Ten years ago, no one was talking about Croatia. Now, the place is so popular that it almost feels like a trendy Disney city that’s solely made for tourists.
Is it amazing? Yes. Should you go? Absolutely. Locals absolutely still live in Dubrovnik, Croatia’s largest city, but to find authenticity here you need to be a little crafty and look a little further. Cruise ships dock here almost every day, and mid-afternoon the place is crawling with travelers and their selfie sticks and iPads who will run you over if you’re not looking.
Fear not! These tricks will help you navigate the best of Dubrovnik, while also helping you avoid a stampede.
Wake Up Early or Stay out Late
First things first. If you’re near the old town of Dubrovnik (within the city walls), expect crowds. To beat those crowds, you’ll need to get up early (before 10 am) or stay out late (after 10 pm). There are some very cool bars here though, and some very cool locals, so you’ll have no problem making friends if you choose to stay out and have a pint after sunset.
Find Buza Bar
After a day of being herded and stepped on, this cliff-side bar was a welcome reprieve. Sit at a table and have a drink, or just bring your towel and head down the stairs to the cement slabs above the water, where other sunbathers will be sitting (for free). There’s a tiny cliff here where people jump into the water, and the sunsets are stunning. If you do decide to sit at a table, order the strawberry daiquiris, they are to die for. I can’t say this place isn’t busy, but as it sits outside of the walls it feels like you’re tucked away from the hub-bub inside.
Get off the Main Streets
It’s hard not to be in someone’s way as the city within the walls is relatively small, but if you get off the main streets (i.e., any that stem from the port and the main church) you’ll find some solace. There are also some cool jewelry and clothing shops here, but they’re a little pricy.
Find a Bar That Doesn’t Have Free WiFi
That’s right, I said it. Every seasoned traveler has their data turned off and is hunting for free wi-fi, and there are several bars and restaurants that cater to their needs here. I implore you to specifically seek out a bar that doesn’t. When you find it, it will be you, your pint, and the company of locals. I know it’s hard to disconnect sometime, but this is Dubrovnik, one of the most stunning cities in the world. Take in the scenery, and don’t worry about posting it to Facebook.
Walk the Walls Early
It would really be a shame to come to Dubrovnik and not walk on the city walls—large, 10’ thick structures that wrap around the city—and to have them more to yourself, get poised to go up when they first open at 8 am. Since it gets extremely hot in Dubrovnik, you’ll be best suited to do this anyhow, to keep from overheating as the sun starts cooking. The walk costs 100 krona, but it’s well worth it. Bring sunblock!
Get Out on the Water
Kayaking is crazy popular in Dubrovnik, and the Aegean sea below you is cerulean and turquoise. If you want to do something a little different, rent a kayak and get out there! There are lots of little caves and deserted beaches to post up on.
Have you been to Dubrovnik? What are your best tips?