Did you know that Croatia invented the necktie? Parisians took to the stylish look of the small, knotted neckerchiefs worn by Croatian mercenaries during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century and promptly adopted the fashion.
While you explore the city, have some sweet arancini, candied bitter orange peels, which you can buy from all the snack shops and wineries. The word Maraschino should sound familiar: it is a Zadar specialty made from the region’s world famous Marasca cherries. Small family farms around Dubrovnik make some of the world’s best olive oils and excellent wine. There isn't enough to export and is mainly enjoyed by tourists, so you may never have seen it at home.
1. There is plenty of history and imposing architecture
The Walls of Dubrovnik dates from the 7th century and is considered to be one of the greatest of the Middle Ages’ fortification systems as it no one ever breached it. It is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and well worth a visit. The walls run for almost 2000 meters to enclose most of the Old City, and you can investigate the moat on the outside section.
2. The breathtaking Church of St. Blaise
The Church of St. Blaise is a Baroque church with a barrel-vaulted interior built in 1715 on the foundations of the medieval Romanesque church that had been reduced to rubble in the famous earthquake of 1667. The main altar features a 15th-century gilt silver Gothic statue of Saint Blaise with a scale model of the old church in his left hand.
3. Stradun, the main street and celebrities hotspot
Stradun is the limestone-paved pedestrian main street and a popular esplanade for tourists. After the devastating 1667 earthquake which destroyed most of the city, they passed a law which enforced a uniform build plan for all the new houses. The ground floor had to feature a "Dutch door" under a semi-circular arch so that customers could be served through the window or top half. Kitchens were relocated to the loft, to prevent the spread of potential fires.
4. Sailing and swimming around the city
Dubrovnik is a sailing hotspot for exploring nearby islands like the Elaphiti Islands and Lokrum where the Game of Thrones production team filmed scenes in the city of Qarth featured in Season 2. Some of the scenes were shot in the botanical gardens on Lokrum and in the Former Benedictine monastery. Here you can swim in a miniature version of the Dead Sea - there is a small highly saline lake on the southern part of the island.
Shop around for a package that will suit you, but trips typically include an early morning start enjoying the fresh breeze while the crew does all the hard work. Spend the day exploring the islands, snorkeling in the warm, clean, sparkling waters and exploring Kolocep or Lopud island. Alternate between sightseeing in the fishing villages, enjoying the pristine beaches. Have a seafood lunch in one of the local pubs or restaurants and shake off all anxiety.
5. Delicious Croatian food and wine
Many Dubrovnik restaurants offer simple, wholesome dishes at wallet-friendly prices. Fresh local Dalmatian seafood tops the menu: squid, lobster and fresh oysters from Ston just up the coast. Do try the octopus’ salad, black risotto (made with cuttlefish ink), and fried squid. You can pick your fresh fish from a platter and wait while they barbecue it and drizzled it with olive oil and a wedge of lemon. Try one of the red or white South Dalmatia wines to round out your meal.