Not all cities live up to their accolades but UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik, which Byron christened the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, definitely does. Its immense walls enclose a unique historic jewel and it’s hard not to feel transported in time as you stroll its gleaming Stradun: the famously smooth limestone boulevard, polished by millions of other feet throughout the centuries.
That said, world-renowned cities such as this tend to have 2 downsides: they get very busy and very expensive. Dubrovnik is no exception. Summer can be manic, so try visiting in spring or early autumn, when it’s much easier to move around freely.
Walk the 25-meter-high, 6-meter-thick ramparts of Dubrovnik’s city walls, built between the 8th and 16th century. The hour-long walk (longer if there are crowds) meanders through forts and lookout towers, offering spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea and the city’s red-tiled roofs.
Constructed according to designs by famous Renaissance architect Michellozi, Fort Bokar was built in the 15th century to defend Pile Gate and features a wonderful stone coronet.
Take in the triptych of Dubrovnik’s most magnificent religious buildings: the Rector’s Palace, the Cathedral and the Dominican Monastery - all feature medieval frescoes. Equally, the Franciscan monastery includes Europe’s oldest pharmacy (it's still selling balms for tired soles).
For a light and informal supper, we enjoyed delicious pizza at Oliva Pizzeria on a quiet side street within Dubrovnik's old town. There's also Azur Dubrovnik for authentic ingredients with an Asian twist.
For an evening of atmospheric fine dining, venture out of the old town and a few minutes along the coast to Villa Dubrovnik's Restaurant Pjerin where you can dine alfresco on the tree-lined terrace overlooking the shimmering Adriatic and Dubrovnik's beautifully-lit city walls.
As a general tip, we'd avoid dining on the old town's main drag, as these eateries tend to rely a little too heavily on their location rather than their quality.
Theatre, opera, classical and jazz music fans are spoilt for choice through July and August, when the city’s famous Summer Festival attracts world-renowned artists for a cultural extravaganza that’s unsurpassed in Europe.
For drinks with a view find Buza Bar, an informal cluster of chairs and tables perched on the rocky cliffs and hidden behind a hole in one of the city's fortified walls.
Take the little ferry that shuttles between Dubrovnik and the Elafiti Islands: Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud (home to the best sandy beach in the region). Dubrovnik's closest island is Lokrum, where Richard the Lionheart is said to have been shipwrecked. It has a tranquil ambience with its overgrown tropical gardens and Benedictine monastery ruins. Note: no cars allowed.
Alternatively, bus over to the woodsy Lapad Peninsula and bathe in the clear-blue shallows of the shingle beach, then dine on the tree-lined Zvonimira Boulevard and watch the summer promenaders.