Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Cruising to Dubrovnik, Croatia

The pearl of the Adriatic

Once an independent republic, the Croatian city of Dubrovnik has a long and cultured history, having been one of the world's maritime powerhouses during the 15th and 16th centuries, when it rivalled even the mighty city of Venice as Europe's most sophisticated metropolis. These days, the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visiting this stunning location is like taking a stroll through the pages of the world's most picturesque history book.

Deservedly nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik exudes beauty and culture everywhere you look. With much of the ancient city still standing, it provides a stunning link back to the region's golden era, and the best way to explore this is to visit the many forts for which the city is famous. These are interspersed among the equally iconic city walls, which were built between the 13th and 16th centuries and are considered to be among the most spectacular structures of this sort in the world.

To get a little more perspective on the gorgeous city, try taking the cable car up to the summit of Mount Srdj, from where you'll have a breathtaking view across the entire region, which encompasses a glistening coastline and several islands. After coming back down again, take a closer look at some of the palaces and churches that can be found dotted around the city. Among the most historic of these is Rector's Palace, which was built in the 15th century and is often used to host concerts and other performances. Other palaces worth visiting include the Gothic Renaissance-style Sponza Palace, while the fascinating War Photo Limited is one of Europe's most poignant photography galleries, hosting a striking collection of war and conflict images.

Of course, you could always choose to simply take the weight off your feet by relaxing on one of Dubrovnik's gorgeous beaches, with the likes of Lapad beach and Lokrum Island being among the best places to catch some rays.

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