Cold Drinks with the Most Beautiful View
Cliff Bars are a Must-Do While in Dubrovnik
Navigate your way through the Old Town to the square where the morning market is held. Climb the stairs behind, veer left and wind your way along the city walls until you see a tiny hole that pierces the stone. Duck through and be astounded by the beauty of the Adriatic Sea laid out before you in the most amazing blue. White umbrellas and rickety tables dot the concrete landings. People are perched on the cliff walls like a flock of sea birds. Retro American rock plays over the speakers and cold drinks are flowing. Congrats, you’ve discovered Buža II (“BOO-zha”) – one of Dubrovnik‘s two cliff bars. The best hidden-in-plain-view, hidden gem I’ve ever experienced.
Buža I is harder to find. If you tour the city walls – and you really should – you’ll see it from above. The best advice I can give you is to head to the marina and follow the south wall back as best you can until you see a narrow entrance. There are no signs. Part of the fun is actually finding the place so I don’t want to help you too much. I wouldn’t want to rob you of that joy of discovery. In the Dubrovnik dialect buža means “hole” and in this case it refers to the hole-like entrances to the bars so what I will tell you is to duck going in if you don’t want to crack your noggin.
The cliff bars are a unique drinking experience and yet, most guidebooks still neglect to even mention them. When they were created, the bare minimum was done to make the steep cliffs into a relatively safe and somewhat flat spot. The natural contours of the cliffs and the sea are the stars here. You’ll want to linger to soak up the sunset and the atmosphere but don’t drink too much. There are no bathrooms and if you get stumbley drunk you may end up in the drink – the only safety measures are a thin horizontal rail and some twinkle lights at night. So watch your step.
During the day you’ll see people swimming and sunbathing on the rocks. If you’re into the Dubrovnik definition of a beach (any rock you can attach a pool ladder to and get into the sea) you’ll love Buža I and II. Turns out I’m a bit of a crap swimmer when I can’t ease myself into deeper water and it’s sink or swim at these “beaches”. If you’re feeling brave you can throw yourself into the Adriatic from a rock known as “Lav” (the lion). I’m told the key is to keep your hands over your head and leap out far enough to avoid belly flopping on the rocks just under the surface. Think I’ll leave that to more foolish swimmers than I.
Buža I and II might just be holes-in-the-wall but passing through those holes is like being able to breathe deeply again after the claustrophobic feeling of the narrows streets of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Take a break from the tourist-jammed Stradun, commune with nature and have a cold drink with the most beautiful view. No nudists.
- Where: outside of Dubrovnik’s southern city walls
- Cost: a local beer at Buža I will set you back 30kn