A city of terracotta roofs enclosed in an epic and iconic Old Town wall, Dubrovnik has remained a prominent destination over the Centuries in Croatia. With its endless things to see and do, it’s no wonder that Dubrovnik holds the ranks as the talk of the town.
Also called the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is a mesmerising walled city nestled on the far south of the Dalmatian coast. It is a popular tourist destination throughout the year, although we warmly recommend visiting it in the spring or summer months. The city comes alive during summer with thousands of visitors from all over the world discovering the city’s hidden treasures.Table of contents
- History of Dubrovnik
- The Best Way to Get to Dubrovnik
- Things to do in Dubrovnik
- Top Party Locations in Dubrovnik
- Where to eat in Dubrovnik
- Old Town Attractions
- Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
- Explore Nearby Destinations
- Visit the Best Beaches in Dubrovnik
History of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was founded in ancient times by Greek sailors travelling between their settlements on the Dalmatian coast. Soon it became an important trading outpost and in the 15th Century developed into a Republic – a sovereign state that rivalled the Venetians in both trade and wealth. It’s important to note that Dubrovnik was among the most forward-thinking states of that era, abolishing slavery as early as 1418. It became a beacon of civil liberties and the home of open-minded, inclusive people and it remains much the same to this day.
The Best Way to Get to Dubrovnik
As one of the major cities in Croatia, Dubrovnik is very well connected by several means of transport. With a well-connected International Airport, arriving into this famous city from various domestic and international locations is a breeze!
An efficient bus connection also runs throughout Dubrovnik. Dalmatian Cities such as Split, as well as the far flung cities of Rijeka and Zagreb have routes arriving into Dubrovnik. There are also various international bus routes covering Dubrovnik, including Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For a full list of bus timetables click here.
Dubrovnik can also be reached via a catamaran or ferry from most Dalmatian locations, with the most popular routes departing from Split, Hvar and Korcula. You can find ferry and catamaran timetables and routes here
Things to do in Dubrovnik
1. Walk Across Stradun
Stradun is something you will be hard-pressed to avoid, seeing that it’s the city’s main street. Paved with ancient slabs of marble, Stradun is the home to Dubrovnik’s most marvellous buildings. The medieval church of Saint Blaise and the Dubrovnik Cathedral are architectural centrepieces of Stradun, but hidden beneath the street you will also find the amazing 600 year old water supply system. Make sure to visit the Franciscan Monastery and check out the oldest operating Pharmacy in Europe!
After you’ve taken in the sights, relax in one of the numerous side alleys that intersect Dubrovnik’s Stradun. These are full of authentic restaurants, bars, and cafés, and are ideal for a coffee break between all of your exploring!
2. Ride the Dubrovnik Cable Car
If you really want to take it all in, then you don’t want to miss visiting Mount Srđ; the highest point in Dubrovnik. You will be whisked up by a cable car that runs from the outside of the City Walls and goes all the way up to an old fort on Mount Srđ.
Once you’ve reached the top you can enjoy the exquisite view of the city and its terracotta rooftops. The onsite restaurant also serves food and drinks if you would rather take in the view over a coffee or lunch. In the distance you will be able to make out the islands of Lokrum and Elafit, two locations you shouldn’t pass by on your holiday to Dubrovnik.
3. Walk the City Walls
A scenic must when you’re in Dubrovnik is to walk its impressive City Walls. As the fortifications that protected the pearl inside, the white limestone dates back to the 600’s; although what we see of stoday’s structure comes from the 15th Century – how often can you say you’ve walked on history?
The paramount walls stand well above the Old Town enticing you to take in the beauty of the iconic terracotta rooftops, narrow streets and surrounding views of the gleaming Adriatic. Admitted into UNESCO’s World Heritage List, dedicating some time sauntering around the ledge of the walls imagining what life was like during its protective reign is a must-do. The stroll will take you 1 to 2 hours and tickets can be purchased for 150HRK at the entrance.
4. Visit Buža Bar
As you duck through the winding streets of the Old Town, admiring its beauty and medieval feel, you might be lucky enough to stumble upon Buža Bar. Named after its entrance, a small hole in the city walls (Buža), this bar is perched on a cliff overlooking the sea.
Buža Bar is a great place to relax and let your mind soak in the relaxed atmosphere that is life in Dubrovnik. If you don’t stumble upon it by accident, seek it out by heading toward the side of the City Walls that faces Lokrum Island and look for the sign with the words ‘Cold Drinks’ on it, before entering the hole in the wall– you definitely won’t regret it!
5. Play Basketball at a Seaside Court
An empty space is hard to come by in Dubrovnik, which means that innovation is key. Two basketball courts have been built into the Old Town walls, with one even overlooking the Adriatic Sea – it seems too good to be true! Featured third in the Architectural Digest, a famous American interior magazine, the City Wall Rooftop Court that has been built into the medieval walls will definitely leave a mark on those who play on its magical court. After strolling the Old Town, we definitely recommend winding down, or dunking down a few shots at this fairytale spot with incredible views.
6. Visit Minčeta Fortress
The most awe-inspiring wall, after the one in China, is the one that encircles the Old Town of Dubrovnik. Constructed purely to defend the city from the Venetian Republic, today the wall is the main reason why tens of thousands of tourists visit the city each month.
The wall is dotted with fortresses, the largest one being Minčeta, which offers stunning views of the inside of the city. Although the walls do get crowded, visiting them is well-worth the wait and admission fee.
7. Go Buggying
Start your engines! Adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers rejoice, explore the impressive Dubrovnik coastline off the beaten track. This dirt road journey will take you through Dubrovnik’s varied terrain, minefields, war fortresses and out of this world Adriatic views. As you hairpin your way through these iconic stops, sit back and hold on as a professional driver delivers you an experience you’ll remember forever!
As one of the many Sail Croatia excursions, you can experience the Dubrovnik track on our Buggy Safari excursion!
8. Go on a Historical Walking Tour
A true treasure trove of history, a town as old as Dubrovnik will have many points of interest you can’t miss. The perfect introduction to this town, immerse yourself in its iconic background with a Historical Walking Tour which explains the ins-and-outs of the city’s longstanding history. Explore the snapshots of these captivating locations all found in the secure walls of the Old Town before you meander off to find all the hidden gems this city offers.
If you’re joining us on a Sail Croatia cruise, and stopping by in Dubrovnik, we offer a Historical Walking Tour as an optional excursion!
9. Explore Game of Thrones Filming Locations
Whilst the series has come to an end, the presence of Game of Thrones in Croatia has certainly not! On a book signing visit in Dubrovnik (pre filming), George RR Martin expressed that the city was exactly what he envisioned for Kings Landing to be and, not too long after, this manifestation came to life with the capital of the 7 kingdoms being born! The series was filmed at various locations within Croatia and a fair portion of them were filmed within Dubrovnik. Walk down the ‘shame’ steps famously performed by Cersei and be sure to commemorate your time with a forever keepsake in the form of a photo on the Iron Throne itself!
Don’t pass up exploring these filming locations on our Game of Thrones tour if you’ve booked a Sail Croatia cruise with us!
10. Visit Lokrum Island
Only a hop, skip and jump away from the Old Town Walls, the small island known as Lokrum is waiting to be explored! Just a short 15 minute ferry ride from Old Town, Lokrum Island is brimming with lush and subtropical greenery as soon as you step foot on its coastline. Even though the island is relatively small, there are plenty of opportunities to keep you occupied while you’re there. Discover the ruins of the 11th Century Benedictine Monastery that still stands today being the biggest and main attraction on the island. Meander your way through the 19th Century Botanical Gardens before stumbling upon the circular structure of Fort Royal in the centre of the island; here is where you can climb to the top and be welcomed with amazing views of Lokrum itself and Dubrovnik in the distance! If you’re lucky enough, along your journey you may even be graced with the presence of the resident peacocks which make for the perfect selfie opportunity!
Our Top Tip: If you’re up for a more adventurous journey, hire a sea kayak where you can travel to and from the island yourself.
11. Visit the Oldest Pharmacy in Europe
Hidden in the confines of the 14th Century Dominican Monastery is a 700 hundred year old apothecary that many travellers don’t know about. Through the Pile Gate and off to the side is the third oldest pharmacy in the world, built in 1317, and was used by medical professionals during the Ragusa era. Time has stood relatively still within the space with ancient pharmaceutical equipment, medical books and more on display whilst still remaining operational. The monastery also features a Pharmacy Museum that’s home to 15th Century artefacts and is well worth a wander in.
Top Party Locations in Dubrovnik
For those looking for the perfect allnighter, follow the Old Town road to Pile Gate where you’ll find a vision in the form of a neon sign. Skybar isn’t for the faint of heart, doors open at midnight and the party kicks on well into the early hours of the morning. Hosting some of the best parties in town, feel the beat of electronic tunes all the while donning one of their legendary drinks in a bucket! You are well and truly in for the long haul at Skybar!
Revelin Culture Club
Make your way to the hottest and most iconic super club in Dubrovnik if you’re ready to party. It doesn’t get more iconic than Revelin Culture Club that’s housed in a 500 year old fortress! Attracting celebrities and travellers from all over the world, the pull of Revelin is unmatched and was even voted in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs in the world. Summer is when this venue really shines and where you’ll rub shoulders with crowds of people eager to join in on the hottest electric tunes and vibes from celebrity and resident DJ’s. A night at Revelin will be a night you will remember forever!
Copacabana Beach Club
It doesn’t get more lush than Copacabana! For anyone after a day affair, Copacabana Beach is the answer. This uppercrust spot, stretched along a half-moon shoreline, is founded by a team dedicated to giving you the best experience at this beach – think luxurious cabanas, champagne for days and trendy tunes to get you through the summer sun. Take a dip right off the plateau into the warm Adriatic waters before enjoying the rest of your day.
Where to eat in Dubrovnik
The list of renowned places to eat in Dubrovnik could be cause for a trip in itself! Dubrovnik is blessed with a rich, and almost infinite food scene, anywhere from the walls of Old Town itself to right on the Stradun. Here are some of our recommendations that we think are worth a visit whilst you’re here.
In a sea of restaurants, Nishta stands out for being a vegetarian and vegan food escape! The first of its kind in Dubrovnik, Nishta fuses flavours from western countries including the Middle East, China, India and Mexico creating a truly unique east-meets-west flavour. Enjoy dishes ranging between falafels to samosas and even a hefty list of scrumptious salads in this Old Town eatery.
True to its classy reputation, Nautika is highly regarded as one of Dubrovnik’s most prestigious restaurants. You can expect VIP service that is unparalleled. Nautika is renowned so much so that it has enticed the likes of Pope John Paul and royal families across the globe. Near Pile Gate, Nautika combines classic and modern flavours using fresh and locally sourced ingredients which is essential for chef Mario Bunda. Whether you opt to try a meal or tasting menu, your dining experience will be nothing short of elegant.
With a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice 2020 ‘Best of the Best’ accolade, it goes without saying that Restaurant 360 is the restaurant you can’t miss. With its very own Michelin star, awarded in 2019, devour Meditteranian meals and a modern rendition of traditional Croatian recipes all the while overlooking the harbour from the UNESCO fortress walls. Expect nothing less than top-tier service and an elegant culinary experience.
Old Town Attractions
Your first experience within Dubrovnik’s Old Town will most likely begin at the western opening known as Pile Gate. As one of the main entrances to the city, it’s also the first taste of medieval architecture you’ll encounter as the structure was constructed in 1537. You can imagine that given the success of its fortifications, the Pile Gate once operated a drawbridge that was manually lifted every evening to ensure the safety of the patrons inside. You can still see a hint of this from the drawbridge weights that remain at the entrance. This has now been mostly replaced by the stone bridge that you cross to reach the gate. Above the Pile Gate entrance, the town's patron saint, St. Blaise, is carved in a niche above. Upon entering through Pile, a secondary gate, built in 1460, is on the horizon. Another statue of St. Blaise can be pinpointed before you access the inner city. Wandering through here will lead you through a hairpin path before opening up to the mesmerizing Stradun splashed with ancient architecture.
Formally known as the Dubrovnik Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, this edifice dates back to the 12th Century and as legend has it, was a gift from Richard the Lionheart who gave his thanks to God by building a grand church where his life was spared.
Crossing the threshold you will be inundated with gilded finishes and alters in the bright space, the most impressive being the altar of St. John Nepomuck crafted from violet marble. The namesake of the church can be found in the form of a polyptych painting hanging behind the main altar illustrated by Titian, a 16th Century Venetian painter. To the left of the altar lies the cathedrals treasury which, before the 1667 earthquake, was one of the richest found on the Adriatic.
Keeping watch over the sea and city stands an impressive isolated triangular defence fort known as Lovrijenac Fortress. Sitting 37 meters high on a sheer rock face, Lovrijenac dominates the space and was named after St. Lawrence. It’s believed that in order to gain control of Dubrovnik, the Venetians planned to build their own fortress where the Lovrijenac resides at the dawn of the 11th Century. The locals caught whisper of this and immediately decided to commandeer their plans by building their own in the meantime. It’s alleged that the build only took them 3 months and by the time the Venetians arrived bearing ships of materials, they had to sail back home with an unsuccessful job.
By design, Lovrijenac Fortress has great significance as a triangular structure, and this was especially important in defending the west of Dubrovnik from the land and sea. The walls of the fort were built with varying thicknesses that correlate to the strength of attacks expected.
Today the fortress remains standing thanks to its rebuild after the 1667 earthquake and hosts a plethora of events dedicated to the Arts.
St. Ignatius Church
Dating back to the beginning of the 18th Century, the incredibly ornate St. Ignatius Church dominates the view at the top of Gundulic Square. By many, this church is considered to be the most representative example of baroque design not only in Dubrovnik but in the whole of the coast. Walk up the steps from the city’s thoroughfare and absorb the striking architecture. Beyond the stunning exterior, intricately designed frescoes adorn the church's venue which depict the life of St. Ignatius. The imitation of the grotto of Lourdes is discoverable here as well as chiming in to the sounds of the 14th Century church bell presumed to be the oldest in the city.
Onofrio’s Great Fountain
One of the first landmarks you’ll be welcomed with when entering Old Town through Pile Gate is Onofrio’s Great Fountain. The polygonal fountain was designed by Onofrio della Cava from Naples and was built in 1438 by sourcing water from a nearby river. The first of its kind to be built in Croatia, the fountain supplied the town's water up until the end of the 19th Century when direct water was installed in homes. Many sculptures embellished the perimeters of the fountain, and like most other prominent structures throughout Dubrovnik, it too was significantly damaged due to the great earthquake of 1667. Find 16 carved water traps in the shape of masks and cupola that remain operational and make for the perfect spot to top-up your water bottle throughout the day.
Church of St. Blaise
Dubrovnik regards St. Blaise very highly as the protector of the city and honored him as the patron saint of Dubrovnik from the 10th Century. By commission of the Dubrovnik senate, Venetian master Marino Gropelli was enlisted to begin construction of this church. During its build, the church was completely ravished by a fire in 1706; everything was destroyed apart from, miraculously, the silver statue of St. Blaise who holds a model of medieval Dubrovnik in his hands. The church is home to a 17th Century quintych of the Martyrdom of St. Blaise and a beautiful collection of stained glass windows created by local artist Ivo Dulčić.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
From Game of Thrones inspired hostels in the heart of Old Town, to quieter spots outside the City Walls, and boutique luxury hotels, Dubrovnik is blessed with many accommodation options. Suiting all budgets and travel styles, price and style is variable depending on your preferences, like whether you’d prefer to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle or quieter locations to enjoy the city and sea views. We recommend using an accommodation search engine, such as Airbnb or Booking.com to discover the best accommodation for your travel needs.
Explore Nearby Destinations
Named after the mills that powered the town's water supply, known as ‘mlin’, Mlini is a hub of culture and history dating back to ancient times all wrapped in an idyllic location. As part of the Dubrovnik Riviera, Mlini lies only 11 kilometers southeast of Dubrovnik along Župa Bay; this will only take you 10-15 minutes by bus and is well worth a trip! A mini oasis, Mlini is adored for its serene wellsprings and lush landscapes. There are numerous beaches that are available to seek some serenity including a fine sand beach which is generally uncommon throughout Croatia! Evidence of ancient Greek and Roman settlers are scattered throughout town and you may even hear a whisper of a dragon defeat on the beach by St. Hilarion. Close enough to enjoy the surroundings but isolated enough to enjoy the calmness of town, Mlini’s beauty will capture your heart.
If you’ve managed to meander your way to Dubrovnik, Cavtat is the most southerly isle past town worth the journey. Just 20 kilometers away, and a 10 minute bus ride from the town center, Cavtat sits in the middle of Dubrovnik and Montenegro and boasts a more demure ambiance compared to its neighbours. Cavtat is enclosed by its harbour town, relatively protected from the hustle and bustle and adorned with a sea of terracotta and vibrant blue and teal views from watersedge. This petite town holds a number of ancient sites, boasts a summer festival from June to September and eagerly showcases their heritage through folk costumes, traditional crafts and dances throughout the town.
A true hidden gem if only by its calm ambiance, peaceful Plat is an escape away from its thriving neighbours. This humble coastal spot is only a 15 minute drive southeast of Dubrovnik and is the perfect location to enjoy some ‘you’ time. A furrowed coastline wrapped with lush Meditteranean vegetation, stroll along the seaside promenade that spans across a pebble cove stopping sporadically to discover a new beach spot. Whilst Plat falls a little short on attractions, the few restaurants and bars to enjoy after lounging your day away in this tranquil town will have you boasting you stopped by.
Visit the Best Beaches in Dubrovnik
A trip to Dubrovnik isn’t complete until you visit one of the best known beaches in South Dalmatia – Banje Beach. The crystal clear sea waters make for a refreshing dip from the summer sun and is only a coins toss away from the Old Town walls. Outside of Ploče Gate, follow the path until you meet a set of stairs that will initially lead you through the beach club before entering the pebble shoreline. Choose to spend your time renting lounge chairs and parasols or enjoy the stunning Old Town views on a banana boat or kayak. For the adrenaline seekers, try your hand at the watersports available including parasailing, water skiing or wakeboarding. Although the beach club has all these amenities, you are more than welcome to choose a spot and perch yourself just beside and enjoy the day go by.
Away from the busyness that Banje Beach attracts, 3 kilometers west of Old Town Lapad Beach awaits. As part of the Lapad Peninsula, there are several gorgeous beaches that make up the beaches of this peninsula, with Uvala Lapad the most popular. With all spots come sparkling crystal waters along a pebbly shoreline however at Uvala Lapa, a promenade backs on the beach where a flurry of lounge bars, cafe bars and pastry spots are located; perfect to take 5 between dips in the waters or strolling along the picturesque coastline. A 10 minute journey by bus, take part in watersports, hire a paddle boat or even take part in scuba diving lessons!
From scenic views, a tumultuous history and infinite list of attractions unique to its town, it’s not hard to see why Durbovnik is dubbed the Pearl of the Adriatic. This walled city is an unmissable destination to visit on a journey throughout Croatia and a location where you’ll be overcome with awe and inspired by its people.