First things first, Dubrovnik is hideously expensive.
The food is mediocre, a small bottle of soda can set you back £4, and the town is often crammed full of tourists off the cruise ships that dock 1, 2, 3 at a time.
We booked our accommodation months ago. Normally we stick to B&B type places or apartments when we stay in big cities for more than one night, but DH couldn’t find anything that would take 6 people except for a large hotel about 10 minutes taxi ride from the Old Town.
We had two rooms booked at the Grand Hotel Park for three nights, but when we arrived after driving from Perast, they offered us a two bedroom apartment for the same price. One room contained a double bed and there were three beds in the other room, but they managed to squeeze a 4th converted sofa sort of bed into the larger room as DS is still pretty small. It still cost around £400 a night ; for example nights this was only a little less than the cost of the villa we rented for a week in Perast.
The kids liked the hotel, especially the pool, although the salt water was a bit of a shock apparently.
But for such expense, you’d expect top notch accommodation in most towns; not in Dubrovnik.
The hotel was clean enough, the staff were friendly and the beds were comfortable but there were little niggles like remote controls, showers and lights not working. The lifts were tiny, they only fit 6 people at a time so it took ages to get luggage up to our room, then back down to the car again.
And although the food was fine, I hated the buffet meal experience; I think it reminded me of boarding school.
Dubrovnik Old Town was a short cab ride away. There are frequent buses and of course we could have driven, but the parking situation is said to be dire.
But despite the cost, we did have a nice time. We went over to Stari Grad a couple of times and just wandered around with no particular agenda.
The first time we paid some money and headed up to the walls. These are very high up, involve a lot of stairs and are not completely secure if you have small children who like to lean over walls but there are plenty of views to enjoy, and many nooks to explore.
It was very hot, so we only did the South wall, which runs beside the sea. It took us around 40 minutes and we moved at an extremely leisurely pace, watching boats, kayaks and people swimming I the ocean far below as we walked.
When we came down off the walls, we walked a few streets away from the main Stradum and stopped for a cold drink and some pizza. We’ve eaten a lot of pizza in Europe. We’ve eaten almost as much ice cream.
Ice cream is an essential part of the Dubrovnik experience, especially with children. Carry wet wipes at all times.
Drink prices in Dubrovnik can vary quite a bit depending on where you go. You can be charged up to 4 euros for a small bottle of lemonade if you drink at the top of the cable car or close to the main street. Walk down a few side streets and you’ll save yourself at least a euro.
After our lunch we went down to the port to take a closer look at the boat trips avaliable for the next day. We passed a lady advertising a glass bottomed boat tour leaving in the ‘next 5 minutes’ and the kids fell for her patter. To be honest, so did I. DH didnt; he said it would be shit and it was.
He paid up anyhow but the trip was over crowded, there was no commentary, we saw only a few small fish and some sea urchins and none were especially interesting or colourful. On the plus side, we got a pleasant boat ride around an island, saw a couple of big caves and the kids got a good look at a local nudist beach. I don’t think it scarred them too badly.
The following day we returned and took the cable car up to the top of the mountain standing over Dubrovnik. There wasn’t much of a queue and it wasn’t too scary and you do get an amazing view of the coast, but I couldn’t help wonder why they didn’t build a viewing platform that didn’t overlook the cables.
There is a restaurant and a souvenir shop at the top but if you buy anything, you’ll be paying top kuna.
We enjoyed our stay in Dubrovnik and the kids loved the hotel and pool.
Dubrovnik is a gorgeous town but it was just a bit full of tourists for my liking. I’d certainly enjoy it better if I had it all to myself.
I’m not sure we’d bother going back for any length of time as we saw a lot of places we’d love to go back to and I just didn’t feel the love for Dubrovnik.
I certainly don’t regret including it in this tour of Europe through; we can now claim we’ve been there, done that.