Dubrovnik Travel Guide
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- DubrovnikJan 15, 2014
Dubrovnik: ‘Past and Present’
Croatians are extremely proud of this historical city, which is a strange mix of the past and the present. Even though it looks like a medieval town, its inhabitants stroll around confidently in the latest fashions. There are actually two Dubrovniks, one which looks like a typical Mediterranean coastal town, and the other being the beautiful walled historical city, which, seen from above, looks like a hexagon-shaped jigsaw piece. I was completely taken aback by the sheer beauty of the old town as I had arrived along the main road with no idea what to expect. Suddenly I was faced with the imposing Pile Gate, and what looks like a long stone drawbridge. Once within those city walls, there's so much to see it's difficult to know where to explore first. My eyes took in every detail of the medieval and Renaissance buildings.The most impressive sight was still waiting for me: the walk around the city walls, which are 2km long and, in some places, 25m high. The view across the city is breathtaking and changed depending on which part of the wall I was standing on. The first thing to hit me was the overwhelming redness of the roof-tiles. Standing high up over the rooftops, it didn't take a great leap of imagination to picture Dubrovnik as a thriving Renaissance port. I looked out over the harbour to the sea, a view that takes in the densely forested islands nearby.
Considering how well-preserved everything seems, it was a shock to me to find out how much misfortune has befallen the city, from earthquakes and Napoleonic invasion to heavy shelling in the 1990s Balkan War. Talking to locals I found out that three-quarters of the buildings had been damaged by shells. Ten years of UN-sponsored repair work and loving attention to detail has restored Dubrovnik to the state I had assumed was natural. As I continued to walk through the steep backstreets and alleys, I stumbled upon a bar perched on the cliff-tops, and enjoyed a cool beer looking across the Adriatic sea. As I filed out with the crowd into these peaceful cobbled streets I thought of how difficult it would be to leave this time-warp and re-enter the 21st century.
The best way to appreciate Dubrovnik from a sightseeing point of view is to take a walk: Enter through the Pile Gate You'll quickly appreciate rich Ragusa's security concerns when you cross over a drawbridge that was raised every night. There are two massive doors through the walls, an exterior door in a Renaissance style and a Gothic interior door topped by the statue of St Blaise, Dubrovnik's patron saint. Straight ahead is the town's main street, Stradun or ‘Placa’, Dubrovnik's most illustrious feature, punctuated by the clock tower at the end. Along this wide gleaming street lined with shops and cafes, all Dubrovnik's processions take place. It's curious to note that it was actually a part of the sea until the 11th century when it was finally paved over.
Right in front of the Pile Gate entrance is the circular ‘Onofrio Fountain’ (named after its Neapolitan builder) built in the 15th century and sporting 16 carved masks. Unlike the rest of Dalmatia, Dubrovnik citizens were not relegated to capturing rainwater; the fountain was connected by aqueduct with a spring 12km from town. Opposite is the Franciscan Monastery with the restored sculpture of the Pieta over the entrance door. Inside is the Pharmacy dating from the 14th century and a gorgeous cloister also from the 14th century. Next to the monastery is the 16th-century St Saviour Church, one of the few Renaissance structures to survive the earthquake of 1667.There are often concerts and exhibitions here. Notice the Orlando Column on the eastern end of Stradun. It was carved in 1417 and has been a popular meeting place for almost six centuries!
Dubrovnik's Renaissance highlight is the Sponza Palace which now houses the State Archives. You can't visit all of it, but it's certainly worth admiring the part that's open to the public on weekdays. Nearby is the ornate ‘St Blaise's church’, at the end of Stradun, dedicated to Dubrovnik's patron saint. Inside the lavish 18th-century church is a charming 15th-century statue of ‘St Blaise’ who holds a scale model of Dubrovnik in his hand. The Renaissance highlight you can visit is the Rector's Palace. It was built in the late 15th century for Dubrovnik's ruler, the elected Rector, who held office for one month on a revolving basis and was not allowed to leave during his term. The interior has been turned into a fascinating museum with renovated rooms, furnishings and art from Dubrovnik's glorious past. Across the square is Dubrovnik's baroque Cathedral. Built in the 18th century after an earthquake destroyed the original,the cathedral is still being explored after excavations revealed traces dating back to the 7th century. Don't miss the Treasury with its relics from St Blaise and a Madonna attributed to Raphael. Between the Rector's Palace and the Cathedral is Gundulic square, scene of a morning market and the deluxe Pucic Palace hotel, the only luxury hotel in the Old Town. In the centre of town is a statue of Dubrovnik's renowned poet Ivan Gundulic. Before leaving town by the Ploce Gate; you'll come to the Dominican Monastery with a sober exterior that blends into Dubrovnik's walls. The art collection here centers on Dubrovnik's finest painters, mostly from the 15th and 16th centuries. There's also a lovely cloister dedicated to St Sebastian.
Just outside the gate is Dubrovnik's Old Port where you'll find the ferries to the beautiful not to be missed Lokrum Island and Elafiti Islands.
Nightlife in Dubrovnik is relatively sedate, perhaps because everyone is tired from swimming and sun bathing all day. Still, there's some action, mostly near Banja beach.
After sunset, the Eastwest Beach Club (Frana Supila bb; 385-20-412-220; www.ew-dubrovnik.com) fills with people who dance to Europop and disco until 3 a.m. The club was renovated this spring and the new décor includes fluffier cushions — not that anyone's sitting down.
Nearby, Club Lazareti (Frana Supila 8, 385-20-323-766), is the prime weekend destination, when it imports D.J.'s from the Netherlands and England to its ancient stone walls. But not everything happens on the beach.
Fresh, a new wrap and smoothie restaurant (Vetraniceva 4; 385-91-896-7509; www.igotfresh.com), has become the favored drinking and hookup spot for the backpacker set.
The same crowd spills from the Blues II, a rowdy dive bar across the street (Vetraniceva 1; no telephone).
For a quieter night in Old town, walk down Stradun, the main strip, and stop by the Hemingway Bar (Pred Dvorum bb; no telephone), which has Lasko beer on tap, cozy wicker chairs and excellent people-watching.
Around the corner, the outdoor Troubadour (Buniceva Poljana 2; 385-20-323-476) has live jazz that draws an international crowd spread out under the stars.
All Dubrovnik restaurants offer similar food, usual versions of local dishes, such as rizot meaning "seafood risotto", menestra aka "minestrone soup" , buzara (langoustine in a tomato sauce), pizza, grilled meat and other fish specialties. I have listed below a cross section of my favourites.
For those on a romantic weekend or honeymoon in Croatia, then you have to try Labrint. Labrint is set into Dubrovnik’s Old Town Harbour walls itself and offers the best views of the port in the entire city. It is a decadent restaurant ideal for special and special occasions.
For a good value alternative then try Café restaurant Poklisar. It is located on the harbour front itself just behind the Rectors Palace. It serves excellent pasta and pizza dishes. The food is consistently good and prices are reasonable. Address: Ribarnica 1, 20000 Dubovnik, Tel 385/0/20 322 176
For meat eaters amongst you then try restaurant Domina, found in a small courtyard in the Old Town, quite close to Dubrovniks Jazz bar. It serves excellent meat and fish dishes. It is always extremely busy, testament to the chefs high quality kitchen. Those on holiday in Croatia would enjoy this place. Od Domina 6Phone: 385 (0)20 323 103
Nautika restaurant is located just outside the main entrance into the Old Town. It is a high class restaurant ideal for those on a Luxury break holidays. The outdoor terrace over looks a small bay and the Old Town walls. The fish and meat dishes are excellent. Address: Brsalje 3, Phone: 385 (0)20 442 526 442 573
The Hotel Argentina’s restaurant is worth trying at least one night as the chef is superb and of course the service is impeccable. The views over the harbour are also excellent and for a high quality dining experience this should be put on the list to try while on a summer holiday in Dubrovnik. Put F. Supila 14 – Dubrovnik, Phone: +385 20 440-555
Restaurant Captain offers its guests a variety of fine dishes from the traditional and Dalmatian cuisine. The large number of returning and satisfied guests is testament to the high level of service and quality of food they serve. The restaurant is situated on the Prijeko street, seven streets from the bell tower. Prijeko Street 12, 20 000 Dubrovnik, Croatia Tel: +385 20 321 331
Restaurant Wanda is located at Prijeko street number 8. It is easily accessible from Stradun through Boškovićeva street, the fifth street from City Bell Tower. The restaurant offers various tasty meat and fish dishes such as Dalmatian smoked ham and cheese, octopus salad, calamari, cevapcici, ražnjici & beefsteak. The kind and professional staff, tasteful food, and the special atmosphere at Prijeko street will make Dubrovnik city breakers wander back to Wanda restaurant again and again. Prijeko Street 8, 20 000 Dubrovnik
The Arca restaurant is located in the very heart of the Old City, at the corner of the fruit and vegetable market, at the foot of a picturesque Baroque staircase leading up t
- DubrovnikNov 24, 2013
Dubrovnik is a city that should not be missed while visiting Croatia. It is representative of everything historical and fun, like Amsterdam and other major European landmarks. If you do the castle walls, get there at 8am (park by 7:30am), especially in summer as it gets hot early in the day. We saw many people complaining of heat problems and the crowds are crazy at that time. Wear your sunblock either way but again, early is also better for photos. We ate at great little restaurant with an Octopus salad that was worthy of any Beverly Hills restaurant at $20 a plate. The amazing thing about Dubrovnik is the great areas surrounding the old town as well, so peaceful and sweet. Nice locals who appreciate the business.
- DubrovnikMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsFoodies+ 4Jul 19, 2013
Dubrovnik was one of the stops of the Oceania cruise that we took in 2007. When we docked in Dubrovnik, we took one of the taxis lined up outside (negotiating the price before we got into the car). We asked to take us to a couple of spots up the mountain where you can get some spectacular views of the city and the surroundings. Then the taxi dropped us off in the center of Dubrovnik and we explored on our own. And at the end took a taxi back to the ship. We loved the old town and walking the walls surrounding it. I would like one day to come to Dubrovnik for a few days and enjoy it fully.
- DubrovnikMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsFoodies+ 2Jul 19, 2013
Dubrovnik is one of those nearly perfect vacation cities. It's got history, culture, architecture and art in abundance. And then there are the beautiful nearby beaches, the adventure of arriving by overnight ferry, and the delicious food. I paid a ridiculously small sum of money to stay just outside the historic city center (I'd highly suggest staying within the walls; if you get approached by locals with rooms, don't promise anything until your hosts can show you on a map where their house is located). Come in summer when the summer festival means nightly performances of opera, musicals or jazz. Walk the city walls for breathtaking views.
- DubrovnikMember ofLocal CultureFoodiesLGBT+ 1Jul 19, 2013
After Split, Dubrovnik will seem like the most beautiful, perfectly constructed city ever. In fact, Dubrovnik probably looks this way after any city, objectively. Due in large part to ancient city ordinances which prohibit cars and advertisements and which compel residents to maintain their red-shingled roofs and green window-shutters, Dubrovnik's old town seems to have broken free from time's lock-step march onward.
Walking down the main street of old town, which actually used to be a river separating two ancient townships, almost every building will catch your eye-- indeed, they're all beautiful, working in seemingly perfect harmony with every other building in town.
Be cautious when visiting in the summer. Large numbers of tourists mob this city yearly, booking up all available hotels and other accommodation. This should be cause for concern for travelers-- sleeping arrangements are going to be more expensive in Dubrovnik than elsewhere in Croatia and one should be sure to book in advance to be safe. If you do manage to find a place to stay, the summer festivals are not to be missed-- they turn the already enchanting city into a magically energized fantasy throbbing with life and energy.
- DubrovnikMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 4Apr 23, 2013
Captivating city, Dubrovnik is unique in its own ways and situated on the countries coastline. There are fantastic views of the city, sea and neighboring islands from every angle. Inside the city walls have been well repaired since the wars, but every now and then you can spot bullet holes in the walls. The history of this city is still alive and recognized, well worth a visit! Prices are decent and the people are friendly.
- DubrovnikMember ofLocal CultureLuxury TravelersMar 11, 2013
Dubrovnik is a city on the Adriatic Sea coast of Croatia. It is a walled city based on maritime trade. It can get very busy with multiple cruise ships docking in the summer. Go after the cruise ships have left to get an entirely different perspective. Lots of shops and restaurants within the walls.
- DubrovnikJan 15, 2014
Largely undiscovered by tourists until the mid-90s, this magnificent city soon became Central Europe’s new must-see destination. With its soaring medieval walls, marble streets, ornate Baroque buildings, and prime location on the Adriatic, it really is stunning. Take a walk atop the fabled walls, explore its historic palaces and monasteries, while away the afternoon at one of its many charming cafes, and swim or kayak in its sparkling waters.
- DubrovnikDec 21, 2012
Dubrovnik makes you feel like you are in a pirate town... The architecture is beautiful mix of Mediterranean & Venetian... Streets are so clean that you want to take of your shoes and walk bare feet... And when you walk on the wall; most of the time you are amazed by the colours that the Adriatic offers you.
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