It’s no surprise that Dubrovnik is among the top tourist destinations in Croatia. The Dalmatian city, an ideal getaway for a weekend city break, provides several different types of tourist attractions and also a vibrant food scene. With over a thousand years of history behind it, Dubrovnik is certainly a beautiful living museum with cultural treasures. Close your eyes and picture this: a buzzy maze of medieval streets with the terracotta rooftops, surrounded by defensive medieval walls. Sleepy cats in sunny corners and beautiful architecture that makes a delight to wander through. Mountains at the backdrop, pebbly beaches and turquoise coloured the Adriatic Sea. It’s like something out of a dream.
But this picturesque perfect coastal city remembers the Yugoslav Wars – Dubrovnik came under the heavy attack almost 30 years ago. Fortunately, a majority of important sites sustained relatively few impacts. The other parts have been carefully restored and are now attract a record number of tourists.
To get the most out of the city, we’ve put together an insider guide with top things to visit in Dubrovnik. Here is how to make the most of a city break in the magnificent walled city on the Adriatic.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
1. Walk the city walls (Dubrovačke gradske zidine)
Off all Dubrovnik’s attractions, there is one you cannot miss – the medieval city walls. Impressive Dubrovnik city walls, dotted by fortresses and towers, were built to protect the entire Old Town from unwelcome guests. The two-kilometre (1.2 miles) long walls overlooking the sea also provide some of the best views of the Old Town. The other highlights are undoubtedly the Minceta Tower, the Bokar Tower along with the Fort Lovrjenac and the Revelin Fortress.
The ancient stone walls have been carefully preserved in their original form. The defensive city walls are also a historic masterpiece and one of the reasons why Dubrovnik is in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
To truly absorb the beauty of city walls, it is a good idea to walk a full-circuit. The city walls can be accessed through 3 entrances: Pile Gate, by St Lucas Fortress on St. Dominic’s Street and also by St. John’s Fortress.
GOOD TO KNOW:
As you might expect, the city walls are a famous tourist attraction in Dubrovnik and day-trippers flock here to capture their postcard moment. Therefore, plan your visit accordingly.
Tips for visiting the city walls:
- the entrance ticket to the walls will be rechecked every time you will pass one of the entrances. Make sure you keep it in a safe place.
- to avoid the crowds, visit late in the afternoon when the cruise ship visitors leave the walls
- check how many cruise ships will be in Dubrovnik on a particular day and pick the quietest one (Dubrovnik cruise ship schedule)
- wear comfortable shoes and also bring enough water with you
- if visiting during the summer months, don’t forget to wear a hat and sunscreen
- those who would like rest or refresh can visit one of the cafes on the city walls
- the last, but not least, the light for photography is the best in the afternoon or early in the morning
2. Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Beyond the medieval walls of the old town is one of the most important fortresses in the country. Picture-perfect fort Lovrijenac located just outside of the city’s western walls is, without a doubt, one of the top attractions of Dubrovnik. An impressive fortification rising above the Adriatic Sea is surprisingly often missed by many visitors. The beautiful fort, usually named “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”, offers also incredible views of the city.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The City walls ticket not only allows you to visit the medieval city walls but also Fort Lovrijenac.
3. Take a cable car to Mount Srd
Those in search of the city’s birds-eye views can take an orange cable car to Mount Srd. A few minutes cable car ride will bring you to the top of the mountain overlooking the medieval city. A pricey attraction offering scenic views of Lokrum Island and the Old town is, however, a must when in Dubrovnik. If you want to watch the sunset, this is the place to be.
Those who are feeling energetic can hike up to Mount Srd. Alternatively, drive up to Mount Srd.
4. Explore Dubrovnik’s Old Town
No trip to Dubrovnik would be complete without exploring the Old Town. Dubrovnik’s Old Town may be small, but is home to numerous museums, churches and other historical sights. Long defensive walls surround the core of the Old Town with picturesque cobblestone streets and charming restaurants. Enjoy the centre free of the traffic and see what it has to offer.
Explore the winding streets of the Old Town early in the morning before most people get up or late in the evening. The centuries-old streets and squares with the fewer people will give you a chance to taste the city without stepping on each other’s toes.
5. Stroll through Stradun of Dubrovnik
Start with a walk along Stradun, the city’s most famous street. Once a channel that separated the city into two parts has become one of Europe’s most picturesque pedestrian zones. The famed limestone-paved Stradun lined with baroque houses, restaurants and also churches is full of medieval flavour. The houses with similar stone façades and equal height were built after an earthquake that hit the city in the 17th century. The 300-metre long Stradun is connecting the western entrance “Pile Gate” to the old town’s port.
Stradun and some of the surrounding houses have been repaired after the Seige of Dubrovnik during the Yugoslav Wars. Now Dubrovnik’s main street is the popular walking area. Moreover, many of the historical sights are along the Stradun.
6. Onofrio Fountain
While you’re here, make sure to check out beautiful Onofrio Fountain. The large circular fountain with 16 unique stone carved masks was built as a part of a water supply system in Dubrovnik to bring the sufficient supply of fresh water to the city. Onofrio Fountain is surely one of Dubrovnik’s most famous sights and an ideal meeting point for the tourists and the locals alike. The fountain is in front of the St Savior church.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The small Onofrio Fountain, the sibling of the more famous fountain, is on the eastern part of the Stradun.
7. Church of Holy Savior
Just in front of the large Onofrio Fountain, right next to the entrance to the City walls, Church of Holy Savior can be found. The small church with some Gothic elements is excellent of the city’s Renaissance building. Although the Church of Holy Savior saw Dubrovnik’s great earthquake, the church withstood the horrifying disaster. What`s more, the church dedicated to Jesus Christ has been preserved in its original form.
8. Dubrovnik’ Clock Tower
Instantly recognisable, Clock Tower is undoubtedly one of the most iconic landmarks in Dubrovnik. An elegant bell tower is located next to Sponza Palace at the end of the Stradun. The replica of the original Clock Tower which suffered damage due to the multiple earthquakes overlooks Orlando’s Column and Sveti Vlaho Church.
9. Church of St. Blaise (Crkva Svetog Vlaha)
From there, make your way to Church of St Blaise, the most beautiful sacral building in Dubrovnik. The present Baroque church of St Blaise was constructed on the foundations of the Romanesque church that was destroyed in a fire. The city’s most beloved church with a wide staircase and Baroque style undoubtedly is one of Dubrovnik’s major sights. What’s more, Church of St Blaise is home to a 15th-century statue of St Blaise – the only surviving remnant of the previous church.
10. Sponza Palace (Divona)
The Sponza Palace happens to be an ideal base during the opening ceremony of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The courtyard of the 16th-century palace has an excellent acoustic and is often used for concerts. A rectangular palace with a mixed Gothic and Renaissance style is also one of the few buildings in the city which survived the earthquake. An attractive monument with a statue of St Blaise houses the state archives and important documents about the city’s history.
11. The Dubrovnik Cathedral (The Assumption Cathedral)
Another tourist destination most visitors head to is the Dubrovnik Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. A Roman Catholic cathedral was built after the earthquake crumbled the formal cathedral to dust. The cathedral with beautiful interior houses numerous religious paintings and also relics of saints.
12. Find Game of Thrones locations
Fans of Game of Thrones are in love with prominent Game of Thrones filming locations and, therefore they flock in thousands to Dubrovnik. Numerous scenes were filmed in the city, and that is why is this Dalmatian city is surely on the bucket list of any Game of Thrones fans.
Find the key locations such as Jesuits Stairs, Pile Gate, Fort Lovrijenac or West Harbour, and you can feel like you are on the movie set.
Join Game of Thrones tour, find all the famous places and learn exciting facts about the popular show.
13. Climb the Jesuit Staircase
Another symbol of Dubrovnik is the Jesuit Staircase located just off Gunduliceva Poljana. An impressive baroque staircase similar to the famous Spanish steps in Rome is another popular thing to see in Dubrovnik. Besides, the elegant stairs to the church of Saint Ignatius offer stunning views of the Old Town.
14. Explore the museums
Indeed, Dubrovnik is home to many museums, including the Rector’s Palace, Maritime Museum or the Homeland war museum dedicated to Dubrovnik during the Balkans Wars. If you’d rather soak up the art, think carefully about visiting the Museum of Modern Art. The museum with an impressive collection of artworks is well worth a visit.
Visit Rector’s Palace (Knežev Dvor)
An iconic Rector’s Palace situated just south of Luža square attracts visitors year-round. Gothic-Renaissance landmark used to be a political building built for the rector of the medieval city. Despite being damaged by an explosion and later by fire, Rector’s Palace was rebuilt and is now a historical attraction. Nowadays the palace serves as the museum of Dubrovnik. Visit the palace and explore the exhibition halls with artefacts from the city`s history as well as the prison.
15. Shop the local products at the Old Town market
For the fresh local products visit the Old Town market. You can find it at Gungulic square in the heart of Dubrovnik. An open-air market with numerous stalls is selling fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as other local products. Once a famous market between the locals is tourist-oriented these days.
16. Go kayaking
There’s a lot more to Dubrovnik than just the Old Town. If you would like to experience the city from the sea, don’t forget to take a kayaking tour. A popular outdoor activity also offers an opportunity to enjoy Dubrovnik from a unique point of view. Moreover, it’s an excellent way to rest and catch some rays while escaping the busy Old Town.
17. Have a drink at Dubrovnik Cliff Bar
For those who want to take things a little slower, Dubrovnik is famous for something else: cliff bars. Both Buža cliff bars are no secret – they are popular bars hidden along the walls of the city. Enjoy a drink in one of the famous bars – they are great locations to watch the sun go down. Yes, it can get busy throughout the day, for that reason visit the bar a couple of hours before the sunset.
If you get the opportunity and you’re visiting this Croatian city in the summer, soak up the sun on one of the concrete platforms. More adventurous souls can also swim in the sparkling blue waters. If you are looking for more activities, a cliff jumping from the walls is also very popular here.
18. Visit monasteries
If you’re more interested in visiting the city’s monasteries, why not to start with the Franciscan monastery? A large complex located next to the entrance to the city walls is a calm oasis often missed by many day-trippers. A small museum with a collection of liturgical objects, the beautiful gardens and a library with over 20,000 books offer more than you might think. Remember to visit a well-preserved pharmacy – one of the oldest pharmacies in the world still in operation.
Round the corner from the city’s harbour is also a Dominican Monastery. A monastery built in Gothic-Renaissance style holds a collection of religious paintings, jewellery and also historical artefacts.
19. Explore the Old Port
Another worthwhile thing to see in Dubrovnik is the Old Port located in the eastern part of the city. Perhaps the best way to soak in the area is to sit down and watch the world go by. From here, you can also book a trip to Lokrum Island or a boat trip to nearby towns. The Old Port is also a departure point of boat trips.
20. Check out Lokrum Island
Escape the hustle and bustle of Croatia’s capital and head over to the nearby Lokrum Island. The verdant forested island in front of Dubrovnik is just a short ferry ride from the city’s harbour. Despite its proximity to Dubrovnik, the island is peaceful, which makes it an excellent place to relax.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can’t stay overnight on the island, therefore find out when the last boat departs the island.
Aside from plenty of swimming spots and hidden coves, visitors can visit botanical gardens or explore the medieval Benedictine Monastery. The part of the monastery serves as a museum and a restaurant.
21. Beaches in Dubrovnik
There are several lovely beaches around Dubrovnik where beach lovers can relax and soak up some sun. Nearly every visitor heads to the city’s most popular Banje beach. A centrally located beach which is just a short walk from the medieval centre is, without doubt, one of the most stunning beaches in Dubrovnik.
For a sunbathing spot with a style, head to Buža Beach located at the foot of the medieval city walls. The area with concrete terraces is also an ideal escape for adventurous souls who don’t mind jumping to the sea.
Are you looking for a less crowded beach? Then try Sveti Jakov beach, situated in the eastern part of Dubrovnik. A tiny bay with views of Lokrum island and the city’s old town is famous, especially with the locals.
When it comes to famous beaches, Copacabana beach is undoubtedly popular sunbathing spots around the Lapad area. A long stretch of pebble beach is located a little further away from the centre in the Babin Kuk area.
22. Take a day trip to Kotor in Montenegro
If you stay in Dubrovnik for a longer period, make sure you take a day trip to Kotor in Montenegro. One of the most picturesque Montenegrin towns is within easy reach from Dubrovnik. A beautifully preserved coastal town with defensive medieval walls and a fairy-tale fortress is well worth your visit.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The public buses between Croatia and Montenegro run regularly late during the high season though. Expect coaches to be arriving more than 2-3 hours later than scheduled arrival.
Consider renting a car
READ MORE ABOUT KOTOR:
23. Discover Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina
If exploring another country is what you’re after, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina could be your another trip from Dubrovnik. The charming Balkan town once devastated in the civil war is full of history and impressive architecture. Mostar is also notable for its lovely old town and iconic Stari Most Bridge connecting the Muslim and the Catholic parts of town.
WHERE TO STAY IN DUBROVNIK
To truly experience Dubrovnik and its rich history, consider an overnight stay in the city. The Croatian capital is a magnet for tourists, especially during the summer months. Many of the visitors have a tight schedule, and therefore the city can feel overwhelming at times. The lifestyle in Dubrovnik tends to be more laid-back in the evening.
A weekend city break in Dubrovnik enables you to taste better the city. Most of the best things to do in Dubrovnik are near the pedestrian-only Old Town. As a result, it’s most convenient to find accommodation within the famous walls, or just outside. But you might find a stay at the heart of Dubrovnik pricey.
DUBROVNIK TRAVEL TIPS:
- to avoid the crowds, plan to visit Dubrovnik outside the summer months – visit the city in the shoulder season (May, September or October)
- if staying for a longer period, avoid staying at the heart of the city
- also, wake up early or stay out late if you would like to experience the city without the crowds
- save your ticket from the city walls and visit Fort Lovrijenac
- pay in the local currency (Kunas) not euros
- to save money, consider buying a Dubrovnik Card
- when planning an itinerary, try to avoid visiting the most popular attractions when are cruise ships in the city
Have you been to Dubrovnik in Croatia? Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments below. If you like our post, please save it to Pinterest 🙂
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