Imposing stone walls have encircled Dubrovnik, Croatia since the 9th century, protecting it from invaders. Visitors now patrol the ramparts, searching for ships on the horizon and perfect photo ops, of which there are many. It’s possible to walk the entire length of the Dubrovnik City Walls, which continue unbroken for 1,940 meters. Watch towers punctuate the fortifications and afford a dramatic look at the jumble of red rooftops. Damage incurred during the 1991 siege and bombing is noticeable, though much has been restored thanks to UNESCO support. You will want to give yourself at least three days in Dubrovnik to admire the medieval city, relax by the sea, and eat all the delicious Croatian food.
Dubrovnik’s walls provide a dramatic backdrop even from ground level as visitors slink along their perimeter like so many ants. One of my favorite activities is people watching at a harbor-side cafe, ice cold beer in hand. Tourists and locals alike soak up the late summer sunshine on a small jetty or from rocks at the base of the walls, jumping gleefully into the blue water to cool off. Those in the know relax at a secluded bar that clings precariously to the city’s foundation.
Between the walls, a grid of steep stone staircases forms the backbone of the old city. I loved wandering beneath hanging laundry and the profusion of plants, watching locals carry on with their daily life inside a medieval fantasy world. The alleys are lined with apartments and guesthouses, restaurants and shops, and yet they never felt loud or crowded. Perhaps this was because it was late September and most of the tourists had moved on, but I still felt like I was in on a wonderful little secret.
One evening I came across d’vino wine bar and took up residence at an empty table tucked along an alley wall. Unfamiliar with Croatian wines, I opted for a tasting of three refreshing whites from different parts of the country. While all were tasty, the most memorable was a full-bodied Posip from the island of Korcula.
To fully appreciate the Pearl of the Adriatic in all her glory, I headed to Panorama restaurant atop Mt. Srd. Reached via cable car, the umbrella-shaded terrace is the perfect spot to marvel at the sweeping view over wine and cheese.
My rental apartment was located in the neighborhood of Gruz, some two kilometers from the old city. The daily climb up and down the hill was strenuous, but it provided a fascinating glimpse of workaday life in Dubrovnik. And the gorgeous scenery more than made up for the effort.
How would you spend three days in Dubrovnik, Croatia?