Explore: Dubrovnik

Date Posted: 09/10/2013

Robin McKelvie guides group travel organisers through the picturesque Croatian city of Dubrovnik, taking in top sights including the Old Town Walls, Rector's Palace and The Stradun.

Essential sights

The Stradun: The Stradun, or Placa, is Dubrovnik’s main street and what a street it is. Paved by huge marble slabs, polished today by thousands of tourist feet, the grand boulevard forms the very heart of this graceful city. All streetlamps and window shutters are a matching colour and all the elegant cloth shop signs too. The Stradun is lined with pavement cafes, shops, ice cream stands and not one, but two abbeys, the Franciscan Abbey (complete with Europe’s oldest pharmacy) and the Dominican Abbey.

Old Town Walls: Dubrovnik’s old town walls are the city’s literally unmissable attraction. They hug tightly around the city, straddling the seafront cliffs and pushing deep up the hilly slopes of the hinterland. A walkway stretches the length of the walls, best enjoyed in late afternoon when the mercury drops and the light softens. Dotted along the way are an array of watchtowers and fortresses, whose stories are revealed to those using the optional audio guides.

Rector’s Palace: In the days of the powerful Republic of Ragusa, the Rector was the city state’s figurehead, but he was effectively trapped within the walls of his palace without even his family for company. Today this striking collage of Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles is open as a museum that sheds light on Ragusa and also stages live music and various cultural events.

Food & drink

Seafood reigns supreme with the delights of the Adriatic available everywhere from relaxed little waterside bars and restaurants, through to fine dining temples that have entertained visiting Popes. The local sea bass, bream, squid and langoustines are often at their best simply grilled and bursting with flavour. The restaurants of tourist thoroughfare Prijeko can be a little overpriced, while cheap and cheerful Kamenice and high class Proto and Nautika are much better.

Croatian wine is seriously underrated with both excellent whites and reds from the Dalmatia region (in which Dubrovnik sits) especially renowned. In recent years wines from immediately around Dubrovnik itself are gaining in quality and reputation too.

Look out for the Dubrovnik region version of creme brulee, rozata. The real stuff comes with the custard spiked with a little of the local rose liqueur Rozalin. Served in most restaurants, although who does the best rozata is a  matter of fierce debate!

Where to stay?
  • Stylish Hotel Stari Grad is one of only two hotels within the old town walls and it is by far the cheapest option.
  • Dubrovnik Palace is set a short taxi ride from town on the green and quieter Lapad Peninsula, boasting 308 rooms and suites, indoor and outdoor pools, a choice of restaurants and a superb health spa.
  • The Excelsior is Dubrovnik’s most famous luxury hotel, a five star 158 room and suite dame with a prime location that offers an unbeatable view of the old town.
Best for Groups

The cable car up the slopes of Mount Srd is a great way of taking groups on a scenic trip that whisks them up to what is easily the best view of Dubrovnik. At the top a viewing deck awaits and a museum sheds light on Dubrovnik’s struggle during the Homeland War in the early 1990s.

Numerous companies offer boat trips that provide a completely different perspective of Dubrovnik. If anything the walls look even more daunting from the water and the views can be enjoyed with lunch onboard and drinks, whether groups are on a small craft or a grand recreation old wooden warship.

The Sponza Palace is one of the most spectacular venues in the city. It is possible to arrange to dine like a noble in this old customs house. Groups should not let the engraved old motto of ‘When I weigh measures God weighs me’ put them off too much in what is a unique private dining experience.

Live like a local

Join the locals on the island of Lokrum, which offers respite from the crowds that descend on Dubrovnik when cruise ships are in town. The short, scenic boat trip from the old town opens up the old ruins of a Napoleonic era fortress, an abandoned monastery and quiet coves for swimming.

July and August see the city’s cultural life exploding all around with the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. It is not just the main cultural venues that see a wealth of performances from artists from all over the world, but a multitude of buildings become part-time venues, including some that are not normally open to the public.

Fact File

Journey time: 2.5hrs to Dubrovnik Airport.

Currency: Kuna.

Best time to go: Dubrovnik is a year-round destination, though spring and autumn are the best time as summer temperatures can rise well above 30°C and some tourist orientated businesses close during the winter.  

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