Dubrovnik is taking steps to ensure that the number of tourists visiting its ancient centre is drastically cut in a bid to protect its appeal.
The Medieval centre is a Unesco World Heritage site, and Unesco recommends that only 8,000 people a day be permitted inside the walls. However, the city aims to cap the numbers to 4,000 visitors a day.
Mayor Mato Franković said the move was to limit the unchecked growth the city has seen in day trippers and cruise passengers visiting. According to the Telegraph, he said: "We don't want to go with the maximum, we want to go lower than that."
The mayor wants to cut the number of cruise ships arriving at peak times over the weekend, and impose limits on the number of day trips organised by tour operators.
He said that from 8am to 2pm, there could be six big cruise ships coming in, creating overcrowding and congestion. Some critics suggest that at peak times it can take 40 minutes to walk the Stradun, the city's 300-metre walkway. The mayor believes that cutting the number of big ships will offer a better quality experience to tourists.
"I am not here to make people happy but to make the quality of life [in the city] better," he said. "Some of the cruise lines will disagree with what I'm saying but my main goal is to ensure quality for tourists and I cannot do it by keeping the situation as it is."
Hundreds of cruise ships arrive at the port two miles from the Old Town. In 2016, 529 ships stopped there, bringing 799,916 passengers, up from 475 in 2015 and 463 in 2014.
The mayor wants to prevent the city from becoming a victim of its own beauty with damaging overcrowding. The situation has been seen in other cities like Venice and Barcelona, where a tourist backlash has seen protests in the streets.
The huge number of tourists heading to Majorca and Ibiza in the summer months has sparked frustration and a backlash among locals.
According to The Local, the number of tourist beds will be capped at a combined 623,624 on both islands and those who attempt to rent out unlicensed properties could be fined up to €400,000.
Over in Spain's San Sebastián, an anti-tourism march is planned for 17 August to coincide with Semana Grande – a major festival of Basque culture, reports the Guardian.
And last month, Venice - which has 20 million visitors a year with only 55,000 residents - saw 2,000 locals march through the streets in protest at huge cruise ships coming in and negatively effecting the city's environment.
Ten cool Croatia holidays
Ten cool Croatia holidays
Cycling is one of the best ways to take in the Dalmatian coast's fantastic seaside villages, tiny medieval walled towns, quiet pebble bays, pine forests and mountains. This year, Exodus is running new eight-day cycling adventures starting in Split and travelling all the way to Dubrovnik by bike and ferry, taking in the islands of Hvar and Korcula and ending with two nights exploring Dubrovnik. From £1,099 pp including flights, transfers, B&B accommodation, and guided tours. Bike hire is an additional £85pp.
Croatia is a sure bet for decent summer self-catering accommodation without the hefty price tag associated with the Med. This beautifully restored village house on the Istrian Peninsula is within easy reach of the pretty town of Svetvincenat and the beaches of the Adriatic. It boasts a private pool and views across the rooftops of the town. Pula, Rovinj and Porec are all within reach.A week at Villa Neroli, which sleeps eight, costs from £1,395 (just £160pp at full occupancy.) Flights and car hire extra. See Vintage Travel for more details.
The recently renovated five-star Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, overlooking Lokrum Island, boasts luxurious contemporary rooms and wonderful sea views: perfect for a romantic break. Departures with Sovereign Luxury Travel start at £1,200 pp including flights from London and seven nights B&B in a double room.
If you fancy sea kayaking around Dubrovnik's city walls, cycling in the Konavle Valley, hiking along Dalmatian cliffs and exploring the island of Kolocep, then look no further than the Croatia Active Adventure with G Adventures. From £764pp for seven days.
Take some time to explroe central Dalmatia with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays to see Old Split as well as two Adriatic islands. From Split, first port of call is the island of Brac – which boasts the highest point in Croatia – Vidova Gora. Walks take in ancient villages, fields of vines, olives, figs, almonds and cherries and a rugged, dramatic coastline. Then it's on to Hvar – lush, green and smothered in lavender, rosemary and heather, interspersed with 13th century medieval walls and gothic palaces. From £715 including return flights, transfers, half-board accommodation and the services of a dedicated tour leader.
Hotel Lone, which opened in 2011, is one of Croatia’s most striking contemporary hotels. Nestled in the beautiful fishing port of Rovinj and surrounded by the centuries-old Park Forest Zlatni Rt, it scooped an award at the prestigious European Hotel Design Awards last year. This year sees the addition of a new outdoor pool complete with water effects, whirlpools, waterfalls and water massages. May prices start at €168.80 per night, for a double room including breakfast.
For some of the country's loveliest beaches and fabulous island hopping, Makarska his wonderfully unspoilt. Check out Essentially Prestige's Croatia breaks to the region including a seven night stay in Hotel Dalmacija in Makarska for £378.50 per person, including transfers. Prestige also offers an array of other holidays in Croatia. A new addition for this summer is the island of Veliki Brijun, the largest of the Brijuni Islands. Stay at the four star Hotel Istra on the waterfront. Prices from £629.50 per person B&B and transfers.
Experience the old-world charm of Croatia on a sailing odyssey from Dubrovnik to Trogir, cruising around impressive coastlines, exploring lush national parks, wandering through medieval towns and swimming in the Adriatic’s turquoise seas. Intrepid Travel offers a skippered cruise with stops to explore Ston, Mljet, Korcula, Ploce, Hvar, Brac and Split. With a maximum of eight passengers on each boat, the experience is more intimate than many large group sailing tours. From £559 per person including accommodation in a twin berth cabin, snorkelling equipment, excursions, breakfasts and lunches. With weekly departures from May to October.
Croatians love a festival, and you're pretty much guaranteed to get caught up in one whenever you visit. From 25-28 May, the city of Dubrovnik comes alive for the International Wine and Jazz Festival. There's also the Dubrovnik International Film Festival in May, while between July 10 and the end of August, the old town bursts into its Summer Festival, with classical concerts, circus acts and plays on every night. Inghams offers seven nights at the three-star Hotel Splendid, Dubrovnik from £803 on a half-board basis departing 22 May, including flights from Gatwick.
Many scenes from hit TV show Game of Thrones are set in Croatia. Much of season two and three was filmed in Dubrovnik’s picturesque Old Town, in particular at Fort Lovrijenac which was transformed into King’s Landing - one of the shows’ most iconic locations. Korcula island was also used for filming. With its Qarth-like architecture and stunning sea-front vistas, it is an idyllic escape just off Croatia’s southern Dalmatian Coast. The cast has also filmed action-packed scenes in Split, surrounded by the azure Adriatic Sea. A Game of Thrones inspired tour of Split includes a walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace filming locations, a walking tour of Klis Fortress filming locations, a trip to the water mill filming location, traditional Croatian peka barbecue meal with local wine and homemade bread at the water mill, all transfers and a local expert guide. The tour cost €120 per adult.