How to make a picnic experience your Dubrovnik holiday highlight?
The good old tradition of a picnic is experiencing a revival worldwide and is certainly one of the positive trends to come out of pandemic restrictions. Dining outdoors safely with others, and connecting with nature – everyone loves a meal with a view! When I launched my gourmet picnic business in Dubrovnik, I was driven by a passion for exploring the landscape, history, and gastronomic traditions of Croatia – something Dubrovnik has in abundance. A picnic is a unique way to enjoy local specialties, combined with that natural beauty of Croatia as your backdrop. Complemented with local wine from the region, and there you have it, the perfect picnic!
WHY PICNIC IN DUBROVNIK?
• No reservations needed! Get that million-dollar view without blowing your budget! Picnics are a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik’s old town restaurants in high season where getting a table with a view can be a challenge.
• A picnic is ideal for keeping up with the practice of social distancing without sacrificing experience while on holiday.
• Discover the old town surroundings. At Dubrovnik’s doorstep, there is so much more to explore and enjoy beyond the city walls.
• Romantic? Yes! Dubrovnik is a city for lovers! A picnic is ideal for those memorable moments.
WHERE TO PICNIC IN DUBROVNIK?
There is beauty around every corner in Dubrovnik, from sea to sky! Whether you want to plunk yourself down on the fringes of the old town, or escape to higher reaches, and beaches; there are plenty of options for a simple picnic fix to full-day adventures and sunset hikes that beg for a picnic feast.
AN EASY ISLAND ESCAPE: LOKRUM ISLAND
Lokrum Island, a small islet just off of the old town known as “the emerald of Dubrovnik”, is nothing less than a picnic paradise. An easy ferry hop, and you are transported to a world of pine scented trails, shaded olive groves, and atmospheric monastery grounds. Trek up to the fortress built by Napoleon’s army, and poke around what was recently a Game of Thrones set location. The island’s coastline is a fringe of rocky shelves made for laying out a picnic blanket. The only inhabitants are the free-roaming peacocks, whose ancestors reach back centuries to the time of Dubrovnik nobility and the legendary history of Lokrum island.
TIP: A Dubrovnik city card or student ID will get you a discount on the ferry ticket price.
THE ELAPHITE ISLANDS
For a day trip, the trio of islands also very close to Dubrovnik offer superb exploring and picnicking potential. There are three organized island group tours, but I prefer to use the local ferry and go at my own pace exploring one island at a time.
Head to Gruz harbor in the morning with a stop for picnic goods at the farmers market and bakeries situated near the port. Pick your island and you are off on a wonderful adventure!
Kolocep island – the first ferry stop
Follow trails to cliff views, ancient pine forest groves, and pebbled coves – all lovely places to break open the picnic bag. Guided adventure tours are available with hikingdubrovnik.com.
The next ferry stop is famed for its sandy beach lined with lively bars in high season. If that is not your cup of tea, trails wind to small churches tucked in the forest, and ancient fortress ruins make for a breezy picnic spot up on the hill.
The furthest of the bunch will provide that feeling of true escape. There is a no-frills beauty to Sipan island, where everything slows down. Walk the island routes past abandoned Renaissance villas and vineyards where locals will wave at you from their fields. If going where it feels like time stopped is your thing, stay on that ferry to the last stop.
SUNSET & PANORAMIC PICNICS
A visit to Dubrovnik is not complete without heading up to Srd ridge that towers over the old town providing a mesmerizing bird’s eye view of the tight cluster of red-tiled rooftops and narrow streets wrapped in the ribbon of fortification walls surrounded by the sparkling Adriatic sea. One of the most iconic views in Croatia, it is up to you whether you choose to be whisked to the top via cable car, organize a ride by road, or set out on foot to wind your way up the serpentine track. Regardless of how you get there, a picnic at the top is out of this world. Head off in either direction, and you will be rewarded with even better sunset views, and fewer people.
TIP: Purchase your cable car tickets beforehand at the Buza gate ticket stands to bypass the lineup at the station.
Take it up a notch and book a guided hike, to arrive at a secret location and gourmet picnic waiting for you! Drink in that view with a selection of wines to try in an intimate and fun outdoor dining experience with locals, Piknik Dubrovnik & Hiking Dubrovnik.
EXPLORE OUTSIDE THE CITY WALLS
Stretch your legs and head out from either one of the main gates for scenic walks to many picnic spots. To the east (PLOCE gate) head to Sveti Jakov beach, or Park Orsula, via a hike up high for more enchanting views.
Head west out PILE gate: A few turns and you arrive at one of the most photographed bays in Dubrovnik, the West Bay, and the Lovrijenac fortress towering on the cliff above (possibly populated with Game of Thrones fans). Carry on further to Sulic bay, the locals’ favorite, and Dance beach for a sunset swim and picnic.
PEOPLE WATCHING PICNIC AT POPORELLA
One of my favorite pastimes in Dubrovnik is people-watching. Jutting out from the old town harbor, is the breakwater, lovingly called Poporella, and a popular spot to take a stroll. Find yourself a place to sit and enjoy your picnic as the boats and people come and go in the bustling harbor.
HEAD OUT OF TOWN TO TRSTENO ARBORETUM
Only 18 km from Dubrovnik, sits a special piece of history. One of the oldest intact renaissance gardens in Europe – the Trsteno Arboretum and its surrounding village and coast make for a delightful picnic outing. Seeing as there is not much to find for dining there, a picnic is essential for this day trip. Wander the paths until you find your ideal picnic spot in a mystical corner of the gardens.
WHERE TO FORAGE FOR YOUR PICNIC GOODS OR ORDER A PREPARED PICNIC?
Just as important as where to picnic, is what your picnic bag contains. Farmers markets that operate in the mornings in the old town and Gruz harbor have a nice array of seasonal fruits, jams, traditional treats, and the occasional round of cheese. Local supermarkets, bakeries, and a few specialty shops stock picnic-friendly goods, and wine to fit all budgets.
If you are looking for a hassle-free deluxe picnic experience, Piknik Dubrovnik will sort you out with an expertly packed feast of handpicked gourmet specialties. Forego gathering the necessities, and let them do the foraging, and deliver you a stylish, insulated rucksack full of thoughtfully arranged surprises, including the all-important corkscrew, blanket and a map for your adventure. Panoramic views are free of charge!
Once you picnic in Dubrovnik I am pretty sure you will be hooked on picnics and Croatia!