We interviewed Ivona Bijac Nikolic, a member of the Dubrovnik and Neretva County Tourist Board to unearth all its exclusive need-to-knows. Discover the history behind its biggest events, cook up a storm with local recipes and get the low-down on the best places to stay.
But that’s not all, we reveal the county’s biggest must-visits as well as exposing its off-the-beaten-track spots. Read all about it in preparation for your next Croatian adventure!
1. What Makes Dubrovnik Unique?
Dubrovnik is like an open-air museum with culture and history at the core of its old-world cobbles. Perfectly combining the past and present, every inch of this ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ hides a treasure. It’s hardly surprising that this medieval city has been protected by the UNESCO World Heritage since 1979, one of the first such listing in Croatia. It will lure you in with its 1,940 meters of timeless ramparts which have been flawlessly maintained to their original form and are now one of Dubrovnik’s biggest attractions.
Alongside its fascinating heritage, the city’s geographic location, warm climate and traditional hospitality make it all the more desirable with holidaymakers across the globe. Witness the magic and learn about its background throughout its many festivals, prestigious art happenings and major events. Better yet, you can enjoy all the perks of a city with the coast at your feet too.
2. When is the Best Time to Visit?
Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit Dubrovnik and Neretva County. During these months of year you can expect less crowds, plus it’s not as hot as in the middle of the summer. On the other hand, during the wintertime many hotels and restaurants are closed. If you don’t mind that fact, you’ll be happy to know Dubrovnik and its surroundings are very magical during the winter months, especially during the Winter Festival (Christmas and New Year).
3. What's the Most Popular City Excursion?
The most popular city excursions include the Game of Thrones guided tour, three island cruise and kayaking around Lokrum island. Very popular one day excursions are visiting the peninsula Peljesac, River Neretva Valley, Konavle region and island of Mljet alongside the island of Korcula.
4. Are There Any Off-the-Beaten-Track Secret Spots?
It seems that all of our hidden spots have already been discovered. However, there’s a hidden beach in the Konavle region, which may still surprise some holidaymakers. We are talking about Pasjača Beach near the village of Popovići.
5. What Are Your 5 Top Tips For Anyone Visiting?
- Visit Dubrovnik city walls
- Visit Dubrovnik cable car – especially during sunset
- During summer days avoid sightseeing in the morning, it is much better to do it in the afternoon – after all, most cruise guests have left the city.
- Visit the small village of Ston 50 kilometres west of Dubrovnik, famous for the best oysters in this part of Europe and the second largest walls in the world.
- We have great wines do not miss having a sip
6. Tell us a Fun Fact About Dubrovnik
During its early days Dubrovnik was an independent republic known as Dubrovnik Republic, which lasted from 1358 until 1808. With a great influence over a number of neighbouring territories this city-state united people under its name, law and cultural identity.
Before being conquered by the Napoleon’s French Empire, it made a name for itself after it became one of the first governments in the world to abolish slavery as a barbaric practice, while helping the USA gain independence. Not to mention, its population reached 3,000 residents during the 15th and 16th century.
7. What’s Your Biggest Event?
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is one of the largest and most important cultural events in Croatia. With an age-old history dating back to 1950, it’s hardly surprising that it is so hugely celebrated. Running from the 10th July until 25th August every year, holidaymakers can expect performances such as theatre plays, classical singing and folk music along with dancing. Spread across various open-air locations in and around the Old Town, you’ll certainly be impressed by the festivities.
8. Who Would You Say Dubrovnik is Best Catered For?
Dubrovnik caters to many categories including families, couples and singles. It is a safe city with great beaches and a rich cultural heritage interesting all ages. The city offers many different festivals, a wealth of outdoor activities and great gastronomy.
9. Which Local Dishes Would You Recommend Trying?
From eel and frog stew, let your taste buds head on an adventure. Start your culinary journey through various taverns and restaurants throughout the county, where you’ll discover delicious game dishes and the special wild duck, also known as ‘liska’. Head towards Ston, where you’ll stumble across the freshest oysters, mussels and other gourmet fish.
Another must-try at restaurants in Župa Dubrovnik and Konavle are prosciutto, cheese in oil, meat and cabbage stew as well as other delicacies.
Here is a recipe for a traditional desert from Ston:
Ston cake – Macaroni cake
Serves: 20 people
- macaroni 0,5 kg
- sugar (crystals) 0,25 kg
- chocolate (cooking) 0,10 kg
- almonds 0,25 kg
- walnuts 0,15 kg
- sugar (vanilla) 0,04 kg
- cinnamon 0,001 kg
- lemon 0,09 kg
- butter 0,25 kg
- 6 eggs
Dough for shaping in the pan
- flour 0,40 kg
- 2 eggs
- oil (olive) 0,05 l
- salt 0,004 kg
Cook macaroni in boiling water, cool. Grate chocolate and lemon. Add sugar, ground almonds and walnuts, vanilla sugar and cinnamon to the chocolate. Cut the butter in small squares. Beat the eggs slightly.
Make a dough from the flour, eggs, olive oil and salt. Let rest. Spread thinly with a roller to the shape that will cover the entire form.
Grease the form with olive oil and cover with a sheet of dough so that the surplus dough falls over the edges. Layer the macaroni, sprinkle with the chocolate, sugar, walnuts, almond, vanilla sugar and cinnamon mixture. Pour a beaten egg over and sprinkle with pieces of butter. Repeat for all layers to the top or until the mixture is used. Add butter pieces to the top of the dough with slight pressure so that the dough sinks into the filling in the form. The surface is covered with melted butter and baked at 180? C cca 45 minutes.
Remove the torte when finished, cool, remove from the form and sprinkle with sugar.
10. Which Areas Would You Recommend Staying In?
If you’re a young traveller who doesn’t mind late night noise in the neighbourhood, we recommend staying inside the city walls. Everything you need is just around the corner and it’s a pedestrian zone, however this means there’s a lot of stairs. You can still stay in the city of Dubrovnik but outside of the walls if you’re looking for a quieter option.
If you like a more peaceful atmosphere, please consider staying at one of the islands Mljet, Korcula Lastovo and the Elafiti archipelagos. Or, in the countryside a few kilometres out of Dubrovnk at Slano, Peninsula Peljesac, Zupa dubrovacka, Konavle region.