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While “Game of Thrones” has been giving Dubrovnik some screen time lately (the city’s on the brink of having too many tourists), this Croatian city along the Dalmatian Coast has much more going on than its starring role as King’s Landing. Once a center of diplomacy and maritime trade, and originally called the Republic of Ragusa, Dubrovnik has witnessed much history—from invasions and earthquakes to conflict resulting from Yugoslavia’s breakup in the early 1990s—but has emerged as a major tourism destination. Here are 10 experiences every Dubrovnik visitor must have.

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Igor Brautovic: Dubrovnik Tourist Board Archive

Stroll along the Placa
As Old Town’s main street, the Placa (also known as Stradun) is a major shopping center lined with 17th-century houses (with souvenir shops and eateries) and major attractions such as the prominent Onofrio’s Fountain and Church of St. Blaise, named for Dubrovnik’s patron saint. The limestone-paved thoroughfare also links to Dubrovnik’s western and eastern entrance gates. Most eye-catching, however, are the adjacent steep staircases. Heading up them may seem like a journey itself, but yield a feeling of accomplishment and beautiful viewpoints.

Take a ferry to Lokrum Island
A 10 minute or so ferry (or UBERboat) ride from Dubrovnik’s Old Port, Lokrum Island makes for a nice day trip. A car-free destination, it features neat man-made and natural attractions. Take a swim in its salty lake, a mini version of the Dead Sea, or visit the remains of a medieval Benedictine monastery. Maximilian Ferdinand of Habsburg built a mansion here and made adjustments such as adding pathways and new plants and exotic species. According to local folklore, King Richard the Lionheart was supposedly shipwrecked here on his way back home from fighting in the Crusades.

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 Igor Brautovic: Dubrovnik Tourist Board Archive

Walk the city walls
Encircling Old Town, this lengthy limestone walkway can be explored entirely on foot and provides amazing overhead viewing. Purchase a ticket from the ticket office right after going through Old Town’s Pile Gate, then head to the main entrance to access the entire route. Notice the clay or terra cotta tile roofs; varying shades indicate which roofs were repaired from damage caused by the 1991 bombardment. Lookout points also include the wall’s ocean side and the circular fort, the Minceta Tower. Tip: Although there are a few cafes along the way, have water on hand and try to avoid walking the walls under a hot sun.

Explore the Elaphite Islands
An excursion option from Dubrovnik, the Elaphite Islands are a lush archipelago attracting visitors with their vegetation and waters. Being the closest to Dubrovnik, Koločep attracts divers and is covered with pine forests and settlements. Lopud is touted for its fine sandy beaches and Šipan is covered with olive and fig trees, and vineyards and connects to active villages and beach towns.

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Dubrovnik Tourist Board Archive

Visit the Pharmacy
Within the Old Town, the Franciscan Church and Monastery is a complex that has been the source of a little TLC for a long time. Inside the monastery’s stone walls, a historic pharmacy has been dispensing ailments since about the late 14th century. It’s said to be one of the oldest of its kind still in operation today, now selling more contemporary over-the-counter products. Consider buying a special rose cream, made from immemorial roses, that is touted for its soothing properties; it makes an excellent souvenir. Old pharmaceutical items such as antique lab equipment and medical books are on display within a museum area.

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Sample local cuisine
Croatian cuisine prominently features fresh caught seafood that’s often grilled but there have been other additions to its culinary scene. Proto is a long-time, family-owned establishment in Old Town serving refined Mediterranean fare and some vegetarian dishes. Another option: Embedded within the city walls, Restaurant 360° provides amazing ambience along with modern versions of seasonal classics. Meanwhile, Azur restaurant adds an Asian twist to traditional Croatian fare. In the Lapad area, try Pantarul, which prepares meat and fish entrees, pasta and risotto and five-course tasting menus.

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Milan Kovac: Dubrovnik Tourist Board Archive

Ride a cable car up Mount Srd
For another perspective of Dubrovnik, aim high. Take a Dubrovnik Cable Car ride up to Mount Srd, a nearby mountain. Its Fort Imperial was built during Napoleon’s occupation of Dubrovnik in the early 19th century and was the site of a 1991 standoff by Croatian forces against Serb and Montenegrin armies. Nowadays, the fort holds a museum dedicated to this event. There is also the Panorama Restaurant and Bar, serving up Croatian seafood dishes, local and international wines and cocktails, plus amazing ambience. Book in advance.

Try Croatian wines
Wine making in Croatia thrives within prime regions such as the Pelješac Peninsula. Dubrovnik has great places for tasting them. In Old Town, D’vino Wine Bar stocks labels from small producers; order a meat or cheese platter with your glass or wine flight. Wine Bar Matuško, owned by a family with a winery of the same name in the Pelješac Peninsula, serves their labels at this Dubrovnik location. Škar Winery provides tastings of their handmade liqueurs and dry red, white and rosé, plus tours of their family-run business. Or perhaps go for a drink at Buza Bar or Buza Bar 2, two cliff bars on the outer edge of the city walls.

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Dubrovnik Tourism Board Archives

Hit the beach
Sandy and/or pebbly, Dubrovnik’s beaches are as varied as their settings—and the warm weather crowds they attract. Along the Babin Kuk peninsula, the Copacabana Beach (yes, like the one in Brazil) features many options for waterside activities. Close to Old Town, and a quick walk from its Ploce Gate, Banje Beach has both daytime and nighttime appeal with a club-managed seafood restaurant and waterfront nightspot. Buža Beach has a cliff-side location yet provides a bathing spot beneath the city walls, complete with a bar area. A local favorite away from Old Town, Sveti Jakov doesn’t get too crowded and has nice views of Old Town and Lokrum.

Learn about photojournalism
The War Photo Limited exhibition center features two-floors of work offering visual insight into the subject of photojournalism. Displaying works by professional photojournalists that capture the early break up of Yugoslavia in 1990s and other conflicts around the world, some of the subject matter can be tough to view but provides plenty to reflect on. The first floor showcases framed photographic prints and the second floor contains additional plasma screens and digital projections that compliment the photo displays.

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Tagged: Europe, Top 10 Lists

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Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann

Michele writes about women's travel, destinations, culinary, and cultural topics for various outlets and has ventured as far as Fiji, to date. She also muses her tales on She Is Going Places.

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