Added to this medieval charm are Dubrovnik’s sandy beaches, pristine turquoise waters of the Adriatic, local eateries serving top-notch seafood, luxurious five-star hotels, and plenty of adventure sports facilities, that make it an ideal holiday destination.
The salty sea breeze with a hint of fried fish and olive oil only adds to the wonderful oceanic ambience of this sea side town.
In fact, the city was again on the forefront during the unrest and bombings which culminated in the breakup of the erstwhile Yugoslavia, resisting a nine-month Serbian-Montenegrin siege.
After the war was over, the city underwent renovation and reconstruction with an admirable speed leaving no trace of the destruction it had endured except for the freshly laid orange-red coloured roof tiles that stand out in contrast the older worn out roof tops, which giveaway the reconstruction effort that was undertaken after the war.
The view from above Mt.Srd will justify every epithet showered on it by poets like Byron who famously named it the Pearl of the Adriatic.
The beauty of the city and its medieval charm has also made it a prominent shooting location for the popular tele series, Game of Thrones.
July to August are peak months, chock a bloc with tourists, ridiculously priced accommodation, eminently forgettable food. The only consolation of this season is the Dubrovnik Summer festival and nightlife.
Having said that, most facilities are closed during the low season from November to April. The weather is less reliable too. But for a few hotels and restaurants that remain open for Christmas and New Year, everything else remain closed. The February Carnival sees some places reopen, but, the new season begins only for Easter.
The Dubrovnik Summer festival in July and August draws to the city the Croatian cultural dignitaries. The main event in winter is the Feast of St. Blaise, celebrated on February 3. The patron saint of the city is honoured by a parade and special mass culminating with merriment, drinking and feasting.
International airlines operating scheduled flights to Dubrovnik are Austrian Airways, British Airways and Lufthansa. Many European carriers like EasyJet, Condor, German Wings, Vueling and Aer Lingus, offer seasonal or charter flights to Dubrovnik during summer.
There are no trains to Dubrovnik. A narrow gauge line was used between Dubrovnik and Sarajevo but was closed in 1976. Split is the closest railway station, which is a 4 hr bus ride from Dubrovnik. From there you can take either of the two tilting trains (ICN) up to Zagreb. Two night trains (one to Zagreb-Osijek and one to Zagreb-Siófok-Budapest), operate from Split during summer.
The railway-station Ploče, that takes less than 2h by bus from Dubrovnik, has remained closed since December 2014.
There is a daily bus that leaves at 11:00 to Montenegro cities of Herceg Novi, Bar, Kotor and Budva, at 15:00 to Prijedor and Banja Luka in Bosnia, during high season. A one way trip to Budva costs HRK 128 or Euro 15. The return tickets are cheaper.
The same ferry company plies the coastal route too, from Rijeka to Dubrovnik, twice a week, the journey lasting from evening to the following morning. The return journey is from mid-morning to early the following morning. Korcula, Stari Grad (Hvar Island), Sobra (on Mljet) and Split are where the port of calls for the ferry.
Jadrolinija also runs daily ferries to the Elafiti islands (Kolocep Lopud and Sipan), Sobra and Split, from Dubrovnik. A three hour slow ferry or the high-speed and costlier catamaran Nona Ana, operated by G&V Line, are the two options to get Mljet. It runs daily from Gruz Harbor in Dubrovnik to Sobra and Polace and takes 90 minutes.
The city walls and the walk along them is the one major attraction of Dubrovnik you shouldn’t miss. A day and a half would be enough to cover the rest of the old town.
One can catch stunning views of the town and the coast from above the bare ridge of Mount Srd that runs above the town to the east.
The islet of Lokrum is the best place for swimming and sunbathing.
Since some places of the walls are narrow, carrying backpacks is prohibited.
The city walls are well visible from the sky as you approach Dubrovnik. This fortification was built and rebuilt in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries as Turkish invasions were an imminent threat. At some points, the walls are about 20 feet thick and at least 82 feet high. The Old Town is fully encompassed by the walls and secured with forts and towers that are strategically placed throughout.
From the wall, the view below presents a sea of terracotta tiles, domes and towers. The Ragusan authorities charted strict regulations for the city’s growth as early as the 1270s, which were further rationalized during the post 1667 earthquake reconstruction.
Visitors are allowed atop the walls from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in summer until 7 p.m., for HRK 50.
The cable cares offer spectacular views of the city and its surroundings from atop Mt. Srd. You can enjoy a drink or snacks from the snack bar on top. For a well-rounded experience, go up to the mountain by the cable car and return taking a leisurely walk down the mountain, to reach the old town city walls at the foot of the mountain in about 30 minutes.
The cable cars offer rides from 9 am. To 9 p.m. during peak season. They rise up to 450 metres above sea level in just 3 minutes. Bad weather and low season may force the operations to shut down.
Check the hours and schedule at the base station. A round trip costs HRK 73.
The entry fees is HRK 10. The church is located next to the Rector’s Palace in old town, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except on Sunday to allow the morning mass.
There are several boats departing every half hour from Dubrovnik’s old port and is presently charged HRK 25 per person. Day trippers should keep in mind that the last return boat leaves Lokrum to the mainland by 8 p.m.
The museum has an impressive internal courtyard. The city museum is on the second floor, where antique furniture and works of local artists are on display. The unique collection of clocks is noteworthy. Rector’s palace lies in the best location in old town, bang on the water and at the end of Stradun, between the Dubrovnik Cathedral and St. Blaise Church.
The cost of admission is HRK 40 and the palace is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the year, the hours extended till 6 p.m. in the summer.
Located off the Stradun in the centre of old town, the War Photo Limited is open only from May to October. Summer has the museum open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily. Other months have restricted hours. The ticket price could be around HRK 30.
There are many ‘Thrones’ walking tours that would take you through many such shooting spots. The tourist info centres in the city (Pile Gate) can give you more information.
Some portions of “Qarth” were also filmed at Rector’s Palace staircase and you can view it from the entrance of the Palace and no need to pay the entrance fee and go inside to view it.
You can reach Lokrum Island where many scenes were filmed, and is just a 10-minute boat ride away. Trsteno Arboretum can be reached in a day trip, again where many scenes were filmed too.
Diocletian’s Palace in Split and Klis Fortress and the waterfront in Sibenik are other places of interest in Croatia, which the Game of Thrones crew have used as their filming locations.
Developed during the 15th century under the Republic of Dubrovnik, today’s Cavtat is a fishing town and a small-scale seaside resort. There is a natural bay on either side of the small peninsula occupied by medieval stone buildings of the old town. Open-air cafes and restaurants fill the main bay, which are lined with palm trees. A beach, with many socialist-era hotels, overlooks the second bay.
The town is a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance churches, palaces and piazzas – A result of the Venetian rule. They were built from local stone which was the base of the island’s early wealth. The centre is small and can be explored in an hour.
It is now home to half a dozen small villages, with a total population of 1100 people.