Delegate downtime can be a rare occurrence during a meeting or conference, so if you find yourself in Dubrovnik, Croatia with a morning or afternoon to spare, here’s a few ideas of how to make the most of it.
The Old City of Dubrovnik
Images of the rolling ginger rooftops surrounded by a vast blue ocean have become almost iconic for wanderlust travellers everywhere. However, the jewel in the Adriatic’s crown has been to hell and back on more than one occasion. A major earthquake flattened the city in 1667 and, in the early 90’s, armed conflict left it fire swept and decimated.
Great care has been taken to restore the houses, monasteries and churches that span the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods and today, as an UNESCO World Heritage site, remains an absolute marvel.
Within the Old City’s towering ramparts is an enormous selection of restaurants, bars, cafes and, in part to an Italian influence from the west, ice cream parlours. Visitors will never be far from a good pizza place or a sweet shop either. Naturally, fish is top of the bill on most menus. Restaurant Kopun, which can sit groups of up to 90 people in its shaded outdoor area, takes influence from Italian, Austrian, Turkish and Hungarian, as well as Croatian, serving a range of meat and seafood dishes. The restaurant is named after its signature dish of castrated cockerel cooked in honey and wild orange – a new C&I Traveller favourite!
Between eating and drinking, visitors can take a tour of the old churches and palaces, which includes Dubrovnik Cathedral. Legend goes that Richard the Lionheart built the cathedral in 1192 to thank God for saving his life after he was shipwrecked in a storm on the neighbouring Lokrum Island. He originally intended to build the church where his ship met its end but the cunning leaders of the city wanted it within their city walls, which is exactly where it stands today.
A 15-minute boat journey is all it takes to visit the island where Richard the Lionheart supposedly found himself stranded. Unlike the legend suggests, the island is a place of tranquility and nature and is perfect destination to complement the bustling and touristy Old City.
No tour guides or rigid itinerary is needed here. Travellers to the island should take their time to discover the forest via its dirt paths, visiting the several pebble beaches and open green parks. Don’t be alarmed to hear greetings from several un-clothed sun bathers – a nudist beach lies on the south of the island.
Despite being only 600 metres from the city, Lokrum Island is free of inhabitants. That is unless you count the colourful and feathered residents that can be heard howling sporadically at one another like sirens from other sides of the island. Throughout the day, peacocks roam under the shade of the trees and are happy to share their island with visitors. Bring swimwear or bring a book but please remember sunscreen; the hours can easily fly passed without any notice.
Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srd Hill
Without doubt, the best view of the city can be found atop Srd Hill. Visitors can reach the summit via Dubrovnik’s Cable Car, which made its first trip up the hill in 1969. The trip begins just outside the walls of the Old City and can carry groups of up to 30 people 778 metres above the city in less than four minutes. As the car begins to climb, views stretch from opposite ends of the city, with the Old City perched in the middle.
A restaurant, viewing platform and a dedicated events venue can be found beside the upper station of Srd Hill for groups to enjoy. The open-top Amphitheatre can host groups of up to 120 delegates for meetings and drinks receptions overlooking Dubrovnik. A variety of fun activities also await groups on the hilltop such as quad biking and hiking.