Croatia has a lot of coastline and Dubrovnik jets out into the sea like a total boss. Notorious nowadays for the filming in the old town section for the Game of Thrones show, it is the mother of all Medieval towns. Because of the fact that this town is highly and widely known for the connection to Game of Thrones, the place has the tendency to get extremely crowded. Top that off on a day when multiple cruise ships are in port and it’s time to get the heck out of dodge. Knowing this could happen, we still chose to stay in the heart of the old town, and we have no regrets.
Inside the city walls, we stayed at the Fresh Sheets Dubrovnik. The owners are incredible hosts and the hotel has just a handful of rooms. It is rated one of the top/best places to stay in the old town. The guest rooms are decorated in light, airy, modern decor and there is a shared kitchen with snacks and wine and a community fridge to store your own snacks in. It feels like a mix of a boutique B&B and your very own apartment. If you want your own bathroom and not a shared one, be sure to upgrade your room as we did.
The hotel is located on the top floor of Vatican owned property (note: there are no elevators) and has outstanding views of the city architecture beneath. As with any Medieval city, it can be difficult to pull any luggage on centuries-old cobblestone streets. Inquire about arranging a porter for your luggage if need be.
Walking around the city and soaking in the architecture is completely free and fun. There is a daily market right below the Fresh Sheets (outside of the Cathedral). Try the candied orange slices – you will not be disappointed! Walking the medieval wall, however, is not free, but we highly recommend doing this. Just make sure to do this first thing in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the scorching sun. You’ll gain outstanding pictures on your camera roll of views of the entire town. It takes approximately two hours to complete since you should be going at the pace of a turtle to soak it all in. After you’re done and need some coffee or food, we highly recommend Cogito Coffee, an Irish Restaurant called The Gaffe, and the Oliva Pizzaria. These are located within the walled city and very close to Fresh Sheets. Everything in the old town is within easy walking distance.
The owners of Fresh Sheets also own an amazing little boutique souvenir shop right outside of the Ploce Gate called Life According to KAWA. We lost track of how many times we looked around in this store, bought unique gifts, and took up the offer on the free coffee for shoppers – which happens to also be the same coffee from Cognito Coffee!
It seems silly to pay higher prices to stay within the old town and then feel the need to leave for the day, but this is exactly the feeling when you want to have the best of both worlds. There is so much to do outside of the old town that escaping the bustle when we needed to wasn’t a problem. The bustle that I’m referring to is the high, extremely noticeable groups of tourists appearing each morning from cruise ships (and the like). There are websites that show the number of cruise ships expected in port each day and we found this very helpful to plan our daily adventures. We rented kayaks one day and kayaked around the nearby island of Lokrum. You cannot stop and exit onto Lokrum as you are required to have a permit to be there. Dubrovnik offers a quick ferry ride to Lokrum in which the ticket includes this permit (and in which case you can get off and spend the day). Our kayak adventure ended with a stop at a beach cave on Dubrovnik. The following day, we met with Alex, who runs Piknik Dubrovnik to pick up the delicious picnic lunch she had prepared for us and we set off to Lokrum via the ferry right at the pier in the old town (complete with a hand-drawn map of the island in hand from Alex). Alex customizes picnics for you and can also help plan your experience of where you’d like to go for your picnic. We were in the mood for something close by and easily accessible, thus we opted for the fifteen-minute ferry ride to Lokrum. There are no inhabitants on Lokrum other than wild rabbits and wild peacocks.
We borrowed hammocks from Sonja and Jon (from Fresh Sheets) and had a beautiful, relaxing day in the olive grove! PS – Animal lovers rejoice as you can hand feed the peacocks and rabbits because they are that friendly! Note that there are not any soft, sandy beaches on Lokrum. There are plenty of rocks to lay out a towel on and ladders to get into the water for a swim. Also worth mentioning, is that part of the island (the left-hand side when exiting the ferry) is a “naturlist” beach. We discovered this when we did our kayak loop around the island.
There are plenty of other excursions and dreamy islands to visit while in Dubrovnik (or Croatia in general) – over 1,000 to be exact. My point is, there is no shortage of places to venture to and Christopher Columbus the heck out of each and every one of them. One couple staying at the Fresh Sheets departed for a cruise of islands after their four day stay in Dubrovnik. The options, as well as the jaw-dropping Croatian views, are limitless!