We’ve visited Italy and Greece with their historic and ancient ruins, most of which are impressive but also have a somewhat incomplete look into how these ruins once stood. We always think to ourselves how amazing it would be to see Rome or Athens in their former glory. Not to say that the current state of the Coliseum or Acropolis doesn’t still blow us away every time we visit, but how cool it would be to see an ancient city as it once was hundreds of years ago. So where is all this leading to?  It leads us to a small country lying on the coast of the Adriatic Sea… Croatia. And more specifically Dubrovnik, a nearly perfectly preserved city from the 13th century.

When we decided to visit Croatia, Dubrovnik was on the top of our list of places to see and for more than one reason. For starters, it offers a glimpse into the past and gives visitors a chance to see, feel and walk through history. Secondly, (unrelated to history and more related to current pop culture) Dubrovnik is also one of the many filming locations of HBO’s hit TV show Game of Thrones, which we both happen to be huge fans of.

Clap it up for Dubrovnik… like a good wine it’s gotten better with age!

Needless to say, when we saw the opportunity to visit a well preserved medieval city, which also just happens to be Kings Landing (the capital city in Game of Thrones), we jumped all over it.

From our experience, exploring Dubrovnik should be done in the following three ways to ensure you see the city from every angle:

One: Stroll around Old Town from ground
Two: Walk the wall to see it from the top
Three: Swim to see it from the outside

One: Stroll around Old Town from ground

We spent three days exploring Kings Landing Dubrovnik, and it really is breathtaking to see. Walking through Old Town felt like we were whisked back through time and landed in some distant castle. We kept looking over our shoulder half expecting to see a knight or dragon (cause we all know dragons existed during medieval times).

Exploring on foot let us find beautiful churches like the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola and much needed fountains like the Onophrian Fountain. Oh and we also made friends with all the Croatian cats…. so many that we could make a Croatian Cat Calendar!

Although Old Town in Dubrovnik isn’t all that big, we got lost for hours walking in and out of all the little streets, checking out shops and imagining what it must have been like to have lived in this city several hundred years ago. To bring us back to reality, we visited several of the filming locations where many Game of Thrones scenes took place, including sitting on the Iron Throne itself. You could say Justine is a real life Khaleesi.

Dubrovnik offers a variety of different walking tours, some of which focus on the long history of this port city, and others that focus on taking Game of Thrones enthusiasts on a walk through Kings Landing to relive famous scenes from the show. Since we had three days there we opted to do our own tours and just looked up the filming locations and historic facts online, but if you’re on more of a time crunch we would recommend doing a tour.

Two: Walk the wall to see it from the top

After strolling the streets, we got a birds eye view of the city by walking atop the outer wall surrounding Old Town Dubrovnik. With about 1.2 miles of wall to explore we could see a lot of history, including damage from previous sieges and just the sheer massiveness of the wall. The view from the wall gave us some great vantage points; the inside of the city, the beautiful Adriatic Sea as well as a great view of Fort Lovrijenac (the Red Keep for GOT fans).

Being on top of the wall was a highlight of our trip to Dubrovnik, however one word to the wise who plan to walk the wall: there is no shade and when the sun is shining, it gets hot… very hot! We may have dumped water from our bottles on our head and shared a dime size piece of shade… don’t judge us.

Three: Swim to see it from the outside

Lucky for us, a wrong turn on our first day lead us to a small swimming cove. It’s one thing to walk through Old Town but it’s another thing to swim beside it. While swimming we would look up and see just how tall the wall really was around the city. To be honest, we got a little scared while swimming and might have imagined a shark was below us and got out of the water a little quicker than we had planned. One thing that was great about this swimming spot was that it had a great view of Fort Lovrijenac.

But back to swimming… for those who’d rather stay above the water, there are several companies that offer boat tours or you can even kayak around the walls.

When you’re not walking or swimming…eat and drink:

Now since we basically could be considered marathon trainers after the amount of walking and swimming we did to explore Dubrovnik, we obviously had to stuff our faces by wining and dining all around this city.

  • Taverna Otto: Blend of traditional mediterranean cuisines and home to best pork dish we’ve ever had. Get the roast pork fillet with almonds on the cream of corn… you won’t regret it!

  • D’vino: Great wine bar where you can sample some Croatian wines. Located down a small side street, it’s a pretty small space so you’ll have to roll the dice and see if you get a table.

  • Azur: Mediterranean cuisine with an Asian twist.

  • Cafe Buza: An incognito cliff side bar. There is no official sign for the place, so look for the sign that says, “Cold drinks with the most beautiful view”.

Dubrovnik is an incredible city with it’s own unique characteristics and being able to see it in person threw us back in time. Whether you explore it by land, sea or from above, Dubrovnik will leave you feeling like you got a glimpse into the past.