We have seen some famous sites in our travels – the Great Wall of China; the towering Inca settlement at Macchu Picchu; the mysterious ruins of Anchor Wat – but the city of Dubrovnik rivals these sites and is the only one still in daily use and good repair. An important seaport on the Dalmatian Coast overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik today is a tiny city of only about 45,000 people, only a fraction of whom still dwell within its walled fortress. In recognition of its outstanding medieval architecture and its impressive fortifications, Dubrovnik was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.

The city dates to the 7th Century under the Byzantine Empire and owed its prosperity and high level of development to access to maritime trade routes. The city was battered by a devastating earthquake in 1667, dominated by the Venetians in the late Middle Ages, occupied by the French Empire, and incorporated into the Kingdoms of Italy and Dalmatia as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In 1929 Dubrovnik became part of Yugoslavia and Croatia. In 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence, the city suffered significant damage requiring much restoration during the 1990s and 2000s. It is now one of the Mediterranean’s top tourist destinations and a popular filming location for many movies, including most recently Game of Thrones. And it is spectacular!

The city is completely enclosed by a wall which is from four to six meters wide, runs almost two kilometres and took us almost two hours to walk. There are only two gates into the city which is made up of multiple historic buildings such as the Sponza Palace which houses the National Archives, the Rector’s Palace which is now a museum, a Franciscan Church and Monastery housing a massive library and invaluable hand-written historical documents. Despite feeling a bit depleted by our experience with Covid, we spent an entire wonderful day exploring the wide avenues and tiny, steep side street that make up this amazing city.

We bought a day pass that included a bus ride from our hotel and entrance to the churches and museums that fill this ancient city. We were determined to see as much as we could but by the end of the day we were exhausted. Before we boarded the bus in the city square for the ride back to the hotel, we finished out the day dining European style on a lovely outdoor patio just outside the walls of the city.

We had thought that having spent most of the holiday in low-cost accommodation along the way, we would treat ourselves to a nice hotel just outside Dubrovnik. After much online searching we found this lovely place overlooking the coast with a balcony view of the water. The breakfast buffet was incredible, and the service was outstanding.

I suppose it didn’t hurt that we were among a handful of guests in the pre-season who tempted the virus by travelling. We had done our best to isolate ourselves throughout our journey – always travelling and eating by ourselves – and we always masked when we were close to others. Croatia was definitely worth the effort that it took us to get there. And put Dubrovnik on that bucket list!