Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik enjoys one of Europe’s most splendid settings on a scallop-shaped promontory jutting into the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. With red-roofed walls and hulking fortifications, it has long been celebrated for its enchanting beauty. George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, famously called it “heaven on earth.” It has also been called the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” a glimmering preserved walled city that must be seen to be believed.

During the Middle Ages, as the capital of the Republic of Ragusa, Dubrovnik was a center of wealth, literature, and trade, rivaling even Venice, which was itself a powerful and influential hub of commerce. Today, the entirety of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it’s also a beautiful destination favored by celebrities, statesmen, and cultivated travelers who come to visit from all over the world.

Dubrovnik Lifestyle and Culture

Dubrovnik is still a thriving center of commerce, but these days its primary revenue comes from travelers drawn to its gleaming streets and maze of cobbled lanes. More than half of Croatia’s top luxury hotels are located here, and cruise ships are a regular sight in the emerald waters just offshore. Dubrovnik has a rich cultural landscape, too, with a lively arts scene that ranges from live theater to modern art to classical music.

Dubrovnik Sights and Entertainment

The ancient city walls of Dubrovnik are one of the city’s most popular attractions. For a fee, travelers can ascend a stairway and walk the perimeter of the Old Town along the ramparts, taking in sweeping vistas of red roofs, soaring church towers and the Adriatic beyond. An early start and plenty of water are enough to get you going.

Walking through Dubrovnik’s Old Town, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve just stepped back in time. Sponza Palace is one of the most authentic structures, thanks to its survival of a 1667 earthquake. This Gothic Renaissance gem is full of impressive architectural flourishes that have lasted through the building’s many uses over the centuries—from customs house to treasury to school. While the entire building cannot be explored, it’s certainly worth seeing.

The Rector’s Palace is also in the Old Town. This lovely Gothic building has been converted into a museum of Croatian history. Its exhibits of furniture, glassware, paintings and more are quite engaging and well presented.

Dramatically perched atop a broad stairway, the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, built in 1725, is an immaculately preserved Jesuit church and boasts one of the city’s most beautiful baroque interiors. Its splendid Gaetano Garcia paintings depict the life of St. Ignatius.

Join a Segway City Tour for the opportunity to see the sights of Dubrovnik in the open air. Tours include natural wonders around the city, historic landmarks, beautiful views of the coast, and some out-of-the-way sights that are seldom seen by visitors.

Fort Lovrijenac, recently featured on HBO’s series Game of Thrones, provides stunning views of the city and an atmosphere you won’t soon forget. “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar,” as it is called, is located outside the Old Town walls on a rocky outcropping above the Adriatic. It takes some effort to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds and a stunning setting.

Wine lovers can learn about the region’s viniculture from Dubrovnik Wine Tours, the city’s premier wine tour company. The programs encompass the best of Dalmatian wine country, stopping at independent wineries with ancient cellars and tempting vintages.