September 27, 2022

For those who can afford them, the French and Italian Rivieras have always been unbeatable destinations for anyone in search of sun, sea, sand and style.

Or have they?

Croatia’s Dubrovnik Riviera may just be better than both.

With 260 days of sunshine and one of the most eye-catching coastlines in the Med, this chic stretch of Adriatic shoreline is justifiably pulling in ever-greater visitor numbers each year.

The 20-kilometer Riviera is a silhouette of dramatic emerald mountains that tumble down to inviting bays overlooking royal blue seas. Coupled with Dubrovnik Old Town, one of the world’s most photographed medieval walled cities, the region offers an alluring beach and city combo.

Here are 12 reasons to go:

1. Medieval Dubrovnik – The largest and best preserved in Europe, Dubrovnik’s 14th-century city walls are nearly two kilometres long and 22 meters high. A circumnavigation of the chunky walls offers photogenic views across the terracotta tops of the Old Town. Jutting out on a fortified island, suspended at sea, the historic Dubrovnik Old Town is one of the most recognizable sights in Croatia. Within it, baroque churches rub shoulders with centuries-old monasteries and palazzo. A sea of red roofs shrouds whitewashed buildings, fringed by the azure Adriatic.

2. Mount Srđ Cable Car – Arguably the best view on the Dubrovnik Riviera. A short revolving cable car ride to Mount Srd reaches an elevation of 412 meters over Dubrovnik, which can be seen below, laid out like a map. The clifftop Napoleonic Imperial Fort museum showcases footage of the siege of the city during the Balkans conflict of the 1990s.

3. Dubrovnik Carnival and Summer Festival – Each July and August, outdoor piazzas become open-air platforms for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The oldest cultural festival in Croatia is a mix of theatre, ballet, classical music, opera and dancing in the streets. In February, Dubrovnik mirrors Venice with a five-week medieval carnival that transforms marble streets into a parade of masked balls.

4. Scenic coastline – One of Europe’s most attractive drives is the 20-kilometer Dubrovnik to Cavtat coastal route. The mountaintop route wends through vineyards and quaint waterfront villages. Antique churches, forested headlands, beach boats and cafes are all part of the scenery.

5. `Game of Thrones Tour` – Dubrovnik`s walled city served as the setting of King’s Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms. A three-hour walking tour takes in highlights such as the scene of battles such as Stannis Baratheon’s Battle of the Blackwater.

6. Killer villas – Boutique villas are to Dubrovnik what riads are to Marrakech. Often converted private residences, the luxury whitewashed villas blend into the landscape.

7. Croatian Wines – There are some 64 indigenous grape varieties producing Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1,000 or so wineries that scatter rural Croatia. Fall is when the vineyards come alive and can be visited.

8. Food with a view – Panorama is an intimate casual affair atop Mount Srđ, reachable by the cable car, where local cheesecakes and sautéed fish can be enjoyed alongside views of the Old Town. Further along the Riviera, in Cavtat, there’s a line-up of harbour front restaurants serving typically Croatian lamb chops and baked octopus.

9. Island hopping -There are spotless beaches and picturesque harbours bordered by rolling hills and hidden coves on more than thousand Croatian islands. The only question is where to go first.

10. Betina Cave Beach – Only accessible by swimming from a boat, kayak, or from land. In the heat of summer, this beautiful spot provides a cool shelter, with pebble sands lapped by turquoise Mediterranean waters.

11. Cliff bars – Clinging to a cliff and suspended over the sea, Buža Bar is a legendary location on the Dubrovnik Riviera. It’s a great spot to mingle with locals while watching magnificent sunsets.

12. Countries in the nearby – The fjords and mountains of Montenegro are a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik Riviera. A coastal road leads straight to the Bay of Kotor UNESCO World Heritage Site. The border of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies inland, but can also be explored in a day’s outing. Popular day trips include Mostar, for the iconic Stari Most, a 14th-century bridge