Even with only a short time in Dubrovnik, you should spend at least a day exploring one of the islands dotted along the coast. The nearest is Lokrum, a haven of tranquillity, pine forests and rocky beaches. The first mention of Lokrum in writing came in 1023, in connection with the founding of the Benedictine abbey and monastery.It is said to be where Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked on his way home from the Crusades.
Lokrum is uninhabited, but there is plenty to see, including a ruined fort and some overgrown botanical gardens that were established in 1959 as an experiment to see if tropical plants would grow from seed and thrive in a Mediterranean climate. They have done — Brazilian palms, Mexican cacti and Australian eucalyptus dominate the gardens, untended and wild, giving the place a pleasingly eerie atmosphere.
The very name of the island of Lokrum shows that even in ancient times there wete plants from the far corners of the world growing here (Lokrum comes from the Latin acrumen sour fruit). In 1964 the island of Lokrum was declared a Managed Nature Reserve, and in 1976 a Special Forest Vegetation Reserve.
There is a little lake called the Mrtvo more, Dead Sea, on the island, linked with the open sea, and suitable for children and non-swimmers to bathe in.
On the Lokrum hills there is, fortress called Fort Royal, built in the shape of a star by the French in 1806; it gives marvellous views of Dubrovnik, Cavtat and the islands.
From the port of Dubrovnik it is just a pleasant ten minute voyage to Lokrum; an arm’s reach away from the city, this favourite excursion spot is also set far back in the middle ages.