Weekend in Dubrovnik

May Swan-Easton on 30 September 2010
Journey: Dubrovnik is an up and coming destination becoming rapidly popular for weekend breaks as it’s reachable in only 2hrs 40 minutes, based on a non-stop service. A number of cruise companies also include a scheduled stop in their itineraries.

Weather: Temperatures can reach mid 30s in the summer months & slightly cooler April to June and September to November, which I think are best for sightseeing as you avoid the crowds.

My accommodation: There are a number of accommodations to choose from including apartments, bed & breakfasts and 3* to 5* hotels. I stayed at Villa Busovina, run by Rastko and his wife. It’s a traditional 200-year-old villa with five large guest rooms set upon a hilltop with panoramic sea and city views and a ten-minute walk to the main entrance gate of the city.

What to do locally: Join guided walking tours of the Old City with an English speaking guide between May and Oct, along with boat trips to the surrounding islands and coast. For panoramic views of Old Town Dubrovnik, take the cable car to the top of Mount Srd. Dubrovnik is a ‘walking city’ but there are hundreds of steps to this city so it’s not for those who are unfit or have walking difficulties.

There are a number of boat rides you can do from two hours to full day tours on leisurely schooners to private yachts. There’s also a ten-minute ferry ride to the nearby island of Lokrum (Island of Love). I had a very pleasant two hours sailing the Adriatic seeing the Old City & its wall from a very different perspective of the sea. You can purchase tickets on the day from the many sightseeing counters in the old harbour or visit the Tourist Information Centre in front of the Pile Gate.

Lots of shopping opportunities are on offer, including Old Puca - a road full of jewellery shops with mainly locally crafted silver filigree and coral pieces. Local delicacies such as olive oil and delicious wines, to canned fruit and sweet nuts form the bustling market in Gunduliceva Square.

Food: As a coastal city, you will find most restaurants serve fresh seafood and Italian inspired dishes. I ate at the same restaurant twice as it was so good – Revelin Club, which has panoramic harbour views. I found prices for drinks and meals similar to the UK. There are a couple of very welcome cafes and bars along the city wall, the most well known being Buzza Bar, perched on the edge of a cliff with steps into the clear Adriatic sea for those who fancy a dip in between drinks.

Venturing further afield: Dubrovnik is a great jumping off point, hire a car and explore the rest of Croatia’s islands, like Mijet with its stunning salt water lakes, Hvar (Croatia’s French Riviera) or drive to Split (approx 4hrs). Rastko highly recommended the island of Lopud too.

My view: Dubrovnik offers you a combination of beach and city holiday. The city stands on the wonderfully warm Adriatic sea and whilst the beaches are pebbly rather than sandy, there are plenty of sun loungers to laze around on. A coastal town which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a jigsaw of piazzas, palaces, cafes, monasteries and fountains. Wander through historic, winding streets and you’ll stumble across picture perfect restaurants and beautiful boutiques.

The city suffered a lot of damage from bombings during the civil war in the 90’s, but has been largely reconstructed. Maps are displayed around the town showing which buildings suffered damage, but they have been renovated to such a high standard the buildings all blend in and it’s hard to tell which is old or new. I entered the Old Town by the Pile Gate and walked along the top of the surrounding city walls which date back to the Middle Ages. It took me three hours and I still never walked all the way around, but did have stunning vistas of the coast and Dubrovnik Old Town.

What to consider: There is an embargo imposed on building work of any kind (unless it’s an emergency repair) during the summer season, which is lifted the 2nd October when all hell breaks loose in the City with everyone organising their repairs and renovations before winter arrives. I discovered this when I was awoken at 7am on the day I flew home by the sound of hammering from neighbours restoring a terrace!