Centuries of history at your feet
Initially, we weren’t too sure whether to include Dubrovnik on our road trip, and return to Croatia at a later date and visit it as a mini break.
However, in hindsight, I’m pleased we did.
We were staying in Dubrovnik for three nights, and for one of the days, we were going to drive into Bosnia and Herzegovina to visit Mostar. So with this in mind, we knew we needed a Green Card for car insurance purposes. Therefore, crossing through Bosnia to get to and from Dubrovnik wasn’t going to be a problem.
A helpful guide
If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
We decided to bypass the border completely when we headed down to Dubrovnik and took the ferry from Ploče to Tripanj and drove through the rural countryside passing vineyards, through Ston then onwards to Dubrovnik.
The scenery was fantastic, and it also gave us an opportunity to stop and buy some local wine to bring back home.
Now I know we are in the minority here, and I don’t want to say this too loud, but, we have never seen Game of Thrones!!!
So, for us the draw to Dubrovnik wasn’t a chance meeting with Kit Harington, it was to see the amazing walled city, swathed in terracotta roof tiles.
Along the Ramparts
Our apartment was only about a 10-minute walk (downhill) to the Ploče Gate, so in no time at all, we were in the heart of the city and overlooking the Old Port and marina.
We wanted to walk the city walls in the morning, to avoid it being too crowded and it actually wasn’t too bad.
I know this sounds logical but the walls can only be accessed from 3 locations and, they are navigated in one direction (anti-clockwise).
This really helps, as some of the walls are narrow and you would constantly be stopping for people to pass by if it was 2-way.
The views from the around the walls are incredible, not only do you have a vista across the top of church spires, rooftop terraces, the Old Port and the network of streets below. You also have the amazing view across the blue seas of the Adriatic, and the island of Lokrum beyond.
Once we had circumnavigated the city from above, we were ready to discover it from ground level. Dubrovnik is steeped in so much history, it’s around every corner, so no sooner have you entered through Ploče Gate, you are immediately immersed into the past.
Experiencing the city day and night is the perfect way to discover Dubrovnik, when the crowds have dispersed in the evening, the city reveals itself.
Following the main lane through towards the centre, you’re drawn to Luža Square. Here you’ll enter one end of the Stradun, and instantly stumble upon Sponza Palace, St Blaise Church, Orlando’s Column, the small Onofrio’s Fountain and the Bell Tower that is prominent in Dubrovnik’s skyline.
You struggle to take it all in at once as there is so much to see, your camera will start to go into overdrive.
A short stroll from here passing Rector’s Palace, and you’ll be at Dubrovnik’s 18th-century Cathedral.
There is so much more to come, continuing through the maze of shiny cobbled lanes and you’ll reach one of my favourite spots, and that’s the Baroque Jesuit Steps.
One of the things that surprised us about old town Dubrovnik was how steep it is within the walls. Obviously, the walls are going to be high as it was built as a defence, but the city is V-shaped, and the streets climb quite high up to the east and west walls.
We found one of the great ways to discover the Old Town is just to wander and get lost. Areas of the city are still very much lived in by locals; there are playgrounds, schools and washing hanging out high across the lanes from window to window.
The north entry into the Old City, is at the Pile Gate entrance, from here you are lead straight into the Placa – Stradun, one of Dubrovnik’s iconic views.
However, don’t miss the Big Onofrio Fountain (named after its architect) and built in 1438. This lovely Neapolitan public fountain has 16 water jets pouring from ornate faces.
Before heading off to Split on our final morning in Dubrovnik, we drove up to the viewpoint high above the city to catch the iconic aerial view. The views were stunning, and you get a fantastic perspective of how the city and its streets are laid out.
Where we ate
Dubrovnik certainly isn’t short of restaurants & konobas to choose from. However, Gary and I always prefer to try local food, and while in Croatia, we particularly steered towards seafood.
Some of the restaurants are slightly more commercialised than others, but there are some fantastic ones to be found.
One of our evenings we came across the Konoba Koloseum, just at the bottom of the Jesuit Steps. The staff were extremely friendly and not too pushy, and to top it all the food was wonderful. I had fish soup then freshly grilled seabass, and Gary had local cheese & prosciutto, followed by stuffed grilled squid. Washed down with a crisp Croatian white wine, and all at a fairly reasonable price.
We also had enjoyable meals serving local food at Portun restaurant and Konoba Pjatanca, where we were given a complimentary walnut liqueur made by the waitress’s brother.
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the three nights we were in Dubrovnik, was at Villa Leoni and this was probably our favourite accommodation from our Croatian road trip.
The views from the apartment were stunning, overlooking the blue seas of the Adriatic, with Lokrum Island to the left and Dubrovnik Old Town to the right. The owners were fantastic and couldn’t do enough for us, and we also had the sole use of a patio. The parking facilities above the apartment were great, even for a large car like ours.
It was a bit of a climb back each evening, but that’s Dubrovnik for you, it can’t be avoided.
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Inspired to visit Dubrovnik?
It’s a truly a wonderful city that is magnificent to explore. You feel there is history around every corner.
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