13 Awesome Things To Do In Dubrovnik, Croatia
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Ever since Games of Thrones (GOT) aired, Dubrovnik has been flooded with tourists all wanting to gaze upon the town that was the iconic setting of the series.
But Dubrovnik was, and still is, much more than that. There are so many things to do in Dubrovnik, from swimming in the turquoise blue waters to hiking up mountains, it’s one of the top destinations in Croatia for good reason.
Even if you’re not here for GOT reasons, a visit could leave you overwhelmed with the sheer number of attractions in Dubrovnik to choose from. The old town has enough history and beauty to occupy anyone happily for a couple of days, but when you venture outside the city walls, you’ll find there’s even more fun to be had.
If you’re not sure what to do in Dubrovnik and you need a little help planning your trip, this guide lists all the best Dubrovnik attractions and things to see and do!
Things to Do in Dubrovnik
Below are my suggestions for the top things to do in Dubrovnik. Many of these attractions we visited as part of our 2-week itinerary for Croatia in the summer, and we’re so excited to share with you our top places!
1. Walk Along The Walls of Dubrovnik
The whole city of Dubrovnik was enclosed with walls in the 13th century, that were extended up until the 17th century.
Inside the Old Town you’ll find the Placa Square, where you can really take in the architecture in its grandest state. Look up to see the 15th century clock tower and stroll through the winding streets lined with Renaissance buildings.
The best place to see it all though, is at the top of the city walls.
With numerous additions and modifications throughout their history, the walls of Dubrovnik are amongst the greatest fortification systems of the Middle Ages, and one of the biggest Dubrovnik attractions.
The Big fountain of Onofrio is another important part of the city’s medieval fortifications, since it was the original water supply system that carried water from the Dubrovacka river.
You can experience the best of the Old Town and the City Walls on a guided tour which allows you to learn about the history while taking in incredible panoramic views of Dubrovnik old town.
To walk on the city walks, take the entrance on the Stradun from the side of Pile gate right in front of the Onofrio’s fountain. Here you can purchase tickets for the walls.
Even starting with high expectations, the views of the Adriatic Sea and the old city spread below, takes your breath away, and it’s one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik. Especially at sunset.
The old town on one side, and the bay in the middle with Revelin Fortress at one end and Lokrum Island in the distance – it’s the perfect view to end the day.
Inside the tower, you come upon gems like these, from the ‘windows’ within the thick walls.
2. Take A Kayak Tour of Dubrovnik
If you walk outside Pile gate, towards St. Lawrence Fortress and take the steps down to the sea, you would see several colorful kayaks floating around.
There are at least seven or eight companies that run sea kayaking tours around Dubrovnik, and we were very happy with our choice of Adventure Dalmatia.
Adventure Dalmatia offers tours both in the morning and in the evening, and the tour lasts for about 2.5 hours.
Exertion apart, this was another one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was a great way to get up close and personal with the Adriatic Sea, see the walls from outside, see some of the spots around the old town including the Lokrum island and get the adrenaline going.
The golden rays lit up the Lokrum island and made the sea look dappled. The biggest plus, though, came from our guides Frank and Eric, who kept up a very interesting narrative of the town, the country, and, of course, GOT.
We first rowed towards the Lazareti – a series of interconnected buildings located outside the old city harbour.
Home today to a variety of local cultural groups, the Lazareti complex was built as a quarantine facility, to protect the Republic against diseases that ravaged Europe in the middle ages.
Further on, from a distance we saw the now derelict and abandoned Hotel Belvedere – once a luxury hotel that was destroyed in the Croatian War of Independence.
The combat battle scene between The Mountain and Oberyn in Season 4 of Game of Thrones was filmed at Hotel Belvedere. Frank mentioned that it is home to more than 100 cats; and you are welcome to take any cat home for free!
Top tip: Bring your own sunscreen and camera for the kayak tour. Adventure Dalmatia does give a small plastic jar that can keep your camera and shades dry. There is also a large dry-bag available with them, for all your valuables.
We took a half hour stop in a cove, where many people from other tour groups were cliff jumping, swimming, and snorkeling.
Too many people in that space for my liking, but the stop set us up well for the hard rowing needed to circle around Lokrum island.
We took a brief detour into another cove, smelling to high heavens with perhaps what was bird poop.
Frank offered (jokingly) a million dollars to anyone who could tell the group what the cove was used for.
All of us were left gaping, when my 6-year old, perched on the kayak between my husband and me, piped up, “For the fisherman to get protection during sea storms.” Slow clap!
Despite the need to catch our breath, we couldn’t wait to get out of the smelly cove.
3. Visit the Franciscan Monastery
The monastery’s solid stone walls transport you instantly from the hustle and bustle on the Placa to the medieval times. The architecture of the monastery
Enclosed within is a mid-14th-century cloister, a historic pharmacy and a small museum.
The cloister is one of the most beautiful late-Romanesque structures in Dalmatia.
Fun fact, the Franciscan order arrived in Dubrovnik around 1234. The rule of the Franciscan order was to take care of the sick brethren. Today the Friars Minor pharmacy is the third oldest functioning pharmacy in the entire world.
My daughter was very curious about the exhibits in the pharmacy.
There are a variety of weights and measures, of all sizes, the ceramic bottles with potions inside, some old manuscripts with perhaps recipes for making medicines.
No photos inside the pharmacy or the museum are allowed.
4. Hike Up the Srd Hill, Dubrovnik
Mount Srd gives a unique view of the old town and the surrounding areas.
The top of the hill can be reached via the Dubrovnik cable car (you could hike up the hill as well, there is an unmarked path).
Don’t be in too much of a panic to start clicking your camera in the cable car, there are enough and better opportunities for that from the panoramic terrace above, and from the Imperial fortress roof.
Dubrovnik’s city walls give way to reveal the picturesque Adriatic coastline and its many islands.
Once you have had your fill of the spectacular panoramas, visit the Imperial Fortress.
Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to spot the defensive potential of Srd hill. He began construction of Fort Imperial in 1806, soon after Dubrovnik capitulated to French rule, and completed it in 1812.
The Austrians took possession of Dubrovnik in 1815 and set about expanding the fort. The fort fell into disuse until the attack on Dubrovnik in 1991.
A section of the Fortress on the ground floor hosts the museum of the Croatian War for Independence. According to the ticket-vendor there, it has around 500 showpieces from the period 1991 to 1995.
We saw many documents, photographs, weapons, explosives, parts of military equipment, mine maps, war log books.
The Fortress now hosts the exhibition – Dubrovnik in Homeland War. It is well worth a visit.
There is good video material covering the Homeland war, and we would have liked to see the whole documentary, except that in the middle, the scenes were inappropriate for my 6-year-old.
After the panoramic views, this museum does put you in a sombre mood.
5. Enjoy Dubrovnik Old Town Without Tourists
To experience Dubrovnik old town when only cats are afoot and garbage collectors are busy cleaning the city, wake up early.
There were a couple of enthusiastic photographers when I went at about 6:30 am, but that was about it.
Dubrovnik Cathedral loomed over us as we rolled our suitcases to step out of the Ploce gate at 4.50 am, to catch the flight back home.
I looked back at this beautiful old town resting and realized that this was the hour to see it all, without the throngs of tourists and the stillness of the air.
If you can pull yourself out of bed for sunrise, you’ll find this to be the most rewarding thing to do in Dubrovnik.
6. Soak in the Atmosphere of the Lively Cafes & Bars of Old Town
Old town Dubrovnik is touristy and clichéd in parts, but always entertaining, and one of the popular things to do in Dubrovnik at night.
The evening vibe in the lively cafes and bars is thoroughly enjoyable. When you visit Dubrovnik, do stay a night in the old town and let its charm wash over you.
Soup, spinach and (Bosnian) cheese filled pastry, and kebabs in delicious bread.
After two weeks, we were up for trying some Indian food, even in Europe. We got into a restaurant named ‘Taj Mahal’ and did a double take looking at the menu.
Taj Mahal restaurant, despite its name, serves finger-licking Bosnian cuisine. If you want a change from Dalmatian or Italian cooking, head here.
Another memorable experience was at the Troubadour jazz cafe, with great music and nice cocktails, perfect for a lively evening.
If you want to linger on the Srd hill, dining at Panorama restaurant is a good option. You cannot beat this combination of good food with picturesque views of Dubrovnik, the Adriatic Sea and its islands.
Stradun is a great place to sit in a café if people-watching is your thing. And Poklisar is a good spot for a leisurely lunch or dinner, where you can sit facing the port and watch the boats.
7. Check Out Fort Lovrijenac (St Lawrence Fortress)
Fort Lovrijenac is located on the western side of Dubrovnik and is sometimes referred to as Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar because of its important role in the defence of Dubrovnik.
Standing at 37 metres tall, and some walls 12 meters thick, the fort is a massive structure that has deemed impenetrable since the early 11th century.
As you enter through the gate, take notes of the inscription above, Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro, which translates to ‘Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world’
Most recently, a stage was added to the grounds of the fort, where each year the Dubrovnik Summer Festival hosts a performance.
8. Take a Day Trip to Kotor, Montenegro
Just a short 1.5 hour car ride away from Dubrovnik is the town of Kotor in Montenegro. Kotor is a unique town in that it’s medieval old town sits at the bottom of a fjord-like landscape.
The old town is pretty small and can be seen in a couple of hours, but you should make time to hike up the old fort trail to see incredible views of the landscape and old town below.
A trip to Kotor is the ultimate day trip from Dubrovnik since it’s easy to see all the highlights in a day.
9. Take a Day Trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Another day trip you might take from Dubrovnik is to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is only a 2 hour drive away. This is one of the best hidden gems in Europe.
Mostar is a small medieval town located on the Neretva River, which has been made famous over the years for its old bride, Stari Most, which is a reconstructed medieval arched bridge.
Occasionally, you might see some brave cliff divers jumping from this bridge into the ocean waters below, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not a professional.
The town itself is quaint and cute, with winding alleys and bustling market stalls and boutique shops. Take the stairs up to the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque for some incredible views over the city.
10. Visit the Game of Thrones Filming Locations
Fans of GOT should not miss a Game of Thrones tour, which takes you on a stroll around Kings landing, the setting in the popular TV and book franchise.
The tour takes you to the most famous locations of Westeros’ as well as share some behind-the-scenes secrets of its production.
Visit the Red Keep and see where Tyrion Lannister and Varys walked and see where King Joffrey met a riot of citizens and was famously pelted with dung.
11. Relax in the Botanical Garden of Lokrum Island
Visitors to Dubrovnik in peak season (the summer) will undoubtedly be looking for some relaxing things to do to escape the masses of other tourists.
If that’s the case, you’ll find some peace and solitude at the Botanical Garden, also known as Lokrum Island. No matter what time of year you visit, you. can always expect fewer crowds here, since it’s located on an island a short ferry ride from the city.
Founded in 1959, the botanic gardens are home to more than 800 exotic plant species, and several historic monuments. Evidence suggests that the grounds in which the garden has been built date back to prehistoric times, but only the remains of 13th century castles can be seen in the gardens today.
This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy being in nature.
12. Check Out Rector’s Palace
The Rector’s Palace was once the home of the Rector of the Republic of Ragusa, and was also the seat of the Minor Council and state administration.
It was built in a Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque style and was used to house the city’s armoury, a watch house, and prison.
It was originally a defense building but was rebuilt in 1435 as a palace. It has been damaged and repaired several times over the years due to earthquakes, changing its architecture to blend a mixture of styles and influences.
Today, it houses the Cultural History Museum, which contains exhibits showcasing more than 150 years of history.
13. Visit the Cathedral and Treasury
Virgin Mary cathedral and Dubrovnik stone street architecture
The cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the city and is often known as the Assumption Cathedral of the Virgin Mary.
The building you see today stands on the same spot that the original 6th-century cathedral stood, but sadly that structure was destroyed by earthquakes.
The new(er) cathedral is a Baroque-style cathedral by a Roman architect, Andrea Buffalini, and has been filled with beautiful paintings and works of art by Italian and Dalmatian artists, including works by Raphael from the 1600s.
The Cathedral Treasury has many important relics and artifacts, including a piece of the cross on that Jesus was crucified on. There’s also, rather morbidly, the head, leg, and arm of Dubrovnik’s patron saint, St. Blaise.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Dubrovnik
So there you have it, those are the best things to do in Dubrovnik, and as you can see, there is a lot of amazing sites and attractions to see.
Dubrovnik is always busy with tourists, but hopefully you have realized now that there is more to see than just Game of Thrones filming locations.
We hope this guide helped you plan your trip to Dubrovnik and gave you some ideas for what to add to your to-do list!
Tours of Dubrovnik
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