We decided to spend our summer vacation closer to home this year. We love Croatia, the Croatian seaside and Game of Thrones so Dubrovnik a.k.a. King’s Landing was obviously the perfect choice. 🙂
We’ve already been to Zadar and Rovinj, both highly recommended. But Dubrovnik has now a special place in my heart. The old town of Dubrovnik with the city walls, Stradun, the old port and the narrow streets is definitely something else.
Where to stay
After some research we booked a classic double room with breakfast in the Valamar President Dubrovnik hotel. The hotel is located about 6 km from the old town, 15 minutes by bus or 45 minutes walk along the promenade. The bus number 6 stops right in front of the hotel and it’s the last station.
We booked only breakfast because we planned to go often to the city and do daily trips so we knew that we won’t have dinner at the hotel every night.
The breakfast is delicious with many choices. Freshly pressed juices, strawberry banana smoothies, coffees, fresh fruits, eggs prepared in any kind of way, pancakes, spreads, cheeses, sausages, bacon and so on. Breakfast is from 7 until 11 o’clock so it was perfect for when I wanted to sleep in or go do a workout at the hotel gym before breakfast. The hotel has a well equipped gym with cardio machines and some weights. There is also a yoga room that can be used anytime.
The hotel has one indoor pool and an outdoor pool. The beach is with small stones so it’s best to bring swimming shoes but the water is crystal clear. Sunbeds, parasols and towels on the beach are included for the hotel guests. There are possibilities for diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding and to rent jet skis.
The beaches in Croatia are public and open for everyone so the locals come to the beaches as well. Nevertheless the beach at Valamar doesn’t get crowded, although it gets quite full during the weekends.
The people at the reception are lovely and there is a possibility to book trips at the Experience Creator counter across the reception.
Where to eat
At the hotel
The hotel has a piano bar, a restaurant with buffet dinner, a beach bar and room service.
The beach bar offers dinner in the evening and lunch at the bar or directly on the beach during the day. Also drinks can be ordered on the beach and paid in cash or booked on the room. We tried the beach bar for dinner once and while it was beautiful at sunset, there were many insects that kind of ruined our appetite.
We had dinner at the piano bar when it was raining and the menu is the same as for room service. We also order room service and were happy with our burgers.
Near the hotel
The hotel is located in Babin Kuk (translated to “Grandmother’s hip” 🙂 ) and the Mali Stradun (translated to “Small Stradun”) which is the center of Babik Kuk and it is located only 100 m from the hotel. There are many restaurants here, Pivnica Dubrava being one of them that are famous for their grill and iron bell and I recommend trying it.
At the promenade in Lapad Bay
In the old town
- Restaurant Horizont: best to reserve a table upfront.
- Stara Loza: ask for a table on the roof terrace.
- Incredible India
- Mirakul: delicious pizzas.
- Above 5 has a lovely roof terrace.
- Spaghetteria Toni
On the mountain of Srd
- Dubrava located 1,5 km from the cable car.
What to do
Watch a movie at Cinestar
Movies at the cinemas in Croatia are in English with Croatian subtitle. The Cinestar in Lapad Bay is great and usually not crowded. We watched the premiere of Star Trek Beyond and Central Intelligence.
Game of Thrones Tour on Karaka
We wanted to go on this tour but unfortunately the weather was not so nice so we decided not to. Nevertheless for all the Game of Thrones fans out there, this is probably something to do in Dubrovnik. The tour includes a 1-hour boat ride with the Karaka followed by a 1-hour walking tour in Dubrovnik where a guide shows where Game of Thrones was filmed and tells stories behind the scenes.
- Shopping centers in the port of Gruz.
- In the center of Babik Kuk.
What to visit
City walls of Dubrovnik
Old town of Dubrovnik
The high season is from June until August so it’s relatively full everywhere in Croatia. Many cruise ships stop every day in Dubrovnik and we were told to go after 17 o’clock when the cruisers have left the old town. We went a few times during the day and once it was so full that there was a huge crowd in front of the main gate and nobody could get in so I definitely agree that visiting the old town before 17 o’clock could be anything less than fun. Nevertheless on such days we went along the city walls to the next gate where we could enter the old town without much problem.
The mountain of Srd
Take the cable car near the old city of Dubrovnik to the mountain if Srd and enjoy the lovely view of the old town and the island of Lokrum. I recommend going at sunset.
A boat is going every 30 minutes to the Lokrum island from the old port of Dubrovnik. Return ride costs 100 kuna.
We spent a full day in Lokrum visiting the island. There is also a museum on the island showing short videos about Game of Thrones and the museum has an Iron Throne where we took pictures of us sitting on the throne.
The Lokrum Bar is a great place to have a break and I highly recommend the Cremes cake, it was one of the best I have ever had.
There are numerous beaches on the Lokrum island so we finished our visit with a dip on the sea before returning to Dubrovnik by boat at sunset. There is a huge line in the late afternoon with people waiting for the boat to return but a boat is leaving every 10-15 minutes so the waiting time is not long.
There are 3 companies offering boat rides to Cavtat from the old port of Dubrovnik. 60 kuna one-way or 100 kuna return. We took the boat in the morning and spent a full day in Cevtat. We walked along the promenade, visited the old town and swam in the sea to cool off afterwards. We took breaks to hide from the hot sun and cool off with drinks and ice cream. Finally we had an early dinner before returning to Dubrovnik by boat at sunset.
Day trip to Montenegro
We booked a one-day trip to Montenegro by bus for Sunday. It costs around 43 euros per person.
We were picked up at the hotel at 7:30 in the morning and we drove along the coast to Montenegro. There is a border crossing between Croatia and Montenegro. June-August is high season so we expected a long line of cars which unfortunately was true. Usually the border patrol in Montenegro checks the passenger list but the Croatian border patrol scans the non-EU passports so it takes longer.
We took the car ferry with the bus which was my first time and it was awesome, even though it took only 5 minutes.
Our first stop was in Budva for 2 hours and we arrived there at 11:50. We visited the old town, had lunch at Budva Juice Bar (highly recommended, delicious toast sandwiches and fresh juices) and took a stroll along the promenade. The old town is beautiful and there are many nice shops like Hard Rock Cafe (where I got a t-shirt of course) and even a Victoria’s Secret store.
Budva is a rich town with 200 millionaires, it is said to be the party town in Montenegro where all the famous singers come for concerts. I wasn’t so impressed with the beaches though, it was very crowded.
Out next stop was in Kotor for 2 hours where we arrived at 14:30. Kotor is one of the top 10 cities to visit recommended by Lonely Planet in 2016. We were dropped off at the main gate and a local guide showed us around in the old town which looks like a mini version of Dubrovnik. The city walls go in a zigzag all the way to the top of the mountain where the fortress is located. There are almost 1500 steps to climb up and it’s best to do it in September-October when it’s not so hot. It was 35 degrees Celsius as we were there so we decided not to make the climb. Instead in the free time after the visit with the local guide we had some drinks and ice cream in one of the many air-conditioned cafes and did one more round of the old town before returning to the bus to get back to Dubrovnik.
The day trip to Montenegro was great, although we wished to stay longer in both cities. We had a guide and a driver during the trip, the guide talked during the bus ride about the cities, villages and areas that we were passing through. We arrived back to the hotel at 19 o’clock feeling pretty exhausted so it’s a good idea to plan a lazy beach day after such a day trip.
All the pictures from the trip are here.