Dubrovnik has been the saviour of many a holiday debate, as it satisfies those who crave beautiful beaches and cultural hotspots. A wave of terracotta greets you on your arrival to this mesmerising city and takes you all the way to Pile Gate, where you’ll enter the iconic Old Town. Surrounded by the old-town walls, which date from the 10th century and have a fortress in each corner, it exudes Croatian history.
At one end of the main street, called Stradun (also known as Placa), is the Onofrio Fountain. At the other end, the Orlando Column, and in-between you’ll find everything from a Franciscan Monastery to a Rector’s Palace which has been turned into a museum. And don’t miss the Cathedral, home to a painting of the Virgin Mary by Titian, or Sponza Palace, where you can see a memorial to the people who died in the war of independence.
A different view of Dubrovnik
Honeymooning on your Dubrovnik holiday? Why not visit the world’s first museum dedicated to love and romance, the Love Stories Museum. You can find it at Pile Gate just outside the Old Town. And hardcore Game of Thrones fans may want to take a walking tour and see where the TV series was filmed.
For the best views of the city and the surrounding areas, jump in a cable car and ride to the top of Mount Srd. Once you’ve taken in the splendour of the Old Town, beaches and neighbouring islands, you can grab a bite to eat in the restaurant at the top or visit the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence, which is located in Fort Imperial.
Sun, sand and snorkelling
Dubrovnik has plenty of beaches to relax on and indulge in water sports. Shimmering water laps against pebble shores, the dazzling sun beats down on terracotta roofs and boats of all sizes can be found along the shoreline. The most popular spot is Banje Beach, located near Ploce Gate. It can get busy in summer – some come to soak up the sun, while more adventurous types hire speedboats and jet skis and take to the sea. If you want to get up close with marine life in the area, grab your mask and snorkel and head to Buža or Dance, dip into the clear water and explore the rocks and sea creatures who live in them.
A holiday in Dubrovnik wouldn’t be complete without some island-hopping along the coast. You’ll love day trips to Elaphite islands like Sipan and Lopud. Sipan may be small, covering just six square miles, but it’s big on activities. For the nature lover, there are hiking trails, fishing and swimming in crystal water to enjoy. For the foodies among you, take a trip to an olive grove or vineyard, and finish off with a seafood meal in Sudurad, where you can watch fishermen unload their catch at the harbour.
The second-largest of the Elaphites, the car-free island of Lopud is a must for history buffs. Here you’ll find the ruins of monasteries, churches and palaces which were destroyed in the 1667 earthquake. A Franciscan monastery looks down on the village of Lopud, and it’s worth trekking up to the old fortress for breathtaking views of the island. From there you’ll see one of the best beaches in the Dubrovnik region, Sunj Bay, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped beach with pale sand (something of a rarity in Croatia).
George Bernard Shaw summed up perfectly why you should take a Dubrovnik holiday when he said, ‘Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik.’ It’s an impressive city steeped in history, and the Old Town is more than worthy of its Unesco World Heritage site status. One not to be missed.