Dubrovnik - things to do and see in the vicinity of the city
Southern Dalmatia is where amazing nature, dazzling landscapes and wonderful architecture intermingle. So, if you have more time on your hands, leave the world enclosed within the thick defensive walls and see what wonders are waiting for you in the neighbourhood of Dubrovnik.
Paradise on earth
Less than 20 km to the north of of the city there is the town of Trsteno, which attract visitors with its fabulous arboretum, a scenic botanical and dendrological garden with marvellous vegetation, both Mediterranean and exotic. To create an impression of a paradise on earth, the garden has been decorated with beautiful rock fountains, including the Baroque Neptune Fountain. Immerse in that world, stop for a while, take a deep breath and enjoy fantastic aromas. If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones, perhaps you will recognise some of the landscapes. Despite all this, the garden is still among little popular attractions in the sourroundings of Dubrovnik.
In the Old Harbour, which is located in the eastern part of the city, you can hop on a ferry or a cruise boat and go to the island of Lokrum. It is another imitation of a paradise surrounded by lush green vegetation, which the Benedictine monks who once lived there brought from remote lands of the Middle Ages. In the mid 19th century, the island belonged to Duke Maximilian Habsburg, who built his summer palace there to have a retreat from the stiff rules of his court in Vienna. Today, the island is a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik for the locals and tourists alike.
If you want to find out about the source of the enormous wealth of old Ragusa, you must visit Ston when sightseeing around Dubrovnik. Once a garrison town guarding the Pelješac Peninsula, it was known for salt production. It was there, in vast salt mines, thanks to water, sun and wind, that the "white gold" of the Dubrovnik Republic was produced, and in the past it was was among the world's most valuable and desired commodities! Ston will amaze you also with its mighty defensive wall, which is second only to Dubrovnik's walls in terms of fortification craftsmanship! You can have a walk on its top, which will take you some 45 minutes one way.
If you get there, you can venture even farther. You have two options – either go inland of the Pelješac Peninsula, which is famous for vineyards, beautiful beaches and perfect conditions for water sports, or take a ferry in the town of Prapratno to get to Mljet. One of Croatia's extraordinary islands, Mljet is almost entirely covered by forests. Life there goes on slowly, and its rhythm is dictated by the nature, which is clearly winning with the civilisation! You will feel as if you are in a completely different world. Across the expanse of water between Pelješc, Mljet and Dubrovnik, the nature has also scattered the green Elafit Islands. There are more than a dozen of them, but only three are inhabited. They are sites that have resisted the passage of time. If you love such intact places, then you definitely must come here from the port in Dubrovnik.
Meeting with art
Attractions near Dubrovnik are diverse and will satisfy different tastes. If you like small resorts and are interested in Croatian art and culture, you should visit Cavtat, a town situated at the border with Montenegro. Cavtat is the ancient Epidaurum, once an important stop on the Roman empire's sea routes. Today, it has a pleasant old town, promenade and many atmospheric bars where you can have fish while admiring a view of the Adriatic. It is the birthplace of Vlaho Bukovac, one of the most prominent Croatian painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (you can visit his home), and it also has an impressive mausoleum built by none other than Ivan Meštrović, the most famous artist of the former Yugoslavia.
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