book two (2) hotel rooms, or a large apartment instead.

Prices are low, and the quality and standard of apartments available, is exceedingly high.

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

I have plenty of ideas. Just ask me!

Always.

Go ahead and ask me!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Lots of people, walk or take the bus. But you can just as well canoe your way around!

All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.

Cars are not allowed into the Old City! For the day-to-day, the locals used some sort of cart!

Dubrovnik is pretty small so everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bicycle, boat, cable car, the local bus, or simply walk.

We were lucky to get a private customised city tour courtesy of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board who paired us with the expertise of the PR Department Coordinator!

ANYTHING ELSE?

You need proper shoes in order to navigate Croatia!
You need proper shoes in order to navigate Croatia!

Ditch the heels and expensive leather brogues, and take comfortable walking shoes.

There be steep and cobbled stones!

Oh, and get the Dubrovnik Card. It includes the cost of the City Walls, which more than makes up for itself!

MY VERDICT:

Dubrovnik is a dream!

Dubrovnik is an undisputed dream.

It’s medieval.

It’s appealing.

It’s got history, art and culture, and looks utterly charming.

If you’re looking for one of the top European cities to visit in 2017, that is safe, lively, and ready to be discovered. It’s right there!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Because the White Walkers from Game of Thrones, scare me!

Utterly!

Because, Game of Thrones!

Go visit Dubrovnik. Now!

Where we stayed: Green Park Apartments – Just €60.00 per night for the whole apartment. Marvellous!

Book your hotel here!

21 REASONS WHY DUBROVNIK IS ONE OF THE TOP EUROPEAN CITIES TO VISIT. IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN. GO NOW!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a press pass, and a complimentary city tour courtesy of the Split – Dalmatia County Tourist Board, all opinions and the delightful Castle Wall that we sprawled over, are my very own!

In May & June, I’ll be visiting Sweden and Slovenia!

From May 17th – May 20th, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Awards.

From June 8th – June 9th, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.

From July 4th – July 7th, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week. It’s going to be so much fun!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you’re quite mad!

Save the Date!

May & June are going to be pleasing!

Croatian food is most delicious!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

Have you ever been to Dubrovnic? Any ideas why parrots are in the Old City? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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23 thoughts on “21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

  1. Dubrovnik has been high on my list ever since I learned it existed. Definitely will get there at some point. I keep getting torn between my quest to hit up all 7 continents and my desire to also see some places on continents I’ve already been to. Sigh…life is full of tough choices. The next few trips are a few “local” US based ones for the rest of this year, France and Spain next year (centered around a visit to a friend who lives in Annecy, France, but that will also hit up Paris, Barcelona, and possibly some other places in the area). Then after that I’ll turn my focus on Southern Africa. Of course, it’s expensive to get to Africa from California, so there will likely be some “small” trips in-between to hold myself over until I can save enough. Then I’m torn between going back to Asia and back to Europe…or South America? Oh, this world is so big and I want to see it all! Dubrovnik will happen at some point! Your post really makes me want to go right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Heather!
      Tell me about it. It really isn’t easy choosing where to visit, but I only found out about Game of Thrones just two years ago, and that was what enticed me. And it was amazing. You’ll get to Dubrovnik soon enough, but don’t leave it too late!

      You seem to be all geared up yourself and to be honest, travelling around one’s country should be done more often. By everyone! France & Spain are winners. And you’ll like South Africa I’m sure. I’m a -let’s-go-back-to-Asia girl, but I’ve never really been to South America, and I don’t really know why. 😉
      p.s. We’re going to France in the summer, and I’ll be doing quite a bit of Germany too, but it’s India again next year. See what I mean! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. haha totally!!! You know what’s funny, I find it’s sometimes cheaper to fly to Asia or Europe than it is to go on a trip in the U.S. Rental cars are a budget killer so those good public transit cities really make a difference. Still, I’ve got events and weddings and relatives to visit this year so might as well make some fun travel out of it! I’m really looking forward to Southern Africa. S.A. for sure, but hopefully we can fit in some other countries…Botswana and Tanzania would be awesome. I suppose it will depend on the budget. South America, I would love to see Argentina, Chile, Peru….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks so much Heather! I know! It’s crazy! I’m sure that you’ll have a great time visiting your friends and family, as the USA is huge! I sometimes forget that the State of Texas is bigger than Germany, which is one of the largest countries in Europe! It overwhelmes me. I almost fainted when I saw how high the skyscrapers were in LA, and I haven’t even got to New York yet! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hahahaha since I grew upon LA, I often take it for granted, but that city is no joke!!

        Texas is huge but most of it is empty (I’ve driven across Texas….I recommend flying).

        I haven’t been to New York yet either, sadly. Every time I think about going, the prices scare me away. I have a few friends there but I can’t really stay with them because they live in the world’s smallest apartments.

        This year should be fun….for sure on the books is Vegas, San Francisco, Northwest Florida, Chattanooga Tennessee, and Raleigh, North Carolina. Might do another road trip to Arizona or maybe up the CA coast too, and of course a few trips to Baja (Mexico) since its 30 minutes away.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks so much Heather!
        I had no idea Texas would be so empty. It’s quite a popular state to visit for Geman tourists. We have a TV programme called Goodbye Deutschland in which a few German expats such as Konny Reimann have done pretty well there & in LA! Mind you, I think viewers watch it to see how many people actually fail….!

        p.s. Your summer trips sound great. Veeeeegas. Whoop! Whoop! I haven’t been to Florida, but my brother has. He liked it very much! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yeah, Texas has some big cities but the vast majority of it is just flat desert. I made the mistake of doing a one week road trip to San Antonio once. Took 4 days (there and back) driving for only three days in the city. I do Vegas all the time. It’s only a 5 hour drive for me and I have a friend to stay with there, so lots of weekends are spent there 🙂
        Florida is fun…I’ve been there once only, but it’s sooooo pretty.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Eek! I can’t believe it’ sthat wide and vast.
        We went to Vegas when our son was just nine (as it was part of our family holiday), and I was very insistent that I wanted a hotel that was family-friendly – non-gambling and non-smoking! We got an apartment hotel just off the Strip and it was huuuuuuge! It was an apartment suite with a kitchen, jacuzzi, terrace, living room, bedroom, two enormous flat-screen TV’s. And just $100 a night! They kept trying to give us free cocktails n’ things, but we were so tired by the end of the day, we just never got to use our vouchers!

        We went to so many family-friendly shows then got a babysitter and went to the Cesear Palace Hotel Casino. My budget was $50! I “gained” $80.00 and then spent it all again on roulette! I didn’t even know how to play it, but with four (4) free drinks and a great 1.5 hrs of people-watching and “entertainment.” We also spent a few days at the Grand Canyon National Park which had snow all over it. I had a great time! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Sounds like a great trip!! Vegas is often surprisingly inexpensive in some ways. They make it cheap to stay there so you will spend your money gambling hahahaha.
        The Grand Canyon is lovely too…glad you got to see it!

        If you’re ever back in the area, I suggest checking out some of the national parks in Utah (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Victoria, I have been to Dubrovnik but only for few hours, since I was on a Mediterranean Cruise with my family. We loved it there, we managed to walk around the city wall and we also did a boat trip around some of the islands. We always said we would go back there and at least spend a couple on nights. But sounds like that there is enough to do for whole week? My daughter is a big fan of GOT so she would love to go back there. I loved that picture of you on that terrace by the sea 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment Gilda! Isn’t Dubrovnik just the best! I’m glad that you got a taste of it & you got to do the boat trip too which we never managed. Nice one! Yep! Dubrovnik is probably worth a week if you had it. 😀
      I love your daughter already. GoT forever. Yay!
      p.s. Your daughter will know exactly where I’m standing. It’s directly above the landing bay where Cersei Lannister said goodbye to her daughter – Myrcella – who was sent off to Dorne!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting to hear the prices in Dubrovnik are comparable to Berlin. For some reason, I have it in my head that Berlin was an expensive city to visit. Or am I completely wrong about that looking in from a North American point of view?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Ray!
      Absolutely! I’ve been living in Berlin for more than 15 years. Croatia is generally extremely good for budget-conscious US/EU travellers, but it’s not Poland! I can confirm that Berlin is the cheapest. Yes, the cheapest capital city in Western European! Hamburg is expensive, as is Munich and Frankfurt. Prague in Eastern Europe for tourists, is expensive too! Milan, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Zürich, London, similar to New York, but Berlin? Not a chance! 😀

      Berlin is a university town, and a city for creatives and young entrepreneurs. A bit like San Francisco, but without the San Fran horrific cost! We almost had a heart attack when we discovered that parking at our San Francisco hotel was $48. Per day!!! Shudder!

      Like

  4. What a stellar guide! Love this. I miss Dubrovnik, when I was working on the boats I got to see it every week but I never took the cable car up! I’ll probably be going back again sometime this summer while back on the boats!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Agness! Me too! In fact, I’m watching the complete series 1-6 via Netflix all over again, and it’s pretty exciting. I keep saying to my husband, we went there, there and there! This is where I took a photograph! I stood here & here! Remember this castle or this street!
      He loves me very much!! 😀

      Like

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