Croatia attracts both travelers in search of breathtaking landscapes and those in search of relaxation. And whether in summer or winter, there is something for everyone. Nature reserves, beaches, lakes, mountains, waterfalls, fortified towns… everything is there for a pleasant stay. Located by the sea, with its magnificent historic old town, Dubrovnik is one of the most interesting places to visit in Dalmatia. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea, the city is full of cultural and historical monuments testifying to its millennial existence. Visiting Dubrovnik will not leave you indifferent as much for its poignant history as for its breathtaking beauty.
Here are, in our opinion, the 11 essential things to see or do in Dubrovnik!
1. The ramparts of the fortified city
Impossible to visit Dubrovnik without visiting the city walls. Built in the 10th century and modified in the 13th and 14th centuries, the walls, some of which are up to 6 meters thick, provided a solid line of defense against invaders. Imposing and unmissable, they are now a must for tourists. Surrounding almost entirely the old city (except at the level of the port), the walk is nearly 2 kilometers long. It is one of the few places in Europe where almost all of the ramparts are still preserved.
To visit Dubrovnik by the ramparts, count 200kn (27€) for an adult and 150kn (20€) for a child. The ramparts are open all day between 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., however we advise you to visit them as long as it is not too hot and there are few crowds. It takes a good 2 hours to go around without rushing.
2. Lovrijenac Fortress
Located to the west of the ramparts, more than 37 meters above the water, the fortress, dating from the 11th century, protected the city. This is one of the must-see sights in Dubrovnik. Vestige of a part of history, the Saint-Lovro chapel is located in the inner courtyard as well as many cannons. You must have already seen these monuments in the hit series Game of Thrones since the entire city serves as the setting for Port-Réal.
3. At Stradun
Visiting Dubrovnik without walking the Stradun is unthinkable. Main tourist artery of the city with its shops, cafes and restaurants, it is often crowded and even more so in summer. It should be noted that the Stradun stores offer souvenirs of low quality and often at excessive prices. To find a typical gift, do not hesitate to explore the small alleys in search of jewelers and craft shops.
Wandering the streets of Dubrovnik, you will discover many shops, as well as some monuments such as churches or fountains. Do not hesitate to have an ice cream at the bend of a street or on the way to the port.
4. The Cathedral of the Assumption
To visit Dubrovnik well, you have to visit its cathedral. Built on the site of a 7th century basilica, the cathedral was extended in the 12th century, allegedly funded by a gift from King Richard the Lionheart , rescued from a shipwreck on the nearby island of Lokrum. Unfortunately, destroyed in 1667 by an earthquake, it will take a century to rebuild. Its baroque style, its altars and its paintings contribute to its fame.
5. The Rector’s Palace ( Knežev dvor )
Emblem of a former government, the Rector’s Palace illuminates with its Gothic style dotted with a few Renaissance touches. The grand building now houses a museum of cultural history and many relics of Dubrovnik’s political past. Throughout the visit, you will find apartments decorated with portraits and a courtyard housing the bust of Miho Pracat , a former wealthy trader from the island of Lopud.
For this monument, open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in season, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter, count 120 kn (16€) for an adult and 25 kn (4€) for a reduced price.
6. The Dominican Monastery
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful monuments to do in Dubrovnik, the Dominican monastery is integrated into the city walls. Famous for its courtyard and its sacristy, the building also houses a museum and a library. Thus, around the monastery, you can admire the incredible collection of religious art and the many paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries. Don’t miss the large crucifix painted by Paolo Veneziano.
The monastery is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May to October and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year. Entrance is affordable since it costs only 30 kn (4€) for adults and is free for children under 13 years old.
7. The Franciscan Monastery
To visit Dubrovnik without seeing its religious monuments is a sacrilege. The walled city is home to the Franciscan monastery, located at the very beginning of the Stradun, to the left of the inner gate of the Pile, next to the Church of the Holy Savior. Visible from the ramparts, it contains one of the most valuable libraries in Croatia, as well as a century-old pharmacy.
The cloister of the Monastery of the Friars Minor is one of the most beautiful places that can be visited in Dubrovnik. As a must-see attraction in the city, the monastery hosts various exhibitions as well as a museum.
Accessible from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in winter, it costs 30kn (5€) for an adult and 20kn (3€) for a student. Note that access to the church is free.
8. Mount Srđ and its fort
To have the best view of the entire city of Dubrovnik, its tiled roofs, the Adriatic Sea, the island of Lokrum and those of the Elaphites, nothing beats the panorama offered by the summit of Mount Srđ. In less than four minutes, the Dubrovnik cable car transports you from the north of the city walls to Mount Srđ, for 100 kuna (13€) round trip. However, the latter rarely works because of the weather or the works.
However, you can also climb to the top of the 405-meter mountain on foot via a path. You just need to bring good walking shoes and a windbreaker for the arrival at the top. Choose a day when the sky is clear to have beautiful colors before your eyes and to see far on the horizon.
Arriving at the top, you will be amazed by the view of Dubrovnik, but also of its neighbour: Bosnia and Herzegovina . To rest a little before descending, do not hesitate to visit the old imperial fort converted into a war museum.
9. Lapad District
The Lapad district is known for its large number of hotel complexes, located on the coast. However, you will also find beautiful natural places like Velika and Mala Petka Forest Park and Lapad Bay. Visiting Dubrovnik while strolling in the forest or along the coast is very pleasant.
For a relaxing moment, we recommend Copacabana beach where you can swim, enjoy the sun, or have a drink on the terrace of a café.
10. Lokrum Island
Lokrum is one of the islands off the city of Dubrovnik, about 600 meters from the shore. Populated with trees and therefore shaded, the beaches are clean and safe. Moreover, they are less crowded than the few beaches in Dubrovnik, which is why you can find some reserved for nudists.
To get there:
- Take a boat from the old port and explore this island.
- Go there by kayak, which will allow you to admire the landscape, but also to stop in creeks or caves inaccessible by foot.
11. The Elaphite Islands
Want to take a break from your Dubrovnik tours? Take to the open sea and visit the Elaphite Islands! Not far from the city, the Elaphite archipelago stretches along the west coast of Dubrovnik and contains 14 magnificent islands, 3 of which are inhabited: Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep. You can get there by boat easily from the port. Many tour operators offer cruises. As you stop, you can swim in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic and admire lush nature.
Excursion prices vary between around twenty and a hundred euros depending on the time spent on board.
You can also decide to rent a boat in Dubrovnik if you want to visit these islands with more peace of mind. With or without a license, with the help of a skipper or not, you will undoubtedly spend one of the most soothing afternoons of your stay!
12. Local gastronomy
How to visit Dubrovnik without tasting Dalmatian gastronomy? Forget the tourist restaurants with photos on the menus and go to the small local restaurants where they serve fish and seafood such as squid ink tagliatelle or oysters. To accompany your meal, do not hesitate to ask for a glass of Malvasia, alcoholic grape juice typical of Dubrovnik.
You can find a meal for all budgets in Dubrovnik! Indeed, if you prefer to eat fast and cheap, opt for cevapcicis, a kind of Croatian grilled sausages.
Source : All Photos credit: Shutterstock