Are you planning a trip to Croatia and wondering what things to do in Dubrovnik to add to your itinerary?
In this post I will cover the following to help you make the most of your trip to this beautiful Croatian city:
- Where is Dubrovnik?
- What are the must-do things in Dubrovnik?
- Tips when planning to walk the walls of Dubrovnik
- What are the best day trips to take if you are based in Dubrovnik?
- Where to stay in Dubrovnik
- Recommended places to eat and drink in Dubrovnik
WHERE IS DUBROVNIK?
Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated at the very tip of the southernmost part of Croatia. It is close to both the Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina borders.
This ‘pearl of the Adriatic’ as some call it was a trading port throughout history and a major Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. The city walls have protected it from attacks (the Venetians were apparently jealous of Dubrovnik’s success). The last attack on Dubrovnik came in 1991/2 when Serbian forces bombarded the city during a seven month siege.
WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN DUBROVNIK?
Dubrovnik is a lovely city to wander with lots of passageways and narrow streets to explore. It is totally pedestrianised.
TOP TIP I would highly recommend checking to see if there are any cruise ships due in port when you want to visit and planning to visit when they are NOT. Dubrovnik is incredibly busy in summer and the added strain of thousands of cruise ship day trippers will spoil your day. It also can make it extremely crowded at the Pile Gate.
As you walk up to the entrance to the old town at the Pile Gate look to your right to get a great view of Fort Lovrijenac. Once entering through the Pile gate (if you catch a bus it will drop you right outside the gate) directly in front of you is the Stradun (the main street), to the right is the Big Onofrio Fountain (built in 1438 by Onofrio della Cava) and at the end of the Stradun is the bell tower which is 31 metres high.
The architecture of Dubrovnik is a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque. Unfortunately a lot of the Renaissance architecture was destroyed in a terrible earthquake in 1667 which killed thousands of inhabitants.
Once you are in the old city my advice is to enjoy a leisurely stroll and soak in the atmosphere. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones see how many film locations you can spot!
VISIT LOKRUM ISLAND
This tiny island is only a short 15 minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik (it is only 600 metres from the city) The island has no inhabitants only day visitors and is a quieter greener experience than the old city. Covered in pine, cypress and olive trees you will find lots of shade in which to shelter from the summer heat. There are botanical gardens and the remains of a Benedictine Monastery to explore. Take your swimming gear and take a dip along the coast. Definitely a great excursion for a day – and for only 40 kuna a great option if you are on a budget.
TAKE THE CABLE CAR TO THE TOP OF SRD HILL
For great views over the city and surrounding areas take the cable car to Mount Srd high above the city. Visit the Museum Dubrovnik in Homeland War and learn about the cities more recent past and the impact of the war of 1991-1995 on the residents of Dubrovnik.
WALK THE WALLS OF DUBROVNIK
One must-do experience for your Dubrovnik itinerary is to walk the walls that surround the city. The Dubrovnik city walls are made from limestone and are 2kms long and between 4 to 6 metres thick! Incredibly after the earthquake in 1667, which destroyed much of the town, the walls were still standing.
I would try to walk the walls earlier in the day if you are in Dubrovnik during the hot summer months. It is quite a strenuous walk with lots of steps so take a hat, wear flat, comfortable shoes and take plenty of water with you. It also gets very busy so I would advise to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the walls are less crowded.
To purchase a ticket once you enter the city though the Pile gate turn right and there is the ticket office. It costs 150 Kuna each (adult price). You must pay in cash or with a credit card – Euros are NOT accepted. Opening times change throughout the year so be sure to check before you go. Remember to keep your ticket too as there is a checkpoint half way through (you can descend the walls at this point too if you want)
The views of Dubrovnik are amazing . It took us a little over 2 hours to complete the walk but we did stop to take lots of photographs.
TAKE A WALKING TOUR OF DUBROVIK
There are lots of great walking tours of Dubrovnik available including Game of Thrones tours for dedicated fans of the show! I recommend using Get Your Guide and booking ahead of time for any tours you want to do in the city. It can become extremely busy especially during the months of July and August so book before you arrive and save time and money!
WHAT ARE THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM DUBROVNIK?
The old city is lovely but I think a day or two exploring is probably enough. There are lots of things you can do if you are based in Dubrovnik and want to explore more of the area (or even some of the surrounding countries)
VISIT THE ELAFITI ISLANDS
These islands are an archipelago of 13 islands which are situated near Dubrovnik. Three of the islands are inhabited – Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. We hired a boat and skipper for the day to take us around the islands and had a fantastic time. Click here if you want to know more about visiting the Elafiti Islands.
VISIT ARBORETUM TRSTENO
– Situated a short bus ride from Dubrovnik Arboretum Trsteno was established in 1948. It incorporates gardens and a villa which were designed and built during the Renaissance. We had a lovely walk around the arboretum and the views are magnificent. Some scenes of the popular show Game of Thrones were shot in the arboretum and if you are a fan of the show you will defintiely recognise some of the locations. Read more about visiting Arboretum Trsteno
VISIT NEIGHBOURING BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
We could not pass up the opportunity to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina and took a day trip to visit Mostar with a local Dubrovnik guide. Read more about visiting Bosnia-Herzegonia.
Montenegro is also very close to Dubrovnik and worth visiting for a day. We were able to enjoy a trip to Kotor and the stunning Kotor Bay without breaking the bank using a local company based in Dubrovnik. Click here to find out how to plan a day in Montenegro.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING DUBROVNIK
I was advised not to stay in the old city and I think this is very sensible. The old city can become incredibly crowded during the summer months. Even worse when the cruise ships dock and there can be literally thousands of people trying to get in and out of the city though the Pile Gate.
We chose to stay on the Lapad peninsular which is a large residential suburb of Dubrovnik. It takes approximately 15 minutes to get to the Pile gate of the old city by bus from Lapad. Bus tickets are cheap and apart from the occasional crowded bus we found this a great way to get around.
In the summer it can be very hot in Croatia and if you enjoy relaxing by the pool finding accommodation outside the old city will be essential.
We booked a stay at the Villa Antea Apartments. The apartments were great value and the swimming pool, though small, had the most spectacular outlook! The restaurants and bars in Lapad are great too. There is a pedestrianised strip to stroll down to enjoy a drink and a meal in the evening.
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK IN DUBROVNIK
During our visits to the old city we only had a drink/ice cream and one pizza. Generally we made breakfast in our apartment every day before heading out to explore so tended to wait until evening to have a meal.
We found some fabulous places in Lapad for dinner and/or drinks with our favourite the Cave bar at the Hotel More. If you enjoy good food with a side order of sunset and stunning views then this is the place to visit! I would highly recommend you have at least a drink there – go and see the cave! Apparently when constructing the hotel they discovered the cave which was then incorporated into the bar.
There are plenty of other restaurants and bars along the pedestrianised strip in Lapad to choose from. The choice ranges from Italian and seafood to fast food outlets selling chips and burgers as well as plenty of bars offering cocktails.
TOP TIP: Although in the EU Croatia has not adopted the Euro and has its own currency the Kuna – though most places accept both currencies.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Old City of Dubrovnik was inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979. For more information about the listing visit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
PIN FOR LATER – BEST THINGS TO DO IN DUBROVNIK CROATIA
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Tracy is your expert expat!
She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
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