Dubrovnik is a brilliant place to visit and is known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ – with its old city walls and orange-roofed building. George Bernard Shaw once said, “If you want to see heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik” – and he was a very well travelled man.
However, the secret to appreciating the beauty of the city is by being prepared – otherwise you’ll be disappointed. Why? Its just super, super, super crowded and especially if you come in the summer – you will just be overwhelmed by how clogged up the streets are with shuffling groups being led by umbrella-hoisting guides. Dubrvnik will be sure to test your patience.
The old town is tiny and has a population of 1000 people many of whom wisely rent out their homes during the summer months. Exploring the old city at night becomes much more bearable and pleasant, but don’t expect it to ever be tourist-free. My family members who didn’t manage their expectations were the ones who struggled.
Life in Dubrovnik dates back to a 7th century settlement, possibly older, although its golden years were 1358 to 1806 AD when it was a profitable trading city operating as an independent republic. The city then became part of the French and Austrian empire – amalgamated in Yugoslavia and now Croatia. You can really see how the different architectural style differ from era to era.
Here are a few places my family and I went to on our trip to Dubrovnik:
- Sponza Palace
There is a small museum inside the palace to commemorate the 1991 Yugoslav War in which the people of Dubrovnik fought front and centre. The city had no army to defend itself so locals decided between them to fight with little training and few weapons. The War Memorial Room bought these heart wrenching stories to life with portraits of 300 young men who lost their lives.
- Rector’s Palace
Less than one minute walk away, you will find Rector’s Palace. This is a 15th century palace which was the former home of the Dubrovnik Rector (i.e. governor). Now its consist of the Museum of Cultural History which shows the glory days of the city as a wealthy trade. There are a number of different exhibitions and restored palace rooms like the prison chambers which is quite interesting and the courtrooms.
There is a Latin phrase inscribe on the palace’s entrance which roughly translates to “forget about your private interests” – If only more politicians listened to our ancestors eh.
- Walk along the City Walls
Walking along the city walls are an essential part of any visit to Dubrovnik. These are one of the best preserved walls in Europe! There are two main entry points to climb the walls but apparently the queues are shorter on the ground in the south-east entry near the old port.
- Got lost in the side streets of the Old Town
There are some places where I would do a walking tour to provide historical context of the city but I actually just really enjoyed wondering through little side streets, climbing the cobblestone steps and discovering the more quiet areas of the town. Every new street you walk through is just a beautiful as the one before. Mind you though, there were so many stray cats around.
- People watch in Stradun Street
This famous street goes right through the Old Town. My family and I just enjoyed doing as the locals do in Dubrovnik and have a coffee and people watch.
- Hike (or take the cable car) to the top of Mount Srd
Seeing Dubrovnik from the top is a must and this view overlooking Dubrovnik and the Adriatic is the best! There is often horses and goats roaming around too.
Do you have any questions about travelling to Dubrovnik that I didn’t answer? Be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible 🙂