A Few Hours in Dubrovnik

by Gray Cargill on September 23, 2015

Post image for A Few Hours in Dubrovnik

Last May, during my cruise on Norwegian Jade, I got to visit Croatia for the first time, and I absolutely fell in love with it. What a beautiful country! Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik, one of two very popular cruise ports (the other being Split) on the coast.

We arrived in the mid-afternoon and only had a few hours there. It wasn’t long enough to thoroughly explore the city, but I had to make do. I focused my limited time on The Old Town of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site with cobblestone streets surrounded by high stone walls overlooking the orange rooftops of the city and the Adriatic Sea.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s picturesque cliffside location is part of its appeal to tourists.

First, I’d advise that if you are arriving by cruise ship and considering purchasing the Dubrovnik (tourist discount) Card online before your trip (which means you’ll have to print your receipt and bring it to the tourist office in Dubrovnik to make the exchange for the actual card), you should make sure you’re not going to be arriving after 2pm on a Sunday, when the tourist offices near the cruise port are closed. Yeah, I did that. Live and learn.

A cab from the cruise port will cost you about 10 Euros.There is also a bus that you can catch from near the port into the city, but because I made the error with the Dubrovnik Card, I didn’t do that. I didn’t have the Kunas (local currency) on me I would have needed for the bus. Some people actually made the walk from the cruise port to the Old Town and back, but I didn’t want to waste precious time getting there and back.

Dubrovnik

Palm trees! LOVE!

Accompanying me into Dubrovnik were two new friends I met on the cruise, Karen and Ann. Outside the city walls, they stopped at the Exchange Office to exchange Euros for Kunas. I got my Kunas inside the city at an ATM. Outside the city were various tour operators hawking their tours. A guy named Goran was selling sunset tours outside the city for just 20 Euros and it sounded lovely, but I wanted to have dinner on board the ship and didn’t think I’d be able to wait to eat until 7:30, when the tour was scheduled to end. (Karen and Ann did go on this tour and they said it was fantastic.)

The first thing we did after getting our Kunas in the Old Town was walk the Stradun, the main shopping street that runs through the Old Town from the Pile Gate to the dock and marina on the other side.

 

The Stradun

The Stradun

If you don’t stop for shopping, it really doesn’t take very long to walk from one end to the other (5 minutes or so), but is interesting for people-watching. It also gave me a good first look at the beautiful architecture of this medieval city. You’d never know on first glance that Dubrovnik had suffered heavy bombing during a war within the past 25 years. (Unless, like me, you remember seeing it on the TV news at the time.) They’ve done an amazing job restoring the historic buildings.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower

When we reached the harbor, Karen and Ann stopped at an ice cream stand for a cold treat while I took photos and enjoyed the view.

Dubrovnik

I loved looking out on the boats in the harbor here.

It was a little cooler by the water than inside the city walls. After that, we headed back to Pile Gate to buy tickets to walk the wall. We weren’t sure there would be bathrooms up on the wall (there were), so we found a public bathroom near Pile Gate that cost 7 Kunas and used it before we began our climb.

Old Town Wall, Dubrovnik

Walking the wall is a popular activity for visitors to Dubrovnik

Tickets to walk the wall cost 100 kunas, or 20 Euros. I can’t remember whether someone told us this or I read it ahead of time, but supposedly there are over 500 steps up on the wall (going up or down in various places). I thought my legs might be shaking afterwards (the way they did after climbing the Campanile in Florence), but they didn’t. It’s definitely a good workout, but as long as you’re in reasonably good health, it’s doable. I saw some elderly people up there, as well as a young couple who each carried a toddler in a backpack on their back. If they could do it, I figured I could!

St. Lawrence Fortress

View of St. Lawrence Fortress (Fort Lovrijenac) from the Old Town Wall.

We stopped a lot to take photos, because every time you walked another 50 feet, the view became even more stunning.

Lookout

Lookout

 

Tower and Harbor

Tower and Harbor

 

Orange rooftops

A sea of orange rooftops

 

See?

Our major disappointment was not finding the entrance to Buza, the cliffside bar, but we were all under the impression from what we’d read online that the entrance to it was from the top of the wall, when actually, it’s from down in the city. Damn. (I should have read this first.)

Cliff Bar

One of the cliff bars of Dubrovnik

Karen and Ann quit walking the wall at Ploce Gate, the halfway point, to find an Internet Cafe so Karen could send photos home and then they were going to go find Goran to book the sunset tour. I kept walking the wall on my own, taking tons of photos along the way. Once I got back down into Old Town, I headed back to the marina again for a little while to cool off. Then I wandered a bit more around the city. I loved the old architecture everywhere.

Dubrovnik Cathedral

Dubrovnik Cathedral

 

St. Dominic’s Church

St. Dominic’s Church exterior

 

Eventually, I got hungry, hot and tired, and I knew it was time to return to the ship. I caught a cab outside the Old Town. The driver insisted the fare was 15 Euros, even though it had only cost us 10 coming in, but I was so tired, I didn’t want to argue. By the time we reached port, he had dropped the price to 13 Euros without my prompting him.

In hindsight, I wished I had explored the hilly sections of Old Town–I couldn’t help but be curious what I’d find up there. But the steep stairs were pretty daunting after all the walking I’d already done that day.

Street and stairs

I’ve got to go back so I can explore where all those stairs go.

In any case, my time in Dubrovnik was all too brief but definitely whet my appetite for more. I would love the opportunity to return again someday for at least a couple of days to dig deeper into the history and culture of the city and surrounding countryside. If you ever get a chance to visit Dubrovnik, take it!

Ruins

You could see some ruins from the wall in certain parts of Old Town.

 

Katie June 30, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Dubrovnik is one of the spots in Europe I’m looking forward to the most during my trip there next year … can’t wait!

Gray Cargill July 1, 2016 at 2:47 pm

I think you’ll love it, Katie.

Life, Other Than February 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

I wish the political climate would have been better in this area when I was traveling through in the early 1990’s. It is beautiful. I definitely need to arrange a trip here.

Great photos! Thanks for sharing!

Gray Cargill March 1, 2016 at 9:00 pm

It’s definitely worth a trip there, Shannon. Hope you can make it there sometime!

Fenris December 23, 2015 at 7:09 am

Very beautiful city,Always exiting when I’m reading your story.It’s make me want to start my trips again

Gray Cargill December 24, 2015 at 10:25 am

Yes, it’s a beautiful city, Fenris. I hope you can start traveling again soon.

Erica December 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Your post reminded me my the best vacation with my husband. This town was so warm and kind to us. 🙂 A sea of orange rooftops is excellent definition for this phenomenon 🙂

Dani December 14, 2015 at 10:07 am

Croatia is also my favourite country in the world. Funnily enough though I’m starting to hear that all too often( from every second traveller to Europe these days). I have a feeling that this country of 4.5 mill people and 12 mill tourist annually is about to be overrun in the coming decades.

I just want them to preserve their authenticity and charm. As for the islands you need to visit these as a must. Obviously a yacht would be the best way but the ferry network is awesome and you can take your cars on them for a little extra cost.

The island of Rab, Krka and Mali Losinj are a must in the North. Mali Losinj is a pearler.

In central Dalmatia the island of Murter and the Kornati archipilego is a must and also visit to Long Island.

And down south the usuals of Hvar, Korcula & Brac & the newly discovered Island Vis is my favourite. But bookmark these, google them and you will be rushing to the islands before you know it. Stiniva Cove on island Vis and the town of Komiza. also visit the Blue Cove on a short boat trip from Vis on the uninhabited island of Bisevo.

Oh and don’t forget Mljet. Just too much beauty in Croatia. The whole country should be declared a National park or a UNESCO world heritage list as seriously its that beautiful and unique.

Gray Cargill December 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Thanks for the info, Dani! Croatia is definitely a country I could spend more time in.

KandC December 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Such a great article and beautiful pictures! The pictures actually remind me alot of Portugal!

Gray Cargill December 18, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Portugal, eh? I haven’t been there yet, but it’s on my list!

Eric October 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

It is interesting to find an area which still even somewhat shows the early history in it’s architecture. Thsnks for the peek.
I am curious to know how the two money exchanges fared in relation to each other. Was there an advantage in one over the other?

Gray Cargill October 10, 2015 at 9:59 am

That’s a good question, Eric. I didn’t ask them what exchange rate they received, so I really don’t know.

Sanna | Owegoo October 2, 2015 at 7:53 am

Wow, this takes me back. I visited Croatia this summer and I spent four days in Dubrovnik, hardly leaving the old city =) If you are still curious about what’s hiding up those stairs I’ll let you in on the “secret”. Except for the burning feeling in your legs, you can also experience a couple of nice restaurants up there. However my favorite part of climbing those stairs was all the family homes I past on the way up there. People just sitting, talking, drinking wine and going about their everyday business. There’s such beauty in the most ordinary moments! Did you get the chance to walk along the outside of the wall, beyond the harbor where there’s a swimming spot?

Gray Cargill October 3, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Sanna – Oh, I love your description of what lies up those stairs! Thank you. No, I didn’t get a chance to talk further out from the walls/harbor. I really only had a few hours in port, so just got a taste of the Old City. I would like to return to explore more, though.

lee September 26, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Gray, if i even get close to finishing a story i started too long ago, on just this stop and see topic, shall ask you for a quote to add to it!

i only wish i could see Asia the same way but it is too large, however am considering India/Egypt/Jordan this way…………..but let me admit, i am too uncomfortable going alone to these countries, but i can go independently!

Gray Cargill October 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm

I would be happy to give you a quote, Lee. For sure, it’s an interesting topic. I understand Norwegian has started (or will start?) sailings in Asia, so don’t give up on that.

lee September 23, 2015 at 3:13 pm

a ship that stops in ports I have not visited, gives me a chance to decide if i want to return for a longer visit………..
have been asking my contacts if the train stations are open in Croatia, Have rerouted my trip around Germany and Austria but every day brings a change

Gray Cargill September 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Yes! You are absolutely right, Lee. That’s the best part of cruising–you get to sample places and decide if you want to go back for a longer time. It’s interesting times in Europe, that’s for sure. Heartbreaking and complicated.

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