Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik traditionally attracts genteel older couples, cruise-boat crowds and high-spending visitors staying at five-star hotels.
So where’s the action?
Dubrovnik may be all pristine and marble on the outside but Croatia’s prime holiday destination knows a trick or two – you just need to know where. No, it’s not Hvar, and you won’t see Prince Harry letting his freak flag fly. Nor is it Split, its main Dalmatian rival for the tourist kuna, with so many bars you can barely find your way from one to the other.
But Dubrovnik is different. Away from the mainstream bustle, you can sea kayak at sunset, explore an abandoned hotel, find your own cave beach or choose from two haunted islands where no soul has slept in decades. After your day’s adventure, there are bars offering the latest Croatian craft beers or every local rakija grappa known to man, even bars where you can sink a beer, leap into the moonlit Adriatic and climb back up to order another one as you towel down.
Not of all this is scheduled or timetabled and sometimes you’ll have to rely on a local to row you over to an island or zip out on his little motorboat – but way down at Croatia’s southern tip, alongside the border with Montenegro, you’re deep in the heart of the Balkans where random adventure is commonplace.
Dubrovnik also still has its bohemian streak, a hangover from the 1960s when artists and musicians gathered here and stayed. Though some of the bars and galleries they later opened have fallen victim to the trends of high-spending tourism, you can always find that quirky venue, that haven for those who prefer an alternative.
Given its long-term catering to foreign visitors, however, Dubrovnik is not the kind of cash-only destination you may find in more remote parts of Dalmatia. Here your Mastercard will go far and will be accepted in a significant number of establishments.
For deserted islands and off-the-beaten-track beaches, however, you’ll have to bring your own sustenance – and your own entertainment.