After four days wandering the Old Town, we headed to a suburb just outside of Dubrovnik to meet my family and spend a week by the pool at their apartment. One of my favourite things about Dubrovnik is that it’s the kind of place where you can get the best of both worlds, mixing together a bustling city break and a chilled out break in the sun. Having had a slightly bumpy start to the year (understatement of the century) I was beyond excited to spend some time getting stuck into the huge pile of books I’d brought with me to read in the sun.
We spent our first afternoon wandering around the small town where the apartment was located, only to discover that there wasn’t all that much happening around us. After grabbing lunch in the only restaurant we could find, and getting absolutely soaked in a sudden downpour, we returned to the apartment to unpack and settle in. That evening, we meandered in the opposite direction and found a little waterfront bar with a beautiful view of the sun setting over the harbour, as well as an Italian restaurant that served some of the biggest pizza I’d ever seen.
Monday was spent as all Mondays should be, reading by the pool and topping up my tan, with a quick break to stock up on snacks at the local shop. In the evening, we headed over to the Lapad area of Dubrovnik, where many of the hotels are located. Here you’ll find a host of restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours that are a little bit quieter than those you would find in the Old Town.
After another chilled out start to the day on Tuesday, we jumped on a bus towards the Old Town just as the sun was starting to set so that we could walk the City Walls at golden hour. Paddy and I had walked the city walls on our first trip to Dubrovnik, we were more than happy to soak in the beautiful views over the iconic orange roofs. It was pretty heavy going in the heat, even though the warmest hours of the day had been and gone, but it was so worth it to see the way the light hit the skyline as the sun began to dip. Plus, I saw about 27 cats in one garden alone, so that was probably the highlight for me. Life goals right there.
We descended from the City Walls just as they were about to close and headed back to the bustling lanes of the Old Town to grab a drink before an early dinner. The next day we were heading off on a day trip which meant an early rise, so the evening was quite chilled. For dinner, we ate at Konoba Aquarius, a secluded restaurant just a stone’s throw from the harbour that had a beautiful leafy roof terrace. Once again, I had a steak, and we all enjoyed our meal so much that we headed back here for dinner on our last evening too.
My dad had been really keen to spend a day visiting Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as there were five of us going we were able to book a private tour as opposed to spending the day on a coach. The day started early, leaving our apartment at 8am to start our drive over the border towards Mostar. On our way, we stopped at the beautiful Kravice Waterfalls where we spent a couple of hours swimming in the crystal clear water and enjoying the stunning surroundings. This was maybe one of my favourite parts of the trip and is something I’d highly recommend doing if you have the time. We stopped at the waterfalls in the morning, before it got too hot or too busy, which seemed to be the ideal time as it was starting to fill up when we were leaving.
From Kravice, we continued on for just under an hour towards the city of Mostar, home of the Stari Most, or Old Bridge. Mostar has such an interesting past, with the city being bombed heavily during the Bosnian War and since rebuilt. The bridge is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and every day you can watch brave divers take the plunge into the churning river below. It’s a huge tourist attraction, so can get pretty busy, particularly during the day. The bridge is a prime example of Ottoman architecture and now acts as a symbol of intercultural relationships between the Catholic and Muslim sides of the city. Mostar is a melting pot of numerous different cultures, with many ethnicities and religions co-existing side by side.
After having lunch by the river we explored the bazaars that line the streets surrounding the bridge and enjoyed an ice cream whilst watching the locals jump off the bridge into the river. Due to its inland location, Mostar gets very hot, and after wandering around in the sunshine we had to retreat to the shade for a drink to cool down before we started the two-hour journey back to Dubrovnik.
We arrived back from Bosnia about 6pm, but my evening was taken over by a migraine that left me feeling like my brain was rattling inside my head, so it was an early night for me. The next day I woke with a head clear from migraine-fog, and so Paddy, my brother and me grabbed a bus to the Old Town to try one of the many Game of Thrones themed walking tours. I fell out of love with Game of Thrones during season four and haven’t quite got round to catching up yet, although I know roughly what has happened in the more recent seasons. Despite this, I still enjoyed the tour just as much as Paddy and Mark who are both huge fans.
Although it was Game of Thrones themed, our guide still imparted some interesting facts about the city of Dubrovnik in general and the rise of tourism in the area. We climbed the steps to the top of Fort Lovrijenac, which was included in the cost of our City Walls ticket from earlier in the week, and soaked in the views over the Old Town whilst our guide talked us through where the scenes were filmed and the production logistics that went on behind the scenes. Having worked on the set himself, he was also able to share some juicy gossip about the stars of the show and what they were really like beyond the screen. Some of which was quite surprising, if I’m honest!
After climbing back down from the fort, we headed to some of the iconic filming spots within the Old Town walls, such as the steps from the “Walk of Shame” scene. You can even buy a “Shame” cocktail at a little takeaway window halfway up the steps if that’s your sort of thing. The tour lasted around two hours in total and ended with a trip to a small souvenir shop that houses an Iron Throne for posing on.
Thursday was Paddy’s last day in Dubrovnik, so we finished it all off with a return trip to Lapad that evening for some Mexican food and cocktails on the main street. The atmosphere in Lapad is somewhat more relaxed than that in the Old Town, so it made for the perfect chilled out end to the day.
As Paddy jumped in his taxi to the airport on Friday morning we hailed a different kind of taxi and took the water taxi to the nearby town of Cavtat. This small harbour town feels like a world away from the cruise ship crowds that swarm in Dubrovnik, with tree-lined paths and water-front restaurants making this sleepy spot a brilliant place to spend the day. From the moment we arrived, I was mesmerised by the beautiful blue sea which, like the rest of the Adriatic coast, was crystal clear and brimming with tiny fish. We had a delicious lunch by the water, watching the huge yachts in the harbour bob with the waves, before grabbing an ice cream and following the pine-lined path around the coast.
We found a shady spot to sit and relax whilst my brother indulged in a spot of fishing, and I could have happily sat by the sea with my book all day. Before long, however, it was time to continue our walk along the coast before eventually circling back to the harbour to catch the boat back to Dubrovnik. The journey takes around 45 minutes and stops at various points along the coast, including the island of Lokrum which is home to a national park and beautiful walks.
Just like that, my 12 days in Dubrovnik had quickly drawn to a close. We spent the last day relaxing by the pool and soaking up the last of the sun before enjoying one final dinner in the Old Town. Before I knew it, I was on a plane home to be reunited with my cats. As always, now that I’m home it feels like it never happened, and the holiday blues have been hitting me hard over the last two weeks.
The Adriatic Coast is a beautiful spot, particularly the area surrounding Dubrovnik, and has seen a huge increase in popularity over the last few years. I feel like everyone I’ve spoken to this year is either going to Dubrovnik or planning a visit, and after two trips there I can wholeheartedly understand why. If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be. The perfect place to enjoy beautiful views, mouthwatering food and a heap of vibrant history – what more could you want?