I fell in love…with Croatia. Sssssh, don’t tell my beautiful Italy that another country stole my heart.
From land to sea, to islands glistening like white washed gems in the sparkling Adriatic sea, this is one beautiful country….even if Game of Thrones fans do arrive in mind boggling numbers to walk in the footsteps of the stars who turned Dubrovnik into Kings Landing, where a chunk of the show was filmed.
This majestic fortress of a city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site rests its white washed gleaming cobbled streets on the turquoise jewel that is the Adriatic – one of the cleanest seas in the world.
Full of charm, a real mix of people and somehow it feels like somewhere us Brits have not yet fully discovered, invaded and overrun in the summer. There’s a Mediterranean charm to it, alfresco dining by the port or sun baked walks on top of the City’s walls give you the full glorious view of the terracotta roofs below.
For a start there is a harbour complete with bobbing boats and a beautiful beach, which at one end nestles a very cool beach club where you can rent a luxurious padded white sun bed for £10 for the day and enjoy food and cocktails by waiter service – that’s the life, we splurged! Scroll to the end for the links and tips and where to find it.
One evening we were sitting in Buza bar, carved into the rocks which is a mecca for sunset watchers – that’s basically all the bar is for, and it serves only beer and cider, the view is the selling point – we saw a bunch of dots in the water in the distance.
They grew larger, it was a flotilla of kayaks coming back towards the walls at sunset.
Guess what we did the next night?!
We picked the 5.30pm kayak session, luckily for us it was going from a little bay right near our hostel (also a scene from GoT – of course). We threw our stuff in dry bags, strapped life jackets over our bikinis and jumped in a two-person kayak and powered out around the walls, to an island where we beached ourselves in a cave.
They gave us snorkels and we spent half an hour frolicking about like idiots trying to take underwater selfies (apparently my bum is a buoyancy aid – it wouldn’t let me sink!!!), and scaring the fish and probably amusing the whole cave with our giggles.
We then hopped back into our little vessels and as we paddled around the walls came into sight in the distance, so did the most beautiful sunset.
Hand on heart, sitting there bobbing about in the water with nothing in front of us except the colours of the sun setting reflected in the water, it’s one of the most memorable sunsets I have ever seen.
Things to Do
Sunset Kayak (I mean come on, if my photos don’t sell it you might be bonkers!) we did it with Adventure Dalmatia and efficiently booked via email before hand. Cost – £28 for 3hrs including a sandwich snack, drink and a glass of wine on your return. Go solo if you’re on your own, they will pair you up.
Visit Banje Beach Club – £10 per sun lounger for the whole day
Buza Bar – Grab a beer as the sun sets in a hole-in-the-cliff-face bar. Drinks are cheap, the stunning view is free. Oh and the fearless can cliff jump from here!
Walk on top of the City Walls. Go early before the heat or late afternoon, open from 08.00 – 17.30. Takes roughly an hour and is so worth it. Cost £14.00
Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Runs mid July – end August. We saw Sigma at Banje Beach Club for just £15 (ticket bought on the day) and it was an intimate night, dancing our hearts out on the beach – amazing experience – we even met them after in the bar.
Visit Sulici Beach, a hidden bay just outside of Pile gate, which only the locals seem to know about. Beautifully lacking in throngs of tourists and the cafe carved into the rock serves simple lunch, beers, ice creams and much needed cold drinks
Eat seafood. Honestly, it’s ridiculously good if you like fish and shellfish.
Drink Croatian wine. You’ve probably never heard of a white wine from Croatia, but due to their climate it’s beautiful.
Where to Stay
We stayed in the Marker Hostel, which is a series of dorms spread across different buildings and floors, by the Pile gate. Lacks a common area, so unless your roomies are friendly, it isn’t a good social hostel. The location for it was so close to everything though, that was a saving grace.
I’d say avoid if you’re a solo female traveler, the male staff were a bit sketchy, though they did let us use their laptop to book a ferry when our phones wouldn’t let us book it. Even their website even admits “We are not the best,we are not the nicest but we are a part and soul of Our beautiful city.” At least they are honest!
Getting from Dubrovnik to Hvar
- We caught a bus from outside the Pile gate for a couple of pounds to the Ferry Port in Dubrovnik, from there we caught the Jadrolinija ferry to Hvar. Do your research, plot the route to arrive on time for the ferry.
- The summer route timetables will show up nearer the summer, funnily enough.
- Journey takes a few hours. Bring something warm the boat is enclosed and the air con was cranked up to arctic levels, aka not good for shorts and flip flops! Beverages and snacks can be bought on board and of course, there are loos.
- Cost was around £22 each – book in advance in summer – tickets go very fast.