There are few places in the world that live up to their clichés, but the beautiful Croatian city of Dubrovnik is certainly one of them. Described by Lord Byron as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic ‘, and often referred to as ‘the jewel in Croatia’s crown’, this fortified city is perhaps best summed up by the words of the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who wrote “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it.” It seems that he has been taken at his word with an ever increasing number of holidaymakers flocking to the city, eager to experience its aesthetic charms for themselves.
Steeped in history, Dubrovnik has undergone many changes over the decades. Once a city-state that rivalled Venice in terms of wealth and power, Dubrovnik was hit by an earthquake in 1667 which destroyed much of the city. Rebuilt in Baroque style, Dubrovnik suffered again during the siege of 1991/2 with many parts of the Old Town being reduced to rubble. However, it was quickly restored to its former glory and its fortified walls are now one of the city’s main attractions.
Named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979, Dubrovnik’s narrow marble-clad streets are packed with a wealth of historical sites and beautiful Baroque buildings, including St Blaise Church, Rector’s Palace and Franciscan Monastery. However, no visit would be complete without a walk along the ancient city walls which run almost 2km around the city, offering mesmerizing views of the Old Town’s terracotta tiled rooftops and the glistening waters of the Adriatic.
Cultural gems aside, Dubrovnik’s shores are home to countless pebble beaches and rocky bays with crystal clear waters, perfect for lazing away the day in the sun. The best place for swimming is the islet of Lokrum, just a short taxi-boat ride away from Old Town whilst further afield are the beautiful sandy beaches of Orebic and Viganj.
A wide range of accommodation is available, but holidays are best enjoyed from one of the superb luxury villas in Dubrovnik, many of which offer spectacular views across the clear blue waters. Although the Summer Festival in August draws in the crowds, the best time to visit Dubrovnik is May/June and September/October when the sun-drenched streets are quieter and the temperatures aren’t too sweltering.