Croatia is hotly tipped as one of Europe’s most popular destinations right now and it’s easy to see why! And Dubrovnik, with its Baroque architecture, exquisite religious structures and of course the famous city walls, will capture your heart.
Walk Dubrovnik’s City Walls
The Old City of Dubrovnik has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 and the city’s most famous structure is the ancient walls that are recognisable in every holiday brochure. Opt to enjoy a leisurely walk around the city walls and see for yourself why Dubrovnik is dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. At its peak, the city was a superior economic and cultural powerhouse and rivalled Venice in Italy for supremacy.
Today the city is bursting with rich culture and heritage, noticeable in its architecture and monuments. The walls were built between the 13th and 16th century and remain largely intact, despite many attacks over the years. The wall was extended and new forts constructed along its length many times over the years. In fact the entire Old Town district is fully contained within the walls, which stretch for over 2km. in places the wall reaches a height of 25 meters. There are several notable towers and forts along the wall that travellers can explore, such as the Minčeta Tower, the Lovrjenac Fort, the Bokar Tower and the Revelin Fort. The walls offer an unrivalled view over Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea below, which is considered one of the top things to do in Croatia.
Explore the Old Town of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was seriously damaged by a strong earthquake in 1667, yet managed to retain its rich cultural treasures within the churches, palaces and monasteries. The architecture varies in style from Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. The city again suffered extensive damage during the conflict in the 1990s and today, with assistance from UNESCO, the city is undergoing significant restoration.
The old Town is something of a rabbit warren of streets but are fairly easy to navigate as there are signs (although some are seriously out of date) which indicate which shops and sights are on each street. The best thing to do is wear comfortable shoes and get exploring! There are many notable sights in the Old Town including Roland's Column which is the site of the annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the exquisitely preserved Sponza Palace built in Gothic Renaissance style and the Placa Stradun (thoroughfare) street which is bursting with traditional Croatian daily life.
Ride the Dubrovnik Cable Car for astounding city views
Most major cities have either a cable car system or a giant wheel to soak up the local views. And Dubrovnik is no exception. The newly renovated cable car system only opened again (after the conflict in the 1990s) in July 2010. Hop on in the Old City and get ready to capture the incredible views on camera. The journey is only 4 minutes in total and ends at Mt Srđ where you’ll be 400 meters up with fantastic views out over Dubrovnik. The trick is to time your journey with sunset to capture the ultimate views.
Chill out on Mljet Island
There are many beautiful islands within easy reach of Dubrovnik such as Mljet, Lokrum, Korcula and Lopud. Mljet is particularly beautiful and is home to the Mljet National Park, Dubbed the greenest island of Croatia, Mljet has many traditional villages and secluded bays. The southeast area has two particularly fine beaches; the Saplunara and Blace. The National Park region occupies a third of the island in the northwest and has salt water lakes and the ancient St Mary Monastery. The ferry trip takes around 90 minutes and is well worth it for a real change of pace from Dubrovnik.
Visit the Synagogue and Jewish Museum
Dubrovnik is home to many notable museums and galleries including the Synagogue and Jewish Museum which is reputedly the second oldest synagogue still in use in Europe. The building may be small but is home to many ancient menorahs and scrolls. It’s a good place to learn about the Jewish community in Dubrovnik, from the past and present.
Discover the beautiful Churches
There are several churches that are worth a look in Dubrovnik. The beautiful Baroque Franciscan Monastery has stunning Romanesque-style cloisters. The Church of St. Ignatius features a richly ornate interior and mass is still held here daily in the summer. Dating back to the 15th century, the Church of St. Sebastian was built in honour of Saint Sebastian, the protector against the plague.
Chill out on Dubrovnik’s beaches
When all the walking and sightseeing gets overwhelming, take a break on one of Dubrovnik’s beaches. The Lapad Beaches are very popular and have a long stretch of cafes, shops and restaurants. There is a coastal path to explore and watch the sun setting over the Adriatic. Banje Beach is a pebble beach close to the Old Town with a private section where you can pay to enter or a much more lively ‘public’ section with beach sports on offer as well as amazing views over the Old Town and Lokrum Island.
With summer temperatures peaking at around 30 degrees C, Croatia is a popular summer holiday destination. But with spring and autumn temperatures around 15-20 degrees C Croatia also makes the perfect shoulder season destination too! And with prices lower than the other Southern Europe neighbouring countries, now id the perfect time to explore Croatia!