Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy airplane tickets which is pretty much the same thing. Hello, Croatia!
My beautiful mama and I have a tradition of taking a girly mini-break whenever she visits. When deciding on our destination (almost my favourite part of travelling), criteria includes plenty of sunshine, beautiful architecture, activities to fill a 4-5 day break and somewhere new for both of us. In Europe, this doesn’t really help to narrow down our list. And sometimes, it takes a while for us to agree where our whims should take us. But when it came to choosing where where to lounge for a few days in balmy September one year, it took all of two minutes for us to unanimously decide: Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik was just perfect. Beautiful buildings which were unlike anything else we’d seen. Warm weather coupled with a sea breeze. Plenty of physical activities to try and make a dent in all the delicious, fresh food we devoured. We lucked out with a gorgeous 'Air BnB'place, nestled in the north end of the old town, just inside the wall. I’d definitely recommend staying inside the old town - it’s not very often you visit one as stunning as Dubrovnik’s.
The old town feels like it has been built for instagram. We spent our first afternoon wandering slowly around the narrow streets, the marbled boulevards and climbing up and down the many stairways. We stopped at the infamous Buza Bar to rest our tired tootsies and watch the boats sail past, with a Croatian radler in hand. It couldn’t really get much better.
That evening, we headed up to watch the sun go down over the city. We were pleasantly surprised to find a great little museum, and views over a valley into Bosnia. For anyone visiting the area, brushing up on your history is a must. Although pretty dated, a series called 'The Death of Yugoslavia' on Youtube is a good starting point. There’s also a brilliant photographer’s gallery that’s not to be missed. It’s a pretty sobering experience, especially as I was old enough to remember catching really small glimpses of the war back in the nineties.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Dubrovnik - I’ve called out some of my favorites here. But a second tradition on our mother-daughter jaunts is always several visits to local supermarkets. We tend to go all out on lunch, and snack at dinner time on dried fruit, cheese and chocolate (that’s at least two of the key food groups covered, right?)
Another tradition of ours is to always do a few more physically demanding activities over and above the strenuous sampling of ice-cream. Our trip to Dubrovnik saw us exploring the island of Lokrum, and kayaking around the Elafiti Islands. Dubrovnik is definitely on the beaten tourist track, and you need to get out of the city so that you don’t feel like you might morph into a sock & sandal wearing 70-something on a package bus tour.
Walking around the old town wall is a must. We went first thing in the morning before the crowds, with the cool breeze coming in off the Adriatic Sea. It takes a couple of hours at leisure, and make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card. You’ll spy many stunning buildings, nooks and crannies you won’t see otherwise, and you feel you get an inkling of what life is like inside the city walls by nosily peering into people’s roof terraces. You’re not supposed to be able to exit the walk around the wall and re-enter, but a smile and a wink gave us a free pass to devour a late breakfast of dark-chocolate ice-cream and strong coffee and climb back up to where we left off.
If you’re visiting Dubrovnik, stay longer than the one night at the end of your Sail Croatia tour. If it’s not on your list, add it. Next time, I’ll be staying longer to fit in a day trip into Mostar, Bosnia, or heading on down to the Montenegrin Riviera. Zdravo (thank-you), Dubrovnik!
Other posts on Dubrovnik include 'Venturing Beyond Dubrovnik's Walls', 'Exploring Majestic Dubrovnik' and 'Eating your way through Dubrovnik'.
With Love, Kate