Dubrovnik and Kotor
This travelogue is from our Eastern Mediterranean cruise in the Adriatic Sea (with MSC) in October/November 2023: Dubrovnik, Kotor and Corfu.
The tourist season had effectively ended so the throngs of tourists (like us) was limited yet the weather still warm enough to be enjoyed. There were a couple of windy nights (cancellation of Zakinthos), and the use of Trieste instead of Venice for departure and arrival (potential flooding) – it could have been worse.
With a night in Venice before the trip it was always a pleasure to walk the streets and enjoy the fun of getting lost.
Sat on a peninsula this is a remarkable seventh Century Medieval city. Deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage site for its outstanding medieval architecture and fortified old town.
Whilst it looks preserved, in 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence, Dubrovnik was under siege by the Yugoslav People’s Army for several months and inflicted significant damage from the bombing. Thankfully the city was restored in the 1990s.
Dubrovnik is on my bucket list places to visit for its outstanding preservation despite the war in the Nineties. You can sense, with it being a walled town, inside just how important it was once for trade routes, especially since the Venetians once ruled over it.
It is remarkable how much of the city has been rebuilt in such a way to preserve its medieval look and feel. To such an extent it has featured in the drama Game of Thrones.
Our starting point was main street – Stradun – helpful for navigation through the walled town as we took in the narrow side streets. Nonetheless the town is small enough not to get lost. It is also clean and safe.
There is a package for key sites you can buy but this really requires you to be there for a few days. The fort on the promontory closed at 4pm so we could not explore it.
- Cable car to give a stunning view over the town and bay.
- Dominican Monastery, built in a transitional Gothic-Renaissance style where you can sense the peace albeit the walls still show the where the bullets shot through from the war in 1991. The interior contains a simple 15th-century cloister constructed by local artisans. The visit is fairly short as only so much is to view.
- Discover the back streets through to water’s edge.
Kotor is also a World Heritage site and with good reason. Like Dubrovnik, Kotor is a professionally preserved and restored medieval town. However, Kotor is comparatively small and without a main avenue. In this sense it is a rabbit warren of narrow streets but enjoyably so, with its town wall. One can navigate around by which church is in sight; there are many. Despite its old town feel there is also a tourist trap feel as well – it does look like it relies on the cruise liners for its economy.
Cut off from the rest of civilisation, Kotor is tucked away inside a number of fjords. In this sense the arrival and departure are key parts of the experience as much as the town itself. The arrival, in particular, in the morning as the sun rises over the hills.
- Walking up the steep hill to the fort and church to gain a stunning view of the old town.
- The amazing journey in through a circuit of fjords at sunrise
- A tiny church in the centre of the town – probably the smallest I have ever entered.