Dubrovnik is one of the most popular places in Croatia. What makes Dubrovnik so special? And what to do during a Dubrovnik vacation?
What makes Dubrovnik so special?
The city of Dubrovnik is also known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. The city actually consists of two parts: a modern part and the old, completely walled fortified city. The walled city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Many of the houses and palaces in the fortified town date from the seventeenth century.
Where is Dubrovnik located? This beautiful city is located in the very south of Croatia, in the Dalmatia region. From Dubrovnik, it is very easy to visit other countries. It is only a half-hour drive to the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina and an hour to the border of Montenegro. You can also take a ferry to various cities in Italy.
A Dubrovnik vacation is therefore definitely worth it for people who love scenic views and would like to stay in one place a little longer. There are plenty of fun things to do.
Tips for a Dubrovnik vacation
What to do in Dubrovnik? These are the 15 best things to do in Dubrovnik.
Walk on the old city walls
Yes, it’s expensive and crowded, but a walk on the old city walls is a must when in Dubrovnik. You can make a full circle around the city and it is about 2 kilometers long. If you take a lot of photos, it will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours.
The view of the city when you’re walking on the wall is absolutely gorgeous and looks different from every angle.
Would you also like to learn something while you’re walking on the wall? Make sure to book a guided tour. This way, you’ll learn a lot about the history of Dubrovnik and the guide can show you the most beautiful places.
Tip Would you like to avoid the crowds? Don’t climb the wall near the Pile Gate, but at one of the other places, such as the one near the Dominican Monastery. In addition, it is also a lot quieter between 8 and 10 in the morning and after 3 in the afternoon.
Check out all the gates
Dubrovnik has three beautiful city gates. The Pile Gate (Vrata od Pila) from the fifteenth century is beautiful and the most famous, but also Vrata od Buže and Vrata od Ploča are wonderful to see.
Walk the Stradun
The Stradun is the main street in Dubrovnik. The street runs from Pile Gate to Sponza Palace and is always busy. On both sides, you can see beautiful buildings, which are full of nice shops and restaurants.
Visit the Franciscan Monastery
At the beginning of the Stradun (at the Pile Gate) you will see the Franciscan Monastery on the left. It is a beautiful building with an old monastery garden and it is a peaceful place to visit. The gallery around the garden is beautiful to see and you can admire some frescoes on the walls. In the monastery is also a small museum and an old pharmacy. This pharmacy from 1317 (!) is one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in the world.
Visit the old port
On the east side of the old town, you will find the old port. This is full of small fishing boats (be careful not to get caught in the nets) and you can take a nice walk along the quay to various viewpoints. There are benches everywhere, so it’s a great place to take a break and take in all the beauty of Dubrovnik.
Take a break at the Onofrio Fountain
Another good place to take a rest is the Onofrio Fountain, near the Pile Gate. The water from this fountain is drinkable (it’s a good place to refill your water bottle) and you can relax on the steps around the fountain.
Climb the stairs for the most beautiful views
Although the Stradun is quite flat, the other streets of Dubrovnik are very steep. Especially on the north side, you will find a lot of stairs. The best thing is that not many people come here and therefore, you’ll have the most beautiful views all to yourself. It is a beautiful place just to wander around and discover the beautiful details and views.
Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Just outside the old town, on the side of the Pile Gate, stands Fort Lovrijenac on top of the rocks. It is quite an impressive fortress. It dates from the eleventh century and some of the walls are 4 to 12 meters thick.
You can visit this fortress and from the walls, you have a beautiful view of the walled fortified city. For the best view of the fortress itself, head to Dubrovnik West Harbour, a stone pier in the water.
Discover all Game of Thrones filming locations
Dubrovnik is truly a mecca for Game of Thrones fans. The city was mainly used for many scenes that take place in Kings Landing. If you’ve been following the series, many places in Dubrovnik will look familiar to you.
Do you want to discover all the filming locations in Dubrovnik? Then it’s fun to book a special Game of Thrones tour.
Visit the churches
If you walk on the walls, you will see a lot of domes and church towers. You can visit most of these churches and it is really worth it, one is more beautiful than the other.
Where you should definitely take a look are the Saint Blasius Church (Crkva sv. Vlaho on Luza Square), the Assumption Cathedral (Katedrala Uznesenja Blažene Djevice Marije), and the Saint Ignatius Church (Crkva sv. Ignacij, with a monumental staircase).
Explore Rector’s Palace
Between two churches you will find the Rector’s Palace (Knežev dvor). From the fourteenth to the early nineteenth century, this beautiful building (with Venetian and Gothic elements) was the residence of the rector and the seat of the city council.
The Rector’s Palace is now a museum where you can learn more about the history of Dubrovnik and this beautiful building.
Take the cable car to Mount Srđ
For the best view of Dubrovnik, head to the top of Mound Srđ, which lies behind the city. You can get here in different ways: by car, on foot, by bicycle or by cable car. The latter is of course the most fun, but also quite pricey.
From the top, you have a fantastic view of Dubrovnik and the island of Lokrum. Here you will also find the Homeland War Museum (Muzej Domovinskog rata Dubrovnik) where you can learn more about the war in the 1990s. It’s very interesting if you’d like to learn more about this part of Duvroniks history.
The Dubrovnik Card
When you walk around Dubrovnik you will see advertisements for the Dubrovnik Card in many places. This is a card that you can buy for 1, 3 or 7 days and with this, you can visit various museums and use public transport for free.
Is the Dubrovnik Card worth it? That, of course, depends on what you want to do. If you want to walk on the city walls, take the bus once or twice and visit a few museums, it’s always cheaper if you have a Dubrovnik Card.
Personally, I found purchasing the Dubrovnik Card was really worth it. It was quite rainy during my visit to Dubrovnik and when it started raining I was able to visit a museum. In addition, my accommodation was located outside the old town, so the included bus tickets were also very convenient.
Interested? You can buy the Dubrovnik Card at the City of Dubrovnik Tourist Board (at the Pile Gate) and get a 10% discount if you order the card online.
Fun Day Trips from Dubrovnik
Would you like to visit some fun places outside the city during your Dubrovnik vacation? From Dubrovnik, you can visit some amazing destinations.
Croatia has countless islands, so if you’re traveling along the coast of Croatia, it is a must to visit one or more islands. Not far from Dubrovnik you’ll find the Elaphiti Islands, a small archipelago. The islands are known for the rocky foothills with caves and you can take beautiful walks here. From Dubrovnik, various day tours are offered to the Elaphite Islands.
Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Mostar is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and can be visited as a day trip from Dubrovnik. Mostar is best known for the Ottoman Stari Most (Old Bridge) from 1566. This bridge and the Old Town of Mostar are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can drive to Dubrovnik in about 2.5 hours by car, but you can also book an organized tour. If you go on a tour, you will also make a stop at the beautiful Kravica waterfalls.
Bay of Kotor (Montenegro)
About an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik you will find one of the most beautiful places in Europe: the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. This is a beautiful lake with impressive mountains surrounding it. Around the bay are several beautiful towns and villages.
Daily tours to the Bay of Kotor are organized from Dubrovnik, often with a boat trip.
How much time do you need for Dubrovnik?
To see most of the interesting sights of Dubrovnik and go for a walk on the walls you need at least a full day. Do you also want to visit museums and go to the top of Mount Srđ? Make sure to plan a perfect Dubrovnik itinerary for two days.
Overall, it is absolutely recommended to stay a little longer in Dubrovnik. This way you have plenty of time to visit the most beautiful places at different times. At night it looks very different than during the day. In addition, there are also plenty of day trips that you can make from Dubrovnik.
What’s the weather like in Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik has a maritime climate and there is always a chance of rain. The best travel time for a city trip to Dubrovnik is from April to September when there’s the least amount of rain. It can get quite hot in July and August, so keep that in mind.
How do you avoid the crowds in Dubrovnik?
Don’t be alarmed, but you are certainly not the only tourist wandering the streets of Dubrovnik. Don’t feel like walking in the crowd all the time? With these tips, you can avoid the crowds (a little).
- Get out early in the morning. Before 10 o’clock in the morning, the streets are quiet. After five o’clock in the afternoon, it is also a lot quieter.
- Travel to Dubrovnik in low season. It is especially busy from June to September.
- Dive into the side streets. Most people linger on the main street (Stradun) and don’t bother walking up the stairs.
- Visit the museums. There are not that many people who visit the museums, so the museums are never really busy. A good place to relax, learn more about Dubrovnik and Croatia and use the toilet.
Practical tips for a trip to Dubrovnik
How do you get to Dubrovnik, where do you sleep, and how to move around the city?
How do you get to Dubrovnik?
How to get to Dubrovnik? You can travel to Dubrovnik by plane, bus or car.
Flying to Dubrovnik is very easy because Dubrovnik has an international airport. Check Skyscanner to compare prices and times to find the cheapest tickets.
Please note The airport is located quite far from the city. To get from the airport to the city it is best to use an airport shuttle.
Travel to Dubrovnik by public transport
Traveling by public transport is, of course, a lot more sustainable than by plane. However, it probably takes more time. Dubrovnik has a large bus station with connections to many cities in Croatia, but also to other countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. So traveling by bus to Dubrovnik is especially a suitable option if you are on a big trip.
But traveling this way is usually more fun because you get to see a lot more of the country. I myself traveled to Dubrovnik from The Netherlands using public transport. First by train to Zagreb and in Croatia, I traveled further by bus.
Traveling by car in Croatia is the most convenient and the fastest way to get around.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Where are you going to stay in Dubrovnik? Sleeping in the old fortified city is great, but also very pricey. In addition, there are also plenty of cool places in the newer part of the city where you can spend the night. These are some of the best places to stay in Dubrovnik:
- Sobe na Konalu – Guesthouse with spacious rooms on a hill with amazing sea views. About a 20 minute walk to the old town.
- Apartments Festa – Tiny, but nice apartment in the old center.
- Hotel Excelsior – beautifully decorated 5* hotel with a beautiful view of the walled city.
Would you like to discover the best accommodations yourself? Check Booking.com for a complete overview.
Public transport in Dubrovnik
You don’t need transport in the old fortified town, but if you’re staying outside it’s handy to take the bus every now and then. You can buy a ticket from the driver (15 HRK) or in one of the newsstands (it costs 12 HRK). You can stamp the ticket at a machine on the bus.
Unfortunately, there is no handy website to look up exact bus times (Google Maps does not work for local buses in Croatia), but you can find a schedule of the local buses in Dubrovnik on this website. Many of the buses run between the bus station and Pile Gate and then follow a different route. So you almost always end up in one of those two places.
More tips for a fun vacation in Croatia
These were all my tips for a great Dubrovnik vacation. Would you like to discover Dubrovnik or Croatia? These travel guides are very useful when you’re preparing your vacation in Dubrovnik and Croatia:
DK Eyewitness Top 10 Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast (Pocket Travel Guide)
Insight Guides Explore Dubrovnik (Travel Guide with Free eBook)
You can also read more about the most beautiful places in Croatia on this website. For example, check out these articles:
- The most beautiful places in Croatia | Bucket List
- Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park: Nature at its best!
- What are the best Split attractions?
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