Dubrovnik, Croatia

Along the coast of the Adriatic in southern Croatia, Old Town Dubrovnik is a fort surrounded by an ancient stone wall. An ancient stone wall that you can walk along. There’s a significant entry fee, but it goes to good use. It takes significant, ongoing investment to restore the wall as millions of people walk along it each year. It’s also a good idea to pay a little extra for a tour guide who can curate the history of the city and the wall. Be sure to pay attention to the different color and style roofs. The truly ancient roofs are the tattered, irregular, yellow tiles that were formed on the thighs of ancient roof tile-makers.

Make sure you have a good map or great GPS. The streets of Old Town are windy and narrow. The multi-story buildings are just tall enough to block out any landmarks that might otherwise help navigate. The city is big on alleyway restaurants. With limited space and smaller venues, many restaurants take advantage of the space directly outside their building. And why not? The city allows it, and it makes for great views.

Like a lot of places, the best time to visit this city is between peak summer tourism season and the dead of winter when restoration and things tend to shut down. In the summer, it’s too hot and too crowded to get the best experience. We recommend fall. The crowds have died back some and not oppressively hot but still warm enough to enjoy the Adriatic Sea. And if you get a chance, be sure to go for a swim. The Adriatic Sea is something of a marine desert with extra clear water that you can see down into the water for several dozen feet. And while there’s few fish and almost no algae, we did see some dolphins. Finally, there’s also an island right across from Dubrovnik where you can escape some of the crowds.