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Why a Dubrovnik Hop On Hop Off Bus is Essential for Dubrovnik Tourism

Why a Dubrovnik Hop On Hop Off Bus is Essential for Dubrovnik Tourism
Zoltan Nagy

May 9, 2021 - From overtourism to pandemic reality - why a Dubrovnik Hop On Hop Off bus must be part of the tourism strategy for the Pearl of the Adriatic.

I have learned an awful lot about Dubrovnik in the last 12 months. 

For years - with the VERY notable exception of the Feast of Patron Saint, St Blaise one February (here is why it is the best time to visit Dubrovnik) - I tended to avoid the city, assuming the stereotypes of an expensive and overcrowded destination with little to offer outside its historic old town were true. 

How wrong I was. 

The first part of my education was a long-overdue first visit to the three Elaphite islands of Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. Tranquil Dalmatian island heaven just a heartbeat from the main action, as I noted in my first report from these magical jewels in Arise Kalamota! Kolocep, 30 Mins from Dubrovnik But a World Away.

kalamota-kolocep_33.jpg

Catching up with friends at Sunset Beach on Lapad was another world away from the old city, and a very pleasant spot if developed properly (of which more in a moment). 

Looking around, the concept of Dubrovnik the tourist destination beyond the city walls and in the surrounding region was rather an exciting concept. Mljet, Korcula and the Elaphite islands are a pretty formidable island tourism quintet. Add to that the vineyards of Peljesac, the oysters, salt pans and walls of Ston, the traditional way of life of Konavle, plus the neighbouring UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mostar and Kotor, and suddenly Dubrovnik is an altogether different proposition. 

But how to communicate that message of Dubrovnik beyond the city walls to the tourism market?

This is something that Zagreb has succeeded with superbly with its launch last year of Around Zagreb, a joint initiative from the city and regional Zagreb tourist boards to promote the beauty of the whole county as one, thereby opening up many tourism options for people arriving in the Croatian capital. Something similar for Dubrovnik would work well, I believe. 

But then on the first weekend of the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, I chanced upon something better - one of the most educational and innovative tours I have been on in a while. It was a 90-minute tour which started and finished by the entrance to the the old city at Pile Gate, but one which did not mention the old city once. 

And it was both fascinating and HIGHLY educational, as well as the perfect introduction to the city. 

Marko from Adriatic Sunsets contacted me on the day our nomads were arriving to offer them a free sunset photo tour of Dubrovnik away to the city. He felt that it would be the perfect introduction to the destination, allowing them to both enjoy astonishing views and to discover how much there is to see and do beyond the famous walls. 

And what an education it was. A superb audio tour, with 27 minutes of packed and enticing information about the sights and history of Dubrovnik away from the old centre. The audio is triggered by GPS and so perfectly timed to inform. Apart from several magnificent photo stops, each part of the tour was accompanied by a wealth of information. The history of Gruz, the route of the former train line to the north, the Zarkovica dog shelter, a pop up cocktail bar for the perfect sunset - the list goes on. (see video below).

Last week, I met the team running Sunset Beach and heard of their plans to upgrade this important Dubrovnik asset. A fully revitalised Sunset Beach, properly marketed and fully accessible, would be a major attraction. The new plans are bold and exciting, and I will write about them as soon as I am allowed to.

But the mixture of the developments at Sunset Beach and the Adriatic Sunsets tour got me thinking. There is SO much to see and do in and around Dubrovnik that a simple Dubrovnik Hop On Hop Off bus concept would work brilliantly. More importantly, it would send out a very clear message to tourists that there is a LOT more to do in the city than squeeze into the old town with everyone else. 

Imagine a Dubrovnik Hop On Hop Off bus with stops at the ferry at Gruz, the Red History Museum, Sunset Beach, a traditional village close by where an authentic Dalmatian dining experience awaited. A couple of spots up in the hills for those amazing sunsets with a cocktail or two. And several other stops that those with better knowledge of Dubrovnik than me could suggest.  

And only after getting to know the Dubrovnik outside the city walls do you enter the UNESCO zone.

One of the things I am really enjoying about the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program is the raw impressions of the ten international nomads in the city. They are a really great group of humans, who are gelling really well with each other and the community. As expected, their insights and suggestions will push the destination into new directions. I really enjoyed interviewing Ron Tardiff the other day, especially his answer to my question:

"Dubrovnik, perception and reality - how has your feeling about the city changed?"

His answer is worth noting for those planning the city's future tourism direction. As you can hear in the interview above, Ron would never have considered Dubrovnik before, but he is loving it. But he has hardly been in the old town, finding more than enough to keep him occupied in Lapad. Dubrovnik outside the city walls was something he was totally unaware of prior to his arrival. He is not alone. 

A Dubrovnik Hop On Hop Off bus would change all that. Its mere existence would inform tourists that life beyond the walls was worth exploring, and give an instant new focus to tourism is this most beautiful of destinations.

To learn more about Kings Landing, check out the TC Dubrovnik in a Page guide.  

Tagged under: dubrovnik

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