Dubrovnik's survival guide
Dubrovnik is a great place for tourists with its walls and orange roofs that rise above the Adriatic Sea and the islands in the background. George Bernard Shaw once said: "If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik !". Believe me, he was a man who knew he was talking about when it comes to traveling. However, if you arrive in Dubrovnik unprepared, is likely to be disappointed. I certainly was not disappointed, so keep reading.
Come to Old Town of Dubrovnik on a sunny day and you will be astonished by numerous groups of tourists led by tour guides with raised umbrellas. I'm not one of those people who thinks he's too good for any place frequented by tourists, because we are actually all the tourists here, but Dubrovnik really tested my patience. The old town is small anyway, and with an incredible number of tourists, becomes overcrowded, so you get the feeling like you're in the Adriatic Disneyworld. It is not only crowded, but really, really crowded. When you add strong summer sun, you realize that you are on the threshold to become very upset during visit.
A walk along the walls at noon, when the sun is strongest, and the stairs never end, with incredible crowd, you can literally melt. Dubrovnik can compare with Venice during the summer. But in Venice and during the busiest summer days can find some quiet corner if you wander far enough away from the city center. This is not the case with the Old Town of Dubrovnik. The center of Venice is much larger and has about 60,000 inhabitants, while the Old Town of Dubrovnik is very small and it has about 1,000 inhabitants, most of whom rent their homes to tourists during the summer. According to the website dedicated to the tourism in Croatia, about half of tourists who visit Dubrovnik come by cruiser. Most of them remain in Dubrovjik just one day. Most cruisers follows the same program, which means that they come in the morning and leave people in the Old Town, and remain until the afternoon.
Solution: Explore Old Town only after 4pm during the summer months., More preferably, after 6pm. Believe me, you will not miss anything.
What to do before 4pm?
Relax and swim in the Adriatic: Select a hotel that has its own beach, or go to the public beaches such as City Beach, which is located just outside the Old Town. Swimming in the Adriatic is a great experience.
Go to kayaking: I spent a wonderful morning riding kayaking around the Old Town, while some longer routes are around the island of Lokrum. Take the cable car to the mountains. Although there you will probably want to stay until sunset and take a couple of photos.
Go on day trips: My favorite trip was to the island of Mljet, where there is a national park with freshwater lakes. Swimming in these lakes is one of my most beautiful memories from the Croatia. In addition, the island Lokrum is located just off the coast, and nearby are other islands like Korcula and Hvar. Also nearby is town of Cavtat, known tourist resort. You can even go out of Croatia and visit Kotor and Budva in Montenegro or Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Out of season?
I'm a big supporter of the journey out of the he main season or even off-season, but not all destinations are equal - some are great off-season, and some are actually very bad. For Dubrovnik I believe that it is essentially a summer destination for bright colors, beach and ice cream. If you want to get to the edge of the season, I am recommending middle of May or the end of September. Keep in mind that most flights to Dubrovnik are organized only in the summer months.
Evening in Old Town
In Dubrovnik, there are always tourists, especially during the summer. However, during the evening, Dubrovnik becomes much more pleasant place. This is the ideal time to walk around the walls that surround the Old Town! The last time I was on the wall in the afternoon and I almost melted. This time was around 18:30, which is actually very close to the time when they close (19h). However, it is still relatively hot !
Favourite places in Dubrovnik
Cafe Buza - This coffee shop has two locations within the rocks overlooking the Adriatic! Great environment is worth visiting before sunset. You can easily go for a swim from both locations.
Restaurant Proto - They have a perfect snails and delicate sea bass.
Pastry Dolce Vita - there is the best ice cream in town and this place is well known for ice cream from bitter orange, which are recommended in combination with chocolate.
Fortress St. Lawrence - if you do not go on a tour and Game of Thrones, be sure to visit this fort alone. Fortress itself is extremely interesting, and it is also a great place for taking a photo of Old Town at sunset.
Kayaking - this is a really fun way to spend the morning and see the Old Town from a different perspective. Adriatic Kayak Tours offers half-day trips for 280 euros per person.
Walk the city walls - a must for every tourist in Dubrovnik! Ticket costs 100 Kn ($ 18 USD), and the Walls are closing in 19h.