Date: November 24, 2019
Vagabonding Day: 55
Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Elevation Gain*: 1255 feet (382 meters)
Distance*: 4.25 miles (6.8 km)
*Both distance and elevation are provided from Pile Gate rather than the trailhead
Most visitors to Dubrovnik spend the bulk of their time walking around the city walls, touring museums, and taking selfies in front of fortifications. And it’s easy to see why. The historic city is absolutely stunning, especially when viewed for the very first time.
For a different perspective, however, Mount Srđ stands just behind the city and provides amazing panoramic views of Dubrovnik and beyond. A trail zigzags up the side of the hill, providing access to the Fort Imperial at the top as well as an observation center and gift shop. A cable car also shuttles visitors to the top of the hill, but it is fairly expensive (170 kn / $25 USD for a round trip). And where’s the fun in taking the easy way up?
[Ok – I’ll admit it. The cable car is actually pretty fun. Daniel and I ended up taking the cable car to the top one day. More on that later.]
The trailhead for the Mount Srđ hike is located about 1 kilometer (.62 miles) from Pile Gate, the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Since Daniel and I were staying in Old Town I started my walk from there. I guessed at the best route to the trailhead and meandered up various lanes and sets of stairs until I arrived at the coordinates on the map. I actually don’t recommend replicating my route to the trailhead as I had to cross a few major roads with no crosswalk and it felt a bit unsafe. I took a different route on the way back which seemed a bit better.
After crossing busy Jadranska Cesta street, I began the official trail by following a rocky path through a wooded area. After hiking for a few minutes, the trail broke out of the trees and continued the rest of the way uphill along a series of switchbacks. I happen to love zig-zaggy trails so I didn’t mind.
The switchbacks along the Mount Srđ trail were particularly interesting because they included imagery from the Stations of the Cross (a series of images that depicts Jesus’ crucifixion). I’m not familiar with the topic so I took the opportunity to learn about it as I hiked uphill (thanks, Wikipedia!). This part of the trail is fairly exposed and I imagine that it would be really hot in the summertime. Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue for me since I hiked it in November.
As I was chugging up the hill, I put in my headphones so I could listen to an audiobook. I’ve been reading The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson and was impatient to get back to the story. I was completely engrossed in the book when I heard a noise and realized that I was in the middle of a herd of cows. They were grazing peacefully and barely acknowledged my presence as I walked by.
Soon I approached the Imperial Fort at the top of the hill. Built in 1812 by Napoleon during a short-lived period of French rule, the fort played an important role during the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991. The fort’s significance during the battle is commemorated in a museum now located inside the fort.
The trail leads behind the museum to a gravel road and ends at the cable car station. A variety of services are available there, including a restaurant, gift shop, observation deck and restrooms. The views of Dubrovnik to the south and the mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina are incredible.
Earlier in the week, Daniel and I took the cable car to the top of Mount Srđ as we wanted to see the view together. We happened to catch the sunset just before our return trip to the bottom of the hill. It was nice to be able to share the experience together.
Where are we now?
View the map here: Dubrovnik, Croatia