"Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and see Dubrovnik."
– George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Prize winning writer and playwright
I'm very happy that I get to share our favorite city from vacation today! Croatia is always a special place for us to visit because Alex's family came from Croatia. When we got married and I became a Zidarevich, I didn't know a lot about this small country on the Adriatic until we went to Split in 2009. I quickly understood why his family took so much pride in being Croatian. Yes, there's the beauty, islands, the Adriatic, fresh food, the old world feel, beaches, 275 days of sunshine a year, and just about any wonderful thing you can think of- But more than any of that, I love the people, the lifestyle, and the general feel you have when you are there. It's truly incredible!
So, I know I aleady said it, but I really am excited that I get to share a glimpse of Dubrovnik with you! Let's go!
Views of Dubrovnik, the Adriatic Sea, and Banje Beach
Alex taking in his first moments in Dubrovnik, his highlights included breakfast at Lady PiPi inside the Old City and eating Croatian Cheescake! His grandma makes it for every holiday and it was the first time he had the real deal in Croatia!
Here's a video glimpse while walking on the walls
Beautiful views of Dubrovnik along the 1.5 mile walk atop the Old City Walls, go at sunset and avoid large cruise ship crowds!
Best dinner of the whole vacation at Rozario, loved the seafood stew and found Posip, our favorite Croatian wine!
Nighttime fun on the pier outside the city walls, at the Casablanca bar, and our favorite late night treat- fries from Surf'n'Fries
Buza Bar, the best spot in town day or night! Where else can can you soak up the sun, sip fruity drinks or a Karlovacko, and go cliff driving?! Croatians have the life!
With so many small island and caves just off the coast, it was a blast exploring for the day on a jet ski (Gari Transfer Rentals)
Always a must in Croatia, fresh seafood! Great mussels and black ink squid risotto at Moby Dick
Known by locals to be cursed, Lokrum Island remains uninhabited. Only accessible by boat, the island was a peaceful escape from the city and an unforgettable experience
Croatian tapas at Lucin Kantun, a perfect way to try and share traditional dishes!
Placa-Stradun after sunset
Sights and sunset along Placa-Stradun
Excellent traditional Bosnian cusine at the Taj Mahal, lived up to the hype and worth the long wait!
The view from our wonderful room at the Peline 21 Apartments (highly recommend, the owner gave us great tips & made us feel at home!)
Our last beautiful sunset in Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic and certainly paradise on Earth!
What was your favorite moment in Dubrovnik?
Alex: It didn't take Carla and I very long to fall in love with a certain location in Dubrovnik. When we first found "it" we both had this overwhelming feeling of calm and happiness. We went back there every night and it never felt forced, faked, or routine. Whether we were unintentionally sharing gelato with oneanother or sipping a local wine and and snacking on cheese, this little spot felt like our very own little sliver of Dubrovnik. I'm not going to disclose the location because I hope that you too will travel to Hrvatska someday and find your own special spot. The visits to this little spot were my favorite moments in Dubrovnik, and lucky for me, they happened each night during our visit!
Carla: There were too many so it's hard to pick just one! But if I have to pick, I guess one moment that really stuck out was when we were out island hopping on our jet ski. Alex let me take the wheel after we left Lokrum Island and I decided to head toward the Old Town to get a closer glimpse of the Dubrovnik's city walls. There we were, whizzing by those tall limestone walls on the sparkling Adriatic Sea. I had seen many photos of Dubrovnik before planning our trip, hoping I'd see it with my own eyes someday and in that moment I had my own look at Dubrovnik, a picture no one else would see and an experience I'd never forget. Those moments passing by on the sea are what I picture when I think of Dubrovnik now, more beautiful than any photo could capture.
What surprised you about Dubrovnik?
Alex: Dubrovnik. The pearl of the adriatic. What surprised me? I'm not 100% sure how to answer this one. You see, I knew it was going to be beautiful. I knew it was going to be relaxing and exciting at the same time. I knew it would feel like home. I knew I wouldn't want to leave. I thought I knew so much about Dubrovnik and still, I was surprised that not a single one of my expectations fell short.
Carla: That visiting War Photo Limited gallery and seeing remnants of the war at the old Dubrovnik Riveria would end up being some of the most meaningful parts of our visit (see more information and photos below related to this topic). Everything in the gallery is sad and seeing parts of Dubrovnik still destroyed is shocking. You'd think we would avoid sad things on our trip right? It's hard to explain, but things like that hit you deeply and you learn so much in those moments. Makes you all the more thankful for peace- such a simple word to describe an outcome of so many struggles.
What was your must-try menu item while in Dubrovnik?
Alex: Honestly, you have to try the fresh seafood. We live in the midwest so FRESH seafood is basically limited to Walleye. In Croatia, you are getting the catch of the day every time you sit down and order black seafood risotto, or seafood stew, or grilled octopus, or stuffed squid, or mussels, or escargot, or....well, you get the idea. Oh, I almost forgot, fresh figs from the daily farmers market. Same as the seafood really. These are fresh - as in meet the farmer that picked it an hour ago, fresh...so good!
Carla: It was my favorite dish during our whole multi-city trip- the Seafood Stew from Rozario, a charming restaurant within the Old City walls. I had never had something like it, the flavor was incredible and the fresh fish used in the stew was the most delicious fish I've ever tasted! To top it off, instead of bread, they served perfectly cooked & crisp polenta. We also discovered our favorite bottle of local wine, Posip from Korcula Island, which paired perfectly with the meal! That dinner experience was the best of the whole trip, the waiter even stayed to chat with us for a while after reading our last name asking if we had family from Croatia. When we go back to Dubrovnik (because we will!) I'm heading to Rozario for that stew!
What tip would we share for someone going to Dubrovnik?
Alex: Lokrum island is approximately 700 meters off shore and it deserves a visit. You can catch a short ride over there from one of the several charters in town or you can rent a jet ski or boat and head out there on your own. However you get there, just be sure to get there. It's beautiful, has great swimming spots, is filled with beautiful wild peacocks, and even has a couple small cafes that make it easy for you to spend a whole day there.
Carla: Be ready for some serious stairs if you are exploring the Old Town. We had heard about the stairs when reading through travel guides and thought nothing of it because there's always a lot of walking and stairs in older European cities. But yea, Dubrovnik tops them all when it comes to stairclimbing. From the main drag Placa-Stradun, you can only go up to get anywhere in either direction and the stairs are more like blocks. It doesn't ruin the experience or anything, just be ready to feel the burn in your thighs and calves :) I guess it makes it easy for locals to look great on the beach though!
Why would you go back to Dubrovnik?
Alex: I would go back to Dubrovnik because this feels like home to me. I know it'd be great to say that I would go back for the cliff diving at Buza Bar, or the crystal clear Adriatic, and the Karlovacko at Banje beach but, the truth is, I will go back just to feel at home. In my heart, this is home. I challenge you to discover your own reason to visit Croatia (or go back). You'll be glad that you did.
Carla: Why wouldn't we?!? Croatia is the most beautiful, peaceful, happy, and perfect place I've ever been to in my life. We've been to Split and Dubrovnik now, and the same feeling overcame me during both visits. There's something about Croatia that you just feel. You could be just sitting on the beach or diving off cliffs into the Adriatic, no matter if you are relaxing or taking in an adventure, each moment feels exciting and perfect. You betch-yer ass we're going back!
Alight, there's a bit more below regarding my "what surprised you" response, but that's it for Dubrovnik! Get ready for Montenegro next followed by our last city, Rome. Vacation posts coming to an end shorty then we're really back to reality :)
War Photo Limited Gallery and the old Dubrovnik Rivera
You won't see many remnants from the war in the old city, but if you want to get a glimpse there's a place midway between Dubrovnik and the airport known as the old Dubrovnik Rivera. We only found out about it thanks to our driver Robbie after chatting about Alex's Croatian roots and mentioning the wartime gallery. I know it is strange but as I said above, these experiences were deeply moving and didn't want to leave it out of Dubrovnik post. Take what you will from it, I'm just thankful for the peace there is today, otherwise Alex and I wouldn't have found our favorite place in the world.
Once known as Dubrovnik's Rivera, these four large resorts named Pelegein, Kupari, Grand, & Goricina remain as is since the war
The Grand Hotel, built in the 1920's and once the biggest tourist draw in Dubrovnik. I can only imagine how beautiful this old hotel was, and maybe it will be again someday.
A look at a few gallery images and a short description of the war- I know not many US folks understand or know about it so I wanted to include
If you visit Dubrovnik, we highly recommend visiting the gallery. It is a moving experience!