New Years in Old Town Dubrovnik is a surreal experience for foreigners that can’t speak Croatian. We were right in the thick of the crowd that had gathered to welcome the new year. Families, couples, friends all keeping the winter chill at bay with good food and good wine at the many restaurants that fill Old Town whilst listening to the bands that played on a specially constructed stage. We first watched the fireworks from our hill side accommodation before a 15-minute walking descent to get where the live music was played. We arrived to find literally everyone singing along to what seemed a heart-warming patriot song with some swaying and others with hand on heart. As we didn’t know the language, we did feel a bit left out. And there is only so much you can stand and listen to bands that you can’t understand a word that is sung. So, we headed back to our cosy accommodation for a good night’s sleep in preparation for our new year’s day champagne and oysters back in Old Town.
A walk around the Old Town wall is a great way to see this cultural UNESCO World Heritage site. Allow a couple of hours and you must be able to walk up and down stairs. Inside the walls are a labyrinth of paved streets that have many sites to see for those that enjoy churches, old buildings etc. One such old building that shouldn’t be missed is one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe; founded in 1317 as a pharmacy for the Franciscan friars initially before it began servicing the wider community.
For those that enjoy walking/hiking then a jaunt up Srd Hill is just your ticket. There are other ways to get to the top: cable car, local bus or driving; but I can’t tell you about those. The walk begins above the Old Town across the main road and goes up, up, up along a stony switchback path. At each hairpin there is a stunning art sculpture depicting 14 Stations of the Cross. The view is amazing as you climb higher and higher and are well rewarded once you reach the top. If you can drag yourself away from the view, then I can highly recommend going into, The Homeland War Museum. Then for a different walk back down the hill, walk the ridge and if you time it just right you’ll have spectacular views of the setting sun.
Winter is a quiet time to visit Dubrovnik, even though it was cold; not cold enough for snow, the sun shone bright for us with no rain. There are a couple of islands just off the coast of Old Town; but the ferries were closed for the season. There were kayaks for rent; but we didn’t discover this until it was too late. We stayed 6 days; but I would only recommend 4 if you aren’t planning on doing day trips to other locations. Overall a delightful town, that I can highly recommend you go and see.