It’s a city rich with history, phenomenal views of the Adriatic Sea, and, hey, you might even run into Jon Snow if you’re there at the right time (and we really don’t care if he knows nothing!). Our top seven reasons the Croatian city of Dubrovnik should be topping your wanderlust list.
1. Live Out Your Game of Thrones Fantasies in The Old City
Any GOT fan worth their dragon eggs needs to make a pilgrimage to Dubrovnik, which is the setting for King’s Landing on the HBO show. Book yourself on a Game of Thrones walking tour of the Old City (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and you’ll get to walk the steps and gates where Cersei did her walk of shame, for one. Even if you’re not a fan, touring within the Old City walls is a breathtaking way to spend several hours poking about the narrow stairwells between the buildings, taking in the views of the rooftops and sea, and strolling the Stradun (the main street) which is now lined with a mix of shops selling everything from ice cream to shoes.
2. Become a Seafood Lover at Posat
Book a dinner at Posat, where its stone walls and view of the Old City walls give it a medieval feel but hip industrial-style lighting and refined menu remind you it is in fact the 21st century. Dig into the inky, pillowy bread (its black hue is thanks to squid ink) and do not miss out on the thinly sliced octopus, so delicate and tender it practically melts in your mouth … you may think you only dreamt of eating seafood so fresh (and we can almost guarantee it will make a seafood fan out of anyone).
3. Turkish Airlines Now Flies to Dubrovnik
The number-one airline in Europe, flying to more than 200 destinations, Turkish Airlines has recently just added a route to Dubrovnik. Now with five weekly direct flights from Istanbul to Dubrovnik (with a sixth added in August 2016), getting to this Dalmatian Coast city is now easier than ever. To make it even better, we were easily won over with the wifi, lie-flat seats and Turkish fare we indulged in sitting in business class—and who can resist charming touches like the adorable ceramic salt and pepper shakers shaped like minarets? Possibly the best part, though, is the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport: a stunning, expansive lounge filled with natural light and a generous gourmet spread of Turkish food and sweets. (Psst: If your layover in Istanbul is between six and 24 hours, you can take advantage of a complimentary tour of the city.)
4. You Could Explore a Cave Before Boarding Your Flight
Care for a spot of spelunking? Underneath the runways at Čilipi Airport lies Durovic Cave, which is well lit and relatively spacious, making it comfortable even for those who can feel a bit claustrophobic. Also known as Skycellar (the cave features a display spotlighting Konvavle winemaking), Durovic Cave has revealed archaeological finds dating back to the Bronze and Iron ages. Tip: The temperature in the dark, damp cave is 16 degrees so bring a wrap or light sweater and sport walking shoes.
5. Dance the Night Away In a 16th-Century Fortress
While you may not go out fist pumping on the regular (or maybe you do?), aren’t vacations all about letting loose? Hit the dance floor at Revelin, and you’ll be amazed at how well the stark stone walls, arches and high ceilings of this fortress have seamlessly become one of the hottest nightclubs in the city. In high season, guest international DJs play here on the regular.
6. You Can Go Island Hopping
Although the view of the sea and the orange tiled roofs of Dubrovnik will never get old, our favourite outing was a day of island hopping. Anchor at Sipan and if you have made the proper arrangements (the property is not open to visitors year round), visit the 15th-century Skochibuha castle, where your childhood dreams of being a princess will come back strong. Behind the walls (there to protest from pirates and winds) lies the prettiest leafy garden, two towers, a chapel and a cistern for water. On the island of Kolocep, dine at Villa Ruza, where the fresh ceviche is as delicious as their seaside view is breathtaking.
7. The Cable Car Views From the Top of Srd
For views you’ll want to drink in forever, take the cable car up Srd Mountain, which will bring you 400 metres above the city of Dubrovnik. The vista featuring the beautiful Adriatic Sea, orange-tiled rooftops, coastline and historical fortresses, all under the brilliant sunshine will feed your soul (and if you’re thirsty, make a pit stop at the resto at the peak for a glass of Croatian wine on the patio).