Dubrovnik is a city clinging to a rock, encased by a girdle of enormous stone ramparts, surrounded by a turquoise sea with more than a thousand-year-old history. Dubrovnik feels like a place where history and magic come together, a place you will never forget. Of course, there are many amazing coastal cities in Croatia - the land of one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, but even there Dubrovnik is something special.
It was always special because there are only a handful of places that have historical background so great that it can be even compared to Dubrovnik. As one of the wealthiest cities in Europe throughout the 15th and the 16th century, it was a political focal point of the region. Dubrovnik was a free state which meant it didn't have a sovereign, and that allowed them to prosper. Ragusa used its perfect geography, smart political connections, and advanced technology to become the maritime trading giants of The Mediterranean. It was always staying low profile, staying loyal to its principles, and open to new ways to thrive.
The most important thing to note when visiting Dubrovnik is that it is the most critical place for Croatian heritage when it comes to science and art. That's the reason why it was and still is an elite tourist attraction with so much to see and experience.
Travelling to Dubrovnik should be a no-brainer decision. Still, with so much history, landmarks, and sightseeing locations it is hard to decide what to visit, especially with a limited amount of time – but we want everyone to understand why Dubrovnik's nickname is "The Pearl of the Adriatic", and that's why we decided to ask a local for help in discovering the most critical locations to live and soak in what Dubrovnik is all about. We pulled up some phone numbers, phoned some friends, and found the person we thought would do the job. She is Dubrovnik born and raised, and she also has a beautiful name that can rarely be heard outside of the city – her name is Maris. Our question was: Where would you take your friends if they wanted to experience Dubrovnik through the eyes of a local? We just wrote down the locations she mentioned.
Before you delve into the main tourist attraction – the Old Town, you should visit the only fort in the city that is not inside the City Walls. The Fort of St. Lawrence offers you a great view of the Old Town, built upon a 37-meter-high sheer rock overlooking the sea just of the City Walls. Some of the more famous scenes of Game of Thrones have been filmed here, and it would be a shame not to see it, considering it is very close to the main attractions. Just remember never to call Dubrovnik - King's Landing from GoT in front of locals – that grinds their gears because they are very proud of their city.
When you head inside the City Walls right out of the Pile Gate, you realize that there's plenty to see here. For a detailed rundown of the Old Town, we would need a few more long articles, and we want to list as many different locations possible, that's why we decided to ask Maris what some of her favourite and must-see places are. She told us that the first thing we need to do is a walk along the City Walls to understand how enormous and magnificent they are. Those walls breathe out how powerful and wealthy the Republic was, they offer us a truly unique perspective. Walking along the walls, we will encounter three different forts: Bokar, St. John, and Minčeta. Approximately an hour and a half later we would finish that walk and needed some rest. Luckily for us, there's plenty of restaurants, cafeterias, and shops inside the city. There we would be able to enjoy the tight streets, plenty of people, and the beauty of Stradun – the main street of the Old Town. Those tight streets offer tourists an incredible amount of content. Still, we will list some of our favourites: one of the oldest pharmacies in the world in the Franciscan Monastery, Orlando's Column, and three churches: The Cathedral, Church of St. Ignatius and the Church of St. Blaise. Honestly, there's so much to see there that we'll just let you explore Old Town yourself, but let's see what other attractions you shouldn't miss.
After exploring the City Walls inside and outside, you'll probably want to relax and enjoy the Croatian sun and the Adriatic Sea. Dubrovnik has many astonishing beaches and islands perfect for relaxation, but the one beach that the locals point out is the St. Jacobs beach. Why? Well, because it has a breathtakingly blue sea, it's never too crowded and offers you something that not many other beaches have – the view of the Old Town. What more could you wish?
Srđ is a mountain that sits upon the Old Town, historically very important for the city. Throughout the old days, Srđ was always a reliable natural defence mechanism, actually the only defence mechanism before City Walls were built. There's also a fort called Fort Imperijal built by Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars, on top of that, Imperial was hugely influential in the Croatian Independence War during the Siege of Dubrovnik. You can visit Srđ on foot or with a cable car. It holds a great view of the city and a war museum commemorating its history.
The cream of the crop when it comes to Dubrovnik sightseeing is Lokrum Island Nature Reserve, at least if you ask our lovely friend and Dubrovnik local Maris. She thinks it's just incredible how close Lokrum is but how different it looks if you compare it to other places in Croatia. When you arrive there after a short boat ride, you see an island that is unlike any other. You see rabbits and peacocks walking around, not bothered by humans and without any limitations. Rabbits and peacocks are the rulers of this island. Besides beautiful beaches and walking areas, there's also an abandoned Benedictine Monastery and a botanical garden to enjoy even more wildlife. Explore the stories of this mysterious island, discover why there are rabbits and peacocks here, but remember one thing – it's forbidden to stay there overnight. The ancient curse says that anyone that stayed there after dark has never seen the light of day again.