A city break in Dubvronik
Dubrovnik is a lovely city at the southern Croatian coastline surrounded by crystal clear waters of the Adriatic sea. The city has been rebuilt after the Yugoslavian war and is still surrounded by a medieval stone wall. Inside the city you feel like in an open-air museum and you can wander around narrow streets and enjoy some good Croatian food in one of the many restaurants.
Dubrovnik is easy accessible via plane and the airport is just 20 minutes away from the city. There is a public airport bus that runs frequently between the airport and the city. In our case we were offered a free airport transfer from the hotel when we did the booking through booking.com - which we had to confirm in advance and worked out well.
Visiting Dubrovnik in the main summer month means you are for sure not alone there - I actually have travelled a lot, but never have seen that many tourists in one spot. In the morning you will have around 4-5 big cruise ships docked in the harbour and their passengers are flooding the city in the morning hours. At night it is the hordes of young people on a bar crawl and although there are hundred of restaurants around it is difficult to get a place during main dining hours. So if big crowds are not your thing, stay away in the summer - otherwise I would advise to get at least a hotel outside the city walls to ensure that you get some silence at night.
We were staying at the Valamar Lacroma Hotel (www.valamar.com), which is situated on a quiet peninsula 10 minutes away from Dubrovnik center. The public city shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes to the city center just stops in front of the hotel. The hotel has a nice garden and large indoor and outdoor swimming pool. As a guest of the Lacroma you can use the beach of their sister hotel Valamar President just down the road. The Lacroma is a modern styled hotel with a very large breakfast buffet and a nice terrasse for a pleasant start into the day.
Also close to the Lacroma is the beautiful Copacabana beach - well, it is not Brazil but the vibe is lively plus they have a nice beach club there that plays Lounge music, serves good cocktails and food and has various sun beds and cabanas to rent. Come early to get one :-)
If you are staying at one of the Valamars and do not want to go all the way to Dubvronik city at night there is a small village center in Lapad, 15 to 20 minutes walking distance or 2 stops with the City shuttle. They have a nice pedestrian area there with many restaurants and bars. I can recommend the Restaurant Lapad (a bit off the pedestrian area in Mata Vodopica 1) for rustic Croatian food - especially the grills are good here. Back in the main walking street a cocktail at the lively bar LUMA comes together with some live music and fire juggling bar keepers.
Now to the city of Dubrovnik - a must do is a climb with the cable car up the mountain for some beautiful views over the city and coast. I highly recommend to do that in the late afternoon where there are less people and you can have a sundowner cocktail in the "Restaurant Panorama" on top.
Once back at the cable car station you can walk from there into the old town, passing the massive stone walls and enter the labyrinth of narrow streets.
Then you can climb up the city wall and walk from there around town, which will offer you the best views of the city and sea. Afterwards pass by the lively small harbor where you can have simple but nice seafood washed down with some local beers at the Lokanda Peskarija (www.mea-culpa.hr) - well, I already had better seafood than that but the ambiance is really nice and the food basic - however only seafood is available, so nothing for meat lovers.
Another good restaurant where we had dinner was at the family owned restaurant Konoba Jezuite (www.restaurantjezuitedubrovnik.com), which is opposite the Ignatius church. As that church square is a bit elevated over the city you can escape the crowds and heat of the streets and have more tranquility during dinner. However there as well as in any other restaurant in the summer season a reservation is recommended. They are offering a variety of nice starters - we had the delicious Octopus Salad and then mains of fish or meat. The food is traditional Croatian food, however with some creative twist and presented attractively.
With new energy you can continue your stroll through the city and maybe have a drink in one of the real nice rock bars that are situated on the cliffs outside the city walls - also a real nice place to enjoy the sunset. A good one is Cafe Buza - just follow the "cold drink sign" from the square Rudjera Boskovica.
As later the nights gets as more young party revellers are flooding into the city and fueling up in the many bars and pubs around. Just go with the flow and you will find in any square or corner nice places for a pit stop.
If you want to explore the surroundings of Dubrovnik during the day there are plenty of tour operators offering day trips around to Montenegro, Mostar, the wine yards, Mljet National Park and of course also many water and boat based tours to the islands around.
As the weather was hot and we were feeling for a combined active and relax tour we opted for the 3-Island boat cruise which we booked through the tour desk of our hotel for the price of 38 EUR per person inclusive of lunch and drinks. We were picked up-together with other guests from our hotel and after stopping at some further hotels reached the boat half an hour later. We were booked on the M/B Mara which is a wooden motor boat with only one floor and a bit uncomfortable seating area - no sun deck. They are squeezing in quite a lot of people, so do not expect to have much space to stretch out, but we saw other boats which were even more cramped. However the crew was nice and the entertaining captain welcomed his guests with the traditional zip of Slivovitz - for a good wake up as he said.
After cruising for 1 hour we reached the first Island Lopud , where we had three pleasant hours of free time. So enough time to explore the little village that is stretched along the bay, do some shopping in one of the artisan shops with hand-made arts from the island, visit the small botanical garden, have a coffee and afterwards a refreshing swim in the sea.
We were tempted to have our lunch in one of the nice island restaurants, however returned to the M/B Mara for our lunch on board. We had the choice between fish or chicken. We chose fish which came as a quite big portion simply grilled but with a good taste.
Then we set off sails for the next island Sipan which was only half an hour sail away. The island is the largest one out of the three and well-known for its olive oil and honey. We had a relaxed coffee and ice cream at the main town center which is also the meeting place of the island inhabitants and the many tourists who are coming during the summer.
Later in the afternoon we were heading for our last stop at the island of Kolocep with its lush Mediterranean vegetation and ideal for a swimming stop with its shallow beach.
After an hour of free time on the island the boat returned to Dubrovnik - also our short trip was almost at the end. For sure we will come back for a longer time to these beautiful shores - maybe by boat, as that is the best way to explore the Croatian coastline and islands - however certainly not in the middle of summer with its hordes of tourists.