So, last month I went to Dubrovnik. My main motivation was to do the Game of Thrones tour. I mean, after watching that, who wouldn't want to go to Kings Landing.
I'd have to say that it is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited but it was so hot. Even though the temperature wasn't that high (low 30s), I just felt drained for most of the weekend.
Getting to Dubrovnik:
This ended up being harder than I'd first thought. My original idea has been to pop there while I was staying in Prague -- and boy I'm glad I didn't because the heat would've been so much worse -- that ended up not being practical. There are no trains to Dubrovnik so you have to train part of the way then take a bus. I hate buses so that option was not going to happen.
Flights to Dubrovnik seem to be seasonal and a lot of airlines stop flying there or reduce their flights in September. I did end up finding a reasonably priced flight from Geneva though.
I booked a place with a terrace with views over the Old City. The views were amazing but I paid a premium for them. I had a room in a guest house with no separate access but with an en-suite. I'm sure there are much cheaper options if you want to stay at a backpackers or even an Airbnb without the amazing views. On the positive side though, I ended up having a balcony picnic one night of my stay because I figured no restaurant would have such stunning views.
What to do:
If you are into adventure stuff then there is a heap of things to do in Dubrovnik, like sea kayaking and paragliding. I'm not so much into those things. There are also a heap of options for cruising around the islands. I wasn't really into that either because it seemed that when you got there, it was mainly sun baking. I have to protect my lily-white complexion.
The Game of Thrones tour was well worth the money, covering a lot of local history and major spots around the Old City as well as seeing all the locations from the show.
I did an add-on in the afternoon that took us to where they filmed the High Garden scenes. The gardens were amazing and I'd have loved to have had some free time to wander around.
The bad thing about the tour was that we ended up walking around the city walls in the mid-day sun and I had to opt out of a part of it because I felt so sick from being in the heat for too long. It was just a small part so I didn't miss much.
I pre-booked my tour but there seemed be a few that you could take just by rocking up that were cheaper. I'm not sure how they compared quality-wise though.
While Dubrovnik was stunning, after a couple of days I did find myself getting a little bored. I'm not really into beach swimming or adventure stuff and the Old City is small enough to do in a day.
On my last day, I went up in the cable car to have lunch with amazing views (someone was leaving so I dashed and got the best table in the place) then had hours to fill before my bus to the airport. I'd stored my bag near the bus stop but didn't want to leave my laptop because the place wasn't that secure, to be honest. I ended up walking around the Old City, having a quiet drink or two. A few places I wanted to check out, like the Aquarium, didn't take cards and I had little Croatian money left.
I'd read about an amazing bar by the city walls but had forgotten about it. I ended up randomly finding it on my walk around but, since it was nearly time to get back to the bus and service in Dubrovnik is a little on the slow side, I decided to give it a miss. Darn it. Note: the bus ended up being over 20 minutes late so I could've had a quick mojito!
As far as costs went, I didn't find Dubrovnik particularly cheap. It's very tourist-oriented. Of course, after Geneva, everywhere is relatively cheap. One thing that did surprise me, going to eat at the places with amazing views and great locations (like the cable car restaurant) didn't really seem to be any more expensive than other places.
I think, unless you want a summer, laze by the beach vacation, two or three days is enough to spend in Dubrovnik. If you do want to laze around the beach, there are probably smaller villages on the coast that are cheaper. For a small city, Dubrovnik packs in a lot of people. There were three massive cruise ships in harbour while I was there. That means the city can get awfully cramped.
Maybe it would be better to visit off-season but, as our tour guide said, so many people are doing that now that even late September is really busy. Then there is the problem with transport.
I'd love to go back to Croatia and spend time in the rest of the county. I feel like Dubrovnik was very much just the tip of the iceberg (except not cool and refreshing like ice).