Considering a trip to Europe? You'd be remiss to leave Croatia off the list. This country boasts the best seafood risotto I've ever had, waters that are so beautiful you don't even believe they're real, and one of the coolest Old Towns in the history of all Old Towns.
I've been here twice and both times I've visited the Old Town and done the wall walk - that's how exhilarating it is. The Old Town is surrounded by giant walls which host walking paths on top of them. To walk them you do have to pay a few dollars, but it's worth it. In the front of the town is a giant water fountain made out of stone. Right around there is where you can purchase tickets to walk the walls. From on top, you'll get breathtaking views of the town below you and the city and ocean around you. Not to mention a really nice workout. Wear your comfy shoes, ladies and gents!
The town contained within the walls is bustling with life. You'll find restaurants and stores all throughout, even down the tiny side streets. It's quite the maze inside this little village and it deserves adequate time for strolling each and every path.
Good news for my gluten free friends - you have options! I found a pizza place with gluten free pizza, but opted for a seafood restaurant - Restaurant Kopun - where I had gluten free seafood risotto. This little gem is at the far end of the town, kind of over by the town's clock, but not right next to it. Wander around a bit and you'll find a bunch of restaurants with outdoor seating. Go past them and up a big staircase, then to your left.
Just outside the walls of the Old Town (to the right, specifically) is a sidewalk/path area that leads to a tower. From up high on the tower you can look back at the Old Town for a very different view. It's truly breathtaking. A little more over to the right from the tower you'll get scenic views of the ocean and a beach area (which I believe is private) with emerald green water.
Here's another fun thing you can do, folks: Take a cable car to the top of a mountain that overlooks Dubrovnik. However, if it's between this and the Old Town, stick with the Old Town. This was fun for me because it was a little different than what I'd done there before, but the magic is within the walls.
Split is a great place to have a little adventure within your bigger adventure. From the pier of the city, which you'll probably start at if you're on a cruise ship, if you head straight back and to the right, you'll come upon an older part of town with breathtaking architecture. This area will be full of artists and tourists. Keep going to the right and you'll find an outdoor market; clothes, food, antiques - you name it, it's there, and it's gigantic.
|The old buildings. Go past all of this to get to the market.|
Now, here's where it gets really awesome. Remember when you were a kid and you discovered a new street to ride your bike down? Remember the excitement in those moments of discovery? The way it felt like the whole world was a different place? That's what's about to happen, friends. Ready? OK...go back to the pier.
Pretend you're starting over and this time, go left. Walk and walk and walk until you get to the boat docks. There are some pretty cool benches you can rest on for a bit, if you like. This is what you're view should look like by the benches, looking back at the city, just so you know you're on the right track.
When you're ready, keep walking and soon you'll be on the street/sidewalk (in a residential part of town). Keep going until you get to a HUGE park/grassy area. Your whole walk will mostly be one straight-ish line, for the most part. Walk through the park/grass to what seems to be the end of it and go right. You'll see a little stone/cement path that probably no one will be on. Take it. After about three minutes or so, you'll get to a point like this. It's going to feel like you discovered something awesome, and you did. Keep going.
Eventually, you'll come upon some old ruins. Keep going past these and you'll discover a beach.
|The ruins, if you can call this kind of beauty that.|
|The secluded, amazing, spectacular beach.|
There's going to be a big hill right by the beach. This is the road everyone drives down to get to it. Walk up that road and go right. You'll find a tree lined walking path that gives you views of the beach below, and leads you back through town and past a a museum of sorts that you can visit, if you like.
Once we got back to the boat, I took a shot of everything as a whole. From right to left: Grassy park, stone path, ruins, beach, and see that wall behind the beach? Above that wall is the tree lined walking path. BOOM. Now when you go to Split, you can also have this wonderful little adventure!