LOKRUM & THE CITY WALLS
You’re heading out of DUBROVNIK this morning for the short boat trip to the pine-clad islet of LOKRUM, a lovely little nature reserve that sits just offshore. It’s a great place for a picnic lunch, so grab some provisions at the market (daily from 7am) on Gundulićeva poljana (the square down the street opposite the Rector’s Palace) beforehand. Boats make the 10-minute trip to Lokrum from Dubrovnik’s Old Port, accessed through the arch at the eastern end of Stradun; the first boat of the day leaves at 9am, with departures every half an hour or so thereafter (you can check the timetable here); the last boat back departs Lokrum at 7 or 8pm [150kn, under-16s 25kn, under-5s free, 30 percent discount with the Dubrovnik Card]. Lokrum is home to dozens of peacocks and rabbits, and you’ll probably spot several on your way to the so-called Dead Sea, a tiny saltwater lake that makes an idyllic spot for swimming, and the aptly named Rocks, where you can sunbath on the craggy slabs, wade in rock pools and (for older children) climb down the metal ladders that provide access to the sea. Inland, the island is ripe for exploring, with an exotic botanical garden (look out for the madcap cacti section and the towering eucalyptus trees) and the littered ruins of an old Benedictine monastery, the former summer villa of the Archduke of Austria and a Napoleonic fort.
Back on the mainland, with the worst of the day’s heat behind you and most of the city’s cruise-ship passengers back aboard their boats, it’s time to head up on to DUBROVNIK’S CITY WALLS [open daily until 6.30pm in May & August, until 7.30pm in June & July | 150kn, under-18s 50kn, under-5s free, free with the Dubrovnik Card] for the 2-hour walk along one of Europe’s finest fortifications. Stretching for nearly 2km around the Old Town, the ramparts are studded with towers, forts and stocky defensive bastions, most impressively at the landmark Minčeta Fortress, in the northwest corner, whose stout walls are 6m thick. The views out over the Adriatic and across a swathe of terracotta rooftops are breathtaking, and you’ll be able to easily pick out Stradun, the city’s cathedral, and the other sights you’ll have seen on yesterday’s wander around town. The main entrance is just inside Pile Gate, from where it's a fairly stiff climb up steep stairs to the starting point; you’ll need a head for heights in some parts, especially on the seaward side, where the walls drop a sheer 22m to the Adriatic, though it’s an easy enough walk for children of most ages.
TOP TIP If you’re travelling with older children, it’s worth visiting WAR PHOTO LIMITED [open daily 10am–10pm between May and September, shorter hours in April and October | 50kn], a gallery on Stradun that was set up by a photojournalist who covered the break-up of Yugoslavia (known in Croatia as the Homeland War). It’s graphic, sombre viewing but an important insight into the civil war (as well as other conflicts) and why relations between the former Yugoslav states are still so strained – Serbian forces held Dubrovnik under siege for 8 months between November 1991 and July 1992, and there are still a few signs of the bombardment it received around town, such as the hole in the wall of the Franciscan Monastery, further along Stradun [open daily 9am–6pm | 30kn, under-18s 15kn, free with the Dubrovnik Card], which was caused by a missile strike.
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read and watch before you go, foods your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From traditional Dalmatian cottages to guesthouses in Dubrovnik’s Old Town – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Croatia
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Croatia’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around
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