It feels like a lifetime ago since my holiday in Dubrovnik. My tan has started to fade and instead of incredible sunny days, beautiful sunsets and mesmerising blue seas, I’m now stuck in middle England with a very drab looking August. As a holiday, visiting Croatia was one of the best beach style holidays I’ve been on. A healthy balance between everything and even though lots of tourism, no rowdy, ‘lads, lads, lads’ style stuff cracking off.
We initially decided to go to Dubrovnik off the back of my winning flights with Jet2 back in January. I did already know that flights to Dubrovnik were always quite pricey, so have the £500 knocked off the holiday already gave us a pretty large incentive. Before we went I couldn’t quite figure out why it was so expensive, given that Jet2 flights to New York are only £148 each way. None the less we were now blessed with our travel being sorted, so it was onto the hotel and location to stay at.
We actually didn’t get a transfer because it worked out so much cheaper to get a bus, in fact it’s the equivalent of £1.50! You can buy a Dubrovnik Pass but it isn’t worth it. You get free bus travel and free entry to the walls and museums, but that is it.
We decided to visit the Valamar group of hotels over in Babin Kuk, which is approximately 15 minutes on the local bus. I must admit getting the local bus with a big suitcase was tricky but when a private transfer was coming in at 200 euros, you weigh up how many aperol spritzs’ you can have with the left over money! We were at the Valamar Lacroma which was the one down in star rating from the Valamar President. Both the Valamar Tirena and the Valamar Club were all in close walking distance, and you could even use their facilities as well. A great bonus in my eyes as were soon discovered the private Valamar President Beach and the Valamar Tierena Pool… complete with swim up pool bar.
Just to pause for a second. I am typing this as I can see it is throwing it down outside. I am so sad I’m not back in Babin Kuk right now. Anyway getting back onto the topic in hand, the hotel was absolutely spot on. A perfect balance of everything. It has families, but all children were very well behaved, but lots of couples of all ages. It was wonderful to see a diverse mix. We were half board at the hotel and it was great because it gave us a chance to have local food too. We did actually have a meal on Nick’s birthday in the hotel at their in house restaurant, it was absolutely perfect and quite a bargain at 240kuna each.
There is a lot you can do in Dubrovnik, it just depends on your holiday goals. For us it was the first year we didn’t have anything pre planned. My only thing I wanted to do was go off and find the game of thrones film spots, read my books and try to have some relaxing time by the sea. Nick’s goals were basically the same other than he wanted to go Sea Kayaking, which we did in Old Town Dubrovnik at Banjee Beach. I did like the fact you could essentially have it all in this area of Dubrovnik, there are endless things to see and do, many of which we didn’t get to complete because we took a significant amount of time to simply relax.
We didn’t pay to go around the city walls because it was so busy you’d be basically shuffling along after other people. We explored really early – and I mean early, then went to the beach or pool at about lunchtime when most people wanted to be in the centre. Trust me, at peak holiday time it is far too hectic and not that enjoyable.
Sea Kayaking was by far the best. Initially we had planned to hire the sea kayaks from the bar where in the Game of Throne Mycella Lannister was taken away on a boat, but it was really expensive, possibly for that reason! So we went to the most commercial beach in Old Town Dubrovnik, Banjee and hire them for 2 hours. We went into some of the caves and paddled over to Lockyrym, it was such a fantastic activity and would highly recommend it. You can do tours, but you’re out all day which if you don’t do kayaking – you’re going to be shattered!
Do it like a local. If you’re visiting Dubrovnik it doesn’t have to be expensive, if you think like a local and go to places where locals go, it’ll be cheaper and be authentic Dubrovnik. Old town is beautiful, don’t get my wrong but it is full of holiday makers. We went to Old Town on our second day and left early because it was so busy, it’s even on the cruise line so loads of cruise ships dock and bring more people to sight see. We sacked off Old Town and went off to Danče Beach which was about a 10 minutes walk from the centre. Full of locals and the ideal spot for snorkeling.
Lastly I’d advice looking into local restaurants near your hotel before you go. Often there are some that are local, they may not look as impressive on the outside but the food is amazing and the cost is cheap. We found a fair few like that! So I’d say Dubrovnik is amazing but stay out of the Old Town if you seek a chilled vacation, then get the bus in as and when you need to. Go do all tourist bits as early as possible, or later on (buses run until early hours) and think and eat like a local!