All guidebooks for Croatia rightly recommend taking Dubrovnik’s cable car 1,350 feet up to the top of Mount Srđ, and many also recommend returning to the city via a nearby zigzag path leading down the cliff. This scenic route is steep and full of loose rocks, however, and because it’s the obvious choice, it can also be crowded. I decided to try another way.
But first I had to get to the summit. The cable car was closed for repairs the day I intended to take it. Should you encounter a similar situation, you’ll likely find numerous taxi drivers near the cable car’s base who can take you up the small mountain. On a sunny day, the views are nothing less than sensational.
A 200-year-old fortress built by Napoleon caps the top of Mount Srđ, and it became a focal point during the Siege of Dubrovnik in the early 1990s. Still bearing scars from shells and bullets, the fortress now houses the Museum of Croatian War of Independence. In dank, mossy stone rooms, displays understandably tell the Croatian side of the story (not the Serbian), and photos of a war-damaged Dubrovnik contrast sharply with the picture-perfect city of today. The roof terrace offers magnificent panoramas of the coast.
I refreshed myself with a flute of elegant Tomac Millennium Brut at the aptly named Panorama Restaurant & Bar, where umbrella-shaded cliffside tables overlook old Dubrovnik and the sea. Service proved surprisingly obliging and professional, considering the touristy setting. This restaurant is reason enough to take the cable car up from Dubrovnik.
Instead of taking the cable car or the popular path back down, I started walking along Srđ Ulica toward Bosanka. Yellow and white wildflowers along the narrow, paved road glowed in the sun, set off by the cool blue of the distant Adriatic. In one spot, a copse of pines shaded some donkeys grazing on wild herbs. Eventually I reached a crumbling defensive wall at the boundary of Bosanka, a village destroyed during the war.
To the right of the war monument, a stone-paved path leads to the edge of the cliff and down its side, with breathtaking views of the coast and Dubrovnik’s walled center. It is from this flower-lined path, no doubt, that professional photographers capture the most-iconic views of the city. At its end, a convenient underpass takes pedestrians beneath a highway and into Dubrovnik’s outskirts, a short walk from the Ploče Gate or the Villa Dubrovnik hotel. It was an exhilarating descent from Mount Srđ, enhanced by the fact that I had the experience entirely to myself.
(Note that the route is mostly unshaded and uneven, with some stairs, and is not well-suited to those with mobility difficulties.)