In the spirit of making good on our promise to explore more of Europe pre-Brexit, we hopped over to Dubrovnik to celebrate Lottie’s Birthday.
We visited in April, which is out of season.
So, the weather was sketchy and we weren’t able to visit Lokrum Island since the ferry wasn’t running – but we still managed to get a good feel for Croatia’s most popular tourist spot and see what all the fuss was about.
Accommodation & Flights
Hotel More, £413 for 3 nights inc. breakfast and return flights with baggage.
Surprise, surprise – we found a deal. American Express were running an offer (£200 off £600 spend), so we snapped up a city break in Croatia.
We’d give the breakfast a fair 8/10, helped along by the fact that they offer free-flowing sparkling wine every morning. Maybe this is a European thing..?
The service in this hotel, and in general in Dubrovnik, was a little…odd?
Not rude necessarily, but slow and on the inattentive side. If you want serving, you really do have to ask for it – we put it down to Croatians being very laid back? Anyway, we found ourselves waiting for 30+ minutes at every meal for either service, our meal / drinks, or the bill – just a heads-up not to plan on getting in-and-out very quickly.
Nonetheless, our stay here was decent – the stand-out, aside from the disconcertingly large room we were given, was the full-sized Birthday Cake and corresponding note – which was a really lovely touch.
As usual, we largely relied on Uber – a 35m journey set us back around £25p. Our Uber drivers were some of the friendliest people we came across in Dubrovnik, happily stopping to draw our attention to points of interest and recommending their favourite restaurants.
Things to do
You can hardly visit Dubrovnik without spending at least a little time exploring they city’s iconic Old Town. Game of Thrones nuts (hello) will recognise the Old Town as King’s Landing, but even if you’re not a GOT enthusiast you’d be hard-pressed to miss the beauty of this place.
Its narrow streets are utterly quaint and wonderful to simply wander around, particularly if you’re blessed with decent weather during your stay.
We think it’s worth it to stray from the beaten path and explore the residential back-streets, too.
City Walls (£23.50 p/person)
Totally touristy but actually brilliant. Don’t write this off as a naff tourist trap, walking the 13th Century walls is the best way to see the city.
And lap up the Croatian sunshine.
Not an issue for us since we visited out-of-season, but in high-summer, avoid the walls around mid-morning / early afternoon time – it’s when the cruise ships dock and droves of passengers pour into the city. As such, Old Town in general and the walls in particular are swarming during the day throughout peak season, so try to arrive either early morning or late afternoon if you’d sooner beat the crowds.
The walls span roughly 2km with 3 access / exit points: Pile Gate, Ploce Gate, and St John (Sv Ivan) Fort.
You’ll likely need a couple of hours on the wall, which allows plenty of time to lap up the exquisite scenery and, of course, to take obligatory wanky pictures.
Fortress Lovrijenac (entry included in City Wall ticket)
Your city wall ticket will also grant you access to Fortress Lovrijenac, which we’d thoroughly recommend taking advantage of.
The 13th Century structure stands atop a 37m high sheer rock overlooking the sea – and GOT fans will recognise it as the Red Keep.
Very cool, and we found it way quieter than the City Walls.
We were in town for a couple of days, and arrived with a couple of bars in mind.
Cave Bar More (£8 p/cocktail)
The first, happily, was inside our hotel. Great news since, as we mentioned, for the first 24 hours of our trip we were graced with torrential rain. As such, we were glad to have someplace very local to seek refuge.
The clue’s in the name: the bar is one big cave nestled into the side of the cliff, right on the edge of the water. A pretty stunning location, adorned with twinkling lights and lanterns, waves crashing on the rock face a few metres away – come for the setting, the cocktails were mediocre but not extortionate at £8 a pop, and the very cool backdrop is what you’re there for.
D’vino (tastings from £6 upward)
D’vino is a tiny, dimly lit little wine bar with only a few tables – you’ll find it tucked away in one of Old Town’s many little side streets. We didn’t book (our bad) and waited a good half-hour for a table, so it’s worth making a reservation if you plan on stopping by.
We’ll preface this review by letting you know that things got really out of hand on this night. Not our finest hour. Suffice to say we ended with 3+ bottles of wine, full control of the stereo system, a hefty bill (though we did get a ‘free’ fridge magnet thrown in), and a raging hangover a few hours later (Happy Birthday, Lottie).
Regardless, our glowing review stands. The super knowledgeable staff here are so friendly and will happily talk you through the vast array of wines they have to offer. The price range is pretty varied (as you can expect from any wine cellar) – we’d suggest starting with a tasting flight and letting the bar keep guide your next choices depending on how you found the tastings. This is a place to dig in for the evening and soak up the homely atmosphere, along with some of the great meat & cheese platters on offer.
Restaurant Tramuntana £107 for seafood sharing menu & drinks
Since we were right on the water in the Mediterranean, we figured we could enjoy some really memorable seafood in Dubrovnik.
Restaurant Tramuntana was on-site at Hotel More, and came highly recommended for fish dinners.
We won’t harp on but this was a seriously disappointing meal – nothing tasted all that fresh, and it wasn’t cheap, either. We’d skip this place, if it happens to crop up in your search for a decent seafood dinner in Croatia.
Panorama Restaurant: £60 for 2 mains, 2 cocktails and shared dessert.
You can catch breathtaking views from several spots around Dubrovnik from the various forts and, of course, from the city walls – but you’ll want to head up Mount Srđ for absolutely unbeatable views over Dubrovnik’s crystal waters.
You can take the cable cars up the mountain, but the queues are often long and it works out cheaper to share a cab up the hill if you’re not travelling solo (£20 for an uber).
At the top, you’ll find Panorama Restaurant, which is where we headed for Lottie’s Birthday meal.
You’ll want to book – we nabbed a table for sunset (Google when that is) which we thoroughly recommend.
On a clear day, it’s worth a visit even if you decide on drinks and a light snack rather than a full meal.
The food here is pretty good – we plumped for the steak and seabass, split down the middle, as always.
Both were decent, if a little on the cold side by the time they arrived at our table.
Both the grub and the drinks turned out to be very reasonably priced given the location – we had expected to overpay for dinner for the view, but £60 was fair and reflected the quality of the offering we felt.
The staff at Panorama are mostly friendly – but again, really odd service.
The cocktails were very inconsistent – we ordered the same cocktail 3 times: The first was great, and on-the-house since it took +30m to arrive (nice gesture). The second wasn’t as good, but we ordered again hoping that the third would be like the first – it arrived a watery mess, so we called it there.
The haphazard service spanned the whole evening, though…
Harry mentioned Lottie’s Birthday at the point of booking – the table next to us also had a birthday and they had a candle and sweet message with their dessert. Nothing for us though – not a huge deal but still odd and on the disappointing side.
All-in-all – given it’s not particularly expensive, we’d say the place is worth a visit if only for the views. Just don’t pin your hopes on seamless service and / or a totally groundbreaking culinary experience.
Dubrovnik is, in a word, picturesque – we didn’t ever realise that waters that clear and beautiful were a thing in Europe!
If you’re a GOT fan, you have to visit Dubrovnik – even as a quick stop of as part of a wider trip to Croatia, it’s worth seeing.
We’ve plans to visit Split and more of Croatia in general, maybe spend some time on and around the coast to make the most of the Adriatic Sea, which was the highlight for us.
The food and drink in Croatia didn’t blow us away – maybe we were unlucky, but we wouldn’t call it a foodie hot-spot in case that’s what you’re after.
You could spend 2-3 full days enjoying Dubrovnik in good weather, and we think that’d be plenty of time to see & do all the best that the city has to offer.