Dubrovnik, an ancient settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site for more than 30 years, is a place where romance seems to emanate from its grand buildings, splendid in their sculpted details, where past lovers seem to whisper from the corners of the Old Town, and where luxury and relaxation are almost prerequisites.
Dubrovnik as seen from Mount Srd. — Photo courtesy of Glen Scarborough
The pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik abounds in old architecture, with its forts, palaces and churches and ancient city walls that stretch for more than a mile. A Renaissance seat of learning and culture that fostered many of Croatia’s poets, painters and scholars, Dubrovnik became popular with the wealthy socialites of Europe in the late 19th century, and can boast royalty and presidents amongst its returning guests.
Though heavily bombed in the wars of the 1990s, Dubrovnik has long since recovered, the damage repaired, and its elite reputation returned: Dubrovnik can boast of more than half of the top luxury hotels in all Croatia. Among its five star hotels are the historic Hotel Excelsior and Hotel Bellevue, carved into the cliff-face overlooking the Adriatic.
Treat yourself and your better half to some traditional Dalmatian fare in the many restaurants of the Old City, with a table at street level; or find a small door to take you out of the city walls and into your own special place, enjoying fine views and sunsets. Wine is plentiful and sweet, coming from the nearby Peljesac Peninsula, while “Dubrovacka rozata” is the Dalmatian version of a creme caramel dessert.
Don’t Miss these Dubrovnik Must-Sees
-The treasures of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, a maze of tiny streets best explored on foot. It’s easy to lose your bearings, and the signs don’t help much, but don’t worry; you can always take refuge in a bar or cafe and found your way out again later.
Old Town, Dubrovnik. — Photo courtesy of AleGranholm
1. The spectacular view of the Old Town from the top of Mount Srd, accessible by cable car to avoid clambering up the steep, rocky, footpath.
2. Sponza Palace is one of Dubrovnik’s grandest buildings, gothic Renaissance in its splendor and not surprisingly a popular venue for foreign visitors to wed.
3. Picturesque, showy Placa is Dubrovnik’s main shopping street, and a place where something always seems to be happening on warm summer nights.
4. Nearby Lapad Beach is easy to reach from the center by foot or bus. Here, the Adriatic sparkles, the shore is sandy and it’s car-free.
Great Day Trip Options from Dubrovnik
Take a day trip out of Dubrovnik to enjoy the natural beauty of the local area. Trsteno Arboretum is one of the oldest botanical gardens on this side of the Mediterranean, and is located about 15 miles from Dubrovnik.
The waterfalls, watermills and canals of Konavli (accessible by bus from Dubrovnik’s Old Town) are a particularly peaceful retreat after the bustle of Dubrovnik.
It just doesn’t seem possible to visit the Dalmatian region of Croatia without checking out at least one island, and while Korcula and Miljet have much to offer, those fixed in Dubrovnik can still take a ferry to nearby Lokrum Island, a nature park with botanical gardens and monastery just 15 minutes by boat from the Old Port.
When to Go
Avoid summer (high season), when the heat can be stifling and the crowds repressive. Instead, enjoy the scents and colors of spring, or the intense light of fall; the sea is warm enough for swimming until early October.