If you haven't been to Croatia, I'd definitely suggest a visit. We hope to schedule a return trip to explore more areas soon. Views from the airplane alone are spectacular! The gorgeous hues of blues where the mountains meet the sea. Small villages that line the coast. Splashing waves running over walkways and seating areas. Over the top mega yachts cruising by with no destination in sight. It truly is beautiful.
Croatia's history is very unique. Due to many wars and conquests, Croatia has changed hands numerous times with its boarders remaining fluid. After the final dissolve of Yugoslavia, Croatia finally became its own governing country. This happened only 30 years ago!! Whhhaatttt???!!! Unfortunately, the economy has never truly recovered.
Croatia has its own currency called the Croatian Kuna. You will need to make a special request at your bank to have some cash converted. Most banks in the US do not have this radially available, but you will have it within a few days. You also can convert cash at the airport or use an ATM with additional fees. Be prepared, there were many small local spots that only accept cash. Cost wise for a vacation, I found Croatia to be pretty reasonable, even in true touristy areas.
You're in luck! The majority of people in Croatia speak English as well as other European languages. You shouldn't have any problem communicating, which always makes traveling easier. All historical plaques and restaurant menus were also offered in English.
Food in Croatia is very good. Seafood dishes are the specialty, for sure. If you love shell fish, this is the place for you. They also serve a lot of meat dishes too. Black risotto is probably the most unique dish I experienced. It might not look very appetizing, but it has pretty good flavor! Thin crust pizzas are delicious and are available everywhere. Pasta dishes with sauce variations also seemed to be a staple.
There are many different choices when it comes to lodging in Croatia. Depending on the size of your group, look into multiple options for cost comparisons. Choose your home base location and then decide if you want the hotel/resort vibe or if you would like more private lowkey option. Condo/House rentals in Croatia are also very common. There are many reparable companies you can work with if interested.
From the airport, you will be traveling on tight winding roads, alongside cliffs in order to get to your destination. You can rent a car, but unless you plan to travel around the country, I would suggest getting a Taxi or Uber. That way you will be able to enjoy the scenery along the drive. Also, if you stay in common tourist locations, there is a lot of availability for car services to get you where you want to go.
Most known for its Old Town, Dubrovnik's massive medieval walls surround the entire original city. This city is filled with classic, uniform, European styled buildings with terracotta roofs. Drawbridge gates still remain as the true entrances into the city. Its walls nestle right against the Adriatic Sea and are literally picture perfect. Old forts are both within the city walls as well as neighboring outside. It is a very unique location and you truly feel like you went back in time. Old Town is both home to may locals as well as the main tourist location in Dubrovnik. There are shops, restaurants, museums, churches and much more all within the walls. But don't worry, if you are also looking for some great nightlife, this is the place for you. There are many bars and nightclubs that rage well into the morning.
Like most people, I got my first glimpse of Dubrovnik from the Game of Thrones. Learning that the show used an actual location for most of its interpretation of Kinds Landing is mind boggling. Let me tell you, you must see this city in person. Although the series is great, it still doesn't do the city enough justice. If you are a fan, it is pretty cool to recognize different locations and buildings that were used for some of the most iconic scenes in the series. You can also take the Game of Thrones Tour if you are super hardcore.
Right outside of the Old Town city walls also has some amazing perks. The harbor itself is gorgeous with lots of ocean activities surrounding it. Beaches both public and for a small charge are right next door with amazing views of the city. The paths through the streets are gorgeous with a true village vibe and even more restaurants and cafes. Be ready to climb a lot of stairs, both ways! A good bit of the city is very steep with twists and turns throughout the walking paths. Don't worry, you won't be the only person stopping to take a breather. Just make sure your shoes are comfy and won't give you blisters. There is a lot to discover that is off the beaten path as well. Hidden swimming coves with cliff jumping, parks and walking paths, local markets and more. Explore it all!
Dubrovnik is a relatively safe city. Just be smart when you are walking around outside of the core tourist areas. We were actually harassed a bit by a couple trying to con tourists out of money. They followed our group leaving our rental house and began yelling that we stole their Vespa and crashed it. Threatening us with the police and that they had us on film. They were attempting to take pictures of our faces, hoping we would just give them money to leave us alone and go away. Again, these con attempts can happen anywhere you travel. Be safe, be smart and travel in groups. Keep your important belongings with you, stay aware of your surroundings and if you truly feel unsafe, immediately call the authorities or your embassy. I am telling you this story not to scare you or to discourage you from traveling! This can happen anywhere, including the comfort zone of your own hometown. I just hope that if a similar situation begins to unfold, that you are prepared and know how to handle it.
THE OLD CITY WALLS
Walking atop the city walls a totally new and exciting way to see the city. You feel like you a part of a medieval era as you venture on. I highly recommend this experience! It really was cool. You can choose to walk the walls as part of a tour or on your own with a ticket. We enjoyed doing it at our own pace without a guide. The 360 degree views are incredible and at every turn, there is something new. There are also sections where you can relax on benches and just take in the beauty. Small cafes pop up along the path where you can grab a coffee, fresh juice or gelato. It really is incredible. The journey along the wall is also much longer than I expected if you go end to end. There are areas where you can decide to exit the walls if you so choose, but you cannot re-enter. Make sure to wear sunscreen and sturdy shoes!
EXPLORE THE OLD TOWN SITES
There is so much to see and do in Old Town. Although some of the sites had to be reconstructed due to earthquakes, there is still some very elaborate buildings standing. Walk through the Monastery, Rector's Palace, past the old Fountain and through the main street of Stradun. Go up and down all the side streets and alleyways. You never know what you will find! Tons of shops and indoor/outdoor restaurants fill the city. You can also cross into the harbor area from inside the city walls too. This area has a lot of restaurants and cliff bars that look over the sea. Make sure you also go out the Pile Gate over to Fort Lovrijenac. It also has great views of the city. Again, there are tours available if that is your thing, but I find wondering around and explore on your own sometimes to be better. You'll always find historical plaques where ever you go!
ENJOY WATER SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES
There are so many fun water activities you can do in Dubrovnik! Kayaking tours around the city walls and to a small neighboring island are a common in the afternoon or for sunset. It's truly a relaxing way to enjoy the ambiance. Doing an all day boat/catamaran cruise is a lot of fun. They take you to beautiful islands where you can walk around and explore, go into sea caves, and swim in some local hot spots. If you want, you can also join one of the cove boat parties. It was a blast, especially if you are with a group. More activities you can look into are jet ski rentals, wake boarding, tubing, and flyboards.
ENJOY THE BEACHES AND SWIMMING COVES
Enjoying the crystal blue waters is a must. The main tourist beach right beside the city walls is called Banje Beach. You can choose to relax in the public section that is free of charge, or go to the club to have a chair and umbrella. There are a lot of smooth rocky areas past the beach that you can climb up on too. Super snazzy beaches exist as well if that's your thing. If you want more local vibes, there are also tons of other beaches and swimming areas. They are much more low key and you have more room to spread out than the main beach. You can bring your own food and beverages and some of the beaches have small stands to purchase from as well. These locations are different than your typical beaches. They most likely are more rocky than you are used to, but also have a more natural vibe. You will just have to walk a little bit to get there or get an Uber relatively close.
TO THE TOP
Dubrovnik has his own Cable Car that will take you up to the top of the neighboring mountain that looks over the entire city. Pick up and drop off is right outside of the old city walls, which is very convenient. It is a nice little side trip to see the city from a different vantage point and to walk around on top of the mountain. It will not take much of your day, but it is nice to do. If you have time to kill, you can also choose hike the path to the top and back. I personally wouldn't waist a whole day on this hike. There is a restaurant up at the top as well if you would like to grab a bite to eat.
New city is just want it sounds like. The newer side of Dubrovnik. It still has a lot of the similar styling as old city, just a little more modernized. There are some top restaurants in this area as well as very nice cafes and markets. Your larger hotels/resorts reside on this side of town. Rentals are also typically in this area, but still close to the Old City walls. The harbor at the end of New City is much larger, so this may be where your water activities pick you up/drop you off. Depending on where you are, the walk to either side of town really isn't that far, just hilly. Again, there are always Taxis and Ubers too if you don't want to walk.