With our time in beautiful Croatia nearing the end, we boarded another catamaran and set off for Dubrovnik!
After battling our way through the throngs of tourists and cruise ship passengers at the port, we made our way to our Airbnb and walked down (the many stairs) to the Old Town. It was immediately clear why Dubrovnik is such a popular destination, with the old city walls arguably the most well preserved in Europe! Passing through the Pile Gate, we began to walk through the old town, down the ‘Stradun‘ and into the winding and narrow streets that are full of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and small artisanal stores. It is hard not to notice the Game of Thrones merchandise, as it significantly outnumbers the amout of actual Dubrovnik souvenirs! For those that don’t know, Dubrovnik was used as the set for Kings Landing, the Red Keep, the Red Temple and the House of the Undying in Game of Thrones. Parts of the Star Wars saga were also filmed in Dubrovnik.
After eating traditional seafood and meat for the last week, we were in the mood for something different and during our exploration of the old town, we came across a wonderful restaurant named Azur. Serving Mediterranean-Asian fusion food, we enjoyed having some strong herb and spices back on our palette! We also happened across what we would come to agree was the best choc mint ice cream of our lives (big call!) at Peppino’s in the old town. So good we went back time and time again!
Being big Game of Thrones fans, our visit to Dubrovnik had to involve a Game of Thrones tour of the city. Booking one of the more affordable tours we could find, run by Dubrovnik Walking Tours, we were surprised to find that only 2 others were on our early morning tour! Our guide was also surprised, given the last tour had 40 participants! Taking advantage of the private tour, we spent three hours walking around Dubrovnik visiting some of the major locations used for shooting. Of note was Fort Lovrijenac, a fortress dating back to the 11th century (used as the Red Keep), and the Jesuit Steps, used in the famous Cersei ‘Shame’ scene! Our guide also interspersed some actual history throughout the tour, which further added to the experience. We would definitely recommend this tour if you are in Dubrovnik!
To take advantage of the last few days of summer weather, we decided to take a day trip to the Elafiti Islands, which are a collective of fourteen islands that form an archipelago, located approximately two hours by boat from Dubrovnik. Our day tour visited the three largest islands Koločep, Lopud and Šipan, which are all permanently inhabited. Apart from a free seafood lunch on the boat, we spent the majority of the day swimming at the glorious Sunj Beach (Lopud Island) and exploring the islands! The island of Lopud has no cars, so to get from one side of the island to the other we took golf carts!
No trip to Dubrovnik is complete without viewing the picturesque Old Town from above. Our options were the cable car or a walk along the city walls. We chose to walk the 2 kilometres along the city walls and, despite the steep price of this activity, the experience was more than worth it! The two hour walk provides numerous vantage points with views to the Adriatic Sea, Lokrum Island, the Fort Lovrijenac, and of course the red-roofed old town itself. For Game of Thrones fans there is also the chance to see another iconic location, with the Minčeta Tower used as the House of the Undying. Tourist tip: make sure to visit the city walls either first thing in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds!
During our time in Dubrovnik, it was clear to see why the local government and residents are concerned about the effect of tourism on the city.
For the majority of the day (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM) during the peak season, the old town of Dubrovnik is inundated with tourists, making it difficult to explore and retain a sense of personal space! Locals have voiced their concerns to the government regarding the influx of tourists, and the Mayor has responded by stating that cruise ship arrivals will be reduced. The subsequent impact on what is now a tourism-dependent economy remains to be seen! We hope they can find a balance as the city is a truly spectacular place to visit!
Until next time,
AP & DT