|An insider's guide to little-known places to go and things to see in Dubrovnik|
THE ISLET OF LOKRUM, SHELTER OF KING RICHARD - THE LIONHEART
Lokrum is an island infront of Dubrovnik and because it takes only 15 minutes by ferry to get there from the Old Town it is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. People call it a treasure island because of its rich pine-wood, subtropical vegetation, natural swimming-places and exotic historical heritage.
Lokrum's first claim to fame was that in 1192 it gave shelter to King Richard the Lionheart on his return from the third Crusade. Out of gratitude to Dubrovnik, King Richard erected the new romanesque cathedral.
In the 17th century a quarrantine area called Lazzaretti was built on Lokrum as prevention against epidemics. While walking across the island you can still see the remains of the old walls.
A nice place to visit on the island is the Franciscan monastery built in the 15th century in Gothic-Renaissance style. The moment you step inside it, you will feel transported back in time.
Lokrum was also home to Maximilian of Habsburg, the brother of Austrian emperor Francis Joseph I
He bought the islet in 1859 and made beautiful horticultural changes which are part of the today's well preserved Botanical garden. Thanks to him you can now enjoy walking among 500 different kinds of trees, flowers, plants and bushes.
Maximilian was a dedicated traveler and brought many different seeds from all over the world. You'll find trees, plants and flowers from Chile, south and east Australia, middle and south California and South Africa.
Fun on the meadow
Beyond the monastery you'll find a large meadow beneath the olive groves. There you'll see new volleyball and little football fields. There are also areas with swings and games for small children where cypress and pine trees protect the area with their shadows.
One more thing Maximilian brought are the peacocks from the Canary islands. In the last 150 years they adjusted well to this new habitat and still decorate Lokrum today with their exotic colours, walking freely all around the island. Don't be surprised if one of them suddenly jumps out in front of you...
Another natural beauty of this islet is the Purple Cave, which gets its name from the purple seaweed that covers the rocks. This place is little known to tourists and even to the residents of Dubrovnik because it's hidden at the far end of the island. It can only be reached by boat or by the path which also leads to the nudist beach.
The third little secret of Lokrum is a place called Dead Sea (Croatian transl.- Mrtvo More) This small salt water lake is a must-see for those who come for the first time.
The Curse of Lokrum
Local people sometimes enjoy trying to scare tourists with the legend of the Lokrum curse...of people who went there at night and were never seen again... of fishermen's boats swallowed by the sea...
If you make friends with a local, ask them about it and get ready to enjoy some very imaginative horror story :)
How to get there
Lokrum has a daily boat connection with the Old Town in spring and summertime. The boats are called Skala and Zrinski and they leave every half an hour. The ticket is 35 kuna which is around 5 Euro. The trip lasts 15 minutes and it's a great chance to view the City Walls from the sea.
There are no night excursions, yet..:)