They don’t call it “the pearl of the Adriatic” for nothing. With its grand city walls, pedestrian-friendly Old Town and stunning views of the sea, Dubrovnik is a popular destination for travelers looking for a mix of history and sunshine.
Even if you have just a few days to explore, you’ll find a city overflowing with sites, seafood and stunning scenery.
Here are five Dubrovnik experiences you won’t want to miss.
Walk The City Walls
Dubrovnik’s city walls are considered among the finest in the world, offering amazing views of the sea, the Old Town and the city’s recent history. Those bright new terracotta rooftops you see from the walls? These were built after the city endured heavy shelling during the 1990s’ War of Independence.
The walls got their start in the early Middle Ages and were fortified throughout the centuries until they completely enclosed the city’s Old Town. Learn about their historical and political significance during a Dubrovnik ancient city walls historical walking tour. As you hike along the 1.2-mile (2 km) long stone fortifications, you’ll hear tales of ancient Romans, invading armies, and the rise and fall of nations.
Pro tip: The walls offer little shelter. Book an early or late tour to beat the heat and bring plenty of bottled water.
Get Your “Game of Thrones” On
Dubrovnik experienced a surge of popularity when the television show “Game of Thrones” filmed several scenes among the city’s historic fortresses. Dubrovnik served as the backdrop for King’s Landing and Backwater Bay. Its historic buildings doubled as brothels; its vistas hosted many name day battles. Cersei Lannister’s walk of shame? That was filmed here too.
The “Game of Thrones” walking tour takes you to some of the city’s most popular GOT sites, as well as lesser-known locations where the Targaryens, Baratheons and Starks vied for control of the Seven Kingdoms.
Explore The Sea
To fully appreciate the massive size of the city’s walls and the beauty of the surrounding seas, it’s time to get in the water. With the Dubrovnik sea kayak and snorkeling small-group tour, you’ll get to paddle the base of the city walls, near the St Lawrence fortress and city harbor, to Betina Beach, an inlet that can only be reached from the sea. Along the way you’ll get some history lessons and even more “Game of Thrones” trivia. Then it’s into the water. Cool off with a swim in and around the cavern while enjoying snacks and sun.
For a less labor intensive experience, hop aboard a replica of a 6th-century karaka, complete with cannons and wooden masts, for a sunset dinner cruise. Enjoy wine, champagne and anchovy carpaccio while watching the sun disappear behind the horizon.
Museum of Croatian War of Independence
Barely a generation ago, the city streets that today host sightseers and merrymakers were the site of bloody battles between people who once considered themselves countrymen. The Museum of Croatian War of Independence tells the story of the Balkan crises from the Croatian perspective, capturing the death and destruction in a series of photos, maps and old news footage.
The museum is set at the top of Mount Srd and can be easily accessed by cable car. This peak is of special importance to the locals. Mount Srd was the site of intense fighting during the war and is now seen as a symbol of the city’s spirit. After taking in the museum, celebrate Dubrovnik’s reconstruction by enjoying excellent views of Old Town.
Eat and Drink … Everything
Croatian cuisine draws from the tables of neighbors like Italy and Turkey, Hungary and Austria. In Dubrovnik, an abundance of fresh seafood and cheese and meat specialties from the nearby islands make for an even more diverse menu.
Konoba Veranda serves a delicious fisherman’s stew, as well as vegetarian takes on popular Croatian dishes. Closer to town, Nautika Restaurant is famous for its pastas and seafood, as well as its terrace overlooking the sea and the city walls. For a more laidback dinner, check out Vita Bella, which many say serves the best pizza in town.
The region is also famous for its wine. The country has been fermenting grapes for centuries, with modern winemakers using new techniques to revitalize ancient vineyards (and winning tons of international awards in the process!). The Peljesac Peninsula private wine tour takes you to the Peljesac peninsula, a region just an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik that’s praised for its vineyards. After meeting the vintners putting Croatia’s wine on the map, you’ll get to spend a few hours in the historic town of Ston, famous for its salt production, oysters and wine.
Don’t worry. You’ll get plenty of chances to sample all the region’s delicacies.