Belles on Location

Walking the Wall of Dubrovnik

A walk around Dubrovnik’s famous wall guarantees a bit of everything

The heart of Dubrovnik, a jewel of a city situated on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, is Old Town. Neatly wrapped in a Medieval wall, this historic city is best viewed not by wandering the cobblestones at street level, but from above. If you have the energy to climb to the top of a steep staircase and can handle a couple of hours in the Adriatic sun, you will be well rewarded.

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The mile long walk follows the wall around the perimeter of Dubrovnik’s historic center, an outdoor museum of churches, clock towers and fountains along a stunning stretch of the Adriatic Sea.

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Visitors are treated to a wonderful view of the Stradun, the main pedestrian thoroughfare, noted for its wide stone walkways laid in 1468. Dominated by a 13th century clock tower at one end and the Onofrio fountain at the other, this is where hippies and locals alike gather for ice cream and some world class people watching.

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In 1991, Dubrovnik was attacked by the Yugoslav army. In an attempt to capture this heavily touristed city, the attackers lobbed shells from both ships and the hilltop behind the city known as Mount Srd. Many historic buildings were destroyed as were a huge number of the city’s iconic rooftops. In the intervening years the city was rebuilt and now the damage is undetectable – the average visitor would never know that a war raged here barely twenty years ago.

Just offshore lies the island of Lokrum, for many centuries the home of a Benedictine monastery. In the 14th century, the monks were expelled from the island by a French army general and local aristocratic families. Angered by the general’s orders, the monks donned their cloaks and, heads hooded, set out at midnight to row around the island three times, holding candles upside down and leaving a trail of wax in the water as a curse. If they weren’t allowed to stay on their beloved island, the monks pronounced, then anyone who owned the island from then on would be damned. Tales of suicide, murder and bankruptcy have haunted Lokrum since.

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After a long walk mixed with some spooky tales, the perfect spot to rest is only steps away. Built into the exterior city wall, Cafe Buza is literally suspended over the Adriatic, and rivals the best sunset-viewing spots in the world. Hidden away like a speakeasy, the bar is accessed through a small passageway. Descend down the set of narrow stairs, order an Ozujsko (the local beer, 22 kuna) and enjoy this front row seat to watch the sun melt into the Adriatic.

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A walk around Dubrovnik’s famous wall guarantees a bit of everything: history, unparalleled scenery and last but not least, a bit of mystery.

Want to know more about Croatia? You may also enjoy reading: Morning Boat Ride Around the Croatian Islands

Amanda Summer is a writer and archaeologist who excavates in Greece. She has written for the New York Times, Islands, Archaeology and The Best Travel Writing. When not digging, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her family and Airedale terrier. For more stories, visit her website, Travels with Persephone.

This article has 20 comments

  1. ayngelina

    Wow the architecture really is lovely there. Your photos are wonderful.

  2. Amanda

    thanks ayngelina! the architecture is incredible – old town dubrovnic is like walking through an outdoor museum.

  3. Bess

    It’s impressive, and a relief, that the Croatians were able to restore the buildings destroyed in the bombings. Thanks for the travel article, a bit of history!

  4. dtravelsround

    Cafe Buza is the most spectacular bar I have ever been to! I stayed at the top of the city and had a view of the wall from an ancient, glass-less window. I LOVED it. I did a portion of the wall, but never finished it.

  5. Elizabeth

    I just did this over the summer. It was such a cool experience. Your pictures turned out great!

  6. Kathryn Schipper

    What a gorgeous place! I’ve heard it said that the Croatian coast is what Italy was like 50 years ago – much les crowded.

  7. Amanda

    Hi Bess,

    The people of Dubrovnic were determined to restore their city after the war and they did a marvelous job. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article!

  8. Amanda

    I’m so happy you found Cafe Buza – it’s hidden so well you need a map to find it! We stayed at the top of the city as well — it sounds like you had a lovely view – I wonder if you stayed in the same B&B?

    If you go again, I hope you can walk the whole wall – then treat yourself to a bucket of mussels for lunch at the wharf 😉

  9. Amanda

    Thanks Elizabeth ~ if you went in the summer I wonder how hot it must be on the wall? We went in late fall and it was the perfect temperature during the day.

  10. Amanda

    Hi Kathryn,

    That’s very possible ~ and if you go in the winter it’s quite a bit less crowded!

  11. Nomadic Samuel

    I’ve really become sold on visiting Croatia – wonderful photo essay!

  12. Raymond @ Man On The lam

    I think I need me some Cafe Buza!

  13. Krista

    Stunningly gorgeous! Dubrovnik is one of my favorite cities in Europe to wander through. 🙂 But I haven’t seen it from this angle. So beautiful!!

  14. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    I have heard such great things about Croatia. I hope to visit one day. Dubrovnik looks so pleasant.

  15. Amanda

    Thanks so much, Samuel – I hope you have a chance to visit soon. It’s a big country – most folks write about the coast – which is amazing – but there is a lot to see in the country’s interior, such as this incredible park filled with waterfalls, so it helps to have a rental car.

  16. Amanda

    Raymond,

    It’s hard to beat the combination of sunset and a cold Ozujsko beer at that place!

  17. Amanda

    Thanks Krista!

    It is a unique angle from which to explore the city – but seeing it from street level is hard to beat as well. For an even more dazzling panorama, we took the cable car to the top of Mt. Srd and talk about views….!

  18. Amanda

    Stephanie,

    It is one of the most romantic cities I’ve ever been to – at night all the restaurants in Old Town are lit up with flaming torches which just adds to its already powerful mystique.

  19. Camels & Chocolate

    The red roof buildings set against the ocean remind me a lot of Lisbon, which clearly means I need to go to Dubrovnik as Portugal is one of my favorite countries in the world.

  20. Amanda

    Lisbon is another of the world’s great cities and although it’s been a while since I’ve been there, I can see the similarity between it and Dubrovnic…not to mention both have great seafood!

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