Famous for clear water and ancient walls, Dubrovnik, the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Centre, has its history, both ancient and modern, permanently on show. Whilst it still bears the sad scars of war, holiday in Dubrovnik and discover a proud fortress city with a great story to tell.
A morning patrol of the city walls is essential, then retreat into the shady streets where the stone floor is so polished by feet that it glistens. Dubrovnik might seem self-contained within its fortifications, but there’s lots to do outside of them. The surrounding resorts have space to stretch out outside the confines of the old walls. You don’t have to travel far along the coast to find a hotel with a great spa or a retreat that puts very little between your eyes and the Adriatic. From the city you can also reach out to the islands off its coast and on day trips to Split and the municipality of Montenegro. Book flights to Dubrovnik and see for yourself.
Dubrovnik is made for wandering. Patrol its medieval walls in the morning. Walk the Stradum, the main thoroughfare, at your leisure and then visit the cathedral with its Titian paintings, the baroque church of city patron St Blaise, and the meditative stone cloisters with beautiful slender columns in the Franciscan monastery. The morning markets present intense flavours of honey and herbs and bright white cotton with red stitching. It’s traditional and touristy, but it transports you a world away.
The Lapad peninsular is a suburb of Dubrovnik located 3km northwest of the city, with lots of great accommodation next to the Adriatic Sea. It has plenty of parks and green spaces, making it perfect for long walks, away from the city walls. You will find plenty of cafés, restaurants and bars waiting for you after your day out. The spectacular Dubrovnik Palace sits on the west of Lapad, overlooking the Adriatic and Petka Hill, in the National Forest, which has a perfect view of Dubrovnik and the coastline.
Sitting on the southernmost tip of the Dubrovnik Riviera you’ll find Cavtat, a beautiful town with a quiet, relaxed pace of life. Visitors will enjoy its secluded Mediterranean beaches and charming old town. The harbour, which is lined with fragrant cypress trees, welcomes you to its cafés and restaurants. Cavtat’s bays are sheltered by rocky coves, ideal for sunbathing or taking a dip in the crystal clear water. Visit the picturesque Rector’s Palace (not the Dubrovnik one) which houses the curio collection of Baltazar Bogisic, a famed 19th century scientist local to the city.
Babin Kuk is a leafy and quiet neighbourhood at the northern tip of the Lapad peninsular. It is great for families as they have the longest beach in Dubrovnik – Copacabana Beach – which offers water sports and a promenade with great cafés serving delicious local ice cream. There are also lots of green spaces with walking paths winding through – ideal for a lazy afternoon stroll. You won’t find many locals in Babin Kuk, but it is only a short bus ride away from the Old Town. Head to the Orsan Yacht Club for a great seafood platter in their restaurant.
The largest of the islands near to Dubrovnik, Korčula is also the name of its largest city. It has brilliant, but rocky beaches, and is surrounded by crystal clear sea. Be aware that there are a lot of sea urchins in the area. The town of Korčula is full of great cafés and restaurants serving seafood and superb wine made locally. But one of the main attractions is cycling, with many paths crisscrossing the island, bringing plenty of riders throughout the year. A good tip for swimming is near Korčula town, where locals dive of the ramparts into the cool depths below.
For those wishing to get away from it all, the Elaphite Islands are a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik’s Gruž harbour. The three inhabited islands – Koločep, Lopud and Šipan – offer stunning retreats from modern life. They are mostly car-free (only Šipan allows private vehicles), so either walking or cycling is a must. But the walking trails are superb, delving deep into the secluded forested hills. You will be amazed when you discover the lavish summer homes of the Dubrovnik nobility on Šipan. Don’t miss the Šunj beach on Lopud – perfect for a quick dip in the sea.
While not technically in Croatia, Montenegro is a great place to take a day trip. Down the coast from Dubrovnik, you will cross the border and find yourself in one of the most beautiful bays in the world – the Bay of Kotor. The mountains come right to the waterline around this fjord-like bay, creating a dramatic backdrop to the surrounded city. The old town of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the labyrinthine streets are made to confuse new arrivals. Get lost in wonder in this stunning part of the world.