Photography and Travel Tips for Dubrovnik, Croatia
I went to Croatia for the first time this past summer. I went with the idea that I would see sparkling blue water and rocky beaches, and that is just what I got. Croatia juts out into the Adriatic Sea and flying into Dubrovnik from Milan, make sure you get a window seat because the coastline of Croatia truly looks like paradise.
From the airport you can get to Dubrovnik city center in about 30 minutes especially if you have a taxi driver like mine who passed cars despite the curving road and plunging cliffs.
You can stay in a resort hotel outside the historical city center or you can stay right inside the city walls of Dubrovnik – which I recommend, and which means staying in an apartment. If you travel to Croatia in the summer, make sure your apartment/hotel has air conditioning, the kind that can make it feel like the South Pole, you will need it! I happened to be in Dubrovnik during this past summer’s European heat wave, although according to the locals it is always that hot in the summer, so I really needed the AC.
Summer trips to Croatia mean getting up early, taking a siesta in the afternoon in the artic cold of your air conditioned hotel and venturing out again at sundown in order to deal with the heat!
In Dubrovnik you can see everything in two days, unless you are a beach bum in which case you need more time to work on that perfect tan. I recommend getting the Dubrovnik Card for only13 krona (free for children under 12). The card is valid for eight cultural sites and it comes with a handy map of the historical center with all of the sites highlighted.
Included on the Dubrovnik Card:
1 – City Walls – As previously stated I am a big fan of forts and old city walls, especially when you get to climb all over them. The city wall around Dubrovnik is 3km long and you can walk the entire length! This is a must do activity! You get great views of the city and the sea. And just as a side note, the wall is not shady and completely exposed to the sun. I made my family walk along the wall in the morning, and well it takes a few hours, and by the end they titled it the “sweat walk.” So bring plenty of water and wear tons of sunscreen.
2 – Maritime Museum – The Museum is also along the city wall so you can plan it around the sweat walk, I mean the wall walk. The museum itself is very interesting with two floors of artifacts, paintings, and miniature boat models.
3- Natural History Museum – This museum isn’t a must see but it is included on the card so I went. It is a small museum and easily seen in about half an hour.
4 – Home of Marin Drzic – I do not recommend this site as it is a bit strange with dioramas and mannequins recreating a play writer’s living quarters; it was just a bit odd for my tastes.
5 – Art Gallery – This is an art museum that you can walk to from the historical city center. The building is impressive and includes a patio on the rooftop with interesting sculptures. The exhibitions are always changing; I saw an exhibition on Giacometti.
6 – Rector’s Palace – This is an impressive building as well with numerous rooms to visit. It is a bit of a maze so make sure to go up and down every staircase to make sure you don’t miss anything. The Rector’s Palace also has an interesting staircase with stone hands holding the railing in place – to see a photo click here.
7 – Dulcic Masle Pulitika Gallery – This gallery is next to the Rector’s palace and exhibits contemporary work.
8 – Rupe Ethnographic Museum –The museum is three floors with examples of traditional clothing, ceramics, and tools. And in the basement are a series of deep cylinder shaped holes where grains were stored to keep the city fed in times of war or siege – a few maps show how many there are in the city and charts illustrate how much grain can be stored, how long it is lasts, and how many it can feed.
Aside from the Dubrovnik Card there are a few other sites that I think are must see spots:
Both the Franciscan and Dominican Monasteries, each located on opposites sides of the historical city center are worth visiting. The monasteries both have beautiful courtyards and a few rooms of religious artifacts.
I also recommend climbing up to the Fort Lovrijenac, which is just outside of the city walls and provides wonderful panoramic views. Also make sure to go to the port area and walk along the water edge and around St. John Fort at sunset! The Synagogue/Museum is also interesting as the Synagogue is on the third floor.
And inquire at the tourist information center about seeing a folk dance performance to see traditional clothing and dancing from all over Croatia.
These are the main highlights of Dubrovnik. I do recommend eating at Gil’s – an elegant restaurant that looks over the port and serves scrumptious food (and they have vegetarian options – always a plus). Also there is a café beside the Rector’s Palace and across from the St. Blaise Church that has outdoor tables for people watching and they have the best ice coffee with whip cream and chocolate syrup – a much needed item on a hot summer day!