Dubrovnik is easily one of my favourite places in Europe. It’s a winning mix of history, sun, sea and CATS. Croatia’s slowly becoming more popular amongst tourists, but there are still plenty of local gems and secret spots to be discovered. If it’s your first trip and you only have a couple of days, here are five things to do in Dubrovnik that you absolutely must not miss.
1. Spend your day cliff jumping at a “hole in the wall” bar
Dubrovnik has some gorgeous beaches, but they can get really busy in the summer, so head to one of two hidden Buza Bars balanced above the sea on the outskirts of the old city walls. If you love drinking ice cold beer, lazing in the sun and cliff jumping into the crystal clear Adriatic ocean then you’re in for a treat.
To find these epic spots, walk the main old town street clockwise around past all the shops and restaurants. You will eventually walk past a small doorway/hole in the wall. There is spray paint on the wall inside reading “NO TOPLESS” (lol) that leads around to the right – you should be able to hear the music! This is Buza Bar 1 and it is the larger of the two. It has much more space for sunbathing and tables & chairs for chilling out. Be prepared for some seriously uncomfortable sunbathing though! As per a lot of Europe, rocks and concrete slabs are known as their beaches.
The second of the two bars “Buza Bar 2” has epic cliff jumping. It’s just a little further around the corner – this one is sign posted with a sign that reads “Ice Cold Drinks”. If you walk through the bar area and down the stairs to the rocks, you will find a small paved area to put your things and you can climb up the rock face to the left and jump a decent 7 meters down into the beautiful cool ocean below. If you have some serious balls, there is an 18 meter jump further to the left. I didn’t like the smacking sound people made when they hit the water, so I gave that one a miss.
2. Tour the city walls for incredible views of Dubrovnik’s old town
This is one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik and such an awesome way to see the city from above. Entrance fee is a bit steep at 120HRK (about 16 Euro) but it’s totally worth it; just LOOK at those views.
My advice would be to go early to avoid the crowds and sweltering midday sun (nobody wants a burnt hair parting) and make sure you take a back-up memory card for your camera. FYI you can top water bottle up at any fountain you see in the city! Bonus!
It can take a couple of hours to walk all the way round depending on how many photo stops you take, so bring plenty of water (it’s expensive to buy up there). Ideally try to freeze a bottle in your hostel the night before so that it stays cool throughout the day.
This is also a great place to get your bearings and help you locate the elusive Buza Bars from above. One last piece of advice: The cobble stone streets are super slippery from thousands of tourists polishing them by walking on them year after year, so be careful!
3. Hop on a ferry to Lokrum Island where everything is free
This cute little Island was such a pleasant surprise for me. A last minute recommendation from a fellow Instagrammer had us straight on the 10 minute ferry over. There are plenty of swimming spots, including a mini “Dead Sea” – a small salt lake on the southern side of the island that has gained its nickname for being super easy to float in due to its salt levels! If you’re looking for free things to do in Dubrovnik, this is the place to be.
Explore the abandoned 15th century monastery, walk the botanical gardens and if you want to take care of those tan lines, there is also a nude beach! A bonus of this island is that practically everything is free (aside from food and drink of course). There is an awesome Game Of Throne Exhibit complete with a replica iron throne you can sit on, without the long queues you get at similar attractions in the city centre.
Lokrum is a car free island and it is forbidden to stay overnight thanks to a curse placed by the Benedictine monks in 1728 so be careful not to get carried away and miss the last ferry home!
4. Take the cable car to the top of Mount Srdj for a sunset picnic
Want the best sunset spot in Dubrovnik? Take the cable car to the top of Mount Srdj for incredible views of the whole city and the surrounding islands. To ensure you get the best views, scrap watching the sun go down from the viewing platform with everyone else. Instead, go downstairs and head around the back of the building and keep walking along the road to reach a grassy(ish) cliff side.
I recommend taking a picnic about an hour or two before sunset to nab a good spot. It can be quite a popular so set up camp quite far away from the main building. Don’t forget something to sit on to avoid getting prickles in your bum.
Also don’t rush off with everyone else once the sun has disappeared. Miss the long lines to get back down by hanging around a little longer to watch the city lights come on and the sky glow all sorts of pretty hues!
5. Overdose on pizza and cats
There are two things you will see everywhere in Dubrovnik: pizza and cats. Now Italy may be world famous for pizza, but Croatia also knows a thing or two about dough, tomato and cheese. This is a great cheap option for sharing if you are on a budget. As for the cats, I’m sure most people would advise against touching them because of worms and whatever, but I just can’t damn help myself. They are so flipping cute and practically everywhere you turn. What’s not to love about a city full of pizza and cats?!
About The Author
Lola is a photographer and traveller from New Zealand who is currently touring Europe. Next stop: Iceland! Follow her adventures over on Instagram @lola.photography.
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