When you think of European destinations on your travel bucket list, Croatia might not come to mind. This is precisely what makes it one of the best places to visit on the continent. Dubrovnik, Croatia is one of Europe’s best kept secrets, and one of the few places where you can experience European flair without brushing shoulders with hundreds of tourists.
If you are fortunate enough to spend a day (or week) in Dubrovnik, here are 8 things you must do!
Walk The Wall
The Old Town of Dubrovnik has magnificent cobblestone streets, orange shingled rooftops, and a mighty fortress wall surrounding the city. You can frequently hear live music echoing off the walls and floating through the streets, and every shop within the fortress has their doors swung wide open like a welcoming hug.
If you want to see the city squares and secret side streets from 80 feet up, you can walk atop the wall that perimeters Old Town. Not only will you take in the entire town and people watch from above, you’ll also score unobstructed views of the beautifully blue Adriatic Sea. This picturesque walking tour can take up to 2 hours if you choose to walk the entire length of the town, but you’re free to hop on and off at any of the entrance and exit points.
European gelato is all the rave, but Croatian ice cream is on a whole new level. Experience flavors unique to this area, such as the extremely popular Cinnamon flavor, and give traditional flavors like Pistachio and Cookies And Cream a whole new meaning. Croatian ice cream shops line each street and the scents of their homemade cones will lure you in. If you attempt to get a single scoop, you will regret it.
Sea To Plate
Being a seaside town with a thriving fishing industry, Dubrovnik is known for some of the most exceptional seafood dishes in Europe. Whether you choose a 5-star candlelit experience, or a stop by a low-budget cafe, nearly every restaurant within the town contains are array of seafood items on the menu and you can rest assured that your cuisine is both fresh and locally-sourced.
Take a dip in the Adriatic Sea, Croatia’s very own body of turquoise water. The Adriatic is known for its spectacular color and crystal clear waters, as well as it’s bold, rocky shorelines. With such enticing colors, you truly can’t visit this city without taking a dive below its surface. Be sure to pack a swimsuit and even some snorkel gear and an underwater camera for crystal clear views of the marine life.
Drinks & Cliff Diving
Enjoy the hunt of finding this literal hole-in-the-wall spot that gives ‘dive bars’ a whole new meaning. The Buža Bar bar in Dubrovnik is a cliffside spot where you can get a cold drink and lounge in your swimsuit, however the bar is not advertised in any way. There’s no signage outside of the bar, you won’t find the information for this destination in any brochure, and you’ll be lucky if you can get directions out of a local.
You simply must walk along the South perimeter of the wall along the street level and hope to find a hole in the wall. Walk through the stone hole and you’ll quickly realize why this place is kept on the down low. Resting on the rocky edge of the Adriatic Sea, the Buža Bar is known for being a prime cliff jumping spot. Purchase an ice cold beverage, and with this liquid courage and a bit of friendly peer pressure, you’ll be cannonballing off of the edge.
Another great way to take in the city is by paddling around it. Kayak tours go out all day, every day. You can choose to do a guided tour for varying durations of time, or opt to simply rent a kayak and venture of on your own. Guided tours are recommended, though, because your guide and lead you to fascinating sea caves and stoney cliffs only seen from water level.
Island of Peacocks
That’s right. Dubrovnik’s neighboring island, Lokrum, is inhabited with wild free-roaming peacocks. Don’t worry, they aren’t aggressive or mean, in fact you’ll be lucky to get a picture with one they scurry around so quickly. Take a quick, easy ferry ride over from Old Town Dubrovnik, and you’ll most definitely see a few peacocks wandering around. If you’re lucky, you may even see one with its feathers in full display.
Take It All In
For a bird’s eye view of the entire city and a thrilling ride, take the Cable Car up to the top of Mount Srđ for an aerial view of Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. Feeling bold? Follow the zig-zagging switch-back trail on a 90 minute active hike leading to the top of Mount Srđ. An excellent time to take on this trail is just before sunset. You’ll watch the sky fill with color as the sun dips into the Adriatic Sea, and you’ll be glad you chose to visit this exclusive town over all the European clichés.