For most visiting in spring, it might not be warm enough to swim in the sea but you can relax in short sleeves with a glass of wine and colour your cheeks as you gaze over the Adriatic.
It should also be easy to find a table and find room on the main street to take a Stradun selfie. Although Dubrovnik is gearing itself more and more to being a year-round destination, the crowds don’t start flocking here until July. You’ll be able to admire the historic façades of the Ragusa Republic without having other pedestrians hinder your view.
This timeless, photogenic backdrop has not been lost on leading international filmmakers, who have recently chosen Dubrovnik as the ideal location for episodes of hit TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ and the eighth in the series of ‘Star Wars’ movies. Dubrovnik has always held a great attraction for Hollywood, whose stars flock here for pretty much the same reasons that you do. It’s gorgeous, it’s romantic, it’s atmospheric and it’s relaxing.
While a movie might hire their own helicopter, to take it all in from the air you can zoom up the side of Mount Srđ in the bright orange cable car, with extraordinary views of city and sea unfolding as it climbs.
Back down below, you’ll see most activity around the Old Port and Gundulićeva poljana, site of the daily market in the shadow of the Cathedral. The stalls will be piled high with seasonal produce – wild asparagus is a particular favourite in April – while restaurants offer the best choice of fish before much of it is frozen for the high season. Much of the wine will come from nearby Pelješac, where renowned cellars open to the public for tastings, along a vineyard trail.
A short walk from the market, the Old Port is where you’ll find boats for the Elafiti Islands – a half-day excursion around the shaded walking trails of Koločep, the sandy beaches of Lopud and the noblemen’s villas of Šipan.
Taxi boats regularly poodle across from the Old Port to the nearby island of Lokrum. You can be drinking a beer in Dubrovnik’s main square and exploring this strange and sacred island in less than half-an-hour. Dotted with diverse ruins and remnants – medieval, Napoleonic, Habsburg – Lokrum has long been given over to nature. Today it is a UNESCO-protected island reserve, with secluded beaches, exotic birdlife and a lake of warm saltwater.
Alternatively, local firms such as Adriatic Kayak Tours offer sea-kayaking jaunts to and around the island, an easy, safe and healthy way to spend the day. Beginners are given a quick lesson in kayaking before setting off.
Outdoor activities abound. Kojan Koral provides horse-riding tours of the countryside around Dubrovnik and adjoining Konavle, an 11km trail through olive groves, pine forest and rocky stretches of seaside, with breaks to take in the spectacular views.
Diving is another popular local sport, the clear waters around Dubrovnik’s coast allowing for divers of all ages and abilities to take in the multi-coloured and multitudinous sealife.