Breaking Travel News investigates: The pearl the Adriatic, Dubrovnik
As part of Croatia’s southernmost region, Dubrovnik is already proving to be a steadily increasing draw for British and international holidaymakers.
Situated in south Dalmatia on the Adriatic coastline, its economy relies almost entirely on tourism, something it has been cultivating with much success over the past decade.
It is now serviced by 18 airports in the UK & Ireland, including the British Airways London Gatwick to Dubrovnik Airport service.
Its reliably hot summers see temperatures reach a maximum of around 35 °C, with 256 average annual days of sunshine, warm springs and autumns, and mild winters.
The tourist board has been is keen to push winter events such as the carnival during February and March, and the St. Blaise Celebrations at the end of January to encourage travellers to enjoy the city free of the summertime bustle.
For the period January to May 2013, the destination hosted 1.2 million tourists, with Great Britain leading the European contingent with a 12.5 per cent share, and Germany and France following with 10.2 per cent and 8.3 per cent shares respectively.
Off the mainland are a cluster of inhabited islands including Hvar, famous for its wine-production, and Mljet, notable for its inland sea and national park status.
Croatia joins the EU today and has been working steadily to reduce its budget deficit in preparation.
The country has been in recession for four years and although living costs are expected to rise upon its integration, the government is hoping membership will attract foreign investment, boosting growth and employment.
Accommodation in Dubrovnik
With a total hotel capacity of 22,000 guests, alongside further self-catering, marina and camping facilities, the area around Dubrovnik capably hosts both vacationers and business conference bookings.
The latter are well-provided for via the likes of the five-star Dubrovnik Palace Hotel and its eight meeting rooms, with a capacity of ten to 750 delegates.
Each bedroom at the property features a balcony directly overlooking the bay and nearby islands, while residents are free to swim in their various indoor and outdoor pools, or to make use of a private beach and cordoned sea area.
At the opposite end of the bay is the five-strong chain of Valamar Hotels, including its flagship Dubrovnik Lacroma Hotel.
Again catering for a range of visitors, the complex is designed to receive functions of up to and around 1,000 delegates, as well as boasting sea views, gourmet dining, swimming pools, panoramic views of the Elaphiti Islands and its own pebble beach.
Take Me Back
Under the protection of UNESCO World Heritage status since 1979, Dubronvik’s Old Town is the region’s cultural nucleus.
Surrounded by vast turreted city walls, the historical site has been carefully restored in the time since its military bombardment during the Croatian war of independence in the early nineties.
Recently, its historic fortifications attracted the makers of the Game Of Thrones television series, who continue to use the location as a backdrop for the fictional King’s Landing setting. Fans of the show now have the option of taking a themed tour.
The settlement itself dates back to seventh century, with attractions including a Franciscan Monastery containing one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, several beautifully restored churches, five fortresses, the nearby Trsteno Arboretum and many restaurants, bars, shops and museums.
Its main draw must certainly be the wall tour, however, allowing visitors the chance to walk all the way around the city and enjoy incredible views of its ancient buildings and the seafront.
For those unsatisfied with seeing the sights from the 25 metre high turrets, a cable car service runs from the wall to the peak of Mount Srd where the Panorama Restaurant and observatory offers a, well, panoramic spread of the region and a spectacular sunset.
From the neighbouring harbour, a ten-minute boat trip ferries guests to the Island of Lokrum.
Home of a botanical garden, castle, monastery complex and a free-ranging muster of peacocks, the isle is an active nature reserve, boasting a small obscured salt lake for swimmers along with its own cocktail bar.
East of the old town toward Dubrovnik Airport lies the town of Cavtat.
Once the ancient city of Epidaurum it is notable for its traditional stone houses and large harbour area, with an ornate hilltop cemetery and mausoleum overlooking its picturesque sprawl of hotels and shops.
Also part of the Konavle valley, the tiny village of Čilipi is steeped in Renaissance-era institution.
Its weekly Sunday folk dance show has become a significant tourist attraction, with its traditional silk embroidery costumes and accompanying music ensemble providing a bewitching gateway into the past.
Newly restored, the valley’s towering Sokol Grad castle is set right against the mountainous border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Fortified with canon, the natural fortress was built on inaccessible cliff more than 25 metres high to protect and control the main road running between the two countries.
The battlements provide another breathtaking view, but it is also noteworthy for some ancient artefacts and its incredible position high on the mountainside.
Return flights from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik on British Airways cost from £98, while Aer Lingus offers return flights from Dublin for £115.
Accommodation at the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel costs from £88 per night based on two people sharing a classic double room, while a room at Valamar Lacroma Hotel costs from £143 per night based on two people sharing a classic double room. For more information or to book, please visit here.
For more information on what to see and do in Croatia visit the official tourism website, , or read our interview with Tonko Rilovic, director, Croatia National Tourist Office, UK & Ireland here.