An enchanting coastal Croatian city, Dubrovnik is finally starting to get the attention it deserves for its natural beauty and architecture. It has in the past been overshadowed by more popular tourist destinations across the Adriatic Sea; however, all you need is a day in the city to understand why it has emerged from shadows of conflict 20 years ago to become the must-see city on the Dalmatian Coast.

Here's how to make the most of Dubrovnik in a short visit.

"Panoramica Dubrovnik" by Victor via Flickr Creative Commons

The first thing to cross off the to-do list is hiking the city walls. Built between the 8th and 16th centuries, the city walls encircle the Old Town and are nearly two kilometers long. Today they are accessible from a number of points within the Old Town, and while tours are available, the most visitors choose to navigate the walls themselves. They offer spectacular views of the city and coastline, and some of the best photo-ops in the Dubrovnik are from atop the bastions that dot the walls. If you are visiting in the summer, plan to walk the walls during the morning or early evening. The sun heats the stones, and minimal shade may make walking the walls in mid-day more of a chore than a treat.

The perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in Dubrovnik is by the water. The sea along the coast is crystal clear, and while there may not be white sand beaches, there are several great spots for taking a dip near the Old Town as well throughout the rest of the city. To escape the crowds, all you have to do is take a short trip to one of the many nearby islands. The serene island of Lokrum is the most accessible, a mere fifteen-minute boat cruise away. The island has both rocky shores and a small, child-friendly saltwater lake, making it accommodating for all sorts of visitors. Aside from swimming, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the island. Among its attractions are the 11th century monastery and the early 19th century French fort, which affords great views.

"Dubrovnik Old Town" by Michael Caven via Flickr Creative Commons

Following your afternoon excursion, stick around the Old Town to enjoy the evening ambiance. The narrow streets are home to many Italian style restaurants and cafes for various budgets. Due to its location on the coast, Dubrovnik offers a wide variety of seafood dishes and waterside restaurants. Most offer outdoor seating, which is ideal for enjoying the cool nighttime air. Many restaurants and bars offer live music, and venues such as the Rector's Palace offer world-class chamber music and opera concerts. Keep your eyes out for signs advertising these events, which during your strolls through the streets of the Old Town. While you are it, stop in at some of the many elegant churches that grace the city. Between the breathtaking architecture, the clear water, and the lively culture, all it takes is one day in Dubrovnik to be under its spell.