13 SEP 2017: During the Middle Ages, Dubrovnik (then called Ragusa) bought its independence from various powers including Byzantium, Venice, Hungary, the Ottomans and the Vatican. As a major seafaring power, Dubrovnik, dubbed the “Hong Kong of the Middle Ages,” was an important trading hub linking Mediterranean and Balkan states.  

An earthquake in 1667 left the city in ruins and in 1991 and 1992 Dubrovnik was pummeled with shells during the war that ravaged the former Yugoslavia. However, today the restored Dubrovnik is the most prosperous and elegant city in Croatia.

Jutting into the impossibly sparkling azure Adriatic Sea with its Baroque mansions and churches ringed by medieval walls, Old Town Dubrovnik looks like a fairy tale come true.

(All prices approximated in Canadian dollars).

THE “YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE” SPLURGE LIST

Coq au Vin Kopun-style

Located on Rudjer Boskovic Square in the centre of Old Town, Kopun (English translation is capon) serves traditional hearty Croatian fare. Their signature dish is a castrated rooster braised in wine and porcini mushrooms and served with gnocchi www.restaurantkopun.com

To the Palace Born

Indulge in the tasting menu at Stara Loza, part of the Prijeko Palace. A recent menu offered langoustine tortellini, braised turbot, slow-cooked lamb shoulder with an herb crust and figs glazed in Dalmatian Prosecco with mascarpone cheese and a cinnamon cookie. The tasting menu with wine pairings costs about $200 per person. The Prijeko Palace also has luxurious rooms, each named and decorated as a tribute to an artist. www.prijekopalace.com

Gifts from the Sea

Adriatic red coral is a symbol of vitality and served as a charm against evil spirits in ancient times. It was an important trade commodity on the Silk Route. At Clara Stones, visitors can watch as raw coral branches are cleaned, polished and set into fine pieces of jewelry—a unique gift or souvenir. www.clarastones.com

Piscean Platters

The Adriatic is teaming with wonderful fish and seafood and Moby Dick’s knows how to take the catch of the day and turn it into a magnificent Piscean platter. www.moby-dick.hr

Set Sail

Part of the Elafiti Islands, Lopud is a gem about an hour away by boat. Take your swimsuit for a dip on the sandy beach and then enjoy refreshments on the seaside promenade. You can also take a hike or rent a bike and visit the botanical garden and historical remains of an ancient fortress. Leaving from Dubrovnik’s Old Port, Adriana Excursions offers day trips to Lopud, plus other islands and options. www.adriana-cavtat.com

THE “CHEAP THRILLS” SAVE LIST

Best Accommodation Deal in Dubrovnik

We found the Dubrovnik Gardens in Rick Steve’s Croatia & Slovenia guidebook. That discovery alone more than justified the cost of the guide. Owned by Roberto Lorenzo and his mother Marija, the three apartments (two with garden access) are tucked behind a green gate in the off the square dominated by the Jesuit St. Ignatius Church. We stayed in the spacious Old Town Garden Studio complete with kitchenette. Best of all, we were in the centre of Dubrovnik and we had our own walled garden, ideal for sitting out with a coffee or glass of wine and eavesdropping on the concerts in the atrium of the Natural History Museum just below us. Roberto is also a guide and a font of knowledge about the history of his city, plus places to dine, shop and visit. Cost per night for the three apartments ranges from €90 to 150— a steal in Dubrovnik! www.dubrovnikgardens.com

Wall-to-Wall Enchantment

Old Town is completely surrounded by thick medieval walls and you haven’t really “done” Dubrovnik unless you’ve walked its top attraction with camera in hand. Total distance is about two kilometres. The best plan is to start at the Ploce Gate so you’ll tackle the steepest part first. If you’re too hot or fed up with the crowds you can bail out at the Pile Gate. But persevere if possible. Stop at the Café Salvatore for an overpriced freshly squeezed juice and lovely views of Banje Beach. High up above the city you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the red tile roofs, laundry hanging outside windows, the odd coveted garden and the sparkling sea. Try to time your walk when there are no cruise ships in town and start around 8:30 a.m. Cost is about $25.

Konsum Consumables

The cheapest place to stock up on snacks, made-to-order sandwiches, bottles of soft drinks, wine, beer and water is the Konsum grocery store on the outdoor market square called Gunduliceva Poljana. You can also buy fruits, veggies, homemade hooch, cheeses and lavender from the island of Hvar at the daily morning market in the same square.

Dolce Vita

There are plenty of places to buy gelato on Dubrovnik’s main thoroughfare (note the Old Town is pedestrian-only) called the Stradun, but Dolce Vita on one of the steep alleys has the best prices. Try the chili dark chocolate gelato, crepes or milkshakes.

Bird’s Eye View

Near the Buza Gate, take the cable car connecting Old Town to Mount Srd, once a fortress built by Napoleon. Views from the top are spectacular. The fort houses the Homeland War Museum. Photos, documents and artifacts tell the story of the war during the early 1990s with Yugoslavia.

 

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author

Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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