Just as Prague emerged triumphant after the Velvet Revolution, the ancient walled town of Dubrovnik—nestled among the craggy cliffs and sunny beaches of the Dalmatian coast—has long recovered from the Balkan wars of the '90s.
The essentials: Walk the mile-long passageway around Dubrovnik's stone ramparts, overlooking a maze of terracotta roofs. Then enter the peaceful Old Town (which is closed to cars) and unwind at one of the open-air cafés on the main drag, the Stradun, where the architecture spans the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. Then hit the beach—choose from Banje's pebbled shores and Lapad's sandy stretches.
Where to eat: Try the swordfish carpaccio and grilled sea bass at the Atlas Club Nautika, where the people-watching is as good as the food. Croatia's proximity to Italy means pizza places galore; a favorite among locals is Mea Culpa (order the gorgonzola-and-bacon pie).
Where to stay: Hotel prices are high inside the Old Town's walls, but reasonable rates can be found just outside town at the Hotel Argosy, which has elegant interiors and a terrace overlooking the Adriatic (doubles from $236; valamar.com).
Our December issue features Oprah's Favorite Things—as well as your chance to win them all! You'll also find our easy holiday declutter plan, Dr. Oz's guide to sleeping better (starting tonight) and the ultimate holiday menu.