July 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Europe’s Hidden Gem

What makes a destination unique? Is it the unique architecture, a rich history, heroic war stories or awe-inspiring beaches? Dubrovnik, Croatia offers all of this, and I bet many of you didn’t even know about it.

I had the pleasure of visiting Dubrovnik as a part of my study two summers ago with Semester at Sea. I must admit Dubrovnik literally took my breath away. The beautiful scenery from atop the mountain looking down into the marina is worth a trip in itself. Not to mention the rich culture and history of a town and people torn apart by the Croatian War of Independence that ended less than 20 years ago. The barrier islands, marina, delicious food and Old City provide endless sights and activities. If you’re planning a euro-trip in the future, it is a must that you add Dubrovnik to your list.

Here are some of my favorite aspects of Europe’s hidden gem, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

City Walls: The Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia is surrounded by vast city walls and every first-time visitor should take the time to walk them. This provides one of the coolest views of the ocean, rooftops, gardens and schools. I would recommend an early morning walk, as it can become incredibly hot. You can access the walls throughout the city, but the easiest is located near the main entrance to the city, the Pile Gate.

Lokrum - the best cliff jumping and views 
Lokrum Island: Adventure seeker? Lokrum has great spots for cliff jumping into some of the most beautiful crystal clear waters. There is also a relaxing salt-water lagoon on the island for those that prefer to float around. You can access the island via a 15-minute boat ride. The island is covered in scenic forest, peacocks and olive trees.

Dubrovnik Cable Car Restaurant: Imagine, eating dinner atop the highest point in Dubrovnik overlooking the Old City and the Adriatic Sea. It is a must that you take the cable care to the top of Srd Hill (also a historic war site) for cool beverages and traditional food.

The Dominican Monastery: A few steps from the clock tower arch is a treasured Monastery. During the hot summer days, it makes for a nice place for peace and quiet. Travelers generally overlook this hidden gem, so it’s hardly ever crowded. The fragrant lemon trees make it a perfect place to stop and reflect on a day of traveling.

Dubrovnik Summer Festival: Lucky for me, I visited in July and was able to experience the month long summer festival encompassing theatre, opera, music and dance taking place throughout the city in open-air venues. This was such a unique way to truly experience the culture of Dubrovnik.

Imma, an orphan girl I met during my visit 
Flag of Croatia, worn from years of war

Dubrovnik is a unique city with such an inspiring history. Simply walking around the picturesque alleyways of Old City, or bustling along through in the vibrant main street is enough to fill one’s day. One trip to this paradise will leave you counting the days until you can return.

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