Unless you’re like me and fastidiously research where to go in a city before you arrive (a special breed of procrastination/avoidance of doing things like writing the final essay for your book….) or have friends who pass on the tip with love, the first notion that there’s something special on the cliffs outside of Dubrovnik may come from up high.
The walk around the top of the city walls of Dubrovnik is a must do. It takes about 45 minutes. It takes you up and down stairs and into parapets, with spectacular views all the way. In high summer in the middle of the day it’s blazing hot up there. By the time you’re three quarters of the way done you’re dreaming of a beer and a swim. Dreaming so hard, in fact, that you may think what’s happening below is a mirage.
It’s not. Within 200 metres of each other on the far side of the city wall are two bars, rustically set onto the cliffs. The view is magical. The drinks are simple. The music rolls from gentle electronica to James Brown. The swimming off the rocks is sublime. The people diving off the 10 metre high rocks, slightly mad.
If heaven is a place; the journey there might well start with this.
The easiest way to find Buza Bar coming from the main street of Strandun is to climb the stairs leading up from Gunduliceva (this is the square with the outdoor food market behind the Cathedral). From there pass through the large courtyard and then follow the street along to the right, keeping the city walls next to your left hand. Look for the sign promising cold drinks.
The original Buza serves beer and wine in plastic cups. There are white umbrellas and rickety tables set over a few levels of concrete. At the bottom of the cliff you’ll find more steps and a ladder, allowing you to take a dunk in water that’s striped cobalt and azure.
For entertainment value you can spend an hour or two watching the mad Australians and locals leap off the cliffs into the sea (my delightful brother in law has a photo, framed of him doing this exact thing on the wall of his house). It seems the trick is to keep your hands above your head while you jump. This helps some stop toppling forward and producing the mother of all stinging belly flops. Making sure you leap out far enough to avoid the rocks below seems to be another key point.
Food is largely limited to nuts and crisps and the best bet for a drink here is a local beer; which is crisp and clear, even more so when there’s salt water still dripping down your cheeks.
The second Buza is about a three minute walk away. Or, if you’re my strapping 24 year old cousin- who we bumped into there- it’s a 5 minute swim. So long as someone else carries your wallet and shoes.
Buza 2/Caffe Bard
Around the corner, up behind the restaurant Konoba Ekvinocijo is the second Buza.
The view is just the same, perhaps even better, leading out towards Lokrum Island and beyond.
Sunset is a perfect time to go (and popular too). But what should not be discounted is the possibility of popping in for a post dinner drink.
Late at night the sign of ‘no nudist’ on the wall as you stoop to enter rings a little louder. Skinny dipping off the rocks while the moon sparkles and the only light comes from the glowing tubes which snake around the perimeter of the bar is a pretty tempting prospect after two drinks
While we were there, late at night watching the moon dance over the waves and listening to alternating strains of Ella Fitzgerald and water nudging against the rocks The Hungry One and I made a list of the most romantic bars in the world. It was pretty hard for us find anywhere to top this.
So go, and go often. But only tell people that you really love about it. Because next time we find ourselves back in Croatia, we want to make sure there’s still a seat at a table left for us.