Most of tourist interest is found in the pedestrianised Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and masterpiece of Renaissance town planning. Rebuilt in the 17th century after an earthquake, its origins date back to the 7th century AD. It was an independent city state for a number of centuries – once boasting the 3rd-largest merchant shipping fleet in the world – and the prosperity of that period is still evident today. Enclosed within 1¼ mls of walkable city walls and fortifications, the Old Town is rich in architectural delights including palaces, museums, churches and public buildings.
The central street is undoubtedly Stradun, a broad stone-paved thoroughfare connecting the Pile gate at the W end with the Sponza Palace and Bell Tower to the E. Numerous little streets and alleys, often with many steps, radiate from Stradun towards the city walls.
2½ mls NW of the Old Town lies the 2-pronged Lapad Peninsula, a pleasant residential and hotel district with forested hillsides and an attractive bay. A few hotels, cafes, park and tennis courts straddle a small pedestrian street at the centre, connecting the main road and the bay; more hotels lie along the secluded shores of the rocky promontories. A meandering footpath allows coastal strolls around the Babin Kuk district. On the other side of the peninsula, a larger bay contains a ferry and cruise-ship terminal and, a little farther N, a yacht marina. The commercial city proper has little to offer for the tourist but does contain a couple of hotels. Although the region lost its tourist trade during the country's independence struggle in the early 1990s, it is now one of the safest parts of Europe, with street crime virtually unheard of and a warm welcome given to the growing numbers of returning foreign visitors. It also attracts a large number of British and Irish visitors who are looking to buy holiday accommodation.
Regular local buses operate between the Lapad and Babin Kuk Peninsulas and the Old Town, and regional buses run NW to Split and SE to Cavtat from the bus station. Taxis usually need to be ordered from hotels but are often available outside the Old Town.
Boat services connect the nearby islands to the mainland and seasonal water taxis also serve various popular destinations along the coast. A frequent service operates between the Old Town harbour and Cavtat.
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