Calm and chic, the harmonious duotone of beige and red architecture in Dubrovnik creates that serene “red tile style.” Cypress trees and terraced neighborhoods cut through the landscape, converging and visually plunging into the harbor. Old Town is one of the world’s best and most perfectly preserved medieval cities.

Muted and pristine, not fussy or ornate, Dubrovnik has a quiet confidence. A musical background doesn’t define it; while other cities are enhanced by accordions, bouzoukis or bagpipes, in Dubrovnik, you’ll hear only the soft crash of waves upon the shore. The streets of the walled town shimmer with cleanliness. 

As soon as you enter the portal by the “moat,” you have crossed into a historic time zone … and architectural heaven. Every cafe entices and presents full-bodied aromas of Croatian cuisine. The “palace hotels” are full of glamor, decor and valuable art.

The free cable car is a nice hub for people to appreciate the panorama of the harbor below. Hints of Venetian, pastel architecture mixed in with the stately fortress ramparts give Dubrovnik that alluring combination of both elegance and fierceness. One wonders how long the process must’ve taken to build such a fortification. Each stone, window, arch and staircase adds to the intricate blueprint of the mysterious castle. Game of Thrones fans enjoy walking tours, recalling scenes vividly and enthusiastically.

A common activity seems to be gelato-strolling; gelato shops on every corner entertain the shoppers with their myriad of flavors. At dinner time, the golden hour (which could basically be every hour there) is a visual seduction of luminous hues. People open their shutters and gaze onto the veiled and benighted promenade for a few last looks of the day. While children kick soccer balls in the plaza, pedestrians enter churches, drawn to the artifacts and aromatic incense inside.

While every restaurant is superb, some particular recommendations are:

  • Nautica
  • Kamenitsa
  • Pupo Fish Restaurant

Dining al fresco extends the evening entertainment because of live music and costumed guards. Restaurant chairs have blankets, so diners can warm themselves while enjoying the brisk weather. Waiters don’t rush you in Old Town. They let you linger – and even better, you are allowed to sit at tables later in the evening with your own beverages, long after the dinner crowd is gone. This is helpful, too, because nights last long inside the castle as people interact on the staircase nearby.

Retreating back to your boutique hotel is heavenly because they are small versions of art galleries. They’re minimal on space but massive on an artistic scale because of the sophisticated impact of that beauty.

Suggestions include: 

  • Pucic Palace
  • Prijeko Palace

Croatia is beautifully curated in every way; scenery, cuisine, jewelry, art, architecture, hospitality. Two bar recommendations are:

Caffe Bar Buza, to view cliff jumping behind the fortress walls;

Zton Bardfor, for the sheer experience of being outside at this height and perspective of the Adriatic Sea. 

The sun beats down on you (unless you sit under the awning) while you watch intrepid divers and jumpers soar and splash into the sea. Dads fish together while their young daughters catch tiny fish in pails and feed them to the stray cats on the seawall. Saturday mornings in Dubrovnik seem like a life every family craves. Just watching it reincarnated this writer’s own childhood with a European father. The night harbor is illuminated by colorful boats that are the jewels of the sea. Dapper Dubrovnik has it all.