A Visit Through Dubrovnik, Croatia
by The Vagabondish Team | October, 2011
The Adriatic coast remains one of Europe’s lesser known tourist attractions. But with a perfect climate, impressive history and fewer tourists, it’s a great choice for travelers who are after some Southern European sunshine.
Hotels in Dubrovnik remain a far better value than many other Adriatic destinations, with some 5 star options going for as little as £100 a night, and 3 stars from £40. This makes it the perfect destination for people looking to give their families some culture without breaking the bank.
And speaking of culture, you can’t really talk about Dubrovnik without mentioning its amazing history. Dubrovnik has had many owners, from the Ottomans, to the Byzantines, the Venetians, the Habsburgs and independent rule. This gives the city, which has been around since at least the 7th century, a mish-mash of architectural and cultural influences that can’t be matched by pretty much anywhere. Just look at some Dubrovnik hotels and you’ll see a collage of Muslim, Jewish, Christian, East and West. And that’s just the medieval history.
Now part of modern-day Croatia, the history of the 20th century was played out in the streets of Dubrovnik. From being part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire until 1918, Dubrovnik was invaded by Mussolini, then controlled by Hitler, then conquered by the communist General Tito, re-joining it with other Yugoslav countries.
When in 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence; Dubrovnik found itself at the centre of the conflict that would define Europe’s role in the world. Montenegro, feeling that Dubrovnik was historically theirs, besieged Dubrovnik for 7 months, inflicting much damage to the UNESCO world heritage town centre. The legacy of the conflict is still visible in parts of the city and, unless you fly directly to Dubrovnik, you’ll have to travel through Bosnia and Herzegovina to get there, as Croatia is now non-contiguous.
To get a sense of Dubrovnik’s history, visit the city walls. Encircling the Old Town, the 1940 meter wall is an easy walk, with plenty of refreshments along the way. With sections going back to the 12th century, the walls of Dubrovnik are as old as the city itself. Arriving in the early morning (to avoid the midday sun and most of the crowds), you’ll see exactly what makes Dubrovnik so magical.
But enough about the past. Modern-day Dubrovnik is open, friendly and supremely beautiful. Like most major tourist centres, you’ll find English is widely spoken and children are especially welcome. Croatian food, whilst less fussy than the famed Italian version, is delicious and exceptionally well-portioned. You’ll certainly not starve.
As a coastal town, there are plenty of nearby beaches to make the most of the azure Adriatic. If you want to go further afield, a ferry to one of Croatia’s spectacular islands is a must. (Imagine the Greek islands without the easyJet set and you’re pretty much there).
But that’s enough from me – Dubrovnik is for living, not reading about. There are direct flights from London, Manchester and an ever-growing number of regional airports, so there’s no excuse. For the adventurous, it’s also possible to get there by train, through Germany, Solvenia and Bosnia – a stunning, evocative journey through this rarely-explored corner of Europe. It can’t be recommended enough.