Dubrovnik: Attractions outside the Old Town
Ploče is the picturesque stretch of coastline and sliver of land running east from the gate of the same name towards Cavtat and Dubrovnik airport. Until relatively recently, coast and land were pretty much all that were here. Traders would bring their wares over the hillsides by donkey to the Old Town and set up on open ground outside Ploče Gate. The view of Lokrum island, which lounges the length of Ploče, was enjoyed by these passing peasants from Konavle and Bosnia and the handful of nobles who built isolated villas overlooking the sea. The lure of tourism encouraged villa owners to convert their homes – this is now a row of luxury hotels.
It is also a hub of culture: one mansion was converted into the Modern Art Gallery, while the old quarantine barracks of Lazareti is now the DJ spot of the same name. By day you can lounge on adjoining Banje beach (perhaps at the East-West beach club) the nearest one to the Old Town, although locals prefer Sveti Jakov, a 20-minute walk along Frana Supila. Each hotel can also offer at least one decent restaurant – most have sea-view terraces.
Pile overlooks a beach, Penatur, flanked by the Lovrijenac fortress and Gradac park. Look-out post for the Ragusa Republic, Lovrijenac bears the motto, ‘Liberty is not for sale, not even for gold’, a proud summation of the city’s independent spirit.
In similar vein, high above the hinterland, Mount Srđ witnessed brave defensive action by locals in 1991. Recently this saw the opening of the Homeland War Museum. In the summer of 2010, the cablecar was restored, the short journey saving visitors the strenuous two-hour climb. At the top is a restaurant, the Panorama, the ruined Napoleonic fort, the hilltop cross you see illuminated at night from town – and a breathtaking view.
Shortly after Pile, main roads divide. One goes to the main harbour and bus station at Gruž; the other forks off for the twin-headed peninsula of Lapad and Babin Kuk. Each is given over to leisure and relaxation, the hilly, verdant landscape sliced by roads accessed by Dubrovnik’s vintage orange-and-white buses. Hotels dot the twisted shoreline, whose beaches include Lapad itself, beneath the Hotel Kompas; and the Copacabana near the Hotel Minčeta, equipped for water activities.