Dubrovnik is for sure one or maybe even the most beautiful city in the Mediterranean and you will find hundreds if not even thousands blogs and articles about the bewitching beauty of Dubrovnik. It doesn’t matter if you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the thousands the sense of astonishment when you see the unique old town surrounded by its mighty walls never fades.
The history of Dubrovnik began in the 7th century when a group of refugees from Epidaurus after being expelled by the Avars, who devastated and destroyed their settlements, established a small village on the islet called Laus (which in Greek means rock). Centuries of peace and prosperity allowed the Republic of Ragusa (as nowadays Dubrovnik was called centuries ago), which maintained friendly relationships with all of its neighbors, to flourish as a merchant hub in the Mediterranean.
In April 1667 Dubrovnik was hit by a massive earthquake. About 5,000 inhabitants died and much of the city was destroyed. This marked the decline of the city and when in 1806 Napoleon entered there was little resistance. The Republic of Ragusa was officially dissolved in 1808. However, after Napoleon’s fall, Dubrovnik became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1815.
After World War I Dubrovnik became part of Croatia which was part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. This became Yugoslavia after World War II. During the Croatian War of Independence Dubrovnik was subjected to considerable shelling by the Serbs sieging the city for seven months in 1991/2. The old town suffered considered damage, but was quickly restored to its former beauty and is a UNESCO World Heritage site today.
Down below you find a list of highlights you should not miss out on when in Dubrovnik.
1. Be an early bird
Dubrovnik is so crowded in high season summer times that it can be simply impossible to enjoy the old town without being squeezed by tourist groups from the numerous cruise ships lying in the port. Although Dubrovnik is considering limiting the amount of people being allowed into the old town at once there is an easy way to avoid the crowds. Get up early and be in the old town by 7. You will be rewarded with the most popular spots only for yourself and can stroll around and witness the locals going about their daily business at the market and around the cafés. Also in the morning the temperature is less aggressive so you can enjoy the city without getting too exhausted.
2. Start your day with a coffee at the cliffs
When you are going for the early bird option get a coffee at the Bard Mala Buza, a café during the day and a bar during the evening hours. If you are there early you can join the cafés staff for a swim in the Adriatic. Since the guests are still about to arrive the atmosphere is easy and relaxed. What a perfect start into the day!
3. Get yourself into the Game of Thrones mood
Dubrovnik is like a fantasy world for all visitors but for fans of the Game of Thrones it is far more than only a spectacular city, it is the capital of Westeros - Kings Landing. Get yourself that Game of Thrones feeling and visit all the remarkable spots where the series was shot. Down below our three most favorite places to get that Game of Thrones feeling.
Jesuit Staircase: The steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. The most memorable scene in season five in which Cersei Lannister forced to walk naked through the streets of King's Landing begin at the top of the Jesuit Staircase. The “Walk of Shame” continued down Stadun.
Seaside Walls: Used as the King's Landing walls. Tyrion Lannister commanded the defense of Kings Landing from this walls during the Battle of the Blackwater.
Fort Lawrence: Is King’s Landing famous Red Keep and is located at the western side of the Old Town, outside the city walls on a 37 meters high cliff. Carsei fare welled Myrcella from the little harbor beneath it.
4. Get a sundowner at Lapad Bay
While the Banje Beach located close to the old town is for sure the most popular one in Dubrovnik, Lapad Bay is definitely more authentic. Get a sundowner at one of the cafés there or just a dip in the water.
5. Walk around the old city walls
A visit to Dubrovnik without a walk around the city walls would be incomplete. From the top of the walls the view over the old town and the Adriatic is priceless. There are four towers around the city walls protecting the city from intruders. The Minceta Tower protects the landward edge, the Bokar Tower and Fort Lawrence are guarding the west and the seaside and Fort St John guard the east and the Old Harbor. We used the entrance at the Maritime Museum (there are also entrances at the Pile Gate which tends to be the busiest and the Ploce side adding the advantage of getting the steepest part out of the way first). Don’t underestimate the climb, it can be quite exhausting especially on a hot day.
6. Get the view from above
Looking for a romantic getaway? Grab your dinner to go in one of the busy restaurants in the old town and take the cable car from the north of the city walls up to Mount Srd. The cable car operates in summer times until midnight, having the perfect spot for the view on the illuminated old town accessible without any hassle also during late hours.
Up there is also a museum on Dubrovnik during the Homeland war which you can visit for additional information on the Dubrovnik siege and the reconstruction of the old city after.
7. Dive a ship wreck
Are you holding an advanced diving license? Do not miss out to dive the wreck of the Taranto located only a 10 minutes boat ride away from the old town on the seabed. The Taranto was a merchant ship built in 1899 that hit a mine during WWII whilst carrying flour and tractors to Dubrovnik. Two tractors can still be seen on the seabed as testimony of this ill-fated journey. At a depth of only 10 meters you’ll already come across the ship’s bow and as the Taranto now sits at a 45 degree angle, the dive will take you down towards the ship’s steam engine towards the stern which is located at a depth of around 40 to 50 meters on the seabed. This dive is unfortunately for advanced divers only 😊