Those who follow me on Instagram are probably sick of me posting about Dubrovnik already. I’m so excited over it, since it’s been such an amazing trip with bright blue seas and delicious food! It’s quite shameful to say that I never showed much interest in Croatia before I found out Game of Thrones was filmed over here. Suddenly there was such a Dubrovnik hype on Pinterest that got my attention. So I decided to see what all the fuss was about and we planned a trip the Dalmatian coast.
Since Dubrovnik Old Town is a really small ‘town’, and we went for a week, we decided to make some road trips to nearby places and countries. Let’s take a look at what we did during our stay!
We arrived early morning in Dubrovnik and weren’t able to check in until 2 p.m. So the first thing we did was stop at Old Town to really get into the mood. We grabbed a quick lunch while enjoying the view and strolled down the Stradun and the little alleys with all the stairs – I sure felt my legs during this trip. After our stroll we went to our apartment which was located outside of Old Town and went to explore the area. There were some nice pebbled beaches around the corner – so I did go for a swim in that beautiful blue water. Since Old Town wasn’t that far, we visited almost every day, just to take a quick look, grab a bite or stroll around the streets by night. It’s just so magical over there… and when you go late at night, most of the cruise-ship-tourists are already gone and the town feels a little bit calmer with a more relaxed vibe to it.
On our second day we went to the Island of Korcula and made a stop at Ston, where we walked the wall of Ston. Amazing views, but if you – like me – have climacophobia (is this really a thing?!), you won’t really enjoy the way up or down. I’m really happy I made the climb even though it was true horror all the way, but in the end I’m glad I can say I persisted.
After this somewhat traumatizing experience, we went on with our trip to the island of Korcula, by taking the ferry with our rental. We walked around the island, visited the Old Town which is very similar to Dubrovnik Old Town but a lot smaller and yes, missed our ferry back. Luckily it wasn’t the last one, but we did had to wait for two more hours – we missed it by 5 minutes – and had to head back into the town. So the drive back home – 3 hours – was quite late but there was a silver lining, we were able to stop at the very, very dark road to look at the most amazing night-sky… even seeing the Andromeda galaxy.
On our third day we went to Montenegro to visit Kotor at the Bay of Kotor. It was such a long trip and we had to wait over an hour to cross the border – which created not-so-happy-people. I can’t say that it was really worth it, because Kotor is very small and there isn’t much to do, but I am happy that we drove through the Bay of Kotor, which truly is an amazing phenomenon. And what was really cool is that Kotor city is filled – really filled – with cats. They even have a cat museum.
Resting wasn’t really on our travel schedule, so on Wednesday we walked the Dubrovnik Old Town walls early morning to beat the crowd and the heat. After that we took a ferry to Lokrum island to swim in the dead sea – a very small salt water lake on the island – and visit the monastery at the island. Tip? Pack your walking shoes with you, since there are some very steep roads on this island and some very rocky beaches. My slippers weren’t particularly happy about it.
On Thursday we went island hopping on the Elaphiti islands with an arranged boat tour for the whole day. We didn’t take a lot of pictures that day, but decided to enjoy the weather and the views. The islands were quite calm so we were able to swim at the shores.
Friday was our last full day and we decided to take another road trip, visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina. Google Maps sent us on a little mountain road to the smallest border point I’ve ever seen – and creepiest – but it did give some amazing views, accompanied by a lot of screams in every turn of a certain co-pilot named Kelly – whoops. But once we got there it was actually really worth it. We visited Mostar, to see the Stari Most bridge and as it happens there was a Redbull cliff diving competition happening on that bridge. We were a little disappointed not being able to take pictures of this bridge, but enjoyed the entertainment. Have you ever seen people cliff diving?! Respect for those people, since I’m not even able to stand on a chair without being scared.
What struck me the most during this visit is the fact that the war they’ve been in was quite recent. I can still remember being a child and people talking about Bosnia-Herzegovina – you can still see the aftermath of war in this town and I found it really confronting to think about… Yet, we enjoyed every minute over there and for those who are concerned about safety over there, we felt safe all of the time.
Things you must do
What are things I believe you must do during your visit to Dubrovnik? Well, if you only have a couple of days I would say:
- Visit Old Town – by day and by night
- Walk city walls of Old Town (best you do this early morning or right before closing)
- Take the ferry to the Island Lokrum and stroll around for a day. Take a dip in the dead sea and go sun-bathing on the rocks.
- Take the cable car all the way up the hill to enjoy the view of Old Town
If you are staying for a longer period, e.g. a week or so, I would recommend going outside of Dubrovnik. You could go on several day trips or book a night close to Plitvice National Park, which looks amazing!
- Bosnia-Herzegovina is such an eye-opener and it’s amazing to see a country healing itself after such horror.
- The Bay of Kotor is actually amazing. When you look it up on google maps you can see how it’s shaped and when you’re driving at the coastal line, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in a maze.
- Plitvice National Park and Krka National Park have some amazing lakes and waterfalls. Very, very Pinterest-worthy shots over there.
- Island hopping in the Adriatic sea and visiting Elaphiti Islands, this is an island group in the Adriatic with several islands (some very small), you can book a boat tour for a day making different stops at the islands.
There is a lot to see and enjoy at this coastline!
We were quite late in booking our stay via booking.com, so we didn’t have much options left. We went for an apartment in Lapad, called Marija Lapad Apartments. The people who owned it were so friendly and helpful, but looking back at it we would’ve loved a hotel better. There was a lot of room in the apartment (two bedrooms) but we are used to the comfort of good hotel beds, breakfast and your bed being made every day – I really love that to be honest. If you’re traveling with a family or maybe two couples, this is a great stay, but if you prefer a little more luxury, I would suggest looking elsewhere. Another disappointment was our view. Yes, we did have an ocean view on our little balcony, but they don’t say you look at the docking place for all the cruise ships arriving daily. I mean, those ginormous boats were right across our balcony, blocking our view on the mountains. During our stay we saw in total I think 7 different ships? Maybe that’s why there were binoculars available in our room…
Places to eat
Since we went on several day trips with our rental car, we didn’t always eat in Dubrovnik. So I divided the places we visited during our trip and that are worth the mentioning. We also stopped at several cafes and bars, but I didn’t conclude them in here… As always, we completely trusted on Foursquare except in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kotor because we didn’t have any network over there. I really love Foursquare in big cities because it brought us to so many amazing restaurants all over the world! I highly recommend installing the app on your smartphone – and no, this isn’t a sponsored post.
Old Town Dubrovnik
We went for a quick bite the first day at Lady Pi-Pi which had an amazing view over the city and was such a relaxing place to sit and calm down after our trip. We ate a late breakfast since it was already 11 a.m. since we arrived in Old Town, but did enjoy the overgrown terrace with all the grapes hanging down.
Believe it or not, but my hubby-to-be has one amazing talent. Everywhere we go, he just steps into a restaurant, makes a reservation for that same evening and it turns out to be a Michelin-star restaurant. The odds… So, as tradition, we ended up making reservations at Restaurant Dubrovnik, where we had an amazing evening with the best waiters and food!
On one of our last nights we decided to visit Old Town for the last time at night and had a quick bite at Nishta. Which also had an amazing menu and great vegan dishes – actually, it’s a completely vegan restaurant. And after all the fish we ate, I really craved for some vegetables and vegan food, so this was great for us!
Because our apartment was located at Lapad we also ate in this area of Dubrovnik. We visited Orsan Restaurant twice because 1) the food was amazing, 2) the waiters were so friendly and 3) it was right down the street of our stay. If you ever visit this restaurant, be sure to order the black risotto, it’s amazing! And there is also a terrace upstairs with a great view on the port of Dubrovnik.
Also close to our apartment was Peppers Eatery where we had our last lunch and Taverna Otto, which was also one of the best food experiences ever. I couldn’t recommend these three restaurants any more, they were simply top notch while still being affordable. Loved it. Oh and the wine selection was great everywhere – Croatian wine is really good you know.
Island Hopping and Day trips
In Ston we ate at Konoba Bakus which was one of the highest scoring places, but wasn’t good at all. The mussels – and we love to eat them – were way to salty, weren’t cleaned and just looked like a pile of shells.
But it wasn’t half as bad as the lunch we ate at Restaurant Cavtat, this was seriously the worst food I ever had in my mouth. After the first two bites I couldn’t even go on. I ordered spaghetti bolognese and I would bet a Chanel on it that it had been lying in the fridge for more than two days. Hubby-to-be ordered a tuna salad, which was basically salad (the vegetable) with a can of tuna fish dropped over it – including the can-oil. It smelled and tasted like cat-food and don’t ask me how I know this… We enjoy great food and are quite picky when it comes to food, but at such a tourist place like Cavtat we didn’t have high hopes to start, but this just hit rock-bottom to be honest.
Other quite good restaurants – not as good as the ones in Dubrovnik itself, but nice – were Divan Restoran in Mostar. This is also such a tourist place so the food isn’t wow, but it was great food for a very small price. So no complaining here! At the island of Korcula we ate at Tedeschi which is a pizza place and I quite loved the pizza over there. Their outside seating was great, the service was great and the pizza was great. So if you’re in the mood for pizza, you know where to go.
At the island Lokrum we ate at Lacroma Restaurant and this was also a good experience. They had a slightly different menu than most in Dubrovnik, offering Quinoa salads and avocado, so we were very pleased with this. The price point was okay for being at a tourist attraction and the wifi was strong – happy people.
Ways to travel
Since Croatia isn’t that far from Belgium we could’ve gone with our own car, making it a longer road trip with several stops, but we already did that past May when we went to Scotland. So we took a 2 hour flight from Brussels to Dubrovnik with Brussels Airlines and decided to rent a car in Dubrovnik. Like I said, we did see a lot of cruise ships making a stop to visit Old Town, so you could travel by cruise, but that just isn’t my jam. I like to be able to move around freely at a certain area. But it’s very much a great way to visit the Dalmatian coast if you are interested in the luxury and comfort of a completely planned trip – and want to see a lot of cities in short time.
Need I say that I really fell in love with Croatia after visiting Dubrovnik and actually can’t wait to plan another trip here. I would love to see the Plitvice National Park and what the rest of the country has to offer. The Dalmatian coast and Adriatic sea definitely stole my heart!
Where would you like to travel to next?