While you're visiting this part of Croatia, we recommend the necessary things to do in Dubrovnik to get the most out of your visit plus some restaurant and bar recommendations for the foodie and socialite!
Here is what we recommend:
1. Drink Croatia’s wines - They are DELICIOUS:
Croatian wines are named strictly according to their regions, like in France, of which there are about 300 - mainly white varieties produced in the interior and red harvested from the coastal regions.
Keep an eye out for the following on restaurant menus or when you're stocking up to bring home:
The vineyards of the Konavle region (SW of Dubrovnik) produce gorgeous Merlots,Cabernet Sauvignons and the famous Plavec varieties, as well as Kadarun, a light and fruity rosé.
Krk Island's region of Vrbnik produce Zlahtina
Cabernet from Porec
Sauvignon, Merlot and Terrano from Buzet
Malmsy from Dubrovnik
Posip and Grg from Korcula
Vugava from Vis
2. Head to the beach:
Sveti Jakov Beach - For a less crowded option, since it’s a bit more difficult to get to (think a half-hour bus ride from town and 150 steps to climb down!), but with full shower and bathroom facilities, it’s worth the trek. Head down the coast past the Villa Dubrovnik and you'll find yourself on a 20-minute walk along quiet, tree-lined Vlaha Bukovca. Buses Nos.5 and 8 run most of the way from north of the Old Town to the part shingle, part pebble beach. A picnic is always fun but you won't go hungry or thirsty as you'll find a bar and restaurant by the beach for refreshments.
Banje Beach - a short walk from Ploce Gate is a pebble beach with clear, azure waters. Lay here all day on the sunbeds and stay to party into the night with the beachside bars, keeping an eye out for nearby celebrities who like to stay in the area. Note that this is a beach linked to many hotels so it’s a definite upscale tourist destination as opposed to a local’s.
Lapad Beach (west of which is naturist beach) - the peninsula that stretches out into the Adriatic Sea holds so much surface area of beach potential with a calm, stretch of water in the bay within. With beachside coffee bars and restaurants, you can spend a day soaking up the sun and atmosphere or take a local kayak out along the coast (see below for companies renting them out).
3. Get off the land and into the water - When the city gets crowded with cruise ship dumps (see more on that below), you'll want to escape the mass of people and hit the water:
Kayaking - head out to explore all the hidden coves and secret bays Dubrovnik has to offer. You won't get closer than on a kayak.
For organised tours with the kayak rental, Adriatic Kayak Tours will not only take you out on the water but arrange your route to a village lunch, wine and cheese tasting or other activities.
For the more independent traveller, the following tour groups rent out kayaks, give you some tips on where to go and send you on your adventurous way!
Half or full day boat trip - Boat rentals are available during the peak season (April to November) for couples or friends looking to spend the day on the water, no experience or driving licence required.
Adventure Dubrovnik offers various rental options according to your needs (including kayaks), letting you decide how you'd like to spend your day on the water.
Gari Transfer boat rentals offer half- and full-day boat rentals with plenty time to explore the Elaphiti Islands, find a spot to stop for lunch, relax in the sunshine and then experience the sun setting over the water (a must while you're in Dubrovnik).
The island of Lokrum, now a Nature Preserve, is an easy, 15-minute boat ride away for even more sunbathing, swimming and escaping the city noise (note the shore is rocky). There's a small salt-water lake that's perfect for kids and a naturist beach to the east beyond the jetty. You'll also find a Benedictine Monastery which was founded in the 11th century with beautiful botanical gardens. The French built a fort in 1806 on the top of the island which you can walk to and drink in the views - bring a camera!
4. Stroll the old walls of the city - Get a feel for the city early on in your trip by popping up here simply for the views from the top, and at 2km around it takes about an hour to walk. Some parts date back to the tenth century, with most construction taking place in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Big backpacks aren't allowed as some parts of the wall are a tight fit so just come up in comfortable shoes, be aware of the hot sun and simply a camera to capture the spectacular sights. Look out at the (almost) uniform grid plan which was instilled as early as the 1270s and upon rebuilding the city after the 1667 earthquake, when the city was almost entirely destroyed, things were rationalised even further.
5. Visit Gunduliceva Poljana Market (Gundulićeva poljana) - This food and souvenir market has been open since 1892, inside the old city by the Rector’s Palace and Cathedral. Head here (early!) for fresh fruit, veggies and bring home jars of local specialities like honey, olives and oils (Croatian oil is SO GOOD). My souvenir of choice would be some handmade table linen, reminding me of my trip every time we dined. If you're planning to cook on your trip, keep an eye out for seasonal produce like tomatoes, courgettes, peaches and melons in the summer. And for the more daring, pick up a plastic bottle of Rakija, a locally homemade, and very potent, liquor.