*I spent 3 days in Dubrovnik in April 2012 and I really enjoyed it! Inside of this Dubrovnik Guide, you’ll hear about my experiences and get recommendations for things like — culture, food, nightlife, and things to do.
Here is my useful advice: Go to Dubrovnik! It’s one of the best kept secrets in the Balkans!
Croatia, as a country, is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s smushed up along the eastern Adriatic Sea and offers some of the most stunning natural landscape in Europe. The country is at the crossroads of Central Europe, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, so it has a unique cultural blend that is far more interesting than you would expect.
Croatia is on the rise. On July 1, 2013, it became the 28th member state of the European Union. There is no question that Croatia’s economy is flourishing, as it is ranked in the top 20 for BOTH the highest income/per capita and most popular world-wide tourist destinations. All these reasons, among many more, are just a fraction of why you need to check out this former Yugoslavia nation.
Dubrovnik is one of the most unique and mind-blowing cities I’ve ever been to simply because of the beautiful coastlines and medieval fortress walls surrounding Old Town. These walls are a series of defensive stonewalls that have protected the citizens of Dubrovnik since the 7th Century. It is considered as one of the greatest fortification systems of the Middle Ages and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. I highly recommend paying the small fee (I think it was €8) to walk around on top of the fortress. The views are spectacular and unforgettable!
Alright, let’s dive into some quick facts!
– Currency: Croatian Kuna (HRK)
– Language: Croatian
– Population: 50,000 people
– Dubrovnik is among the 10 best medieval walled cities in the world.
– The city is known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic Sea”
– A huge earthquake hit the city in 1667 and destroyed the majority of the art and architecture. After that, the city was reconstructed in Baroque style, which is still seen today.
– There are 5,423 steps in Dubrovnik, including 1,080 steps on the city walls and 4,353 within the city
Culture & People
People in Dubrovnik may appear to be stand-off-ish at first, but they are a warm and charming bunch once you dig a little deeper. Croats have very strong family values and morals due to the fact that over 90% of the people are Roman Catholic.
Croatians, in general, are a very laid-back culture and typically don’t do things in a hurry. It is common for people to hang out in cafes, drink a beer with their friends, and enjoy the afternoon without worrying about any stress in their lives.
Given Croatia’s long history of invaders, wars and different influences, the culture tends to vary. No matter where you go around the country, you’ll notice how Croatian traditions are a product of its diverse history, and you’ll experience things that draw back up it’s medieval roots.
Croats strive on conserving their country’s folklore customs (dances and costumes), and pay homage by keeping their Roman Catholic roots alive. Croatian people can tend to be racist towards neighboring countries like Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro (for various reasons), but that’s pretty standard across the Balkans. In any case, I think you’ll get an interesting experience after a few days of soaking up Croatian culture.
I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make some new local Croatian friends! Click this link to learn the Top 10 Croatian Words to keep in your back pocket 😉
What to Do?
The most astonishing thing to do is walk along the top of the medieval fortress walls.
You will get to see some breathtaking views of the city, along with the steep cliffs intersecting the Mediterranean coastline. Make sure to give yourself at least 2-3 hours on the walls, so you don’t feel rushed and you are able to fully enjoy the experience.
Walk along Stradun– Dubrovnik’s main street. Located in Old Town, this street is made of limestone and is a 300 meter-long pedestrian only zone. Many of Dubrovnik’s most historic buildings and monuments are situated along this street, along with many coffee shops, restaurants and churches. During summer months, Stradun tends to get pretty touristy, but it’s awesome nonetheless.
Finally, there are a variety of amazing beaches in Dubrovnik that are worth your time to experience. Most notable is Sveti Jakov beach, which is about 15 kilometers from Old Town. It’s a great place to spend the day and take in the Croatian sunshine with the locals. If you have time, I recommend taking a day and/or night trip to one of the many beautiful islands off the coast such as the Elaphiti Islands and Lokrum Island.
For a more complete list, check out my post on 10 Things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dating back to ancient times, Croatian Food has taken on influences from neighboring cuisines such as Slavic, Hungarian, Austrian, Italian, Greek and Turkish.
As you might guess (judging by the neighboring countries), The food in Croatia largely consist of meat, seafood and vegetables. Many of the fresh ingredients are grown in Croatia’s fertile inland soil, so little modification is needed.
The Croatian seafood is a must-try. There are more than 400 species of fresh fish that are consumed by the locals. Also the meat is tasty — mostly pork, veal and sausage!
If you want to learn more about the local foods, then please read my post on 5 Croatian Foods to Try.
Dubrovnik is one of the top-places to party in the Mediterranean region.
The nightlife is rapidly growing because of the recent University that opened up in the city. Although the scene is year-round in Dubrovnik, the summer months are when the city really comes to life because of all the tourists and warmer weather. Most of the nightlife is centered around the Old Town area, where you will find a healthy selection of bars and a handful of lively clubs.
No matter which day of the week it is, you can easily find a fun place to go, because Croats are very social and they love to party!
*Thanks for reading! Have you been to Dubrovnik before?