Dubrovnik is relatively small, yet it does ‘hide’ treasures you will not find in all tourist guide books
Coffeehouses on Stradun, a stroll along the city walls, a visit to the Rector’s Palace or performances during Dubrovnik Summer Games are must-do activities when visiting beautiful Dubrovnik. Nevertheless, we have asked around and explored secret nooks and events outside of regular tourist routes and here are what the locals of Dubrovnik would recommend.
The Šulić Beach
Kolorina lagoon is located between the fortress Lovrijenac and Gradac Park, local people call it Šulić according to the family whose house sits at the beach entrance. Mostly locals enjoy this beach, rare foreigners stray there, which is not a surprise since the entrance to the beach is not easy to find as it looks like a doorway of a private home.
The beach offers amazing vista towards the fortress Lovrijenac rising on the left side of the lagoon and the right side views amazing cliffs of the Gradac Park with intriguing stone houses of the artist Jagoda Buić at the foot of the cliffs. The sea is crystal clear and the atmosphere is domestic and relaxed. We recommend at least a wide brim beach hat, since it is a shade-free beach.
It is a short ten-minute boat ride from the City harbour to the islet Lokrum, a protected nature park with lush vegetation, the invigorating scent of Mediterranean plants, chirp of crickets and a fascinating image of the colony of peacocks. Rocky beaches lead the way towards the virgin clear waters. A touch of history will leave you breathless with fortress Fort Royal, abandoned Benedictine monastery or a small botanical garden.
Lokrum hosts Maximilian’s summer villa, built by the Habsburgs at the end of the 19.ct, becoming popular after serving as a scenario spot in the top serial The Game of Thrones. Lokrum is an ideal spot for those who seek tourist-free zones providing an undisturbed private nest inside the bare rocks, naturists’ favourable destination. A genuine experience is also floating in the salty lake connected to the sea.
Thoughtfully selected music, a rustic interior, fine indigenous food and a spacious terrace complimented with natural shade have all secured Sesame restaurant a high spot on the scale of top, Dubrovnik, fine dining establishments. Even though this gastro-paradise is located in the city centre, near Lovrijenac fortress and Danče beach, it is still relieved of the pulsating, tourist turmoil. Sesame used to be a gathering spot for bohemian souls of Dubrovnik, holding jazz parties at the weekends.
Today, it represents a cherished destination for domestic and foreign enthusiasts of good music, food and drink. At the beginning of this year, this restaurant underneath the city walls was taken on by new owners, they coloured the place with a new charm. Cuisine on offer has been set at a higher level. Sesame consists of two levels: the lower has a café and cocktail bar with an indulgent menu of breakfasts, pastas, salads and wok dishes. Gluten-free and vegetarian meals are also available, as well as a splendid variety of desserts. The upper floor sees an amazing terrace dressed in vines and flowers, providing pleasant shade even on sun-beating days.
The classic restaurant provides exquisite local and Mediterranean dishes under the leadership of an excellent female chef. Forte Sesame presents a carefully assembled wine list that outshines many other Dubrovnik restaurants. Furthermore, the restaurant’s interior design boasts an elegant, museum-like ambience. Heirlooms, artefacts, antiquities, framed newspaper articles of yesteryear and photos of the Dubrovnik olden days adorn this lovely place.
The Buža Bar
This bar enjoys the world’s bella vista – cliff-location, right above the sea surface with a clear view stretching across the Adriatic. At the end of the city’s alley-loop, behind the Dubrovnik cathedral, a miniature gateway in the city walls leads to the bar and the beach at the bottom.
The descent down the steep stairs to the beach is advisable only to the fit, adventure-oriented souls, yet the reward is genuine – a unique rocky beach with view towards Lokrum, at the bottom of the Dubrovnik walls. At daytime Buža bar offers ice creams and drinks, and following sunset brings you cocktails by candle light and spectacular views, crowning Dubrovnik with the title of the most romantic European city.
Markets at the Old City and Gruž
Experienced travellers are well aware of the fact that authentic city spirit can be best tasted on the local marketplaces and fish markets – to some extent the same goes for Dubrovnik. Only a few natives of Dubrovnik still live in the city centre, therefore it is a rare opportunity to bump into locals at the city market inside the city walls at the Gundulić square.
That marketplace is a favourite tourist destination also due to excellent choice of authentic sweet delicacies of the Dubrovnik region – kotonjata (quince candy), mantala cake, mendula (almonds), arancini (candied orange peel) and dried figs. The central marketplace in Gruž is another story, it swarms with natives and tourists and the choice of local ingredients is rich – seasonal fruit and vegetables originating from Konavle, colourful flowers, different spices, like Dubrovnik fresh mint.
The Wild League of Dubrovnik
Water polo counts as the number one sport in Dubrovnik, the local club Jug enjoys a hundred years old tradition of raising numerous Olympic and world champions, and Dubrovnik Wild League – Championship of Dubrovnik Beaches in Water polo – is the most popular of such kind in the world taking place, with short breaks, since 1922. During July and August mighty water polo players play in the sea before the local beach resorts with swimmers and audience cheering.
The finals are spectacular: played at the city harbour, the legendary Port, in front of the exhilarating audience swarming the coastline and sea in their boats. If you are into sports, do not miss a unique sports spectacle in an amazing ambience – the Wild League in the middle of August. It is a chance to see the lords and youth of Dubrovnik together on one place, the event everyone wants to be a part of.