Travel diaries: Dubrovnik, Croatia


To say I live to travel would be a pretty accurate statement. My motto is, it's important to always have something to look forward to, to get you through the long working weeks. For me...this is travel. Destination after destination, I'm always hungry to know where I'm headed next...

Kickstarting this summer's travels myself and my holiday companion, Lulu, decided to celebrate her finishing 2nd year of Uni (any excuse) with a quick trip to Croatia. Having never been before we decided on Dubrovnik as a safe option and it turns out we made just the right choice!

Where we stayed...

When it came to picking a hotel, we knew we wanted somewhere a little bit more luxurious, that had a pool with a nice view and wasn't too far from the Old Town. We decided upon Sun Gardens Dubrovnik as it seemed to have everything we were after with top notch reviews (this is crucial when you're looking to stay anywhere...guests are the only people who'll give you the honest, hard truth!). The hotel organised our airport transfer and sure enough we were greeted immediately and taken to our home for the next 3 nights. As you can imagine, the smooth and grand runnings so far had given us a little taster of what we were to expect upon arrival, but in reality we weren't prepared at all for everything that followed...

As we pulled round a water fountain over to the big glass revolving doors, our eyes widened and we were in awe at how much more beautiful the hotel was in person. Not having to even touch our cases, we made our way to the front desk to check in. (Note...if somewhere offers you a welcome glass of bubbles to make the check in process even more exciting, you know you've hit the jackpot). So, we got given our room key and were briefed on everything we needed to know about our hotel before heading over to the balcony to take in the breathtaking view for the very first time.

Don't worry, I'm not going to walk you through every single step we made, but I'll quickly break down our overall thoughts and what to expect if you're thinking of going!

The hotel is actually more of a resort; with rooms and residential apartments on offer, you feel like you're in a tranquil village rather than a holiday complex. Sun Gardens prides itself in having a spa, gym, 3 pools (one is adult only so you can imagine where we spent most of our sunbathing time) and a private beach. Food-wise, there are 3 restaurants on offer; Italian, meat-based and Mediterranean as well as having their own buffet within the main hotel. Breakfast is an all you can eat buffet with one heck of a view to accompany (see below); the food options are endless and all delicious.


The Old Town is about a 20 minute drive from the hotel and there are various ways to get there. Sun Gardens offer a shuttle bus and shuttle boat service to and from the town (or a private car service if you're in need of transport outside of the shuttle timetable). We took a private car (around €24) one morning and returned via the shuttle bus (around a few euros each way). We later found out from a couple we met that Uber works in Croatia and was the much cheaper option. We both agreed that the private cars were too pricey for our liking and it felt unnecessary for the shuttle bus to be an extra cost for staying with the hotel.

Transport aside, we stayed in the King Room with a sea view. The room was spacious and the views were out of this world. It has to be noted, our bed was so big we could've had 6 more of us to join...we both agree that those were 3 of the best nights sleeps we've ever had, so 12/10 to Sun Gardens!

And if you didn't think I couldn't possibly say anything else more complimentary about Sun Gardens, well I'm afraid it doesn't stop there (I will get onto the rest of the holiday shortly I promise). The staff went above and beyond for our entire stay but credit mostly goes to everyone at breakfast; one of the guys in particular recognised our love for apple juice on our first morning and proceeded to greet us with apple juice for the rest of our's the little things that stand out the most!


Taking in the culture...

SO, heavenly accommodation aside, what did we actually get up to? When choosing Dubrovnik it mostly stood out to us because it offered the perfect balance between being able to immerse in the history whilst also finding time to lay in the sun and drink cocktails. Our first day was spent visiting the main sightseeing points; for this we booked a combo walking tour package through TripAdvisor. The package includes a morning and afternoon tour of the Old Town followed by the Ancient City Walls that surround the town.

We began with a tour through the Old Town, lead by our guide Marko from Dubrovnik Walks. Having lived in the Old Town for his entire life there really was no-one better to tell us all about the rich history that sits within the walls.


After having lunch in the main square of the Old Town we mooched around the shops, bought some memorabilia and headed back to the meeting point in time for our afternoon tour. Marko took us up to the top of the Walls of Dubrovnik and proceeded to talk us through their history whilst we walked around the circumference. Overall both of the tours are must-do's to get a real insight to Dubrovnik. It's one thing walking around the walls thinking to yourself how great the views are but it's another taking the time to listen to a guide tell you all about what it is that you're looking at and standing on!

A day at sea...

My only other critique of our hotel was the prices they gave for tours and boat days (both were extortionate as they only provide private options). What they don't tell you about is the locally run tours and boat excursions. Within the complex we stumbled across a little stall called "Marinero"; for around €30 you can spend the day on a group boat visiting 3 different islands, enjoying freshly cooked lunch onboard and making the most of unlimited wine and grappa (warning on that one). The much more reasonable price drew us in and once again positive reviews online meant we couldn't refuse.


Sure enough it was worth every single penny! We were picked up from the bay at our hotel at 10am and immediately offered a drink. All three islands were magical in their own way; we spent 2 hours on the first, 45 minutes on the second and an hour on the last island, allowing us to relax and get a feel for all of them. Lunch was served on the boat after the first island; you have the choice of chicken, fish or veggie options paired with potato salad. The meat is freshly cooked on a BBQ on the roof of the boat and is marinated with a delicious garlic sauce. We returned at around 5pm and were cheered off the boat by the boozey Argentinian group also on board...

Overall thoughts...

Dubrovnik was even more spectacular than we could have ever expected. The scenery, the locals, the accommodation and being in the sun made it a dream. One of the only things we didn't realise however was how expensive it was going to be. We'd heard rumours but, like most people, you tend to just think 'anywhere's going to be better than London prices'. Well it turns out Dubrovnik is pretty similar to the pricey city we call home; glasses of wine averaged at about £6 each and cocktails were £8 for the most part. Food was standard London prices too, but as our tour guide pointed out, the dramatic increase in popularity for Dubrovnik explains the rise in costs.

We were in Croatia from 23-26th May which was the very start of summer season, meaning our tours had max 3 other people and the hotel wasn't terribly busy. By the time we were leaving we already noticed an increase in people starting to filter in so I'd definitely recommend May to avoid heavy crowding. 3 nights turned out not to be enough, we definitely could have done with an extra 1 or 2 to make the most of the sunshine and local hotspots/nightlife. But if you're looking for your next cultural and sun-filled holiday, keep Croatia in mind.


Outfit wise, there were two particular evening attires worth sharing. The first was a slick grey Topshop dress paired with some old Topshop heeled slip ons.

The second outfit is a new personal favourite; the crinkled top with a knot detail is from Bershka and the culottes are from ASOS with the same old Topshop slip ons.