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Dubrovnik red roofs

Dubrovnik | City Walls and Shameful Steps

Boat Rides and Sea Views

Early morning transport is never my favourite, and after a quick dash to Split harbour at the crack of dawn I was ready to board the ferry to Dubrovnik. I’d imagined something like the ferry I used to get to the Isle of Wight as a kid, but this was a much smaller, comfortable passenger ferry. The journey was longer than I thought it’d be and after a little nap, I couldn’t find my headphones so had to just sit and look out the window. Thankfully the view was amazing, and although we weren’t allowed on deck when the boat was moving, I was happy to just sit and look out of the window for hours. 

Once we’d arrived in the port of Gruz, it was a warm 20 minute walk to the apartment I’d booked, about halfway between the port and Dubrovnik old town. Quickly freshening up, it was then on to the old town. I’m happy to walk around places, but it was really hot, uphill quite a lot of the way and I was so tired from the early start that I should have had another nap in the apartment before venturing out. Instead, I arrived at the walls of the old town absolutely shattered. Stopping for a coffee, I was really struggling to stay awake and even had a ‘I’ll just rest my eyes’ moment before realising I was about to fall asleep at the table. Only solution – keep moving! 

Joining the crowds of people making their way across the bridge and through the gates into the old town, I felt like I’d become an extra on Game of Thrones. As a lot of scenes had been filmed in Dubrovnik and I’d just finished binge watching the series, it was very fresh in my mind. 

There isn’t a huge amount to see in the old town, and as I’d be coming back tomorrow I didn’t want to see it all today, so instead just wandered around checking out the pretty architecture and stopping in a couple of churches. On the way back, I saw lots of people gathering at the top of an impressive staircase. Where there are crowds, there’s usually something worth seeing, and as I neared there were people walking down chanting ‘Shame. Shame. Shame.’ Ah, these must be the steps they used to film the infamous shame scene in Game of Thrones. If you know, you know. 

Inside Dubrovnik Old Town

By now I was running on empty, and still had a 20-minute walk back to the apartment to tackle. It was still warm, and with every bus stop passed I regretted the decision to walk. But, the views as the path passes by the coast are absolutely stunning and made up for it…a bit. Grabbing some food at the supermarket to cook a proper dinner, I turned in relatively early, mostly due to the fact the apartment was on the ground floor of a house surrounded by trees and set a way back from the main road. To say I was uneasy was an understatement, and the lack of curtains didn’t help me constantly imagining a face at the window. 

View of Adriatic Sea from Dubrovnik

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Next morning I woke feeling a little unsure about my next steps. I was due to leave Dubrovnik the next day, but had nothing booked and no real idea of what to do. I had to be back in England in a week, and although I was keen to cross the nearby border into Montenegro, I wasn’t sure how easy it’d be to get around and back to England in a week. The hardest part of travelling solo is having no-one to bounce ideas off of. A quick call to my parents helped me decide to get out of Croatia and head back to Spain for a quick visit before heading home. 

Now I had a plan, I walked to the port to grab a ferry ticket for the next day. Lucky I didn’t leave it until the morning, as I took one of the last tickets! I quickly booked somewhere to stay in Split for a couple of days and a flight to Madrid, then walked to Dubrovnik Old Town. It was so hot that the first port of call was a cafe, but it was difficult to find somewhere not overrun with tourists that I could also sit outside. Quite often busy cafes are reluctant to let a single person sit for just a drink, but eventually I found somewhere.

Next stop – city walls. I’d debated whether it was worth the 200HK (about £25) but as I hadn’t loved Dubrovnik I didn’t see myself coming back anytime soon and so should do the city wall tour while I was here. Aside from the number of steps in the sun and heat, the views were absolutely incredible and it was absolutely worth the entrance fee. It took me about two and a half hours, but I kept stopping in the rare areas of shade to rest and take photos, and also got stuck on a ledge for a while so just sat watching the tourists come and go in their tour groups, listening to the snippets of info the tour guides gave before scraping my legs getting off the ledge and heading back to the apartment for dinner, a Disney film and to pack my stuff. 

View from Dubrovnik city walls

Get Me On That Ferry!

With an early ferry booked, the plan was to be at the ferry port by 6.30am. This meant leaving the apartment at 6am to give me plenty of time. As it turns out, I woke feeling really unwell and unsure whether I’d have to miss the ferry. Once I realised the financial implications and pure pain in the bum it’d cause having to rearrange my plans, I left the apartment at 6.30am and power walked/ran to the port with my bags. Always fun when you already don’t feel well! But, at least I was able to sleep on the ferry on the way back to Split. 

Boat docked in Gruz port

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  • Reply
    Linda K
    June 7, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    So interesting reading your blogs about Croatia. Seems like you sort of had mixed emotions about visiting. What time of year was it? Would you recommend staying in old town if one was to go there? Had to chuckle about the Game of Thrones references though 🙂

    • Reply
      June 7, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      Oh for sure, I really enjoyed some parts and wasn’t overly wowed by others. I was there July of last year (still catching up!). I think prices are kind of the same whether in the old town or in the surrounding areas, and if I went back I’d stay the old town, it really is pretty. Just be aware that cars can’t go there, so depending on luggage it could be a fun walk from the city gates 🙂

      • Reply
        Linda K
        June 7, 2020 at 5:51 pm

        Thank you for the info! You’ve been to some really interesting cities that I’m curious about maybe visiting one day! Stay safe!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2020 at 3:22 am

    I’ve gone to Dubrovnik twice: once in 2006 before GoT was a big thing, and then in 2018 once tourism exploded. I agree with you that the town has its charm and other lackluster moments: it’s pretty, but aside from walking the fort walls and the main street, there isn’t a whole lot else to see. One full day is just right to take in everything– all the same, it’s a place worth checking out if in the area!

    • Reply
      June 9, 2020 at 10:13 am

      So reassuring to hear another person has that view! I’m glad I went because it is pretty, and the city walls tour was definitely the highlight for me but I’m not sure what I’d do for a long weekend there. I bet it was great in 2006 before the crowds descended!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Another place that’s the victim of it’s own success. Can’t believe how much they’re charging to walk the walls these days. It’s not hard to get around the Balkans, just means buses instead of trains.

    • Reply
      June 10, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      It felt astronomical but compared to prices in Dubrovnik I think maybe not too wild, and it was definitely worth the money in my opinion. I will definitely get better at travelling by bus (not such a fan at the minute) because otherwise I’ll miss out on so much!

      • Reply
        June 10, 2020 at 4:11 pm

        I first went in 2004, it was dirt cheap to walk the walls then. I went back in 2011, mostly to get a bus to Mostar, and I thought it was pricey then, but not as high as your report. When I had to queue to get into the old town (where I was staying), I knew things were really getting bad.

        • Reply
          June 10, 2020 at 4:52 pm

          I think Game of Thrones has definitely had an influence on the prices! I wonder if the novelty will wear off and prices will fall again.

  • Reply
    Happy Panda
    June 15, 2020 at 9:13 am

    “The hardest part of travelling solo is having no-one to bounce ideas off of.” I can totally relate with this. I usually plan my itineraries in advance but not everything goes as planned and there’s no one to ideate alternate plans with! 🙈

    Totally love all your travel posts. Will read through them all leisurely! ❤️

    • Reply
      June 15, 2020 at 9:39 am

      I should probably do a bit more planning in advance, but like you say there’ll always be things that don’t go to plan.

      Thank you ☺️🥰

  • Reply
    SeveDB Blog
    July 12, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    I was there last year in October. Walking the walls was still awfully hot! It was also very crowded. The stairs of shame were far more crowded and I could not take decent pictures of it. I enjoyed the city, but as you say, one day is plenty to see it all.

    • Reply
      July 12, 2020 at 10:42 pm

      I think the crowds were one of the worst things for me, and it felt very overhyped and expensive. It was pretty though, I’m glad you still enjoyed it 🙂

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