I visited Croatia for the first time last year on a trip to Pag with ASOS, Slydes and Croatia Wave and instantly I knew I wanted to see more of this amazing country so naturally, when it came to booking this year's summer holiday, Dubrovnik was top of my list. You'll probably know by now that we're not the "lie around the pool" type on holiday and wherever we go we go for an adventure and Dubrovnik was the most adventure and the most fun I've had yet, firmly taking the crown of my favourite place. The city and the surrounding area is absolutely jam packed with things to do and there wasn't a day that went by that we didn't have a new experience or see something new. Here are a few of the things we got up to while we were there - if you like culture, history and adventure Dubrovnik is the place for you!
EXPLORE THE OLD TOWN
Let's talk about what Dubrovnik is famous for - its beautiful old town. Dubrovnik is known for its walled city, sitting right on the coastline of the wonderfully blue Adriatic sea and no amount of photos can quite capture just how beautiful this UNESCO World Heritage site is. Imagine thin, winding cobbled streets, beautifully built churches, fountains for drinking water dotted around the city, adorable stray cats at every turn, an old harbour with the bluest sea you'll ever set eyes on, a bustling city atmosphere in a place that just oozes history. I think it's one of those places that you couldn't get over just how amazing it is, no matter how many times you visit. There's always something to look at here, marble streets lined with seafood restaurants and souvenir shops and if you go in the summer during the festival, you may see performances, plays, operas and more.
WALK THE CITY WALLS
From afar, it looks as though the city of Dubrovnik is a huge castle; you'd never know a city actually lay in the middle of those ancient walls! After entering the city through one of the gates, you can climb up the walls for around £12 and although you may feel like collapsing after walking up those steps, the view is so rewarding it's worth it a hundred times over. Look at the rust coloured houses, the skyline of the ancient buildings and see Dubrovnik from an entirely different angle. The walls about 2km around with various slopes and steps going up and down so be sure to wear sensible shoes!
TAKE A BOAT TRIP FROM THE HARBOUR
Dubrovnik Harbour is absolutely jam packed with different kinds of boat trips, whether you want an hours relaxing trip on a glass bottom boat, a submarine adventure or a day over to one of the surrounding islands, you've got to see the skyline of Dubrovnik from the sea. The surrounding areas are full of cool little caves, beautiful scenery, shoals of fish and even a nudist beach here and there (if you're into that kind of thing!) and if you go at dusk like we did, you may catch the phenomenal sunsets that Croatia boasts. I swear that last photo has absolutely no filter applied - yup, it was that beautiful!
TAKE A CABLE CAR UP THE MOUNTAIN
I'm partial to a good view and there's no better way to see a city than from a cable car. You can take the cable car up the mountain just outside the city walls. Follow the road around from Pile Gate and stay close to the walls for around 5 minutes and you'll see a little shop on the left that sells the tickets. The view is breathtaking and you can see how amazing the Adriatic Sea really is and don't you think that getting outside of the city centre for a while to the peace and quiet of the mountain is always great anyway? Also, it's not only the city itself that's beautiful but the entire landscape is filled with mountains that fade off into the distance. It's not to be missed!
GAME OF THRONES TOUR
Karl and I are huge Game of Thrones fans so naturally we had to visit King's Landing. Dubrovnik was used as King's Landing in Season 2, 3, 4 and 5 and as soon as you walk into the city you can see why. We booked our tour in advance but there are a lot of stalls outside of Pile Gate where you can book them on the day and they'll take you around all of the filming locations, showing you photos of the scenes and explaining behind the scenes secrets. We walked down the street where Cersei did her walk of shame and saw where Sansa and Littlefinger talked outside the walls along with so much more so it's definitely worth it if you love the show!
There's a Game of Thrones gift shop up one of the side streets in the city with a replica of the Iron Throne which is super cool! You have to buy a souvenir to get your photo taken on it or if you're on the GOT tour and you get your tour guide to take you to the store, you get it for free!
OFF ROAD BUGGYING IN THE MOUNTAINS
If you like a bit of dirt, mountains and driving you might want to go off-road buggying in the mountains. The stand is at the top of the mountain where the cable car takes you and although it is a little bit pricey for what you get, costing around £30, if you're into that kind of thing it'll be worth it! You get to drive around the beautiful mountain landscapes, seeing some animals, some views and getting absolutely filthy. Seriously, I don't think I have ever been so dirty in my entire life!
If you want a real adventure, you can rent kayaks out at Dubrovnik and go in groups to various places. We booked our kayaking trip to the island of Kolocep before we went but you can book shorter kayaking tours just outside Pile Gate when you're there and you can even go for glass bottomed kayaks if you're feeling brave! We got the boat over to Kolocep early one morning during our stay and went on an 8 hour kayaking trip around the entire island. Kolocep is so tranquil it's the perfect adventurer escape from the city and I think I found a new love of kayaking! We had so much fun and were actually rather good at it despite a little disaster (of course, it's me what did you expect?!)
The night before our trip there had been a huge storm with thunder and lightening, gale force winds and pouring rain so perhaps in hindsight we should have rescheduled but nonetheless, we set off in our kayak and three hours later we were doing amazing. That is, until the winds hit us! We were pushed farther and farther out to sea until we were miles away from the shoreline and because the wind was so strong and the waves were so high, we couldn't battle through it and ended up stuck in the same place and because our guide was getting the kayaks with children in them to safety, we had no help. We battled on and on until a huge wave came and tipped our kayak completely over, sending my underwater camera to the bottom of the ocean, our stuff everywhere and ourselves under the water in the middle of the ocean. Karl's Go-Pro was still recording when this happened so obviously it's one of the most hilarious videos ever, especially considering most of it is me sitting on top of on an overturned kayak crying and saying "my camera!!" over and over again!
Despite that, we had such a fun time kayaking and I wouldn't hesitate if it came to going again! Just watch out for those gale force winds!
MLJET NATIONAL PARK
Croatia is famous for its national parks and it's for good reason. I visited Krka last year so naturally Mljet was next on my list and I was not disappointed. I won't say too much about it here as I'm planning a separate post all about it with more photos but it is definitely worth the 90 minute boat journey. Think serene lakes, amazing wildlife, historical churches and ruins, dinners by the lake...It was such a beautiful place, you could easily waste hours there.
DISCOVER DUBROVNIK'S BEACHES
Although I wouldn't necessarily call Dubrovnik a "beach holiday" it certainly boasts some beautiful ones. The beaches in Dubrovnik don't tend to be the usual white sands you imagine but instead they're rocky, surrounded by greenery, mountains and some of the clearest waters you'll ever see. Explore caves, snorkel in the warm waters, jump in from the rocks...it's a beach with an adventurous twist. The beach we went to was Bellvue Beach which was just a few minutes walk from our hotel and even though it's tiny and down a lot of steps, it's worth it.
I've still got a few more Dubrovnik posts up my sleeve so stay tuned!