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Dubrovnik is a spectacular city on the banks of the Adriatic Sea in Southern Croatia. Dubrovnik is known for its iconic Old Town that was featured in the popular TV show Game of Thrones, as well as the beautiful beaches, great seaside restaurants, and warm weather.
This Croatian city is a major tourist destination as it has attractions for a variety of interests. Dubrovnik highlights include historic buildings, breathtaking views during sailing and kayaking tours, culinary adventures, Croatian wine, and so much more. It’s no wonder that Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia.
The best time for visiting Dubrovnik could be in September or October. The temperatures in Dubrovnik city are still pleasantly warm, but it’s not considered a high season anymore. This means that most of the cruise ships have abandoned the port, there are fewer tourists overall, and the prices of car rental and accommodation are lower as well. But it’s still possible to go for a swim and enjoy all the city’s other attractions.
And if you go for a week, you’ll have enough time to go on some spectacular day trips from Dubrovnik to the nearby cities, islands, and countries.
You can take guided cruises to Dubrovnik offering a variety of activities, such as sightseeing, shopping, dining, and more. Such cruises are a great way to see the city and more. Dubrovnik cruises also offer an opportunity to see other parts and islands of the Dalmatian coast. You’ll not only enjoy the scenery from onboard the ship but will also have the opportunity to explore the places when the ship stops at different famous spots.
If you are staying in some other Croatian city, you can also take guided cruises to Dubrovnik offering a variety of activities, such as sightseeing, shopping, dining, and more. Such cruises are a great way to see the city and more. Dubrovnik cruises also offer an opportunity to see other parts and islands of the Dalmatian coast. You’ll not only enjoy the scenery from onboard the ship but will also have the opportunity to explore the places when the ship stops at different famous spots.
Dubrovnik Old Town
The old city of Dubrovnik is the most iconic place you just must explore if you are in the area. You can do a self-guided walking tour of Dubrovnik’s old town or you can join a guided tour if you don’t want to plan the main attractions.
However, it’s suggested to check out the things that might interest you beforehand so that you don’t miss anything when you are actually there.
Because there is just so much to see!
Dubrovnik has retained its medieval walls and buildings in such a condition that it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Below you’ll find several noticeable buildings or other kinds of places located in the Dubrovnik’s old town.
Pile Gate is the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s old town. You can arrive at the Pile Gate by crossing a long stone bridge that crosses a dry moat. After the stone bridge, there is a drawbridge.
Inside the gate, there are stairs to the City Walls. After passing through the gates you’ll arrive at Stradun – the Main Street.
If you are visiting Dubrovnik in July or August try to get to the Pile Gate earlier in the day, as it can get quite crowded.
The Franciscan Church and Monastery
After going through the Pile Gate, check out the left side. You’ll find there a Franciscan monastery.
The Franciscan order established Friars Minor pharmacy on the ground floor of the monastery. It was designed to take care of sick monks as well as the general public. This helped to fund the materialistic needs of the order. Currently, this is the third oldest functioning pharmacy in the world.
Stradun is a 300-meters long limestone-paved pedestrian street that is considered to be the main street in the Old Town. It connects the Pile Gate and Ploče Gate, the main entrance to Old Town from the Eastern side.
Both sides of the street are full of shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is a promenade where anyone visiting Dubrovnik Old Town eventually finds himself strolling along. And it is no coincidence. If you look at the map of the Old Town, you’ll notice that almost all the small streets lead to Stradun.
Luža Square is located at the eastern end of the Stradun. The bustling square has been a gathering point for the locals for hundreds of years. It’s surrounded by old buildings with cafes and shops, Orlando’s column, and a bell tower.
There is a lot of history that has happened in Luza Square. Croatian sovereignty was proclaimed here, and several trials and executions have happened there.
This is the center of the medieval city, and overall a nice place to soak in the surrounding life and architecture. But this also means Luža Square can get quite crowded in the high season. The best time to visit it is early in the morning or in the evening as the last thing that you do in the Old Town Dubrovnik.
Church of Saint Blaise
Right next to Luza Square you’ll find the Church of Saint Blaise. It was built in 1715 in the Venetian Baroque style.
Saint Blaise has been the patron saint of Dubrovnik since the 10th century.
The previous church that was built in the same place burned down leaving nothing but a silver statue of St Blaise. When the new church was built, the statue returned to its former place.
On the left side of Luza Square, you’ll see the Sponza Palace. Considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings that have preserved its original form, Sponza Palace is a large, rectangular building with a courtyard.
Currently, Sponza Palace is housing the archive that contains documents dating back to 1022. The archives aren’t open to the public, however, copies of the documents are displayed on the ground floor.
Just south of Luza Square you’ll find the Rector’s Palace. It was built in the 13th century and rebuilt later in the Venetian-Gothic style. Previously it has housed the government offices and Rector’s headquarters, but currently, it houses the Cultural-historic Department of the Dubrovnik Museum.
The western facade of the palace is very photogenic with arcades and arches.
The Cathedral is an impressive structure built on several previous older churches that have been destroyed in earthquakes. The money to build the Cathedral was partially donated by English king Richard the Lion Heart after he had survived a shipwreck near the island of Lokrum.
The treasury of the Dubrovnik Cathedral contains many precious objects, including the head, and the arm of the patron saint of Dubrovnik: St. Blasius. There are also many valuable paintings, and gold and silver reliquaries.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Rector’s Palace there is the Old Port. The ferries from here go to Lokrum Island. In the high season, there are around 20 journeys a day. Boats also can take tourists on various sightseeing routes.
The Old Port of Dubrovnik is encompassed by two breakwaters. In the time of the Dubrovnik Republic, these along with the surrounding fortresses offered protection to the city against any enemy from the waterside.
The maritime museum showcases nautical relics and maritime history in the Adriatic sea. There are ship models and parts from shipwrecks found near the shores of Dubrovnik.
It is not that big, but the information is also available in English, and it is interesting for those who enjoy history. As Dubrovnik is a port town and was famous for the ships built there, maritime is a big part of the town’s history.
Dubrovnik city wall
Dubrovnik’s city wall completely surrounds the Old Town as it was a part of the city’s defense system. At the highest point, they reach around 25 meters in height.
If you wish to walk around the Old Town on the city wall, it’s possible, but you’ll have to pay for it. It takes around 1,5-2 hours to walk around the walls depending on how busy they are with other tourists.
If you plan to visit the Dubrovnik city wall, there is an option to book the tickets online. You might also consider buying the Dubrovnik card. It includes a free visit to the city wall as well as several other points of interest. In addition, free public transportation is included. This might become useful if you plan to check out some places in Dubrovnik outside of the old city.
Another option is to just enjoy the walls by walking next to them on the ground without going up. Sure, there wouldn’t be such great city roof sights as from the above, but the wall itself is quite impressive also if you just stand next to it.
Lokrum Island is located just a few minutes ferry ride away from Dubrovnik Old Town and is a really popular day trip destination. The island is a contrast to the stone streets and houses of Dubrovnik. It’s green with plenty of pine, cypress, and olive trees as the Botanical Garden was planted there in the 19th century.
It’s really easy to get to Lokrum Island. Just go to the Old Port and there will be ferries going out quite frequently and costing just 40 Kuna (€5) return.
When you get to the island, just take a walk to explore and enjoy it. You may well expect to see peacocks wandering around the island and showing off their tails. There should be some rabbits as well.
You might encounter the old Benedictine Monastery ruins among all of the greenery on Lokrum Island. Quite close to them is the Dead Sea – a super salty lagoon where you can swim and it feels more like floating.
The island is surrounded by different beaches, so be sure to bring some swimwear. The cafes on the island are a bit pricey. Bringing your own food and water is a good idea.
Dubrovnik Cable Car and Mount Srđ
The Mt. Srd raises behind Dubrovnik and offers nice panorama views of the city below from its top. But how can you get there?
The most active explorers can try to find a hiking trail leading up to the Srd hill, however, it takes time to climb it and it’s not the easiest thing to do. You’d have to walk uphill without much shade for a long time. Doesn’t sound like much fun.
Some other ways of getting to Mt. Srd are taking a bus from Dubrovnik or joining an organized tour.
However, the most popular way to get to the stunning views of the sea, islands, and the city below Mount Srđ is to use the Dubrovnik cable car. It takes just 3-4 minutes to get to the top. There you can soak in the beauty of the surroundings and visit the Fort Imperial with the Museum of Croatian War of Independence.
Banje beach is located on the east of the Dubrovnik Old Town. It is the best-known public beach in Dubrovnik.
Banje beach offers beautiful views of the town and the nearby Lokrum Island. As it is a well-known beach, it gets really crowded in the high season.
Visitors can rent sunbeds, visit a restaurant, and enjoy various watersports activities like kayaks, parasailing, jet skis, and tube rides.
The impressive Lovrijenac Fortress is built on a 37-meter high sea cliff just outside of Dubrovnik. It was built to protect the city against the invaders coming from the sea. The thickest walls of Lovrijenac Fort are 12 meters wide.
Nowadays the fort is often used as a theater. During the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, it has become a tradition to perform Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Fort Lovrijenac.
Game of Thrones Tour
A popular way to spend a couple of hours in Dubrovnik is to go on a Game of Thrones walking tour. The most convenient way to do this would be to book a tour where the guide would tell you all of the details. However, it’s also possible to check out the filming locations on your own.
Here is a list of Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik:
- Lovrijenac Fort – The Red Keep
- Dubrovnik West Pier – Blackwater Bay
- Pile Harbour – Harbour in Kings Landing
- Dubrovnik West Harbour
- Fort Bokar – city walls of Kings Landing
- Gradac Park – The Purple Wedding
- Pile Gate
- Minčeta tower – The House of Undying
- Jesuit Staircase by Saint Ignatius Church
- The Rector’s Palace – Qarth
- St Dominic Street
- Steps outside the Dominican Monastery
- Ploce Gate
- Lokrum Island
Sea Kayaking Tour
To get a different view of Dubrovnik, you can join a sea kayaking tour. There are various options available, but they usually take half a day of time and don’t require previous experience.
Some of the tours also offer snorkeling during the activity, which is another fun way how to get to know the Adriatic waters better.
If you are interested in such tours, it’s possible to book in advance online. This would be advisable during the high season to avoid being left without a tour when everyone else wants to go on the same tour. In less active months it’s better to just ask the people offering tours in the Old Port or on the beaches, as these tours might be cheaper.