Welcome to Dubrovnik, Paradise on Earth
It’s no wonder that tourists descend upon Dubrovnik, Croatia in droves every year. In George Bernard Shaw’s words, “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.” The place is an absolute marvel, with flora in the most verdant of colours and quaint medieval architecture set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Adriatic Sea. Croatia’s enduring elegance is a product of man and nature being in sync with each other, with neither interfering with the other’s course. An ode to old world charm in an increasingly modernised world, the Eastern European city is resplendent in gradated hues of colour that lend themselves to descriptions of majesty and unparalleled beauty unachievable by man’s hand alone. This is the rainbow of Dubrovnik.
Reds and Oranges: The Croatian sunset
Standing 418 metres above Dubrovnik’s Old City, Mount Srđ makes for the perfect observation point to watch the sun bathe the town in an other-worldly glow. You can take a short four-minute cable car ride to the top or if you’re feeling like an afternoon stroll, a 45-minute hike to the peak. The hill promises up to 60 kilometres of visibility of terracotta roofs and azure waters.
Greens and Blues: Fort Lovrijenac
Covered in lush greenery, the Fort Lovrijenac is a promontory just outside the city’s western wall which extends 37 metres above the Adriatic. Equipped with three terraces, the Fort offers unparalleled views of the sea and has been the location of choice for many a wedding. It also plays host to Dubrovnik’s Summer Festival, where Shakespeare is performed open-air.
If you want to lose yourself in an unadulterated sea of blue, get on a boat. You can take a break from the throngs of tourists by going kayaking through the many coves, bays, and miniature islands that Dubrovnik has to offer and marvel at the natural beauty. Alternatively, take a speedboat to the secluded Villa Ruza restaurant, built in 1930 by a rich merchant who dedicated it as a symbol of love to his wife, and have an unforgettable dining experience.
Yellows and Beiges: Streets lined in walls of rock
The Square of the Loggia is a bastion of medieval architecture and terracotta roofs, with some of Dubrovnik’s most renowned monuments such as Orlando’s Column, the Loggia of the Bells, and the beloved Church of St. Blaise. Built in the Baroque style by the Venetian architect Marino Gropelli, the church is dedicated to Dubrovnik’s patron saint, who legend says, cured throat ailments. Wait till nightfall to catch a glimpse of the lit stained glass windows.
Black: Spend the night in the technicolour Culture Club Revelin
Built in the 15th century, the Revelin Fortress today houses the sizzling Culture Club Revelin. With a line-up chockful of both International and local DJs, the hotspot will satisfy even the most demanding clubbers. Some history: located on the eastern end of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the structure was built in 1462 to defend against the Turks, and was further fortified two centuries later to defend against the Venetians. If you’re not much of a party animal, the Fortress is a museum by day and boasts fantastic views of the harbour.
Croatia is ethereal, no doubt, but it’s also the country suffering from the worst case of overtourism in modern history. As the backdrop of the cult favourite HBO-series Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has drawn scores of curious “set-jetters”—people who visit the sets of their favourite movies and television shows—like bees to honey. In 2016, Croatia welcomed some 58 million travellers, more than 1,300% of its population size. The windfall in tourism revenue, however, comes at a cost: in peak travelling season, as the crowds grow in number, so do the vendors, leaving walking space extremely scarce. The city has had to resort to doubling down on street vendors and limiting the number of cruise ships allowed to dock at a given time.
As travellers, what can we do to ensure that Croatia and other beautiful cities with an overtourism problem don’t burn out? Support locally-owned businesses so that foreign capitalists lured by tourism numbers don’t drive local merchants into the ground, and be respectful of the local customs to preserve the sociocultural fabric of the place. Decades down the line, we don’t want our world to be bereaved of these precious little corners of magic.