In order to leave Italy, Abbey and I did something we hadn’t done since entering continental Europe…use a plane. We had been trying to avoid flying because we had Eurail passes, which meant almost any trains we wanted to take were already paid for. We also just generally preferred train travel compared to planes. Train stations are more centrally located than airports, trains have less security hoops to jump through, and train seats are always more comfortable than economy airplane seats. However, we basically had no other choice but to fly in order to reach Dubrovnik because Dubrovnik doesn’t have a train station. Additionally, the rail journey from southern Italy to the closest train station (Split, Croatia) would have taken us over 24 hours with multiple layovers and we would still be over 200 kilometers from Dubrovnik. Of course we could have picked a different destination that was easily accessible by train, but we wanted to see Dubrovnik before the tourist season began, and time was running out; so flying was the only solution.
As I mentioned in the Amalfi Coast post we took a cab from our AirBnB in Ravello to Salerno. From there we boarded a train that took us to the airport near Rome. Our flight was very cheap because we booked with Vueling, a budget airline. I had heard a lot of undesirable things about budget airlines, so I was very nervous that something would go wrong. However, to my surprise we had no issues with getting checked in and the plane departed and landed on time. We checked our backpacks which prompted us to purchase luggage insurance, but we ended up having no problems with lost luggage.
Upon landing we had to go through passport control because Croatia is not part of the Schengen agreement. We then got on a shuttle bus that took us to Dubrovnik’s main bus station where we began making the 30 minute walk towards our AirBnB. Finally, after traveling all day by car, train, airplane, bus, and foot we reached our destination. AirBnBs were extremely affordable in Dubrovnik so we were able to book an entire private flat within walking distance of Old Town for about $25/night. We were tired after the long journey, so we just got take away dinner and stayed in for the night.
The next morning we awoke to warm and sunny weather. We went on a very comfortable morning run. However, by the time we returned from our run and got ready to head out for the day, the weather had turned for the worse. A light rain accompanied us on our half-hour walk to Old Town. Once in Old Town we found a vegan cafe in a quaint alley where we grabbed an early lunch. Lunch was tasty, but when it came time to pay I realized that not everything in Dubrovnik was going to be as affordable as our accommodation. The bill was about $35 for the salad bar for two, one entree, and water to drink. This wasn’t an outlier, all of our meals, drinks, and activities purchased in Dubrovnik were expensive. It makes sense considering how many tourists visit the city each year, but I was still surprised by the mark ups.
While eating lunch the light rain outside had transitioned into a heavy downpour. We exited the restaurant and quickly made our way across the main square where we ducked into the closest cafe to avoid the washout. We stayed in the cafe for a while and plotted our plan for the day. The rain wasn’t going to let up, so we decided we needed to spend our time indoors, and what better way to escape bad weather than a cozy wine bar?
Luckily, the wine bar was close to the cafe. Once at the wine bar we got a small flight of wine in order to sample different styles from the Dalmatian Coast. After the flight we got bottle of our favorite tasting to split while we bunkered up in the bar for most of the afternoon. We eventually got hungry, so we made our way to a pub to have dinner and watch a soccer match. After dinner we had already used up all the money budgeted for that day, so we decided to head back to the AirBnB. The rain had finally let up which made for a pleasant walk back.
Fortunately, the weather was much better the next day. We made a late morning walk into town where we grabbed a quick early lunch on the go. We headed towards Dubrovnik’s main attraction, the city wall. It cost us about $25 each to access the wall which wrapped around the entirety of Old Town. From atop the wall we got amazing views of the coast and of the city as we made our away around the perimeter of Old Town. At one point we passed by a film set. We stayed to watch the filming from above for a while, but were unable to tell which television show or movie was being made. The wall took us about 90 minutes to complete, and although it was expensive it was well worth it for the views.
We spent the rest of the afternoon roaming Old Town and hanging out near the shore. Eventually it was time for dinner where we were lucky enough to eat outside. However, after dinner it had gotten cold so we made our way back to the apartment. This was our last full day in Dubrovnik. Although we didn’t do a lot of activities in the city, I think we spent the perfect amount of time there. The next day we boarded a bus to take us north to our next destination.
Dubrovnik was one of my choices that I pushed for; for the obvious reason, Game of Thrones. We were there about two weeks before the cruises were scheduled to start coming in, which meant the city wasn’t overrun but it also meant some of the main attractions were still closed. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore outwards of Old Town and I wish we had. Old Town didn’t feel very authentic and I did wonder what the rest of the city was like. We talked to the owner of the wine bar for a while and he regaled us with stories of how the city gates would be a mad house every day around 5pm because everyone was trying to get back to their cruise ship. He had grown up in Dubrovnik so had really been able to experience the tourism boom. He mentioned that while it was good for the city’s economy, that a lot of the locals grow weary around late spring when they know the cruises are about to start. The small city is overrun daily and I can imagine it’s a lot to deal with day in and day out.
I’m glad we got to see Dubrovnik, but I would absolutely suggest Split over Dubrovnik – but more on that in the next post.