One Magazine’s Jake Tucker visits the Dalmatian Coast’s medieval hotspot famed for its encapsulating ancient walled city, seafood cuisine and Game of Thrones filming locations.
Old Town is undoubtedly Dubrovnik’s main attraction. This ancient walled city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site and as such is steeped in history, with forts, towers and bastions adorning the perimeter from the city’s defensive past. Enjoy meandering through the shiny, stone streets taking in the many photo opportunities around every corner. Although there is an entrance fee, everyone who visits simply must walk the 1.2-mile stretch along the top of the 16th century city walls to view the Old Town from above and marvel at the sea of terracotta roofs glistening in the sun. Keep your eyes peeled for the unique-shaped basketball court in the northwest corner where you can watch locals enjoying a game.
Fancy a view of Old Town from even higher? Elevate your way 412m to the top of Mount Srd via cable car and take in the most breathtaking views of Dubrovnik and the southern Dalmatian Coast. Whilst at the top visit Fort Imperial; built during the Napoleonic Wars and used as one of the main lines of defence during the attacks from the Serbian and Montenegrin armies in 1991. Those looking for some adrenaline can also embark on a pre-booked buggy safari from outside the fort where you can visit some of the first line of defence outposts that you wouldn’t be able to access on foot. Ponchos are provided as things can get a little muddy!
It’s certainly worth noting that Dubrovnik is a cruise ship stop-off point and so there will be days where, in the Old Town particularly, the city is deluged with thousands of camera-wielding tourists taking in the most iconic sights. While you’re going to want to see these sights yourself, if you find yourself struggling to move whilst a cruise liner is docked, make your escape with a ferry trip to the tranquil island of Lokrum.
Lokrum Island can be accessed in around 15 minutes by ferry from the Old Town port and only costs roughly £5 for a return journey. Immediately you’ll feel more relaxed as you embark on the boat and enjoy views of the Old Town and surrounding islands from a new angle. The wilderness of this heavily-forested island is evident as soon as you arrive. Peacocks and wild rabbits can be seen and heard roaming all around and within five minutes of moving away from dock you’ll find yourself somehow out of sight from everyone who arrived on the boat with you. There are signposted paths crossing the island, many of which contradict the other but that’s what adds to the magic of Lokrum. The best way to enjoy the island is to just head out and explore. Be sure to find a secluded seaside spot to sit and relax, take a steep trek to the ancient hill fort and don’t miss Dead Sea Cove – a unique opportunity to swim in a warm, inland paradise fed by a saltwater channel. Game of Thrones fans will also enjoy discovering a number of filming locations and a museum that includes the iconic Iron Throne.
Take some time to venture away from the Old Town into Lapad (where many of the hotels are located) and absorb yourself into the more modern area where the majority of Dubrovnik’s residents live and spend their time. Treat yourself to one of many cocktails in the Hotel More cave bar for a unique evening drink.
Food is a huge part of any holiday for me; tucking into the traditional delicacies of a destination is just as important as making sure that I’ve seen all the sights. In Dubrovnik, seafood cuisine serves as the main draw as well as dishes served under the bell – large portions of meat and potatoes cooked for hours under a bell-shaped lid covered with hot coals. I’d also highly recommend trying the Croatian dish Pašticada – tender stewed beef in a rich, tomato sauce served with gnocchi.
Dubrovnik is rapidly gaining in popularity and it’s easy to see why. A dramatic coastal setting surrounded by intricate history, rich, varied cuisine and full of friendly locals, there’s no doubt you’ll warm to its charm.
Words & images: Jake Tucker