Travelers planning to visit Eastern Europe in summer, we have a don’t-miss destination to add to your list: Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Visit the “Pearl of the Adriatic” with Lejla, an Exeter International travel partner who lives, works, and plays in the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik. If you haven’t read An Insider’s Guide to Summer Travel in Dubrovnik, Croatia: Part I, allow us to introduce Lejla:
In our Insider’s Guide to Summer Travel in Dubrovnik, Croatia: Part II, we’ll talk with Lejla about where the locals go to play, cultural destinations of Dubrovnik, music, and more!
On the number one reason to visit Dubrovnik:
“The number one reason to visit Dubrovnikis… a bundle of various reasons which shaped Dubrovnik and make it unique in the world! These are: history (old and new), architecture, nature, setting, diversity of experiences, vividness (during the season) and privacy.”
On tips for first-time visitors:
“For a first time visitor, I definitely recommend having at least an orientation tour booked with a licensed local guide for various reasons.
One: You get to learn how to get around in the city – what sights, shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. are located where.
Two: You will get to learn at least a bit about the culture of the locals, tradition and lifestyle of residents of Dubrovnik (of course, also about the history and architecture, if interested!) You do not necessarily have to visit numerous churches, museums, fountains, or galleries if you do not wish to, but should you want to learn how to get around, where things are, and what kind of city Dubrovnik is, along with the people who live in it… the best introduction to this is a local guide.”
On can’t-miss destinations:
“I can’t say there is ONE favorite cultural place of mine in Dubrovnik! I like going to Dubrovnik’s art gallery or Sponza Palace when there are some interesting exhibitions, or to a concert at the Rector’s Palace. I enjoy going to the cultural events of Dubrovnik Summer Festival or, for example, Film Food Festival Ston, which takes place every September.
Other destinations that should not be missed in Croatia are:
Zagreb. Croatia’s capital city, and it is also the core of Croatia’s cultural, artistic and intellectual scene.
Istria. Along with history and architecture like the Pula amphitheater, visitors are rewarded with an amazing natural setting – a combination of a beautiful coast and equally beautiful and dynamic countryside – as well as gastronomy (extremely well-preserved traditional cuisine with accent on extraordinary olive oil, wines, truffles and home-made pasta… and, of course, fish and sea fruits as well).
Hvar Island. A crazy and unique mixture of laid back lifestyle, history, architecture, natural beauty and vivid nightlife. Very active in July and August.
Vis Island. Perfectly suited for foodies and those who simply want to enjoy peace and the serenity of the island and the sea while sailing.”
On how locals spend their summers:
“As Dubrovnik can get pretty busy during the summer period, locals like to get on their small boats and head toward either Elaphiti islands or to find another remote, hidden bay. We start very early in the morning, having our boats packed with food, water, wine, beer, friends and guitars. Once anchored, we have breakfast, then we swim in the crystal clear sea (no sharks!), sunbath o
n the boat, do some fishing or snorkeling, play cards on the boat with friends, laugh, eat again, swim again… and come back home as the sun comes down. Peace and serenity: sun, sea, food & wine, family & friends… an indescribable feeling.”
On the music and arts scene:
“Dubrovnik’s music and art scene is very vivid during the summer period. The most famous festival is the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which takes place every year from July 10th to August 25thfor 65 years now. It is centered on plays and classical music concert performances that take place in various, amazing scenic venues: in front of Dubrovnik Cathedral, in the atrium of the Rector’s Palace, on Lokrum Island, at the Lovrjenac fortress, on the Revelin fortress, or in similar breathtaking open-air settings.
For the younger generation, there is the Park Orsula Festival, to which locals gladly go. Park Orsula as an archaeological locality has become a panoramic gazebo and summer stage. Music ranges from alternative electro music to jazz to Croatian performers.
Inspired by the idea of a summer stage that Dubrovnik needed and that should be functioning on a long-term basis, Ambient Croatia Association renovated and preserved the remains of St. Ursula’s chapel from the 14th century, built an amphitheater with 350 seating capacity, ensured electricity and primary fire protection, and forested the locality (Ambient Croatia is an association for the international promotion of cultural, historic and natural heritage).”
On Croatian culture:
“In order to learn more and understand our lifestyle and culture in Croatia, one has to be willing to start from the past, because Dubrovnik’s glorious history is still influencing and shaping us today. This means getting together with a good local guide who would familiarize you with the past while strolling through Old Town. After that, I would recommend going out of the town to Konavle and/or Peljesac because this is where from all the wealth of the former glorious Dubrovnik Republic came.
From Konavle, this meant cattle, agricultural produce, silk, wool, clear water; while from Peljesac (or to be more accurate Ston) it was salt, which in former days had the same if not a higher value than gold. This is why in Ston you will find Europe’s longest city walls (5 kilometers long; Ston today is also extremely well known for mussels and oyster cultivation).
In this way, you get to know the region, and learn about the crafts that boosted the economy and left traces on today’s culture, customs, tradition and lifestyle in Dubrovnik.”
On the walled city:
“Dubrovnik, although world famous, is actually a very small town with only 43,000 inhabitants in the city and 122,000 in the Dubrovnik-Neretva county. Furthermore, Dubrovnik is a sleepy beauty during the winter period, before it blossoms in the spring. It becomes very busy during the summer months of June, July, August, as most cultural events are organized during the summer period.”
“Initially I wanted to study psychology, but living in a tourist destination such as Dubrovnik and living abroad, I realized I want something more dynamic and diverse, where I get the chance to incorporate various interests of mine, such as psychology, sociology, planning & organizing. Being out there doing something, languages, different cultures, travel, and most of all, learning more about the country I love with each day – and having the possibility to share this with people from around the world. That’s how I ended up graduating at the American College of Management and Technology (Rochester Institute of Technology), and after gathering experience in the tourism sector I opened up my boutique business.”
Don’t miss An Insider’s Guide to Summer Travel in Dubrovnik, Croatia: Part I, where we discuss that most essential of vacation topics: cuisine!
Are you considering summer travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia? Visit our website to view a Sample Itinerary. Contact Exeter International by phone at (813) 251-5355 / (800) 633-1008.