GOOOOAAALLLL! It’s going to be Croatia vs France in the World Cup Finals on Sunday, so what better way to prepare for what is going to undoubtedly be a nailbiter, then to highlight the two nations? I’ve already written extensively about the best of Paris, France, but congratulations to Croatia for making it to their first ever FIFA final! You kinda have to root for the underdog, right? I’m just happy I get to write about one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
I visited Dubrovnik a really long time ago. Like, we’re talking, I barely had my driver’s license/independence, and they barely had theirs. It’s obviously changed quite a bit. Back then, being in Dubrovnik was so memorable because it was a relatively unbothered by tourism (except cruise ships, which is how I came to visit). Croatia had only declared independence from the former Yugoslavia republic in 1991, gaining that right in 1995 after winning their war. I visited 5 years later, so the nation was a baby.
But babies grow up…and turn into popular teenagers.
Like really popular…instagram-influencer-status teenagers. Seems like it is the hot destination of the moment, and I’m glad it’s getting its day in the limelight. There’s a bustling tourism trade, especially due to its location as a jewel on the Adriatic Sea. The coastline is one of the most gorgeous you will see, with its orange rooftops and imposing fortresses. I guess some really popular TV show filmed there too — thrones something or other (wink wink), and that draws a lot of people, too.
As it has been some years, I’ve enlisted the help of my pal (and fellow traveling doc) BD, who has graciously let me use some of his photos and given me some updated tips.
it’s a nice day for a red wedding…
My experience is that of someone who came to the city via sea, and if this is also you, first thing you will notice is that the city is protected by walls. There are several large fortresses built along these walls, and the Minceta tower, featured prominently in the first picture in the post. If you only have time to visit one, visit this one. It’s the highest point and will give you an unparalleled view of the city.
For another INCREDIBLE view (see above), head to Mt Srd, a mountain that overlooks the city. There’s a cable car you can ride to the top for sweeping views for as far as the eye can see. Back when I visited, this was not in existence (see the 2nd pic on this post).
The entrance to the city has a large gate that will lead you into the main square of the town. Stradun is the main street of the city, and all of the medieval architecture on all sides is remarkable. You feel like you’re back in the renaissance as you’re exploring all the museums and churches on the well-worn (and well-restored) cobblestone roads.
There’s lots of shops and cafes, and when in Europe, you have to dine cafe style, while watching other patrons and sipping on whatever librations you prefer. It is obviously a major Mediterranean seaport, so don’t miss an opportunity to eat fresh fish. Duck out of the main square to find less touristy options, or, if you’re a big spender, go big at Nautika or Restaurant Dubrovnik (you’re paying for the food and the views).
And try Dolce Vita for delicious crepes and ice creams. You gotta have ice cream if you’re going in the summer, between the heat and the people — just do it.
After refueling, continue your amble all over the Old Town (it’s not big), and then walk the walls. As previously mentioned, the old city is contained within large fortress walls. Gaze longingly out at the sea and pretend you’re Cersei Lannister, you’re about 80 feet up, and have the perfect vantage point to look down on everyone below.
Good luck on Sunday, Croatia!