Think you have Dubrovnik all worked out? Think again. Here are 12 things about the Croatian city that might have flown under your radar…
1. Eating out is as cheap as chips
Lobster dinner every evening? Oh, go on then. After all, it’s cheaper than buying a pizza in the UK. Croatian restaurateurs are famous for throwing in a free aperitif here and a complimentary dessert there, so remember to turn up hungry.
2. Looks-wise, it gives Venice a run for its money
Need we say any more?
3. Lokrum is cursed
That island right opposite Dubrovnik? It’s cursed, apparently. Legend has it that, long ago, Benedictine monks were banished from here by a French captain. But before they left, they damned anyone who planned to live permanently on the island. These days, its monastery, botanical gardens, and forests make a great day trip – but you have to be out of there by sunset. (Eek.)
4. The Old Town doubles as a StairMaster
The Old Town is the ultimate workout. There are flat bits – especially if you enter via Pile Gate and stick to the Stradun main road. But at least half of the walled is city is made up of near-vertical staircases. Scale them if you can – the views are more than worth it.
5. The streets are paved with marble
And it’s polished to a shine. In fact, Croatia is so famous for its marble that the USA imported the stuff to build the White House.
6. The Old Town hides lots of secret cliffside bars
To find them, follow the city walls and keep an eye out for Secret Garden-style doors and blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em signs.
7. It gets even prettier on a grey day
And don’t worry if you get a rain shower – it’s a good excuse to explore the Old Town minus the queues.
8. There’s a real coffee culture
Croatians love coffee more than life itself. (This blog post explains why.) They start their day with a cup, have lunch with a cappuccino, and round off dinner with a dark espresso. And you’ll never be rushed in a café – locals gossip for hours over a coffee and a pastry.
9. St Blaise protects the city
He’s everywhere – perched on churches, guarding the Old Town Gates, on the currency… And if you look closely at his statue, you’ll see he holds the city in the palm of his hand.
10. There are more swallows than people
If you stick around for dusk, you’ll be treated to an air show of somersaulting swallows. And there are thousands of them. The walls of the Old Town offer the best views – just enter half an hour before closing time and meander along them as the sun sets.
11. There’s a wildflower takeover in spring
They cling to walls, spring from nooks and crannies, and carpet the forests. You’ll even find them among the clusters of houses in the Old Town.
12. Nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina is a must-visit
Mostar is the city of choice. It’s got an east-meets-west feel, a marble bridge, and a bargain-packed bazaar. Also, the buildings are an Instagramer’s dream – just go and search #mostar.