Last May, during my cruise on Norwegian Jade, I got to visit Croatia for the first time, and I absolutely fell in love with it. What a beautiful country! Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik, one of two very popular cruise ports (the other being Split) on the coast.
We arrived in the mid-afternoon and only had a few hours there. It wasn't long enough to thoroughly explore the city, but I had to make do. I focused my limited time on The Old Town of Dubrovnik, a World Heritage site with cobblestone streets surrounded by high stone walls overlooking the orange rooftops of the city and the Adriatic Sea.
First, I'd advise that if you are arriving by cruise ship and considering purchasing the Dubrovnik (tourist discount) Card online before your trip (which means you'll have to print your receipt and bring it to the tourist office in Dubrovnik to make the exchange for the actual card), you should make sure you're not going to be arriving after 2pm on a Sunday, when the tourist offices near the cruise port are closed. Yeah, I did that. Live and learn.
There is also a bus that you can catch from near the port into the city, but because I made the error with the Dubrovnik Card, I didn't do that. I didn't have the Kunas (local currency) on me I would have needed for the bus. Some people actually made the walk from the cruise port to the Old Town and back, but I didn't want to waste precious time getting there and back.
Accompanying me into Dubrovnik were two new friends I met on the cruise, Karen and Ann. Outside the city walls, they stopped at the Exchange Office to exchange Euros for Kunas. I got my Kunas inside the city at an ATM. Outside the city were various tour operators hawking their tours. A guy named Goran was selling sunset tours outside the city for just 20 Euros and it sounded lovely, but I wanted to have dinner on board the ship and didn’t think I’d be able to wait to eat until 7:30, when the tour was scheduled to end. (Karen and Ann did go on this tour and they said it was fantastic.)
The first thing we did after getting our Kunas in the Old Town was walk the Stradun, the main shopping street that runs through the Old Town from the Pile Gate to the dock and marina on the other side.
If you don’t stop for shopping, it really doesn’t take very long to walk from one end to the other (5 minutes or so), but is interesting for people-watching. It also gave me a good first look at the beautiful architecture of this medieval city. You’d never know on first glance that Dubrovnik had suffered heavy bombing during a war within the past 25 years. (Unless, like me, you remember seeing it on the TV news at the time.) They’ve done an amazing job restoring the historic buildings.