WHAT TO SEE IN DUBROVNIK, CROATIA:
ARRIVING TO DUBROVNIK: Have you taken a look at a map of Croatia? Dubrovnik is south... like REALLY far south. This is why we were able to swim in the ocean while beaches in other parts of the country were closed for the season. This is also why we flew into Dubrovnik from Zagreb. The travelers constant dilemma: time vs. money, with the answer constantly switching. For this portion of our trip, time won, and we spent $70 on a flight and $20 on a shuttle into the city from the airport.
Dubrovnik didn't make sense to me when I was there, and it still doesn't make sense to me now. Its beauty and charm are overwhelming, but you can't escape the fact that it is a city catering to tourists... happily! The tourism industry in Dubrovnik has created a startlingly lower unemployment rate in this city compared to the rest of the country.
The city has a rich history of tourism, with its first tourist ships arriving to the city at the turn of the 20th century. So, yeah, people were coming here before Game of Thrones aired.
You would think that knowing all of this, Dubrovnik's charm wouldn't seem genuine. Wrong! The city still takes your breath away. We planned on spending 3 days in Dubrovnik, but tagged an extra two onto the end because we were having so much fun.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN DUBROVNIK:
We did this our first day "at our own risk" because the season for kayaking (kayaking has a season?) was already done. There are two spots north of the walled portion of the city (outside of pile gate) that will lease kayaks. You can see one of them in the photo above! You can also pay for a guided group kayak tour. Pro tip: don't pay for the tour, but follow behind it in your own kayak. We kayaked all the way around Lokrum Island, which was a beautiful workout. Highly suggest doing this if you have the time and funds!
HIKING MT. SRD AT SUNSET:
This is the mountain looming over the city. The hardest part of this hike is easily finding the start of the trail. My advice would be to ask locals by pointing to the top of the mountain and shrugging your shoulders. Up is the correct direction.
Give yourself an hour to get up there before sunset. Start back down before it is totally dark or you will break your ankle on the descent. As always, bring friends and drinks!
I don't even know what to say about this sloppy day, other than it was one of my favorite days on our entire trip. I have limited information on who owned the boat, other than our friends met him in the street and he gave us an out of season discount. Our wonderful hostel owner negotiated with him to make sure everything was legitimate. I don't know what to say, so I have heard a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are four pictures:
EATING A FANCY MEAL:
Very, very occasionally we would forgo our cliff bars and eat a fancy meal (because my parents are foodies and demanded it). In Dubrovnik, we put on our "backpacking best" and had a fantastic meal at Proto. Cheers!
HANGING OUT AT HOSTEL ANA:
The most caring and fun loving hostel owner we encountered in our 3 months of travel. This is her home, and she welcomes you in. Hostel Ana is a guaranteed good time in a fantastic location. Plus, there is unlimited grappa... need I say more? Miss you Ana!
EATING PIZZA 3 TIMES A DAY AT 'PASTA LAB':
The point is not that this was the best pizza or pasta I've ever had. The point is that it was always open, and we never had to wait longer that 5 mins for pizza or pasta. I don't have a link or an address, but it was a block off the main street. The word 'pizza' is universal, so ask around. You will find it. You are welcome.
SWIMMING AT BANJE BEACH:
If you take a short walk south of the city you will find Banje Beach. Enough said.
GAME OF THRONES TOUR:
We paid for an official tour, which was great. We did this by googling "private game of thrones tour". After the fact, I think you could also google "self guided game of thrones tour," and see the same stuff. If you are a fan of the show, you must take the time to find some of the filming locations. If you aren't a fan of the show... what are you doing with your life? Get watching!
WALKING (hiking) THAT WALL:
Beautiful. There is a student discount. Enter at the south entrance for a shorter line. It would also be very nice at sunset.