Dubrovnik the “Pearl of the Adriatic”

April 24, 2010

DUBROVNIK, Croatia, Apr. 24, 2010/ Bon Voyage / — The jewel of the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia is Dubrovnik. Sometimes you may wonder if a destination you have heard about for years will live up to its reputation but this one definitely does. Dubrovnik justly deserves its title “Pearl of the Adriatic.”

Where else can you find marble streets lined with baroque buildings all topped with red tile roofs? Add to that the fact that whole pretty city is surrounded by intact city walls and it’s no wonder it’s a favorite holiday destination for almost everyone who visits.

Walk the city walls

The first thing you should do once you are settled in is walk the city walls. One of the city’s main tourist attractions, the walk around the city offers outstanding views into the Old Town and out to the Adriatic. There’s no better way to get a feel for Dubrovnik’s history and architecture.

There are several places where you can climb up to the city walls, but there is an entrance fee. It’s about 1.25 miles (2 km) around the whole circuit, so it’s a good idea to bring water and wear sunscreen, especially in the heat of the day.

The famous red tile roofs were badly damaged when the Yugoslav National Army laid siege to the city for eight months but, with the help of UNESCO and nations all over the world, Croatia has managed to repair most of the roofs. You can see the evidence by the difference in the colors of the tiles.

Walk the length of the main street, called the Stradun or Placa. It’s only approximately 1,000 feet long (300 meters) from the Pile Gate to the Ploce Gate in the city walls. The entire length is a pedestrian zone. There are churches and museums and galleries to see, but just wandering the city and soaking it all in is the main draw.

Go out the Ploce Gate and sit by the harbor. Wander side streets within the city and find great seafood restaurants.

You can fly into Dubrovnik or come on a tour. It has become a major stop for cruise ships on Mediterranean cruises. Renting a car and visiting the Dalmatian Coast on your own is easy and fun.

Most of the hotels are located outside of the city walls. That’s convenient if you drive in but we wanted to stay inside the city walls. We parked the car at a parking lot just outside the walls, and we dove in to explore.

Hotels inside the city fill up fast

There are a couple of hotels inside the city, but the most reasonable ones tend to fill up fast. We found a great B&B which, interestingly enough, was run by a woman who had spent several years in California during the Balkan war when Yugoslavia broke apart.

Tourists, both from those hotels outside the city and from cruise ships that dock during the day, tend to make the city crowded in peak season, but late in the day, they go back to their hotels and ships, and the locals come out to take their evening stroll and children play football (soccer) in the street. If you sit at an outdoor cafe with a coffee or a beer, you’ll get a feel for the real Dubrovnik.

Books

Top 10 Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast  (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides) by James B. Stewart

Dubrovnik, 2nd: The Bradt City Guide  (Bradt Mini Guide) by Piers Letcher

A Traveller’s History of Croatia  –  by Benjamin Curtis

Croatia Through History  – by Branka Magas

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