Autumn in Dubrovnik
Flanked by rugged peaks and a pristine Adriatic, Dubrovnik is the shining jewel in Dalmatia’s crown – and it’s not hard to see why. The former republic of Ragusa grabs the lion’s share of travellers to this region, and it tends to throb with tourists in summer. The solution? Ditch the crowds and book your break in autumn. The crowds are fewer, the heat less intense – and you can soak up the gorgeous views of the city under the warm, slanting light of autumn. Five Valamar hotels allow you to choose the type of stay you wish to enjoy at this time of year – a spa break, a gourmet dining experience or a romantic getaway with panoramic views from the bar terrace. Dubrovnik is an excellent bet for those hoping to catch some last-minute rays before the winter chill sets in. Temperatures in September and early October remain warm – at least, by much of Northern Europe’s standards. During the gilded season, you can appreciate Dubrovnik’s pretty historic centre when the crowds have thinned, and enjoy a cooling salt-breeze as you stroll along the ancient city walls. For those arriving in early autumn, the sea is still warm enough for swimming. You’ll see a few beach-goers bobbing along the picturesque stretch of Babin Kuk, a short journey from the city. Cava Beach and Coral Beach Club are comfortable places to catch a late burst of sunshine – and finding space on the beach should be easy at this time of year. Ferry prices drop considerably in autumn, so it’s the perfect opportunity
Things to do in Dubrovnik's Old Town
Almost everything worth seeing is centred on the compact, crowded Old Town. To get the best view, and one of a stupendously clear, blue Adriatic lapping the rocks below and stretching way beyond, embark on a stroll round the city walls. Audio-guides are available at the main entrance inside the Pile Gate to the left. An hour should suffice but take as long as you like. You’ll spend the bulk of your time within the 15th-century ring of fortifications, in the small square half-mile of gleaming medieval space bisected by 300-metre-long Stradun. As you flit between the main gates of Pile and Ploče, guided by the list of places on the maroon flags, each venue with its own logoed white lamp, barkers on every side-street corner call you up to the bland tourist restaurants on Prijeko. Cats scatter in from the old harbour, a cacophony of tour guides give their spiels. All is free of traffic until you reach the bus-choked hub outside the Pile Gate. Beyond, over the drawbridge, stand the Lovrijenac Fortress, used for productions of Shakespeare classics during the Summer Festival and the permanently busy main road to the ferry port at Gruž, and Lapad. Exiting the Old Town via the Ploče Gate takes you past the attractive old harbour, where taxi boats set off for the nearby island of Lokrum. Beyond the gate stretches Banje beach then a string of luxury hotels. Back inside the city walls is the main square and crossing point of Luža, where you’ll find the landmark astronomical clock tow
Ten great free things to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik, Croatia's most photographed city, welcomes armies of tourists every day. It follows that entrance fees have a habit of cropping up and emptying your pockets when you least expect it - you won't be able to walk the famous city walls without spending 120 kuna, and most attractions will have you parting with a handful of coins. While you'll probably conclude that these inimitable sights are worth every penny, you can easily give the spending a break - Dubrovnik's free attractions are some of its finest. Here are ten wonderful free things to do. RECOMMENDED: more great things to do in Dubrovnik.
The best Dubrovnik beaches
Dubrovnik beaches have a quiet kind of beauty - most attract a local crowd of sunbathers, who tend to stay loyal to their favourite beach. Some are defined by their lively arcades of cafes and bars, while others are hushed half-moon bays which you'll feel lucky to have discovered. If you're looking to enjoy Dubrovnik's beaches through a little adventuring, outdoor adventure firm Adriatic Kayak Tours (Zrinsko-Frankopanska 6) offer sea-kayaking jaunts to Lokrum and the Elafiti islands, white-water rafting in Montenegro’s Tara River Canyon, mountain biking in Konavle, and winter sea kayaking in the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. Diving is also popular. Clubs such as Blue Planet Diving (Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, Masarykov put 20) and Navis Underwater Explorers (Copacabana beach) offer both trips and a range of different diving courses for all levels and ages. RECOMMENDED: more great things to do in Dubrovnik.
Game of Thrones guide to Croatia
There can’t be many visitors to Croatia who are still not aware that the Dalmatian city of Dubrovnik is a key location in HBO’s obscenely popular fantasy series ‘Game Of Thrones’. What might be less apparent to those other than committed Throne-heads however is the extent to which the series seems to be taking over the rest of Dalmatia too. Locations around Split lent several new dimensions to season four; by season five the filming had extended as far as the central Dalmatian town of Šibenik. And there’s no shortage of potential locations around the history-scarred Adriatic. Where the cast will end up next is anybody’s guess. The remorseless season-by-season growth of ‘Game Of Thrones’ from geeky cult to global obsession has already had a huge impact on visitor numbers in Dubrovnik. The Throne-tour phenomenon looks set to go Adriatic-wide in 2016. What follows is a guide to the most iconic Croatian locations used in the series so far – many of which are hugely rewarding destinations in their own right. Dubrovnik has served as the location for the fantasy city of King’s Landing ever since the shooting of series two, when it replaced Malta as the preferred backdrop for the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. The look of the walled city has clearly imprinted itself on the fictional King’s Landing, however many cosmetic changes the set builders may have made. It is now difficult to think of ‘Game Of Thrones’ at all without visions of Dubrovnik springing immediately to mind. D
The best of Dubrovnik
The best Dubrovnik restaurants
Dubrovnik restaurants are beginning to offer the culinary quality and variety that should be expected of such a luxury destination. And dining in Dubrovnik needn't cost an arm and a leg: many places offers simple, wholesome dishes at wallet-friendly prices.
20 great things to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a one-town tourist industry on its own, with endless things to do all year round. As stunning as the clear blue sea around it, the former centre of the independent Republic of Ragusa invites superlatives and attracts the lion's share of Croatia's visitors. Read on for our insider's guide to the best things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik shopping guide
The Dubrovnik shopping arena is, thankfully, starting to be less dominated by the overpriced tourist shops that once dominated the city, and a few key stores are holding out against these tacky souvenir shops that line the main street of Stradun. Time Out discovers the best places to go shopping in Dubrovnik, from designer boutiques to open-air markets.
The best Dubrovnik bars
By day, Dubrovnik and its overcrowded Old Town seem the perfect place for sandal-wearing coffee-sippers. But by night, Dubrovnik bars spring to life, with a number of atmospheric spots serving up anything from fine Dalmatian wines to fancy cocktails. Dip in to our essential drinking guide.
The best restaurants in Dubrovnik
This superbly located newbie sits by the entrance of Buža II, and quickly went to number one on TripAdvisor in its very first season. Here you can tuck into a reasonably priced, Med-and-Asian-influenced main here – fragrant meatballs in a chicken-coconut broth, perhaps, or Adriatic prawn pouches on grilled aubergine in a red-curry-and-coconut sauce – before an afternoon's sunbathing or nightcap overlooking the waves. Starters include mussels in beer butter and chili, and Dalmatian tom yum soup.
For traditional food, served with finesse, and with a reasonable price tag, Dalmatino takes some beating. It's located in an old house that has been renovated to show the original stonework at its exposed best. The menu is as straightforwardly Dalmatian as the name of the restaurant, featuring plenty of local fish and fowl, although a lot of creativity has gone into the details – grilled fish might be served with a colour-coordinated array of Mediterranean vegetables instead of the usual blitva. A lot of effort goes into the desserts – for some, it's the Dalmatino cheesecake that deserves the superlatives; others swear by the chocolate mousse. The place is run by a South African of Korčulan descent, so it's no surprise that the wine list veers enthusiastically towards the fine whites from that island.
Where to drink in Dubrovnik
Old film and beer ads brighten the space; posters promote long-forgottten Olympics and pool-table lightshades of coloured glass advertise Coors beer. Cocktails come in creamy or killer varieties, football or music videos are screened and staff buzz about in daft blue shirts with some bullshit motto on them. Recommended.
The titular sunset view is in full panorama here in the chic surroundings of the five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace. On a clear day you can see Mljet. Afternoons mean happy-hour drinks, evenings a piano player. Cocktails (60kn) comprise 35 standards, there are specialist Perković brandies (carob, fig, nut) and wines run from a basic 20kn to the best local labels rarely found by the glass.
Opened in 2008, Dubrovnik's first real wine bar is presided over by Australian-Croatian Sasha and his friendly and informative team. D'Vino manages to stock more than 100 varieties, 76 available by the glass. Every decent Istrian, Slavonian and Dalmatian label is here, including Grgić Plavac Mali and Zlatan Plavac. The house wine begins at 25kn and the venue lays on wine tours. Savoury meat-and-cheese platters are tailor-made to complement the wine. It's a comfortable, modern, intimate space to enjoy a drink – with a few seats outside in summer.
Best attractions in Dubrovnik
The most historic monument in Dubrovnik, the Rector's Palace was rebuilt twice. The first, by Onofrio della Cava of fountain fame, was in Venetian-Gothic style, visible in the window design once you ascend the grand staircase to the Rector's living quarters. Thereafter Florentine Michelozzo Michelozzi was responsible for the loggia façade. On the ground floor, either side of a courtyard, are the prison and courtrooms of the Ragusa Republic, and a glittering display of medieval church art. Upstairs, where each Rector resided for his month's stint, is a strange assortment of items: sedan chairs, carriages, magistrates' robes and wigs, portraits of local notables and Ivo Rudenjak's beautifully carved bookcase. One curiosity is the clocks, some set at quarter to six, the time in the evening when Napoleon's troops entered in 1806. The same ticket is valid for the Archeological Collection, a small but attractive collection of medieval carvings as the Rector's Palace) right by Ploče gate.
The attractive, 16th-century former customs house and Ragusa mint is used to house the extensive state archives. Several rooms off the arcaded groundfloor courtyard are used to display photocopies of the archives' most treasured historical documents. A small room opposite the ticket office holds the Memorial Room of the Dubrovnik Defenders. Covering the 12 months from October 1991 (although keen to point out that isolated attacks continued until the summer of 1995), the exhibition contains portraits of the 300 defenders and civilians who died during the siege and the tattered remnant of the Croatian flag that flew atop strategic Mount Srđ.
The first thing any visitor should fork out for is entrance up to the City Walls. The main one is by the Pile Gate. Arrowed up towards the Adriatic side, you're soon scaling staircases to allow you a sublime view of the blue, blue sea to one side and people's red-tiled roofs, terraces and washing lines to the other. There are a couple of cafes towards the harbour end, where you turn and head towards the thicker, inland-facing walls. You can also choose to head out here, near the Old Port. As well as giving you a perspective on Dubrovnik, you can see how intricate a job this was. Remember to pack a hat and sun cream.
Between the Sponza Palace and the Ploče Gate, this monastery is best known for its late Gothic cloisters and late 15th-century paintings of the Dubrovnik School in the museum – in particular masterpieces by Nikola Božidarević, including his Our Lady with the Saints. On the walls of the monastery church are a beautiful wooden crucifix by Paolo Veneziano from 1358 and a painting by renowned fin-de-siècle artist Vlaho Bukovac from Cavtat, The Miracle of St Dominic.
The best hotels in Dubrovnik
Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik
For once the slogan is right: this is indulgence on a grand scale. Here in lush Babin kuk is a state-of-the-art hotel with the Ragusa spa and its dizzying array of treatments (free with a minimum fournight stay), pools indoor and out (and separate kids' pool), fine dining Langosto luxury restaurant, cocktails in four bars – plus, of course, the guest rooms, 385 in all, plus 16 suites. There are also any number of conference facilities.
Dubrovnik has more than its fair share of cliff-hugging, sun-trap hotels and this particular feat of engineering is one of the more outstanding examples. The venue, cut into the cliff facing the sea, has been expensively refurbished to feature local woods and granite. All rooms have a sea view, as do the spa and highly rated Vapor restaurant. The Nevera Beach restaurant occupies a man-made cave right beside the private beach.
Hotel Dubrovnik Palace
This ten-floor, 308-room luxury hotel reconfigured in 2004 was conceived in 1972, set in woodland paths at the tip of Lapad, in full view of the Elafiti isles. Today this is what everyone sees from their balcony, from the four bars, three restaurants, four pools and gym. Saunas, massage treatments and beauty procedures are on offer at the energy clinic spa. Also of note are the Lanterna Glorijet poolside bar and the Sunset Lounge cocktail bar.