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A cruise through the western Mediterranean is a highlight reel of jeweled ports and dramatic landscapes. From Nice to Venice, cruise ships have forever carved their luxurious paths through this part of the Mediterranean, disgorging holiday seekers for excursions to France’s pastel coloured casinos and Bridgette Bardot styled beaches, or photo ops in St. Mark’s Square, a destination overrun and sinking because of an influx of tourists and pigeons.
However, venturing off these well-trodden waterways will lead you to a different Mediterranean.
Dubrovnik, Croatia, located in the eastern Mediterranean, has an untouched and innocent charm that its counterparts in the west have exchanged for glitz and glamour. Croatia declared it independence from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, and since that time its ports and beaches have experienced a steady boom in tourism. Cruise ships stop here, but Dubrovnik is still unspoiled. If the quieter side of the Mediterranean is what you are after on a cruise holiday, then stop in Croatia before it goes completely mainstream.
When you venture off your cruise ship to explore Dubrovnik, be sure to check out these 3 highlights.
Photo by Sobrecroacia.com via Flickr.
1. The Strandun is the Old Town’s main thoroughfare. Perhaps thoroughfare is the wrong word, as this main drag is framed by two Boroque gates and is a pedestrian only street. There are restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. You will also find a cathedral and a Rector’s Palace. Dubrovnik is a medieval town. It has 14th century ramparts, but the majority if it architecture is Baroque. Many of the buildings were rebuilt after an earthquake in 1667.
Photo by photojenni via Flickr.
2. The Croatian Riviera is every bit as beautiful as the Cote d’Azur and the Amalfi Coast. The walled city of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic simply create a different vibe than Nice or Monaco. You can rent chaises and umbrellas at St. Jakob beach. Of course, getting to the beach is half the battle. Behind St. Jakob’s church there is a steep staircase that will bring you to the pebbly shore. Swim in the Adriatic and you can see Dubrovnik’s walls and bright orange rooftops gleaming in the sun like a medieval fortress in a childhood fairy tale.
Photo by hozinja via Flickr.
3. Why not take an excursion within an excursion? In Dubrovnik, you can get off the cruise ship and hop on a boat to Lokrum. Lokrum is an island located about 15 minutes away from the Dubrovnik port. It is the perfect place to swim, sunbath, hike and picnic. There are plenty of paths to hike and forests to explore, and its jutting, cliff side rocks are great places to sunbath, as well as jump into the water.
The Croatian Riviera offers a tranquil alternative to the ports in the western Mediterranean. When your cruise ship is docked in the Dubrovnik port, it feels as if you are anchored in the turquoise moat of a medieval castle.
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