48 hours in Dubrovnik

06/10/2015

Photo credit: iStockYou may know it as one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones or simply as a stunning 16th-century walled city, but either way, Dubrovnik is the highlight of the Adriatic. So impressive is its old town that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has granted it World Heritage status, while the authorities enforce strict rules to ensure it retains its charm.

If you have just two days to explore Dubrovnik as part of a multi-centre holiday, be sure to make the most of them. Here is a great itinerary to pack in as much as possible.

Day 1

Get a good vantage point

Dubrovnik is known for its still-complete walls and the best way to get your bearings on arriving in the old town is to head straight for these fortifications. Complete the two-kilometre circuit taking in both the sea of terracotta roofs inside and the calming azure waters that lie outside. Be sure to stop and have a drink at Bar Buza, which is located on the cliffs beyond the walls with wonderful views.

Visit Dubrovnik's most iconic street

If you can tear yourself away from the vistas out to sea, head to Stradun, the street that acts as the cultural heart of Dubrovnik. This marble-paved thoroughfare is the main artery of the old town, stretching as it does from Pile gate to Ploce, and is used on special occasions to host processions. While on Stradun it is impossible not to notice the imposing Luza bell tower, which dates back to 1444, but also take note of a number of other monuments, such as Orlando's Tower and the two Onofrio fountains.

Refuel at Antunini Restaurant

Just a few streets back from Stradun you will find the Antunini Restaurant, which serves a selection of traditional dishes from the region, as well as international cuisine. Whether seafood suits your tastes or you are keen to try some local cheese, this eatery won't disappoint. It is the perfect place to grab some lunch away from the bustle of the main street, but without venturing too far from the attractions you will want to explore after you have dined.

Take in the Franciscan Monastery and Pharmacy

The architecture of Dubrovnik's Franciscan Monastery is somewhat eclectic in style, as it combines elements that were rescued from the original 1317 building, which was largely destroyed during the 1667 earthquake, with newer additions. Take notice of the south portal, featuring a late gothic rendition of a pieta, completed by Petar and Leonard Andrijic, which survived the natural disaster. Within the monastery's complex is a pharmacy that was opened at the same time as the original building, making it the third oldest in the world and the most ancient to be still functioning in the whole of Europe.

Photo credit: iStockSee some of Dubrovnik's history

Another of Dubrovnik's buildings that has been rebuilt multiple times is the Rector's Palace, which now hosts the Cultural History Museum. As well as the artefacts, including coats of arms, coins and portraits, take note of the building itself. It was originally built in the 15th century to house the elected rector, with myriad rooms for different purposes. Carved capitals and an ornate staircase have only added to its grandeur over the years. Some may recognise it as the backdrop to scenes featuring Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. If you are visiting during the summer months, be sure to check out the concert schedule, with many recitals being held within the palace.

Push the boat out at Proto

Depending on the time of year in which you visit, you may wish to decide to sit on the terrace to dine at Proto or experience the elegant interior if it is not so warm. This establishment specialises in seafood and cooks its dishes in accordance with the ancient recipes handed down from local fishermen. If you are not convinced by its credentials, bear in mind that Proto once played host to Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and its standards have not slipped since then. Finish the evening off with a glass or two at the nearby D'vino Wine Bar.

Photo credit: iStockDay 2

Take a boat to Lokrum

If when sitting out looking over the sea the day before you had been intrigued by the little green island you could see, then a trip to uncover its secrets seems highly appropriate. Head down to Dubrovnik Old Harbour, where boats depart for Lokrum on a regular basis throughout the high season and at a lower rate in the quieter months. The journey takes just ten minutes, but gives you the perfect opportunity to look back at the magnificent splendour of the city from a slight distance.

Learn more about the island's plant species

Spend the morning at the Lokrum Botanical Gardens, which reflects the fact that the island's climate has allowed Benedictines to grow plants here from all over the world since ancient times. The Habsburgs then introduced ornamental species to Lokrum in the 19th century and the world-renowned botanist Roberto Visiani even visited the island to study its flora. The garden was established in 1959 and is an interesting and pleasant place to stroll.

Enjoy a lingering lunch

Pass the rest of the morning at the Benedictine monastery, where the monks would have spent the majority of their time. The 11th-century monastery has an on-site restaurant, which serves up grilled fish, meat, pasta and salad. While the menu is quite short, the dishes on offer are cooked well and enjoying them in the grounds of the monastery is a rare treat. You may even spot one of the resident peacocks, which like to strut their stuff around the courtyard.

Relax in nature's paradise

Lokrum is a Special Forest Vegetation Reserve and while small, makes for a fascinating place to explore. Walk off your lunch by wandering the trails and taking in the plants, animals and beautiful surroundings. It doesn't take long to traverse the island, as Lokrum measures just 0.8 square kilometres in area and finding a secluded beach is not difficult. Be aware that one of the stretches of sand on Lokrum is a nudist beach, so you may wish to throw caution to the wind and remove your clothes. Either way, a relaxing afternoon of swimming and sunbathing is a great option of the island.

Peruse a museum

Returning to the mainland, there may well be enough time to take in an exhibition at one of Dubrovnik's museums. There are plenty to choose from, whether you wish to learn more about the history of the region and its troubled recent events or go for something more esoteric, such as the Maritime Museum or Museum of Modern Art. Soaking up some culture is the perfect way to balance a day of sitting back on the beach.

Photo credit: iStockA meal with a view

If you have just two days to spend in Dubrovnik then be sure to dine at Lokanda Peskarija on your second night, as the views over the harbour represent the perfect way to say goodbye to the city. From its position tucked under the city walls you will be served fresh seafood and deliciously prepared fish. The terrace is spacious and can therefore accommodate everyone looking for that extra special meal in Dubrovnik. Finally, finish off the evening at the Hard Jazz Cafe Troubadour for a laidback, but relaxing end to the night.

Great as a city break, or combined as part of a longer multi centre holiday, either exploring more of Croatia, or combining it with other European cities.Speak to our specialists for advice, and help in putting together the most suitable itinerary.

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