On your first trip explore the compact and beautifully preserved medieval fortifications of Dubrovnik's UNESCO-listed Old Town. Take in the terracotta-roofed townhouses and centuries-old stone monuments from the 17th-century Rector's Palace to the Baroque Cathedral. Expect chic minimalist design hotels and rustic eateries serving exquisite Dalmatian seafood throughout the city.
Built to protect the city against the Turks, you can walk inside Dubrovnik's medieval walls via two 15th-century arched entrances with drawbridges, Pile Gate and Ploe Gate. Stroll along Stradun, a wide paved promenade that forms the main axis through the Old Town, which connects these two gates. Head west of the Old Town to the Lapad peninsular, a mix of residential properties and hotels. Take a taxi boat to the tiny island of Lokrum from the old harbour, or a ferry from Gru port to the nearby hilly archipelago of Elafiti Islands, north-west of Dubrovnik.
Begin by walking a circuit of the City Walls, built when Dubrovnik was a wealthy independent republic (1358-1808). In the Old Town, visit the Rector's Palace, home to the City Museum displaying period furniture and costumes. Nearby, the 17th-century Baroque Cathedral's treasury shows its gold reliquaries. Take a ten-minute boat trip to the nearby, uninhabited island of Lokrum and cool off with a swim. Ponder today's world at War Photo Ltd, a modern gallery dedicated to war photojournalism from current conflicts. After dark, dine on regional hearty dishes in a traditional Dalmatian konoba, or wine cellar.
Learn more about Dubrovnik's connection with the sea at the Maritime Museum and see some of the animals and plants that inhabit the Adriatic at the Aquarium both located inside St John's Fortress. Visit the cloisters of the Old Town's Franciscan Monastery, home to one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe. Take a daytrip to the car-free Elafiti Islands by ferry or catamaran, or drive 18 miles up the coast to the Renaissance Trsteno Arboretum, home to a 15th-century summer residence.