The Dubrovnik shopping arena is, thankfully, starting to be less dominated by the overpriced tourist shops that once dominated the city, and a few key stores are holding out against these tacky souvenir shops that line the main street of Stradun. Time Out discovers the best places to go shopping in Dubrovnik, from designer boutiques to open-air markets.
The best shops in Dubrovnik
Now visitors to Dubrovnik need no longer panic when invited to a VIP party at short notice. Maria describes itself as a concept store but fashion is the focus here. Strategically located at the Ploče Gate, it's one of the few places in Croatia where you can find a battery of major international names such as Gucci, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga, all laid out in an ample space – with prices to match the quality and atmosphere on offer. Despite this, staff are approachable and in no way snobby. You'll find a long list of designers and styles laid out on the website.
Britain has the bowler, France has the beret and Bavaria the comedy leather trousers. And Croatia? Croatia has the cravat. Croatia is the home of the cravat. It's the national cultural symbol. Even the word 'cravat' comes from the Croatian word for 'Croat': hrvat. Not surprisingly, Croatia takes this tradition seriously. It even boasts an academic institution to research the heritage of the necktie – the history harks back to the Thirty Years' War, when Croatian girls knotted scarves around their fiancé’s neck before leaving for battle as an enduring symbol of their love. The ties aroused the interest of the French cavalry and the look caught on in fashionable Paris, evolving to become an international clothing staple. This store is the flagship Dubrovnik branch of the prestigious fashion house chain, selling the kind of garments they always offer to passing dignitaries, celebrities and men and women. The cravats, scarves, and shawls are cut from the finest silk, with special attention paid to the design motifs – many inspired by local heritage.
Halfway along Stradun, this small, friendly shop contains a reasonable selection of local and international wines. A comprehensive list of the domestic varieties on offer in-store or by order is on the website. For a standard bottle to take to the beach, you'll find cheaper at one of the local groceries outside the Pile Gate.
A few steps above restaurant-crammed Prijeko is this small photography gallery, hosting themed exhibitions over the summer and selling prints by leading Croatian photographers in a variety of sizes. The gallery owner hails from the Carmel in California, a town long associated with photography (both Edward Weston and Ansel Adams had studios there in their day). The gallery also sells jewelry manufactured by the nearby Atelier Secret.
The main market in Dubrovnik for fruit, vegetables and, alongside, fish. In a section of the ruined garden of the Gundulić summer villa, Gruž market is larger and cheaper than the one in the Old Town Gundulićeva poljana. Shoppers and occasional restaurateurs arrive here, near the ferry terminal, from early in the morning, hoping to find the best goods. Few words are exchanged with the vendors, who have come down from the Neretva delta, Konavle or Herzegovina over the border. With a little luck, locals find the best cabbage for zelena menestra (cabbage, smoked pork and potato), goats' cheese for salads, the best eggs for rožata (the local version of crème caramel) and, for traditional Ragusan orange cake, oranges from Lopud. Prices are mostly fixed and haggling doesn't tend to happen. A little discount might be easiest at the end of the working day, when vendors are looking to offload all their stock. If you are fond of fine fish, get here by 7am, when women arrive from the Elafiti islands. The stock varies from day to day, but Fridays is usually the best. Although everyone here moans about the cost of living these days, the most expensive fish, starting from 100kn a kilo, quickly vanishes.