Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s most well-known travel spots, distinctive for its old town surrounded by city walls. Tourism has certainly boomed in recent years – but can you guess why?
Game of Thrones.
If you are familiar with the TV series you would notice that parts of the city of Dubrovnik look very similar to that of King’s Landing, the Capital of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros – because that’s where much of it was filmed.
The city’s tourism has boomed so much there are now several tours dedicated to Game of Thrones, along with tourist shops decked out with Game of Thrones merchandise.
However, for many the old city walls and the beautiful Adriatic Sea coastline are all that is needed to visit this ancient city, which was founded in the 7th century by refugees.
Jon and I had booked a week in Croatia, and our first stop was Dubrovnik. We stayed in a nice little guest house within the old city. As it was Jon’s second time to the city I followed his lead, seeing some of the pros and cons of this very touristy city, trying to make the most out of our visit without being lost in the crowds.
We rose early on Sunday morning to head out for some breakfast just outside (and overlooking) the old city walls.
Tvrđava Bokar is a cylindrical wall defence built in the 15th century, which Game of Thrones fans will recognise from (SPOILERS!) certain King’s Landing battle scenes in season 7. On the other side of the little cove was Lovrijenac, which is a 16th century fortress just outside the city walls.
This small cove is beautiful, with views of the very old medieval fortresses on both sides and people kayaking in the crystal blue sea.
Pile Gate is the main entrance (Not the only one, however) in and out of the old town. Lucky for us it was still early in the morning, as the old city has queues to enter it by mid-morning, due to the sheer number of tourists coming to see the city from the cruise ships that visit for the day.
The city walls of the old town are something everyone must do when visiting Dubrovnik, as the old town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you get some amazing views of the city, as well as out to sea where you’ll see Lokrum Island.
You could see the city markets, restaurants, churches, the bell tower (Another famous landmark in Game of Thrones) and a sea of terracotta roofs, which gave off such as Mediterranean vibe.
The walk around the city walls was really lovely and we ended up at Tvrđava Minčeta, which is one of the fortresses at the highest point on the wall.
This is where you can get your amazing scenic shots of the city and the surrounding sea.
I do love a good hike. Jon, not so much. So when I saw the cable car that goes up the hill above the city was not in operation (it will be up and running by July 2019) I saw it was a perfect opportunity to hike up to Utvrda Imperial, which is the highest viewpoint over the city of Dubrovnik.
It was roughly a 1-hour walk, which follows the route the Croatian military took to bring up and down supplies when they were held up in Utvrda Imperial during the siege of Dubrovnik by the Serbians during 1991.
Along the walk you will get some great views of the city and see some stations of the cross along the way.
If hiking isn’t really your thing, there is the opportunity to take the cable car or a taxi to the top.
In Utvrda Imperial there is a museum dedicated to invasion of Croatia by Serbia during the war of Independence from 1991 and 1995, specifically the siege of Dubrovnik. This gave us a great insight into the war, which I have now been able to read from multiple perspectives on my travels.
After some great information on Croatian history, we decided to have lunch at Panorama restaurant, which had a lovely view of the entire coastline, even though there was a bit of a wind chill due to how high up we were.
Luckily enough, we got back to our hotel before a storm hit, giving us time to relax. Once the rain settled down, I decided to go out for a wonder through the old town.
There is one main “square” where a lot of walking tours begin, and where I got to see the Church of Saint Blaise and where the Sponza Palace are located.
Sponza Palace was built in a mixed Gothic and Renaissance style and has served many purposes over the centuries and now is a city archive.
I eventually walked around to Porporela, which is an old lighthouse where I got to have views of the sea and Fort St. Ivana.
The next day was our final day in the city, and it was going to be a relaxing one. We started out by going into Lovrijenac, which we postponed the previous day due to the oncoming storm.
It gives you another great perspective on the old town, and in Lovrijenac you’ll see another famous set from Game of Thrones. Do you know what it is?
We decided to chill in a little cove watching people “try” to sea kayak, but really we watched them get stuck between the rocks.
We then made our way to Buza Bar, of which there are two (the other we visited on our first night in the city).
They are in great spots overlooking the sea, and we had a few of the local Ozujsko beers, and read our books until it was time for us to get ready to leave.
This wasn’t the end of our adventure in Croatia, we visited Hvar and Split further north up the coast next.
Stay tuned for the next part of Jon and I’s adventure through Croatia.