The second stop on our Balkan adventure was in Dubrovnik which is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Dubrovnik lies almost as far south as you can go on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast near the border with Montenegro. Like Split, Dubrovnik’s old town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, unlike Split the city seams to be designed almost exclusively for tourists. In Split there were lots of locals and as Catherine said “the city doesn’t need us”, whereas Dubrovnik seems like it would be empty without the tourists. However, for the tourists it is a beautiful place to visit as you’ll see in the following pictures.
We arrived during daylight hours which made finding our accommodation much easier and the layout of Dubrovnik is a little more grid-like than Split which also helped. Again, we stayed in a Sobe which was great because we could stay right in a really nice room right in the Old Town for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Pero, our awesome host pored us some grappa on arrival and proceeded to tell us all the best stuff to see and places to eat. Luckily we only had one drink so we could remember all the advice on the following days.
On our first full day in the city we decided to do the main attraction which is to walk all the way along the city walls (~ 2km) which gives you a great view of everything. The weather was perfect and there wasn’t much of a crowd so it was great. April really seams like the perfect time to go to Dubrovnik. While the water is still too cold to comfortably swim, the air temperatures are pleasant (18-20 when we were there) and there are few crowds – never any lines for popular restaurants or attractions. The one day that a cruise ship arrived it was quite busy, but in summer up to seven ships can arrive in a single day making the city completely crazy.
Here’s a short video showing the entire landscape from the high point on the wall.
After the walk around the walls we of course were hungry so we grabbed a pizza and ate it at the park surrounding the Fort before checking out the structure itself. The weather was so nice that I think we ate lunch and dinner outside each day. Since the crowds hadn’t yet shown up we could choose any restaurant we wanted but it also meant that we were constantly pestered by hawkers outside each place trying to convince us to eat at their establishment.
The following day we decided to climb Mount Srđ which takes you 400m above the city for some great views. There is a Napoleonic-era fort on top that was operating as a nightclub in the 1980’s, but when the Serbs unexpectedly attacked Dubrovnik in 1991 a small group of the Croatian army and local volunteers (known as the Dubrovnik Defenders) took to the fort in an attempt to defend the city. While many of the buildings in the city were heavily damaged or destroyed by the shelling (hence all the bright new orange roofs) the city never fell to the Serbs. The media images of the attack on a city of little military significance containing many cultural and historical artifacts was a large contributing factor in world opinion turning against the Serbs.
Once we made our way down we spent the rest of the day lounging around by the water (and eating of course).
The next day we took a short ferry ride over to Lokrum Island, but we’ll cover that in the next post.