1. Cable car rides & views of the Adriatic coast
What could be better than enjoying the sunset from atop of Dubrovnik’s Srdj Hill? With a glass of wine in hand, the view from a mountainside restaurant 400 metres above sea level is truly worth the ride. The cable car ride takes just a few minutes to reach the sightseeing platform from which there is an amazing view of the Adriatic coast. Cable cars run every 10 minutes from early morning to late evening, but be prepared for long tourist queues nevertheless.
2. Old Dubrovnik
One of the best preserved medieval cities in the world, Dubrovnik is widely known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” as it lies right on the Dalmatian coast. The city has an incredible history, starting as an ancient trade center that evolved to become a masterpiece of stonework fortification. In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined UNESCO and has since put great effort into a major restoration programme. Old Dubrovnik has many surprises such as Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance churches, monasteries and fountains. One can enter the Old Town of Dubrovnik from one of three gates to reach a series of stairs that lead to narrow streets filled with a plethora of souvenir shops and restaurants.
3. Dubrovnik’s wall walk
Old Dubrovnik is surrounded by a series of defensive stone walls, a fortification so effective that it was never once breached during the Middle Ages. It’s about a two-kilometre-walk if you want to cover the entire length of the walls and towers that encircle the Old Town. Many of the main buildings can be seen whilst taking a walk on the walls – churches, temples, the main square, and even the nearby islands and harbour. From time to time, one can spot the locals who actually live in historical Old Dubrovnik. It surely must be a strange feeling to have hundreds of tourists, on a daily basis (nearly 1 million in 2014), looking into your yard from the surrounding high walls. Do check out Fort Bokar as it is not only one of most architecturally beautiful fortification structures in Dubrovnik, but it is also the oldest casemented fortress in all of Europe.
Dubrovnik offers a rather wide variety of options for enjoying a good seafood meal – from superb restaurants run by families to simple seafood joints. There are also many places that serve more simple fare, such as pizza or pasta. If possible, try a ‘Dubrovnik seafood plate’ to get a taste of fresh, locally caught prawns, sea bass and mussels. When in Dubrovnik, you can’t go wrong with seafood!
5. Beaches – stones and rocks
Dubrovnik pretty much reflects the beach situation found along the whole Croatian coast – swimming places are few in number, and if you are lucky enough to find one, be assured that it will be small and stony. There are a few beaches near Dubrovnik, and all are usually packed with people. However, once you get yourself into the water you will be sure to enjoy it immensely. If you long for something more adventurous, try out the small swimming place near the fortress – a ladder fastened to a rock is the only way in and out of the water. And as always, do not forget to slather yourself in sunblock!
6. Game of Thrones
Valar Morghulis! Every now and then you’ll hear someone remark – Hey, I know this place from somewhere… Most likely that’s because many of the outdoor scenes for the epic television series Game Of Thrones have been filmed in Dubrovnik. It takes some imagination, but if you look closely, you’ll see the mythical kingdom, too – Kings’ Landing (Old Dubrovnik), the magical city of Qarth (the Rector’s Palace and views of Lokrum Island), the Red Keep (St. Lawrence Fortress), and The Tomb of the Undying (Minceta Fortress). If one ignores the souvenir shops laden with GoT-themed merchandise, it is really quite nice to take in a meal near the famous staircase where Cersei Lannister took her walk of shame through the city.
7. Lokrum Island & boat rides
So close, and yet so far, lies Lokrum Island. It can be reached via a kayak tour, or by taking a ride on one of tourist boats with glass floors. Once you reach one of the Old Town entrance gates that are nearer the harbour, it is nearly impossible to miss the boat-ride vendors. Look through the boat’s glass floor to see how surprisingly rocky the seabed actually is, and enjoy the view from Lokrum Island. It’s definitely a refreshing way to spend a hot day in Dubrovnik.
8. Narrow streets & stairs
Old Dubrovnik has a rather simple layout by way of quarters, but take note that there are plenty of stairs and narrow street labyrinths. When taking a walk through the romantic lanes of the ancient city, you just may catch a feeling of the mystic atmosphere that they say rises from the historic stone walls. The best way to experience Old Dubrovnik is to simply merge with the crowd and go on an unforgettable journey through the maze created by Dubrovnik’s centuries-old streets.
Since Dubrovnik is not all that big, be aware that parking fees are quite high. When looking for a hotel or Airbnb to stay at, make sure to check whether they offer a free parking space nearby. It is very possible to go through the whole city and not find a single free parking spot (even a paid parking spot!) in which to leave your vehicle. To avoid this problem altogether, you can easily discover Dubrovnik by foot; however, the idea of zipping along on a motorcycle is not a bad one.
The days are slow in Dubrovnik, and the evenings are even slower. People don’t hurry – they go on daily walks to their local grocery store, enjoy freshly-picked pineapples from their yards, and are proud of their homemade wines (which are definitely something to be proud of). The days may pass with ever-present crowds of tourists, but somehow Dubrovnik still manages to hold on to an everything-is-perfect,-just-enjoy-yourself vibe. A true Adriatic Pearl, indeed.
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