Over two years after the government locked us up and almost threw away the key - we’re only just seeing a return to normality.
Restrictions have eased in most popular tourist destinations, but some places still have strict guidelines.
• 22 countries remain closed for vaccinated travellers.
• 50 countries are restricting access to those unvaccinated.
• 87 countries are open for travel without any COVID-19 restrictions.
A destination thankfully open to all travellers without restriction is the charming country of Croatia - best known for its stunning Adriatic Coast, breathtaking waterfalls, and utopian islands.
Along with its endless beauty, Croatia is also home to the medieval Old Town of Dubrovnik.
Located in the southern part of the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is contained within impressive defensive stone walls - consisting of a collection of forts and towers.
Medieval Roots 🇭🇷
The walls have been a part of Dubrovnik’s rich history since it was founded in the 7th century. The city was established to protect civilians of the coast from barbarian attacks - the walls have defended Dubrovnik ever since.
More recently, the walls' resilience was tested during the Croatian War of Independence with Yugoslavia in 1991. The walls took a blow of 111 direct hits during the St. Nicholas bombings.
The war eventually resulted in a victory for Croatians as they achieved their goal of independence.
Although the war was won, around two-thirds of the historic buildings were damaged after several artillery hits, causing approximately $10 million in restoration.
Thanks to UNESCO’s worldwide effort to restore the town, Dubrovnik is back to its former glory.
Its beautifully pristine cobblestone streets are a true wonder to explore – with the remnants of war contained within the Museum of Croatian War of Independence.
So, now that you're acquainted with Croatia's rich history – let's dive into some highlights, essential information, and recommendations for your visit to the Old Town of Dubrovnik.
The Wonder-Walls of Dubrovnik 🏰
As you might have already gathered, these walls are hugely significant.
They provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to walk the parameters of the wall and explore the Old Town from above.
The fee to access the walls costs 200 Kuna (approx. £22.50), but you also gain access to the Lovrijenac Fortress within three days of purchasing your ticket.
The Fortress is visible from the wall and provides a magnificent view! You can decide from there whether it’s worth the visit (I'd certainly say so.)
The view from the wall extends beyond the city and overlooks the gorgeous rocky coastline surrounding Dubrovnik.
During your walk on the walls, you can see Lokrum Island, which is about 600m from the coast of Dubrovnik.
Visitors can hop on a boat for 40 Kuna (approx. £4.50), which takes just 15 minutes to reach the island - that’s if you ever want to leave.
Toward the end of the walk - you reach an elevated area which is accessed through a few small steps.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, this spot really gives you Kings Landing vibes. I was half expecting a Drogon to fly over and incinerate us all.
Since Dubrovnik is the home of the series’ fictional Capital of the Seven Kingdoms, a Game of Thrones tour is available for visitors to get their geek on.
The town also has a few GOT-themed gift shops if you fancy grabbing a souvenir.
If that’s what you’re into, click here to check out my thoughts on the GOT tour in Northern Ireland that I enjoyed back in 2015.
I’ll Have Mine on the Rocks...🥃
While exploring the vast Walls of Dubrovnik, you’re exposed to the elements - so if you visit during the hotter months (July & August), a pit stop is essential.
Thankfully, Café on the Wall is located at the wall's mid-point for much-welcomed refreshments.
Choose from hot and cold beverages, including coffee, fresh juice, beer, and ice cream. We grabbed a cold beer to see us through for the remainder of the walk.
But, if that doesn’t quench your thirst, one of Dubrovnik’s most treasured gems provides the perfect place to enjoy a cold one in one of the most scenic spots in the city.
Access to the bar isn’t the most obvious...
We came across a sign that led us here after wandering through the endless maze of back-street alleys (not the dodgy ones we have in the UK) and found a hole in the wall.
I’d be seriously impressed if you found it through those directions alone.
The bar has several cliff jumps for tourists to brave the depths of anywhere between 15ft-60ft.
We didn’t brave the highest jump.
My partner, Si, took on the jump further down from the bar – this was still high enough to result in a resounding no from me, though.
Dine Like Gatsby 🍸
We were self-catering, so we ate every meal in the Old Town during our 7-day visit.
I can’t remember one bad meal we had here.
There’s SO much choice for food inside the Old Town that you’re spoilt for choice – we spent a good 45 minutes one night being extremely indecisive and nearly induced a hunger coma.
I’d recommend researching restaurants on Tripadvisor and booking in advance to avoid such circumstances.
We learnt from our mistakes and came across the Gatsby Restaurant situated down one of the many narrow beautiful cobbled side streets.
The restaurant was only small and could probably fit a max of 12-15 people inside and out, which added to the exclusive Gatsby charm.
I’d class this as a fine-dining experience - not usually my bag...
... but, hey - when in Rome.
Our main dishes consisted of a fillet steak and salmon – both were brilliant, but this cheesecake was a decadent delight. 👌🏼
A recommended choice for your visit to Dubrovnik!
To Bosnia and Beyond 📍
Okay, so this isn’t Dubrovnik – but if you book a longer stay as we did, you might fancy an excursion.
We discovered the Mostar and Kravice full-day tour, which included an excursion over the border to the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, situated on the Balkan Peninsula.
The tour included a stop at the breathtaking Kravice Waterfalls – a magnificent natural wonder about a 2-3 hour drive from Dubrovnik.
The temperature is considerably cooler when you reach the waterfall, which was extremely welcome on the humid day we visited.
We took swimwear to dip in the crystal-clear waters but soon questioned why no one else was swimming…
...the water was ice cold.
Even on a 40°C day – we couldn’t bring ourselves to brave the plunge.
The journey from Kravice to the city of Mostar takes approximately 50 minutes and results in a 4-hour outbound journey.
Our guide delved into Mostar’s tragic history and led us on a tour through the town, which was incredibly insightful. I knew nothing about this country and hadn’t even heard of Mostar until visiting Croatia.
The main attraction here is the Mostar Bridge – infamous for its diving competitions amongst locals but provides an equally picturesque view.
The emerald green waters and historical buildings in Mostar’s Old Town made me feel like I was on the set of a Disney film – authentic and characteristic, this place exudes a depth of history, destruction and restoration.
After a brief look around the town and a quick bite to eat, we headed back to Dubrovnik to complete this full-day tour.
It’s a long day on the road, but I don’t think I would have visited Bosnia and Herzegovina without the convenience of the tour from Dubrovnik – so it’s worth a visit if you have spare time.
Don’t Forget Your Kuna 💰
Finally, remember to grab the local currency before you visit! Croatia uses Kuna, not Euros.
Their currency is a little difficult to gauge since 20GBP currently equates to 177 Kuna (HRK) – so we spent most of our time thinking we had monopoly money.
A dangerous approach to spending – 1/10, wouldn’t recommend.
As for Dubrovnik, if you haven’t already guessed – it’s a 10/10 for me!
This place has my heart. ❤
A historically-rich, picturesque paradise – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy travelling! 😊