Life in Croatia is getting back to normal after coronavirus quarantine. Hotels, apartments, restaurants, and museums are opening its door. That also means Croatian tourist destinations are starting to receive tourists again.
I decided to go to Dubrovnik and check how does reawakening of this fantastic Croatian destination look like.
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How did I get to Dubrovnik after coronavirus crisis
I went to Dubrovnik by car from Split. The trip was comfortable without the cars on the road. The problem for those who are arriving by car in Dubrovnik is BiH border in Neum. You should check the border crossing regime before you decide to go. For Croatian visitors, there was no problem at all. The procedure was just as usual: border policeman asked for an identity card at let us go. It lasted less than 2 minutes.
After driving two additional hours, we finally arrived at our destination: Deluxe Villa Matic.
We highly recommend this apartment for solo visitors or those who arrive as a couple. With the price of only 33 euro per night, the apartment is amazing booking deal.
For sure, these days you can find some other great deals on booking.com since the number of visitors is low.
Evening walk on Stradun
After we accommodated ourselves in apartment and bought necessary groceries, we decided to go to the old town. We were walking downstairs through many of Dubrovnik's old stairs. I could immediately feel the mystical atmosphere of this town, which was a Republic for many centuries. On my mind was a fact that this small town survived for so long as an independent country in an uncertain environment, with constant Venetian and Turkish threat.
When you see the faces of native Dubrovnik's people, you can feel the spirit of that centennial freedom. You feel that those people, with their environment, form mystical and fascinating unity, which can be experienced only while being on the spot.
The Dubrovnik dialect is especially interesting and seductive. It belongs to the Dalmatian-speaking area but still differs from it in many details, which makes it unique.
Jure Kastelan, famous Croatian literate, wrote this about Dubrovnik:
If there were more Dubrovniks in the world, only one of them would be real: this truly unadulterated, the only Dubrovnik of stone and light. This open palm under the stars extended to the world. A unique stage on which the past and the future have a common meaning, their own creative measure. Dubrovnik is not only a work of art but also a creator, for centuries. Exposed to influences, and always his own. Facing the winds, and always stamen and firm.
The walk down the Stradun was an amazing and unique experience. I 've been to Dubrovnik before, but I didn't appreciate it like this time since only locals and a few visitors were there in the town.
Immersing myself in the reality of Dubrovnik, its history and present, I enjoyed walking past the magnificent Church of St. Vlaho, the Dubrovnik Cathedral, the Prince's Palace and other baroque masterpieces.
Visiting museums in Dubrovnik old town
Day 2 was reserved for a walk through the old town, and visiting palaces and museums. The first one we visited was the Ethnographic Museum Rupe. The most interesting attraction were granaries located in the underground storages and the grain-making system. The museum exhibition included folk costumes during the Republic. What I liked most was the clothes of a 19th-century bride.
Next place we visited was Marin Držić's house. Držić, who was a priest and writer, is known to be one of the most important people in Dubrovnik's history. His comedies "Novela od Stanca" and "Dundo Maroje" are considered to be a masterpiece of Croatian literature. I liked the museum. What caught my eye the most was Držić's room with his bed, desk, pen, and place for prayer.
Dubrovnik Natural History Museum was our next destination. It exhibits the most important work of Dubrovnik's biologists through history.
Maritime Museum exhibits all types of ships used by Dubrovnik's sailors throughout history. They built merchant ships in a way that they could easily be converted into warships.
The Dubrovnik's navy is known to be one of the symbols of the Republic, for which it was known throughout the Mediterranean, alongside the Venetian navy.
Cultural-Historical Museum was the most interesting alongside all. It features a large exhibition that included weapons, paintings, statues, and other arts that were significant to the republic. The museum is located in the Prince's Palace.
Before visiting museums and other places in Dubrovnik, I recommend buying the Dubrovnik Card. It's kind of a ticket which is valid for all museums (including walls) in the old town. It also includes a few bus rides and a ticket for Vlaho Bukovac Home in Cavtat.
Dubrovnik walls tour
The beginning of day 2 was reserved for sightseeing Dubrovnik walls. You can enter the tour immediately from the entrance to Stradun. Ticket for the tour is included into Dubrovnik Card. Once again, I recommend purchasing it, otherwise, you pay 200 kunas for walls only.
This activity is a core for any visit to Dubrovnik because you can really get the feeling about the town while walking the walls.
The ticket for visiting Dubrovnik walls is also valid for visiting fortress Lovrijenac, which is located hundred meters away from the old town. There you can see cannons preserved from Republic time.
The hill Srđ is located just above the old town, and it was our next destination, after sightseeing walls. You can reach it either by car or by cable car from the old town.
Top of Srđ features fortress which was built by Napoleon in 19th century, after conquering Dubrovnik.
Srđ was a key point for Dubrovnik's defence in the Croatian Homeland War in 1991. since it was base for Croatian troops. Serbian and Montenegrin forces were never able to capture Srđ and Dubrovnik, despite heavy shelling that damaged numerous cultural and historical sites.
There is a museum having an excellent exhibition of the Homeland War. Another attraction is a panoramic view of Dubrovnik. Srđ is the best position for selfie and photography.
The last, third day of our visit to Dubrovnik was reserved for Cavtat and Ston.
Cavtat is a small coastal town located 25 kilometres south of Dubrovnik. It's easy to approach, we just needed to drive on coastal road D8. We left our car on public parking in the centre with a price which was less than euro per hour.
The place which we visited first, and which is the most interesting attraction of Cavtat, was the museum of Vlaho Bukovac (Kuca Bukovac), also known as his birth house. It's a place where Vlaho painted his first work of art. During his fruitful life, he lived in Paris, Dubrovnik, and Italy.
I really liked his art. I believe you will also, that's why I highly recommend visiting this museum.
Another attraction of Cavtat is Mausoleum of family Račić, made by Ivan Meštrović, the most famous Croatian sculpturor. We reached the place by walking upstairs for ten minutes.
Unfortunately, the Mausoleum hasn't yet opened its door, so we couldn't explore if from inside. I believe they will open it during the second half of May.
The last thing to do in Cavtat is to walk on Riva, nice Medditeranean promenade along the sea with great atmosphere. There are two catholic churches in the town, if you have time, it's worth visiting them. They also feature paintings of Vlaho Bukovac.
After spending three hours in Cavtat, it was time to visit last destinations of our 3 day trip: Ston and Mali Ston. The places are located on peninsula Pelješac, 1 hour of the ride from Cavtat. The key attractions are fortresses and wall connecting these two small places.
We left our car in Mali Ston. Then we bought the ticket (around 10 euros price) and started climbing the walls, to the Ston. It was a bit tough walk because there were many stairs. Be sure to wear sneakers over flip-flops to feel more comfortable while climbing.
From the walls, we could see saltern, which is the most famous in Croatia.
This activity, which is a bit exhausting, was the last in our trip. We went back to Split, with many new and interesting experiences acquired while visiting Dubrovnik and it's nearby area.
Should you visit Dubrovnik in 2020
The answer to this question is YES, definitely. Croatia is among the safest countries in Europe when it comes to coronavirus crisis. Furthermore, the Croatian minister of tourism says Croatia is welcoming foreign visitors.
Before travelling to Croatia, you should fill the online form on the government's website Enter Croatia. If you do not fill the form, you will be required to do in on the border, which will cause unnecessary waiting on the border.
Moreover, Dubrovnik is lowering down the prices this year. Ticket for Dubrovnik Walls is currently discounted, having a price of only 7 euros per adult person. Prices in private accommodation have been significantly reduced as well. I expect restaurants are doing the same way.