The last time I was in Croatia, it was 2006? 2007? British Airways had just started flying to Split so my friends and I hopped a plane and spent a glorious few days floating around the beautiful island of Hvar. I understand Split and Hvar are much more touristy now than they used to be but I imagine that they are still quite beautiful.
I was worried about spending a weekend in Dubrovnik. I had heard horror stories about the crowds and how at times, they have to shut down the main street, Stradun, in the Old Town because there are just so many people. I was hopeful that a visit during the shoulder season would be more peaceful and quiet.
And I was right! At times, I felt like I had the entire city to myself. Later, I would later learn that my hotel, the centrally located Pucic Palace, was actually closing until the spring because the off-season is so dead. So plan your visit carefully during the on-season to make sure stuff is open. Here’s what I got up to while I was in town:
Eating in Dubrovnik
Proto: My hotel sent me here for a late lunch as soon as I checked in and I liked it so much, I went back the next day. (Oddly, the two people who sat across from me on my flight earlier in the week were also at Proto during my first visit.) I loved the upstairs terrace, the friendly service, and the overall design and glassware. I enjoyed the same very nice pasta dish both times…fregola with prawns. This is a great restaurant for your weekend in Dubrovnik. Not a bargain but worth it for the food, service, and location.
Kopun: My hotel also sent me to Kopun one evening, but they failed to explain what Kopun was all about — ROOSTER! — so I had a pretty average pasta dish. I went back with a tour guide later the same day and had some of the rooster that they are famous for, served in my case as a pate. I liked the setting of Kopun, right at the top of the Game of Thrones “Shame” steps, and the service was nice. The food was good but perhaps I didn’t explore the menu as much as I could have.
Gusta Me: My tour guide also took me to Gusta Me, where I enjoyed a platter of mixed seafood and essentially had the entire place to myself. The restaurant is just outside the walled city, looking over the port where the tourist boats leave from. It has a nice outdoor patio and friendly service. I really enjoyed the seafood here, the octopus and tuna in particular.
Restaurant 360: My last night in town, I had dinner at Restaurant 360 which is one of Dubrovnik’s nicest restaurants. It’s a bit dark except if you happen to be sitting under an extremely bright spotlight, like I was initially. The light was so bright that I had to ask to be moved! Service was sweet and friendly but the food was perhaps a bit too modern European for me. I could have been anywhere really. This is a first world problem, I know. If you’re looking to splurge during your weekend in Dubrovnik, go here.
Drinking in Dubrovnik
Razonoda Wine Bar: Right next to my hotel there was a really nice wine bar, Razonoda. I dropped in twice during my weekend in Dubrovnik and it was crazy empty both times. The advantage for me is that I got a private tasting both nights, as my server walked me through a few local Croatian wines including the gently full-bodied Malvasia and the dry white Grk. If you are into wines, I highly recommend visiting Razonoda.
Buza: Apparently no weekend in Dubrovnik is complete without a stop at Buza and boy are they right. It’s like sitting on the edge of the world, watching the sun set and the cruiseships disappear across the horizon. The facilities are super basic but the views are outstanding. I can only imagine how crazy crowded this place is during high season so arrive early for a prime spot.
Touring around Dubrovnik
I booked three tours in Dubrovnik to help me get my groundings, but I ended up skipping one of them which was walking the perimeter wall around the city. Apparently it wasn’t so much a tour as just walking the balustrades and after a four hour morning tour, I was pooped.
City Walking Tour: Our tour guide took us up the cable car and let us tool around the top of the mountain a bit before bringing us back down and taking us on a loop of the city. I learned a lot about the interesting history of Dubrovnik, in particular, but it was focused more on the 1500s and 1600s than I would have liked. (After making more than one grown man cry in Montenegro because I asked about the war, I wanted to know more about Dubrovnik during the war in the 1990s.)
Dubrovnik Food Tour: This was a truly excellent food tour of Dubrovnik where my guide took me to a small number of local restaurants and shared his personal insights into growing up in Croatia. Such an interesting guide — he was also a sommelier — and such a fantastic way to experience Dubrovnik. My recommendation would be to do this tour early on in your stay just in case you accidentally hit one of the restaurants on the tour beforehand like I did (Kopun).
“Submarine” Tour: This was a one hour boat cruise in a “submarine” — essentially a glass-bottom boat designed to look like a submarine. Our captain talked on the phone the entire time. And smoked. No commentary — in fact, he completely ignored us the entire trip and kept his back to us, which was a little weird. Cheap and fine if all you are after is views. There are a number of cruises like this that depart from the main Old Town marina area so maybe you can find a better one. The view from the water is lovely so I definitely recommend doing this — just not the cruise I took.
Shopping in Dubrovnik
There were two shops I found that I really liked:
House of Nature: The saleswoman here was both quite knowledgeable and quite persuasive so before I knew it, I had purchased body lotion, cleanser, a face mask, and two different types of facial moisturizers. All natural products and great smelling too. The shop sells primarily beauty products.
Medusa: This little shop sells much more than beauty products but that’s what I focused on here, picking up more moisturizer an cleansers. I didn’t pay much attention to anything else in the shop unfortunately!
Sleeping in Dubrovnik
I stayed at the very centrally located Hotel Pucic Palace. I loved the staff and the breakfast but the room — particularly the bed and bedding — was perhaps a little more basic than I anticipated. (Although the copper bathtub in the bathroom was gorgeous.) With just a few small changes, this could totally be a five star property. (Right now, I’d personally class it as 3.5 stars.) That being said, if you are after atmosphere and if you want to stay in the Dubrovnik old town, you should definitely stay here. Wooden beams, antique furniture galore.
I really enjoyed my weekend in Dubrovnik. You will too! Book a food tour, ride the cable car, and tool around the beautiful streets. Just beware of tourist season. Best to plan a trip in March, April, September, or October when you’ll have the place more to yourself and won’t have to fight the cruise ship passengers.
Book a Dubrovnik Tour
- Dubrovnik: Taste of Local Cuisine
- Price: $113.46
- Sunset Sailing
- Price: $100.32
- Classic Tour with Wine Tastings from Dubrovnik
- Price: $148.98
- Dubrovnik Old Town Food Walking Tour Including Lunch
- Price: $113.46