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Sunday 2 June 2019

5 Days in Dubrovnik

As a big Game of Thrones fan Dubrovnik was very high on my list of places to go, mainly so I could recreate Cersei's walk of shame *just kidding - or am I...?*.  It definitely lived up to my expectations, so I thought I would put together a little Dubrovnik guide for those of you who are maybe thinking of heading there yourselves.

Planning your stay

We knew that we wanted to do this trip on a budget, mainly because we are planning a 7 day holiday later in the year, so finding a good deal was super important. I cannot recommend using SkyScanner enough when you are looking at flights - we didn't have a specific date in mind so were able to search for the whole of May and just pick the cheapest flight options. For our outbound flight we chose to fly from London Stanstead, and fly back in to London Luton on the way back. Even with transport to and from the airports considered, this was the cheapest option, despite being a little more inconvenient. I'd definitely recommend broadening your airport search to save some £££!

When it came to choosing where to stay, an AirBnB was at the top of our list because we generally like to have breakfast at home in the morning and make packed lunches to take with us on our day trips (another great way to save money when travelling on a budget). We stayed here, and although it was a little further out from the Old Town, the transport links were great with a bus every 10 minutes taking you to the Old Town for about £1.20, and a beautiful scenic walk which was just over an hour if you fancied walking the whole way. We walked into the Old Town a couple of times because we consider ourselves quite active people so wanted to get our steps in. Even the owner of the AirBnB said to us that staying on the outskirts is better because you're near the beaches but away from the hustle and bustle. The Old Town can get quite noisy at night apparently, so if you're a light sleeper maybe avoid staying here. 

In terms of planning a day-to-day schedule, we did do this but we had a couple of days where the weather wasn't all that great so we scrapped that. I'd recommend making a list of places that you do want to visit though! Our itinerary ended up looking like this:

- land in Dubrovnik 09:40
- check in to AirBnB
- walk coastal path to Old Town
- dinner @ Mia Culpa

Wednesday (rain)
- The Cave Bar
- walk coastal path to Old Town
- dinner @ Mia Culpa

- Cava Beach & chill/tan
- Sunset Beach in Lapad
- dinner @ TuttoBene

- walk the city walls in the Old Town
- lunch @ Restaurant Zoe
- back to Sunset Beach in Lapad
- dinner @ Bona Fide

Saturday (rain 1/2 day)
- bus into Old Town
- lunch @ Mia Culpa 
- leave Dubrovnik 22:15

Where to explore

The Old Town

The Old Town of Dubrovnik is generally what most people visit for, and for those Game of Thrones fans amongst us it is "King's Landing". You really can get lost in the winding cobbled streets of the Old Town - everywhere you turn is more restaurants and more shops and more Game of Thrones memorabilia stores. We didn't get around to doing a GoT tour which I was really keen to do, but honestly you can pretty much see everything on your own if you know what you're looking for (or if you have 3G). The main thing to do in the Old Town is to walk the City Walls, this costs around £20 per person, but it is a great way to see the city from some height. If you aren't a fan of stairs or walking then it might not be for you because there is a lot of stairs and it took us about 1.5 hours to walk the whole thing. I'd recommend going either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening, because the walls can be quite narrow at points and they get extremely busy. 

If you're in Dubrovnik for more than 3 days I would recommend visiting the Old Town maybe a couple of times, there's just so much to see!

Walking the coastal path

The coastal path was probably one of my favourite things that we did on our trip. It's a beautiful trail that takes you from Lapad to Babin Kuk (or the other way around depending on where you start). If you start in Lapad, you end up at Cava Beach or Copacabana Beach depending on how far you walk, and you truly get the most amazing views of the Croatian islands and the sea. There's also some great bars and restaurants along the path such as the Cave Bar which I totally recommend.

Cava Beach
On our chill days we spent a lot of time on Cava Beach which is in Babin Kuk. It was such a quiet little beach, with a bar and restaurant too. We didn't actually buy anything from the beach bar as review online said the service was shoddy and the food was nothing special, so we avoided it and bought our own water and snacks onto the beach instead. You can hire loungers etc but for two it worked out at almost £30 for the day, so naturally we opted for lying on the pebbles instead.

Lokrum Island

We sadly didn't make it to Lokrum Island as it rained the day that we would have gone, and by the time the rain cleared up the sea was far too choppy for a boat ride. It's about 40 Kuna (approximately £4.60) for the 15 minute boat ride which leaves from the Old Town. The island has a beautiful Botanical Garden which is meant to be stunning, and there are rocks on the edge of Lokrum which make a perfect picnic spot. I'll definitely be going here if we return to Dubrovnik, it really looks like a magical little place.

Where to eat & drink

In the Old Town I highly recommend Mia Cupla, as you can probably tell by the fact that we ate there three times in five days. It's just your generic Italian restaurant but their Pesto pasta and Quattro Formaggi pizza were divine, and they had pretty decent cocktails too. It's a solid 10/10 on my restaurant scale for sure. Most of the restaurants in the Old Town have people outside who are poaching people and trying to get them to come into their restaurant, so just be aware of this, and don't be afraid to say no if you haven't finished looking at all your other options! 

We also ate at Bona Fide in the Old Town which is great if you like Mexican food. It was basically Chiquitos, but with less impressive cocktails. I much prefer Italian food so probably wouldn't go back there but the food was decent and if you're not looking to spend a fortune then it's a good shout!

One place that you absolutely must visit is the Cave Bar. The drinks are pretty reasonably priced, and they have three Game of Thrones cocktails on the menu too. I'd recommend going for the one that's called Wildfire, and their Hot Chocolate was also banging. It's a great place to stop in at along the Coastal Path, or even just a visit when the weather has turned a bit shoddy. We ended up sitting in there for about 2 hours but the inside is genuinely a cave so it was absolutely beautiful to sit there.

If you take one thing from my food recommendations let it be this. DO NOT eat at TuttoBenne in the hope that it will be cheap. It is in no way like McDonalds - don't get me wrong, the food is good, but it was actually one of our most expensive meals despite them making out like it is "fast-food". Their burgers and chips are actually banging but there are better places you can spend your food money in my opinion.

Now, all my sweet-treat lovers you need to go to Peppino's in the Old City. Their ice cream favours are incredible, I had the best Mint Choc Chip ice cream I've had in my life - and trust me I've tried a fair few. Half my scoop was pure melted chocolate...I'm salivating writing this.

I'm so sorry, I cannot remember the name of the place that we got these crepes, but honestly they were incredible! It was by Sunset Beach in Lapad!

The only other place that we visited for food was Restaurant Zoe which is located on the seafront in Babin Kuk. It's very expensive because it's based in a hotel, and my Greek Salad was about £15. It was worth it for the views though and just for that I'd give it a 7/10.

Coming home

If you're on a tighter budget like we were, then getting the airport bus to the airport is your best bet. It takes about an hour from the Old Town but it's an air-conditioned coach and is super reasonable at 45 Kuna each (I believe). We were lucky in that when we turned up to the bus stop there was a taxi driver there who was on his way to the airport so offered to drop us up there for the same price as the bus, that did mean that we were almost two hours early for our flight which was a bit of a pain as there is nothing at Dubrovnik airport. If you're on a late flight like we were, please bare in mind that there is only one cafe at the airport and it's basic and very expensive so eat before you leave for the airport.

I think that is all I have on my Dubrovnik trip - if you're heading there soon have the best time!

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