In under three hours flight from the UK, the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ makes for a superb short-haul city break…
But as I discovered during a long weekend based in Dubrovnik, you really need a week to truly make the most of the Croatian capital, and to allow the time to explore the many wonders on its doorstep.
Dubrovnik has seen a surge in popularity in recent years; and not just thanks to Croatia’s sterling performance in the World Cup. The hugely-acclaimed Games of Thrones series has filmed many of its most famous scenes in the city, and with good value for British visitors thanks to the favourable exchange rate between the pound and the kuna, it’s not hard to see why.
So if you’re planning a trip to the coastal city, what should be on your ‘must see’ list, and what are the best hotels to stay in? Here’s a little inspiration from my recent visit…
What to do?
Old Town & City Walls Tour
Wandering around ‘King’s Landing’ this enchanting city has a view to wow at every turn. The backstreets are home to multiple galleries, cafes, restaurants and shops, while the main squares and cathedrals offer plenty of interesting history. Keep your camera handy for oodles of photo opportunities, and if you fancy walking the entire length of the medieval walls, early evening is a lovely time to do so… when it’s less crowded and the light is soft. Plus, by the end of your amble you’ll have worked up quite the appetite for dinner at one of the harbourfront eateries!
Dubrovnik Cable Car
For a real sense of the coastal city, a journey up to the top of Srd Hill on the Dubrovnik Cable Car is a ‘must’. It takes just a couple of minutes to get to the top, and once there you can survey the panorama of the city’s architectural landscape, the islands off its coast in the Adriatic, and see up to 37 miles in the distance on a clear day.
Wine Tasting in Pelješac
One of the best wine-growing regions in Croatia, in around an hour’s transfer from Dubrovnik you can be sampling a few tipples in Pelješac. Our private wine tour of the so-called ‘Croatian Napa Valley’ was truly fascinating, and, having not sampled Croatian wine before, I was delighted by how delicious the Dingac, Postup and Plavac wines were; all cultivated from centuries-old vines and served against stunning backdrops. Highlights included the sublime tasting menu at Saints Hills, and the tour of the authentic Miloš wine cellar.
Yacht Tour of Elafiti Islands
I was astonished by just how beautiful the Croatian coastline was, and would therefore recommend speaking to our Concierge team about a yacht tour of the Elaphiti Islands, an archipelago of thirteen isles that are known as ‘the guardians of Dubrovnik seas’. Think woodland, white rockfaces and the blues and greens of the Adriatic, where hidden coves and sandy beaches offer prime stops for snorkelling, swimming and a picnic on the sands. With only a few of the islands inhabited, there’s a very peaceful and private feel to this experience on the water.
Oyster Tasting in Ston
Just an hour from the capital we arrived in Mali Ston (‘Little’ Ston) for our private tour of the Ston Oyster Farm, where a traditional fisherman took us out on his boat for a few glasses of chilled local white wine and a demonstration on the harvesting (and eating!) of the oysters. The experience takes place on a floating deck, and the seafood on offer will no doubt be the freshest you’ve ever tasted; from water to plate in seconds. We then stopped for a quick coffee in the town of Ston, famed for its defensive stone walls which are the biggest city walls in Europe. Historically they protected the salt pans at their base, the key to the region’s wealth for centuries, and the area is home to the some of the oldest salt mines in the world.
Where to stay?
The base for my stay in this glorious city, Hotel Excelsior is a plush luxury hotel that truly has it all. A short amble from Dubrovnik’s City Walls; an indoor swimming pool and spa; a large sun deck with access into the clear waters of the Adriatic; fine dining restaurants; contemporary rooms with views of the city; and all the little details to make your stay five-star. All-in-all, a wonderful luxury hotel choice in Dubrovnik.
Add extra lux factor and a more personal, private environment with a stay at next-door Villa Orsula, a luxury boutique hotel with just 13 individually designed rooms. Highlights include the Peruvian restaurant with its al fresco terrace offering stunning views of the city, and the five-star concierge service that ensures every detail of your stay is personalised to you.
Carved into a cliff-face above its own beach, dreamy Hotel Bellevue is just a ten-minute walk into the Old Town. There are plenty of accommodation choices here, and dinner on the terrace at the Vapor restaurant is a ‘must’, even if you’re not staying at the hotel. We dined on lobster with epic sea views while live music filled the air. Bliss!
Book your own bespoke luxury holiday to Dubrovnik, Croatia with one of our expert Inspiring Travel Specialists on 01244 355 600.