Visiting Dubrovnik - What to See and Do
(Dubrovnik Airport DBV, Croatia)
It is a common phrase to hear travellers say 'you've got to check out this or that'. But in the case of Dubrovnik
, this really is the case. Few cities in Europe
are as magical yet manageably popular as this 14th-century charmer along Croatia's Dalmatian Coast.
Dubrovnik's architecture, seaside location, quality period attractions and overall atmosphere come together in the perfect symphony of travel pleasure. The UNESCO Old Town still looks much as it did five centuries ago, although now there are some wonderfully tasty cafés, quaint bars and other shops tucked into its historic buildings. Within the Old Town walls it is foot traffic only, creating an oasis of medieval ambience that is hard to find in Europe.
Historic churches, modern museums and art galleries, public plazas, monasteries and gardens all provide days of memorable exploration in the heart of Dubrovnik. In the surrounding areas, the scene gears itself to the ever-increasing number of tourists who come to experience the Pearl of the Adriatic before it (possibly) loses its luster.
Ten things you must do in Dubrovnik
- The Old Town is the hub of everything amazing about Dubrovnik, and the Stradun is the lifeline of this district. This broad pedestrian thoroughfare is the main artery, paved with stunning white limestone and lined with street performers by day and trendy bars and restaurants after dark.
- Few spots in Dubrovnik exude a sense of rural Croatia better than the city's Farmer's Market. Every morning the Gunduliceva Poljana rouses into life as vendors arrive selling every conceivable edible product from the region. Jugs of homemade wine, bundles of dried figs, jars of honey and olives give you a sense of the quality on offer. Afterwards, grab a seat outside one of the plaza's cafés for a coffee and fresh pastry.
- There is a rich legacy of religion in this city. Churches rise from every plaza and cloisters are tucked into hidden alleys. Most of these attractions contain incredible art works and design from medieval times, but the Dominican Monastery is arguably the best of the bunch. With real treasures like a Titian painting, relics and reliquaries, this place is more like a museum than a working monastery.
- Dubrovnik's medieval city wall is perhaps the main highlight here, and it is well worth walking atop its 2-km / 1.2-mile perimeter to get a deeper insight into this marvellous city. Other important landmarks like castles and towers are embedded into the wall, providing ample side excursions.
- Among the many plazas in Dubrovnik's Old Town, Luza Square stands out as the epicentre of life in this lively city. A meeting place and crossroads, Luza is home to highlights such as St. Blaise's Church, the Sponza Palace and Onofrio's Little Fountain. The people-watching isn't shabby either.
- Saint Blaise is the patron saint of Dubrovnik, and so it is only fitting that you take an hour or so to explore St. Blaise's Church on Luza Square. It is a lovely Baroque-style structure and features an inviting set of steps, which lead to the church entrance and wrap-around terrace - just perfect for resting those legs when sightseeing in the Old Town.
- There are three original gates into the walled Old Town, and Pile Gate is the busiest. A stone bridge leads to the outer gate where a wooden drawbridge once spanned the city's moat. Sadly, that's all gone now, although a fun sentry of costumed guards still stand watch at the entrance of Pile Gate, to the delight of visitors.
- To learn more about the maritime heritage of this port city, visit the Dubrovnik Aquarium and Maritime Museum inside St. John's Fortress. Besides the decent array of tanks housing native sea creatures, this museum attraction also has a great historical section with boat replicas and relics from the city's medieval maritime era.
- Little rocky islands dot the seascape off the coast, and a day cruise to visit one or two is a great complement to a visit of the city itself. From the lush gardens on Lokrum to the religious ruins of Lopud, or perhaps the villages of stone houses on Kolocep, there are lots of options to plan a boat cruise around the Dalmatian Coast.
- Just a few miles north of Dubrovnik is the lovely 15th-century villa of Trsteno. It has been converted into a huge park-like garden estate overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Its 70-acre / 28-hectare botanic gardens were planted some 500 years ago and are really quite impressive today.