You know that feeling when it’s the last day of your holiday and you just wish you could stay there forever? Well, that’s not a feeling I ~usually~ get with holidays. Even if I have a great time away, I’m usually craving my home comforts by the time I’m packing my case the night before heading to the airport. But not this time. I really wanted to stay.
Dubrovnik, Croatia has become pretty well known for being Kings Landing in Game of Thrones. Its beautiful structures and landscapes have been used on screen as the backdrop to all the drama of the HBO series. Because of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has become a must-visit for loyal fans and as such has become hella popular with tourists. That said, I was a bit worried it was going to be “tacky” and overcrowded, but despite the majority of the shops in the Old Town being places to buy souvenirs plastered with phrases such as “Winter is Coming” and “I drink and I know things”, it still seems to maintain its gorgeous heritage.
But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. In this post I wanted to share with you what made Dubrovnik so special to me, and why I would absolutely go back in a heartbeat.
Let’s start with where we stayed, shall we?
We were incredibly fortunate to stay at the stunning Valamar Argosy hotel which is on the peninsula of Babin Kuk, about 20 minutes drive from the Old Town. We decided to get a room with a balcony and made a request for a sea view.
This picture was taken the first morning and doesn’t do justice at all to the surroundings. All around us was beautiful clear sea, dotted with small islands and mountain ranges. You could see cruise ships, jet skis and small boats go by but the best bit? It was almost silent. It was so, so peaceful that I wish I could have spent more time on the balcony soaking it all in – but y’all, the mozzy problems are REAL in Croatia. They are everywhere and ready to snack on your blood.
I can’t talk about the hotel without mentioning the gorgeous swimming pools. Valamar Argosy has 2 infinity pools, and a smaller pool for kids (speaking of which, we barely saw any kids which was fantastic) – oh, and an indoor pool too. The outdoor pools overlook a panoramic view of the sea, and I honestly could have spent the whole holiday in them just admiring the view. Which is saying a lot for someone who previously wouldn’t set foot in a pool after a scary experience as a teen.
Long story short – Liam helped me gain the confidence to swim again and I was ~living~ for it.
No word of a lie, Dubrovnik is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. Banff in Canada is an absolute stunner, but Dubrovnik trumps it for me. Just ~look at it~.
We were lucky enough throughout the holiday to see the Old Town from a few different viewpoints (from the St Lawrence Fortress which you can see at the beginning of this post, and from the top of the cable car in these two snaps). For both of these vantage points, there is a price tag attached but it’s not overly pricey, considering they are tourist attractions. I’m planning to do a separate post on the things we did as part of our trip and the costs – so stay tuned!
Just a warning for ya – Dubrovnik’s beaches are rocky af so you’ll want to invest in water shoes. Also, if the idea of walking or swimming in the sea surrounded by fish makes you feel a bit ~icky~, you’ll want to avoid getting into the Adriatic. Liam and I, however, loved seeing all the little fish around our feet.
Despite the burning hot Croatian sun (lol look at my red arm/back for evidence), the sea is pretty cold so brace yourself before taking a dip! I didn’t go for a swim, but Liam swam further out than the barriers, just to say he’d “swam in the real sea”. I really enjoyed just looking out at the view, tbh.
The Food (+ Cocktails!)
SHOCK, HORROR! I actually didn’t take many photos of the food we ate out in Dubrovnik, but I can inform you that it is tasty. In fact, the food we had impressed us much more than Rome, which we actually found pretty disappointing.
What food can you expect to find in Dubrovnik? Mostly pizza, pasta and rather delicious gelato. Unfortunately, the best pizza of the trip was marred by a particularly evil bout of seasickness that I had from sea kayaking (more on that ~experience~ in my future post about what we got up to in Dubrovnik), but our very best meals were had at a restaurant called Komin which was a stone’s throw away from our hotel and probably has the best lamb cutlets and chips to exist in this world. We ate there on our first night and our last night in Dubrovnik and I would 100% recommend.
Now, let’s talk about that frozen strawberry daiquiri, shall we? I think it may be the best cocktail to ever grace my mouth. Not only was it super refreshing in the heat, it also had just the right amount of rum and also had some soaked apple slices as decoration which tasted divine. This cocktail was from the Panorama Restaurant which overlooks the Old Town from the top of the cable car. The restaurant is expensive, but that’s to be expected with the view that comes with the food and drink.
I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t mention that a big part of what made this holiday special was spending time with this goofball, Liam. Our holiday was a much-needed break, and I know he was nervous about travelling with me as I can get just a teensy bit ~stressed~ about travelling. Not only was Liam the very best travel companion, he was also the expert kayaker who got us back to the mainland when I was too ill to paddle. Oh, and as already mentioned, my wonderful swimming teacher.
Soppiness aside, I feel like the people of Dubrovnik also deserve massive props because everyone we encountered was super friendly. I can imagine living and working in an area that’s riddled with tourists isn’t the most relaxing of environments, but every waiter or waitress, shop owner and our walking tour guide were all accommodating. Once again, the antithesis of Rome where the vast majority of people were actual dicks.
Hearing about the history of Dubrovnik during our walking tour made it clear that the people are incredibly proud of their beautiful home, and that made it all the more enjoyable to briefly share that home with them.
Love cats? You need to visit Croatia because there’s absolutely loads of them everywhere. Where we stayed in Babin Kuk, the hotel even had a few resident cats that hung out in the courtyards and slept on the deck chairs. Not all the cats are there to be fussed, but this ginger beauty was not only keen to pose for photos, but also for ear and belly rubs.
I’m not entirely sure ~why~ there are so many stray cats in Croatia, but the vast majority of them looked to be in pretty good shape (most likely well-fed by tourists).
So there we have it – the things that made Dubrovnik pretty darn special. I would 110% go again, as there are things that we didn’t get round to doing that we would have liked to. It’s very rare when I go on a holiday to feel the need to return, but if I could I would be packing my bags to go back right now.