One more from our trip to Dubrovnik this summer. This was June 2021, and travel was pretty slow, we we had the pleasure of exploring Dubrovnik without the huge crowds that seem to have become common here. We split our time in 2 hotels, one outside the city, the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera, where we basically relaxed, hung out at the beach and the pool. The remainder of our time was in Dubrovnik proper, where we stayed at the Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik. This was our base to get into the Old Town, as it is just a short walk away from there.
Old Town Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is known as “The Pearl of the Adriatic”, with a long history, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In recent years it was used as a filming location as “Kings Landing” in the Game of Thrones TV series, which has seemingly added to the crowds who want to visit. While there is more to Dubrovnik than the Old Town, this is where much of the tourism is located. That said, there aren’t any hotels within the walls, though there are hostels and rooms for rent. Old town is open to the public, although there are certain areas that are not accessible, and the city walls are probably the best way to get a good view, and many of my photos are from this tour.
The walls form the perimeter of Old Town, and we went counter-clockwise, starting from near the Ploče Gate on the east side of the city. From here, we walked along the walls at our own pace. This route starts out with more uphill climbing, and I was pretty sweaty in the humid air. From above, it is easy to find the roofs that have had their tiles replaced, and which have not..
Of course, the purpose for building the walls was to protect the city from attack. So along the way there are various forts and slots for defenders to watch outward.
Walking the walls is a great way to get a literal overview of the city, but there is more to see a bit further away.
There are also forts outside the walls. On the west side of the city is the St. Lawrence fortress, or in Croatian, Lovrijenac. Game of Thrones fans will recognize this as the Red Keep. Lots of GGI was used in the series, but this place is still impressive especially for the views back towards the city
Another Game of Thrones landmark on the way to the fort is a small little harbor used as Blackwater Bay, and the pier on the left of the photo below used for several departures during the series.
The fort itself is pretty nice on its own, but the views from there back to the city and mountains beyond are great.
Inside the walls
Back in the city itself, the architecture is definitely a highlight, at least for me. The limestone-paved Stradun is the main street in the old city. Only around 300 meters long, so it doesn’t take long to cover the distance even on foot. Parts of the old city date to the 13th-century, but much of the city was destroyed in an earthquake in 1667. Some areas of Dubrovnik were shelled during the early 1990’s wars in Yugoslavia, including some damage to the Old City. Unlike the Kupari Complex, most of this has been repaired and there is little evidence of damage.
Narrow alleys and wider streets veer off from the Stradun. I’m sure rent in the old city is very expensive, and often times, prices reflect this. Still, we found some decent places for food and drink and just relax while we were walking around.
Most people we encountered are friendly, and there are some others that are happy to see visitors as well…
Another famous site from Game of Thrones are the Jesuit steps. This site is right off the Stradun, and seemed to be among the most popular areas with tourists. Various shops and restaurants are in the area, and there is a square at the bottom end of this area, so definitely among the busiest areas we experienced.
This is the filming location for the walk of shame scene.
Final Thoughts on Dubrovnik
We were fortunate to have nice weather, and minimal crowds during our visit to Dubrovnik last June. Yes, I’m a fan of Game of Thrones, and it was neat to see some filming locations, but “Hollywood magic” is a big contributor to the look of that show. Still, Dubrovnik is undoubtedly beautiful; both for the natural coastal location, and the lovely architecture of the old city.