10 Top Things to Do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a city in transition from a pile of rubble in the mid 1990's to a replica of the amazing historic site it was in the days of the old empires. So, it's a rare treat to see three phases in the city's history much like Frankfurt in the 1960's or Coventry in the 1950's.
Remnants of the ancient city are everywhere. The rebuilding process is ongoing and is done with great care and accuracy.
In the middle, the story of the early 1990's shelling of the city can easily be followed. Some of the icons and relics of the 17th century are, of course, lost forever but enough remains to make a visit based on both the massive architecture and the history of an intriguing city.
Proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, Dubrovnik offers not just the panoramic views of the Adriatic but also the remains of a powerful maritime power in the ancient world.
Today, it has enhanced its popularity as the setting of the famous movie, Games of Thrones and as a favourite destination for many travellers. Here are some of the things you must do when you're in Dubrovnik:
1. Explore the Old Town
Walk through the 292 meter length Stradun, the main street in Dubrovnik as well as its top happening place.
Get a map of the Old Town marking the interesting sites so you get an idea of what you are looking at.
There are walking tours depending on your available time. You can have an express one which lasts for 30 minutes or a full one for over 3 hours. There's a north one that lasts only an hour and the south one which is for 2 hours.
Or, if you're like us, we love to wander on our own but in this visit, we have more than enough time. What is really convenient is to book a place within the walls or within an easy walk to the Old City so you can take breaks and not be inundated by the crowd or by the various sites.
2. Walk the City Walls
This is quite an experience and possible even for older folks. Late sixties and seventies that we are, we did it quite easily.
Once up there, the views are stunning of the whole city but one also gets a glimpse of the life within the city walls. It is interesting to see not just the rooftops but the gardens and terraces. It gives you a glimpse into life within the walls during the ancient times.
3. Explore the Museums
There are several museums within the city walls as well as in other parts of the city including the Franciscan Monastery Museum, the Cultural History Museum at the Rector's Palace, the Ethnographic Museum, the Dominican Monastery Museum to name a few.
Most interesting of these museums is the Franciscan Monastery Museum built in 1317. Here you'll find the Friars Minor Pharmacy, the third oldest functioning pharmacy in the world.
In addition, the Museum has also 1200 old manuscripts, 137 incunables, corals, liturgical artifacts, paintings of the old masters and the head relic of St. Ursula, the patron saint of school girls.
Other than the museums, there are also exhibitions and they're worth looking at to know Dubrovnik better. Don't miss the exhibition "Dubrovnik During the Homeland War" near the terminal of the cable car.
4. Visit Napoleon's Road to the cliffs behind the city.
For this, we booked a Panoramic Tour and on top of the hills, you can see stunning views of the islands and the coastline of Dubrovnik.
In this tour, you go through the road built by Napoleon to bring up his canons. Note that he did not bother with the road going down though today, the city has built it. Also, the forest where they filmed the Games of Thrones.
5. Go for the Games of Thrones Tour
For fans of these movies, the tour is exciting. You can easily picture the scenes in the movie as you go through the various sites.
You can find images and costumes all over the shops in Dubrovnik. People rush to have their pictures taken with some of these.
6. Do boat tours of the outlying islands
Even in November, there are still tours of the outlying islands of Dubrovnik. There are boat tours to Lokrum where you can visit the Benedictine monastery, Fort Royal, the salt water lake the locals call the Dead Sea and the Botanic Garden. Or, choose the Elafiti islands of Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep.
Of course, in the summer, you can enjoy the beaches and water sports though many still do kayaking and swimming in November.
7. Enjoy Dubrovnik music
There's always something going on in the entrance to the old city. So, stop by and listen. Get yourself one of the CDs on Croatian music and enjoy it. In the summer, there are more festivals where you can enjoy local folk music.
8. Visit Ombla, Europe's Shortest River
Approximately 30 meters long, Ombla is the source of drinking water for Dubrovnik. Each year, for several days, after strong rains the water gets filled with mud from the mountains and becomes undrinkable until the sediment settles or is washed out to the sea.
9. Sample Dubrovnik's Fine Restaurants
Try some Croatian food for a start. For us, we searched for some fresh seafood and were really impressed with the dinner of seafood platter in this restaurant, Dalmatino. The calamari was prepared with just the tiniest of batter and the seafood grilled just right. Even the vegetables tasted delicious.
My husband had the local beer and was impressed. I had a local white wine and enjoyed it. The price really surprised us. With such a dinner where we are from, we would have paid double the amount.
10. Shop for Traditional Croatian Souvenirs
Shops are one after the other within the city walls. There are also open markets and museum stores so for the shopping enthusiasts, you will have fun.
The black and white prevail in the design and exquisite embroidery and crochet enhance the various items for sale. The runners are easy to carry and are uniquely Croatian.
Enjoy Dubrovnik but go for the various day tours offered which include trips to Korcula, Split and Montenegro. There are beaches in the Old City which you can enjoy even as late as November.
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