Founded 7th Century // Ragusa // Medieval Walled City // UNESCO World Heritage Site // Sponza Palace // Annual Summer Festival // 43,000 people…

“If you want to see paradise on Earth, come to Dubrovnik”, wrote George Bernard Shaw. It is a line you will remember – and understand - when you find yourself in this pearl of the Adriatic, surely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Located on the southern part of Croatia’s Adriatic coast, this UNESCO protected city has in the recent years become the hub of the international elite, something that comes as little surprise. The city’s location, climate, history, gastronomy and beaches are exquisite. The old city has changed very little from Dubrovnik’s Golden Age in the 16th century, when it was a state of its own, the Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808). Those were times when it boasted with one of the largest merchant naval fleets in the world and became a synonym for superb diplomacy. Its modern history saw it scarred under the aggression of Serbian troops in the Yugoslavian war in 1991.

The scene of the ancient walls under fire brought tears to the eyes of worldwide spectators. However, the people of Dubrovnik defended their homes, as they had done centuries before, fighting the Venetians, French and Turks and enabled the gloriousness of Dubrovnik to continue to this day. Goran Strok, a Croatian-British hotelier, founder and former owner of the hotel group Adriatic Luxury Hotels, told me the story about purchasing his first hotel in Dubrovnik not long after the war. He dreamt of Dubrovnik becoming a luxury destination. He envisaged a place that would attract people of great tastes, great culture and great expectations.

If you happen to be in Dubrovnik in July when the old city becomes a stage of its superb summer festival, and see the number of super yachts parked outside its walls you won’t think Mr Strok was exactly a visionary. But those were times when the post war town was wounded, isolated and hopeless. When he told people he would one day be able to charge as much as £500 for a hotel room he was laughed at. He was indeed wrong. The city’s best hotels today charge more than a £1,000 for a superior room. Quite rightly so, as there are few places of such immaculate beauty.

Whether you are a history lover or are longing for a relaxing holiday, a foodie or a beach fan you won’t be disappointed. The city walls that change its colors with the season and time of the day, the pavement spread like a pearl carpet, the pure beauty of its many palaces. You might have just found paradise, like Mr Shaw did many years ago.

The entire old city is an attraction. Try to stay near the city walls to enjoy your holiday as you will not need any transport.

Best times to visit
May, June, September and October are less crowded, but July hosts the Dubrovnik Summer Festival which is a must for culture lovers.

Dubrovnik Airport is 20 km from the city centre. Atlas airport busses and taxis are available to take you into the city centre. There is no rail service however. The following airlines have regular flights to Dubrovnik: British Airways, Croatia Airlines, EasyJet, Monarch, Jet2.com, Aer Lingus and Norwegian Air. The flying time from London is around 2 hrs 30 minutes.

Written by Ana Muhar who is the London Correspondent for Jutarnji list, the biggest daily paper in Croatia

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