From start to finish Dubrovnik was an unreal experience. Upon boarding the flight from Barcelona I was instantly reminded of the few Mexico-bound flights I’ve flown stateside: everyone was in a great mood and excited to be on vacation while Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ even blasted on the airplane speakers. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I was still in the throes of sickness, with my outlook on life looking a little more like this:

Fortunately like in Bilbao, my cold virus couldn’t have been timed better. After reading countless articles about the ‘travel burnout’ phenomenon when planning my itinerary, I’d selected Dubrovnik as a short ‘vacation from my vacation’ with the intention of laying low and just enjoying the old town and beach for four days.

Well, in the end the weather gods had their own agenda and, surprise, surprise, it rained all but one day of my stay. Either early morning or late afternoon the thunderstorms would roll in, make a total spectacle for a few hours and then be on their merry way. With the awesome view from my Airbnb (pictured above) it made for quite the show.

Within the actual old town there’s only a handful of things to do as it’s quite small, and completely catered to tourists. It really did feel like a Mediterranean Cabo San Lucas – besides touts in every direction, hawking their restaurants, merchandise, tours, or rentals there are of course tourists EVERYWHERE, to the point that there are human traffic jams throughout the city. Super romantic AND super crowded. For more peace and quiet, I’d recommend either staying outside of the old town like I did or, if your budget allows, at a nice beach resort further up or down the coast.

During the day the old town makes for some choice wandering. There’s a beautiful port, beach nearby, and the sweetest system of old alleyways complete with medieval stonework, flowers, and stray kittens. One could wander for hours here.

With Italy right across the Adriatic Sea from Croatia, it’s easy to see why old town Dubrovnik’s streets and buildings look so Italian. The red roof tops of Florence, yellow marble of Siena, and meandering alleyways of Venice all come together in the old town of Dubrovnik.

With its strategic positioning along Mediterranean trade routes, the city was a major player in maritime trade from the 14th to 16th centuries. With a population grounded in seafaring and ship building, by the 15th century it had an extensive trade network throughout Europe, with outposts as far as India by the 16th century.

Nowadays Dubrovnik is best known for its medieval walls; the citizens of the old town have historically been very well behaved, taking extreme care in preserving their city, its architecture, and the walls that protect it. Currently the city is protected under Unesco as the most preserved fortified medieval town in the world. After Croatia’s involvement in the Yugoslav Wars from 1991-1995 (which resulted in the dissolution of Yugoslavia and Croatia’s independence) the Unesco Foundation funded all repairs to the damage that occurred during the war, helping the country bounce back relatively quickly.

The city walls are open to the public and passing a few hours walking them is an absolute must-do while you’re in Dubrovnik. The views are unbelievable and, if you time it right by going later in the day, you can avoid the crowds and catch a sunset! (For fellow GOT fans, you basically feel like you’re surveying King’s Landing = priceless.)

Dubrovnik was easily the most romantic place I’ve visited and I hope to go back one day to spend more time there, ideally when I’m not sick! Besides the gorgeous scenery and beach there are a TON of water activities to enjoy, including kayaking, jet skiing, sailing, touring the islands, you name it. It’s the perfect destination for couples (honeymoon or anniversary trip!), families, and Game of Thrones fans! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

xo Carrie