During the first leg of our round-the-world adventure, we spent a few days in Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It's best-known for its massive, incredibly well-preserved city walls and beautiful old town, and of course for being on the clear, blue Adriatic sea, and as a result it's been used as the backdrop for everything from the Game of Thrones series to the newest Star Wars films. But really, here, judge for yourself:
From the perspective of sheer natural beauty, Dubrovnik is one of the loveliest places I've ever been. And yet I couldn't help but feel like there was something missing. With its lovely harbor and easy proximity to other destinations in and around the Mediterranean, three to four cruise ships worth of people pour into the small city center every day. That's to say nothing of the huge numbers of people who arrive straight to Dubrovnik on one of many low-cost flights from all over Europe or bus in from neighboring countries.
Last year, more than a million people were expected to visit Dubrovnik's main attraction: the city walls. And the old town, being quite compact in size (the aforementioned surrounding city walls are only about 2 kilometers in diameter), has a frankly overwhelming concentration of tourists. The result is that Dubrovnik feels in many ways like one of the cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean, but with more history and more in-town activities besides hanging out on the beach.
That makes the city appear like a city of and for the tourists, rather than a living, breathing, actual place that has its own daily happenings that go on irrespective of whether anyone comes to visit.