As we approached the spectacular walled port city of Dubrovnik along a precarious cliff-side road, our driver informed us that the Adriatic coast is said to resemble the Mediterranean before tourism really took off. Certainly the first impression of sparklingly clear azure waters and white-walled buildings with picturesque rustic tiles seemed to bear that out.
Our first port of call was the obligatory open-topped bus tour, followed by a trip around the top of the 9th century city walls which is definitely worth doing (just not in the heat of the midday sun…). The walls are just under 2km long and afford picture-perfect vistas in every direction, including down into the Old Town itself. As you make your way round, you may experience a spot of déjà vu, particularly if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, as this was the original film location for the popular series. Both guided walking tours and Game of Thrones tours are available.
The Old Town has magical marble streets, the magnificent Rector’s Palace and contemplative Franciscan Monastery, Big Onofrio’s fountain (perfect for refreshing water bottles) and the thought-provoking War Photo exhibition. Easily walked around in a morning, the UNESCO World Heritage site has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
Definitely worth a trip is the short ferry ride to the wooded island of Lokrum, just 40 minutes away from the old port. The island is easily walked around and is home to many peacocks and a botanical garden, as well as being the perfect place to find a secluded swimming or sunbathing spot on the rocky shores. There is a café and bar on the island, but this is a perfect opportunity for a picnic. Those in search of more island adventures will probably want to visit the beautiful Elafiti archipelago.
One thing you can be almost certain of in Dubrovnik is a sunset, and whether you choose a private cruise, a kayaking tour, or a G & T in the Buza Bar clinging onto the cliff face, there is something eternally romantic about watching the sun go down with your favourite person.