Norwegian Cruise Line must have known to save the best for last because after just a few hours in Dubrovnik, it became one of my favorite cities in Europe (I think this list is about 7 places long now because I can’t choose just one).
We arrived at 7 a.m., which at first I thought was unfortunate because everything was still closed, but we were able to stroll the streets before the floods of tourists rushed in. We didn’t have a plan going into this day, so when we saw the town walls opened at 8 and the other things we wanted to do opened at 10, we figured this was a great way to spend an hour or two.
These walls involved a lot of stair climbing, but it wasn’t nearly as strenuous as the city walls in Kotor. Dubrovnik’s 16th-century walls are unique because they are all still fully intact, allowing visitors to walk the entire perimeter of the old town. The 360-degree views were just perfect, and because we were there first thing in the morning, it was much less crowded. By the time we finished the whole loop an hour and a half later, the narrow paths were already filling up with tourists.
I was thrilled to see a ton of cats gathered in a little courtyard outside the exit to the walls. While I played with the kitties, my sister went on to look for some Game of Thrones filming locations. Apparently Dubrovnik is “King’s Landing”—and I finally got the nudge I needed to start watching the series! I thought the town was very cool with its pedestrian-friendly streets (no cars allowed!) and buildings all made of the same tan stone, reminiscent of the streets of Valetta and Mdina in Malta.
The main thing I wanted to do in Dubrovnik was kayaking. I’ve actually been dying to kayak somewhere ever since I moved to Germany, but I never found the time until now. My sister and I rented a two-person kayak from Banje Beach just outside the old town. We had the freedom to explore wherever we wanted to in an hour, so first we headed east to a cave carved into a hill on the shore. There was a small beach in the cave, but it was packed with other kayakers so we just admired it from the water. Then, we paddled back toward the old town along the outside of the walls to an inlet that separates the St. Lawrence’s Fortress from the rest of the city. It was really cool getting to see Dubrovnik from the water and I would say this is my favorite activity I’ve done in my travels around Europe.
By the time we finished our hour of kayaking, which by the way was PLENTY because my arms couldn’t take any more, it was time to head back to our ship. We missed out on the cable car that goes up to a nice lookout point and I wish we got to do a walking tour to learn more about this fascinating city, but I’m happy with the way we chose to spend our time.