Cruise ship tourist’s guide to Dubrovnik


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Dubrovnik is one of the world’s top stops for cruise ships. 10,000 visitors a day leave their floating cities to see the Pearl of the Adriatic. Find out how to make the most of your time on dry land.

In his 2007 TV series “New Europe”, Michael Palin was told that cruise ship visitors spend just €13 a day on average in Dubrovnik. Even allowing for inflation, this is a pitiful sum and gives ammunition to those who would like to see cruise ships banned.

Follow these tips and you can enjoy the perfect day docked in Dubrovnik while putting a bit of money back in the Croatian economy.

Walk the city walls

walls

If there’s one must-do in Dubrovnik, it’s a walk on the city walls. The whole of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s encircled by these fantastically preserved and immensely thick fortifications. As you enter the Old Town through Pile Gate, the ticket office is on your right and entrance to the walls is on your left. It will cost you 100 kuna and take at least an hour to walk all the way around, a lot longer if you stop to take as many photographs as I did.

From up here, Dubrovnik is at its photogenic best, with views of the terracotta rooftops, boats bobbing in the Old Port area and the lovely blue of the Adriatic Sea.

Stroll down Stradun

stradun2

The main street in the pedestrianized Old Town is known as Stradun, although its real name is Placa. Its shiny limestone pavement is polished every day by the thousands of visitors, and it’s lined with baroque buildings with green shutters – these were once people’s homes, but Stradun is taken up entirely by souvenir shops and cafés now. When you’ve had enough of the tourist hordes, take one of the sidestreets leading off Stradun and go explore. While not exactly ‘off the beaten track’, you’ll find it quieter and more atmospheric. People actually live here, although admittedly not too many – most rent their apartments out to tourists. There are 4,343 steep stone steps within the city walls, most of which seem to be in the streets north of Stradun, so be prepared to work those legs.

stradun

Bask on a beach

The view from above Sveti Jakov beach

You’ve just about got time to soak up some rays on one of Dubrovnik’s urban beaches. Banje beach is within spitting distance of the Old Town dead opposite little Lokrum island. Slightly further away on the same coastal road is the gorgeous Sveti Jakov beach – this is bigger and quieter with the added bonus of having a Game of Thrones set on the cliffs above it on the site of a derelict bombed-out hotel.

Sveti Jakov beach

Climb a mountain

Take the cable car from just outside the city walls to Mount Srd, the 412-metre high mountain overlooking Dubrovnik for the best views of the Old Town and the outlying islands (and the goats on the mountainside below you). The five minute ride costs 60 kuna single or 108 kuna return – if you don’t fancy the ride back down, you can walk down the switchback path that will take you an hour or so to get back to sea-level.

cable car

Booze at Buža

By now, you’ll deserve a beer and Buža is the place to go. It has to be one of the most dramatically sited bars in the world, built on to rocks sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea and the city walls. It’s not the easiest place to find but is well worth it – look for signs advertising “Cold drinks with the most beautiful view”. Once you’re there you will have to step through a hole in the city walls (buža means hole in the local Dubrovnik dialect) – grab a seat and watch the boats bob over to Lokrum while you drink. Buža only sells bottled drinks, and they’re not particularly cheap, but necking a couple of 38 kuna Ožujsko beers, preferably as the sun sets, is a Dubrovnik duty. However, If you can hold it, I wouldn’t recommend using the toilet – it makes the one in Trainspotting look like a five star hotel. Read more about my adventures at Buža here.

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Try Croatian cuisine

If you fancy some local food before you go back to your ship, you can’t beat the fantastically named Lady Pi Pi. The tables are all outdoors and the grill is too, so you can smell (and see) the meat and fish barbecuing from all over town. Although it’s within the city walls, it’s sufficiently far away and up-hill from Stradun to deter a lot of tourists – their loss, as prices are low and quality is high. 130 kuna will get you a mixed grill and a drink.

Divine wine

It’s nearly time to get back to the ship, but before you do so it’d be a shame to miss out on a glass or two of local wine from D’Vino – a cracking little wine-bar on a side street running off Stradun. The friendly Aussie owner will advise you what to drink – you’re seriously spoiled for choice, but one thing is guaranteed. After drinking here, Croatian wine will be your new favourite.

dvino

By my reckoning, you’d be looking at spending around 450 kuna (€60) – not a bad price to pay for what will surely be the best day of your holiday.

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Categories: Bosnia and CroatiaTags: , ,

18 comments

  1. I liked Dubrovnik but those darned Cruisers spoiled it. I understand that it is even busier now that Game of Thrones enthusiasts invade the city looking for set locations. I would ban cruise ships, I think they are dreadful. Last week in Northern Ireland one pulled into Belfast. A taxi driver (on the political tour) told us that it had 4,500 passengers and a lot of drivers had taken the day off because they couldn’t deal with the hassle. He told us that coaches race each other to get to Giant’s Causeway just to be certain of being there first!

  2. Dubrovnik is a beautiful place and i visited it before the war (still under the Tito regime) and it was stunning. Food left a certain amount to be desired in the hotels but did find some excellent red wines. Still on my list of places to re-visit.

  3. Dubrovnik has been on my list for quite a while now. Looks absolutely amazing. Thank you for the virtual tour. Have a lovely weekend!

  4. Looking forward to visiting Croatia in the future more and more. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Buza bar at sunset would be on my list of musts. For those not off a ship I would advice going slightly out of season. We went in March and the cruise ships didn’t make too much difference but the locals told me that in August it is unbearable and can take an hour to get down the stradun. We did all the things on your list and more in our week there, but I must mention the local ice cream – cheaper than in the UK and twice as good.

  6. Ah, Dubrovnik one of my favourite places. That’s a great guide to help get the most out of a landing. The thing I really liked about the city walls was the little cafes at intervals so that you could stop for a drink. D’vino is a great suggestion- a really nice bar.

  7. Thank you for pointing out some of our sites, I do hope tourists use the list.

  8. Been there, done all those! Add me to the list of people who would love to ban the cruise ships … we steered clear of the old town during the cruiser invasion hours each day to avoid the annoyance; the best bet for the wall walking and Buza is to wait until those ships have pulled back out for the day. Dubrovnik has the curse of being so beautiful that everyone wants to see it, and there will always be those who think a pop-in for a few hours is enough to check that box. Ugh.

    • We actually stayed a few nights in an Old Town apartment so saw the crazy fluctuation in crowd numbers. Dead before 9am or after 8pm but no room to swing a cat between 10 and 5! Just like Venice and Bruges, you can understand it though – a gorgeous place everyone wants to see.

  9. How did you scare all those people off for your lovely shots of Stradun, Richard? 🙂

    I’m putting a link here for you. I don’t know if you follow Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal but she’s darn good. She’s just done a feature on Madeira walks which might interest you. Did you get booked? I haven’t seen my friend who was there a few weeks ago yet.
    http://juliedawnfox.com/2015/06/18/3-magical-walks-in-madeira/

    • We stayed a few nights in an Airbnb apartment just off Stradun, and it can get pretty quiet there at about 8pm. Cheers for the link – I’ll have a read. Nothing booked up yet, waiting for payday!

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