Okay, so here’s the thing. I didn’t love Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKED it – at points, at least. It’s for sure one of the most stunning townships I’ve laid eyes on, with incredible buildings and beautiful coastal views. But perhaps because we only visited for a few hours, or perhaps because I didn’t do any planning beforehand, I didn’t fall instantly in love with it like I have with other cities and old towns (like Budva).
We set off for Dubrovnik from Budva on a coach at 6.30am. Coach trips definitely get a bit of a bad rep – but if you don’t have access to a car and there aren’t really any other public transport options, they’re quite handy. The coach was pretty empty, so Conor, his brother and I managed to spread ourselves out across three double seats.
The first view of Dubrovnik is an impressive one. Rolling in on an elevated cliffside road, the coach stopped at the perfect photo point to see the turrets, walls and orange-coloured rooves from afar.
Walking in through the gates of the Old Town, the first thing I noticed was that this place is BUSY. Even with it being the low end of the summer season in May, large groups of tourists from across the world stood around animated guides. This is by no means a snobbish attack on tourists – after all, we were tourists too. But it was quite a stressful experience at times, navigating the small streets without meeting human traffic jams and having my toe stamped on by overenthusiastic folk taking photos. It was definitely the thing I liked the least about Dubrovnik – and after reading some similar blog posts to this one, I feel like I’m not the only one.
Once we’d moved away from the main couple of streets, though, the crowds faded out and we were left with more room to explore. A piece of advice if you want to explore Dubrovnik beyond the main squares – wear comfortable shoes! Around the edges of the Old Town, stairs snake their way up through the maze of streets. I much preferred wandering these areas, with small local craftmakers selling their wares, flower-adorned front doors and views back down to the streets below
One of my favourite spots was actully outside of the city walls. We headed down to a small bay between the Old Town and a fortress beside it. I don’t really watch Game of Thromes, but the views from here made me feel like I was about to walk into King’s Landing itself.
Another thing you should know about Dubrovnik. Certain things – like food and beer – can definitely be priceyyyy. However, if you’re looking for a cheap beer in the old town, check out BuzzBar (Prijeko ul. 21), where we paid around £6 for three 0.33l glasses of the cheapest beer. We also grabbed some ice creams at Dubravka 1836 (Brsalje ul. 1), which were HUGE, for only a few euros. Really creamy and in a range of delicious flavours, ice cream here is pretty awesome.
If you’re not too worried about splashing a bit of cash and want a view to enjoy as you sip on your drink, Café Buza (Crijevićeva ul. 9) is worth checking out. We stumbled upon it by accident, after eagerly following a sign offering ‘cold drinks’, and this little joint tucked into the cliffs offers gorgeous sea views. For the brave, it’s also a popular cliff diving spot. Unfortunately, this much-proclaimed ‘secret’ spot has now become a pretty popular attraction, and we were lucky to get three seats together. And I was less lucky to be the one footing the bill of around £16 for three bottles of beer. Eek.
By the time we’d finished our beers, and I’d grabbed my traditional magnet for our busy fridge, it was time to meet the coach and head home. Visually, I’d really enjoyed Dubrovnik – as the photos show. The side streets were much nicer to explore than the main squares, but the huge cruise ship crowds made it a quite stressful place to explore. The tourist-centric restaurants on every corner sort of took some of the personality and individuality from the ground floors of these beautiful buildings. And the prices were a definite shock after spending time in affordable Montenegro. I’m glad I visited Dubrovnik – but honestly, I’m not in any rush to go back.