Dubrovnik, Croatia has always been one fo the best places to visit in Croatia, a so-called “pearl of the Adriatic”. With the massive fame of “Game of Thrones” tv-show, the town became a major touristic hotspot for the fans of the iconic series. The city became so popular there were even ideas to limit the number of visitors in the walled Dubrovnik Old Town, well-known from the tv as the set of King’s Landing.
But while “Game of Thrones” locations are big Dubrovnik attractions, there are many more things to do in Dubrovnik. And if you plan your trip to Dubrovnik carefully, you will be able to enjoy the city without (relatively) too much of a crowd around.
I’ve been twice to Dubrovnik and loved it. It’s easy to see why so many people fell for the city and why each year there are more and more tourists visiting Dubrovnik during their Balkan travels. While most of the people spend only one day in Dubrovnik, I recommend staying there a bit longer to see more than just the old town, to do a solid Dubrovnik sightseeing and to get to know the city properly. Dubrovnik also makes a perfect base for day trips so if you would like to see more of the area you should consider making Dubrovnik your base.
If you arrive in Dubrovnik from the southern side (the airport, Montenegro or Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina) be sure to sit on the left side of the bus/car. You will be greeted with the stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town from above, the one that will make your jaw drop for sure. But that’s only one of the many things to see in Dubrovnik. Beautiful palaces, charming streets, numerous viewpoints, and impressive fortifications – that’s only a foretaste of what to do in Dubrovnik!
I put together this Dubrovnik guide with a list of top things to do in Dubrovnik as well as some travel tips. Hopefully, this article will make your trip to this Adriatic gem smoother.
Best time to visit Dubrovnik
When it comes to the best time to visit Dubrovnik I would avoid the summer season. Not only it’s boiling hot, the Old Town will also be overcrowded, making it impossible to focus on the most important attractions in Dubrovnik.
If you can be flexible with your Balkan itinerary check when the cruise ships arrive in Dubrovnik and avoid these days.
In most of the cases, it’s enough to be in the Old Town early in the morning / late in the afternoon to enjoy fairly empty Dubrovnik sights. You can also escape to the backstreets as most of the groups stick to the main sights anyway.
There is also plenty of Dubrovnik activities outside of the Old Town Walls.
But I would definitely recommend visiting Dubrovnik outside of the tourist season. My last visit there was at the end of March, the weather was perfect, a bit over 20C so not too hot for sightseeing and the city was blissfully empty (in Dubrovnik standards, that’s it).
When planning a trip to Croatia you need a local currency – starting from 1st January 2023 it’s Euro (before it was kunas, HRK).
There are plenty of ATMs around so if you don’t mind withdrawing money, you should be fine. You can easily pay by card with numerous places too. But it’s worth to have some cash with you, even if for a local bus ticket or for buying a bottle of water.
Dubrovnik, and especially its Old Town, is an expensive place. So prepare yourself for spending a bit more than you might expect.
How to get to Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has numerous connections with other cities in Croatia, neighboring countries as well as other destinations in Europe. If you fly to/from Dubrovnik try to get a window seat as the views are breathtaking!
There is no railway line to Dubrovnik so if you plan to arrive overland your only options are buses or ferries. The bus station is located next to the ferry terminal in Dubrovnik suburb. From there you can catch the frequent bus no 1A, B or C that will take you all the way to the Dubrovnik Old Town.
If you arrive in Dubrovnik by plane, the local airport is located some half an hour ride away from the city, close to the border with Montenegro.
There are minibusses after each arrival and before each departure, I used Platanus Travel and the schedule was up on the website two days in advance (which made me a bit nervous not knowing if I will make it back to the airport easily). The one-way ticket is 9€, return 12€. The bus stops near the Old Town and at the main bus terminal.
There are also taxis and private transfers available at Dubrovnik airport. I definitely recommend a pre-booked private transfer if you travel with more luggage or want to get directly to your accommodation. Click here to check and book the private transfer from Dubrovnik airport to the city.
How to get around Dubrovnik
If you stay inside or near the old town walls you can quickly get around everywhere on foot. But there is nothing to worry about if you are a bit further as there is a relatively well developed public bus network in Dubrovnik. One way ticket costs around 1,60€ if bought in the kiosk or 2€ when you buy it from the driver. Remember to validate your ticket when you board the bus!
Best Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Now that you know the most important practical info, it’s time to talk about best things to do in Dubrovnik.
But before that, I have one more tip for you – if you would like to visit some of the most important Dubrovnik points of interest consider getting a Dubrovnik card. There are 1, 3, and 7-days card. The cheapest one costs 35€ (30€ if you buy online) – even if you visit only two main attractions – Old Town Walls and Rector’s Palace + you use the public transport you already save the money during your Dubrovnik city break. You can get more info and buy the card here. You can also purchase it at Dubrovnik tourist information next to the bus stop near Pile gate.
I also created a map with all the places to visit in Dubrovnik I talk about below. Click here to check it and download for your trip.
Walk the Old Town Walls
I recommend starting your Dubrovnik sightseeing by walking around the Old Town walls. It’s a bit pricey attractions but so worth the money. You can enter the walls right after the Pile Gate – the entrance is on your left side. Before you climb to the wall, you need to purchase the ticket in the ticket office next to the entrance. Even if you have a Dubrovnik Card, you still need to visit the office to get a real ticket. Keep it with you in the safe place; it will be rechecked when you walk the walls. You get the free entrance to Fort Lovrijenac with the ticket too.
The Dubrovnik Walls are almost 2 kilometers long, and you can walk the circuit uninterrupted. There are three entrances: by Inner Pile Gate, by St Lucas Fortress on St. Dominic’s Street and by St. John’s Fortress. You don’t need to go all the way around. You can finish your tour earlier however I really recommend doing the whole circuit as the view from all the sides are spectacular and worth the effort of climbing up the steep stairs every now and then. The visit to the Old Town Walls usually takes around 2 hours. If you are like me, taking lots of Dubrovnik pictures every few steps and stopping way too often to enjoy the view, it might be even longer.
Most of the tour groups do only part of the Walls, they either climb up at the Pile Gate, take few pictures and go down or they walk from the Pile Gate to St. John’s Fortress. You can expect this part to be a bit crowded, but don’t let this discourage you. I think the best views are from the part of the walls more distant from the seaside. You can see there not only turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea but also red rooftops of Dubrovnik Old Town. It is a truly spectacular view. If you are not too tired with all the walking, be sure to go to the top of Minceta Tower (one of the Game of Thrones locations) for even better views!
You might be interested in taking one of the highly rated tours that cover Dubrovnik Old Town walls. Click on the links below for more details and current prices:
- Dubrovnik’s City Walls and Wars Historic Walking Tour
- Dubrovnik City Walls Sunset Walking Tour
- Dubrovnik: Old Town & City Walls 2 Walk Combo Ticket
Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Located just outside the Old Town, Fort Lovrijenac doesn’t attract too many visitors, which is a bit surprising really. Not only this is yet another Game of Thrones location, but the views from the fort are also among the most beautiful you will see in Dubrovnik. You can admire the Old Town, including the walls, in their full glory.
The fort was built at the very beginning of the 14th century (although some sources say it was there much earlier) on the rock towering high above the sea. There aren’t many things to see inside the fort, but you still should come here (and climb all these damn stairs) for the view. If you buy the ticket for the Old Town Walls, the entrance to Fort Lovrijenac is included in the price.
Walk the main street – Stradun
Stradun is a showcase of Dubrovnik Old Town. The main street connecting Pile and Peskarija gates spreads for some 300 meters and shines like a diamond (literally). Stradun has been a pedestrian zone for over 50 years now and therefore, is lined with numerous cafes and restaurants. You can sit down in one of them, relax and watch life go by.
The majority of the houses along the street was built in the 17th century, after the earthquake that hit Dubrovnik in 1667. They all are in baroque style, with similar height and facades. The best time to admire the beauty of Stradun is early in the morning before the crowds flock into the Dubrovnik Old Town. You can get an excellent view of the street from the Old Town Walls too!
When walking along Stradun don’t miss probably the best ice cream in Dubrovnik! You can find the small ice cream shop shortly after entering the Old Town through the Pile gate, on the right side between Gariste and Zlatariceva streets. Sometimes you need to wait in line a bit, but it’s worth it!
If you are looking for some books in English about the Balkans (including the Balkans War which I’m very much interested in) you can get them in the bookstore further down Stradun, on the left side. I got there a copy of “Madness Visible: A Memoir of War” by Janine di Giovanni (it was probably overpriced, but I haven’t seen it anywhere else).
Get lost in the backstreets
One of my favorite things to do in Dubrovnik is just wandering around and getting lost in the backstreets. The further away from Stradun you go, the fewer people you will see, and you will be able to enjoy Dubrovnik Old Town fully.
The backstreets are incredibly picturesque, with stairs up and down, arcades and charming corners. It might get a bit exhausting to climb up the steep stairs but exploring the hidden corners of the Old Town in Dubrovnik is definitely worth it!
I’m not going to give you locations of some of the most beautiful streets, partly because I was wandering around enchanted and didn’t pay too much attention to where exactly I am. And partly because I want you to discover the place on your own, find your favorite spots and fall in love with them.
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you might randomly stumble upon the official souvenir shop, hidden in one of the streets – Boskoviceva – on the way from Stradun to Buze gate and further the cable car station.
See the famous Jesuits stairs
Speaking of the Game of Thrones – did you know that the iconic stairs, known from the famous “walk of shame” scene, are located in Dubrovnik Old Town? Even before I watched the show, I knew this scene and one of the first thing I did once I got inside the city walls was finding the Jesuits stairs. They are gorgeous and impressive, and from the upper part you can get a beautiful view of the Old Town and beyond.
Just like Stradun, the Jesuits stairs can get really busy with tourists and Game of Thrones fans so the earlier you come, the better.
Visit beautiful monasteries
Inside Dubrovnik Old Town you can find two monasteries that can be a calm oasis from the crowds and a perfect place to relax a bit in kind of secluded place.
The first and more popular one, Franciscan Monastery, is located directly at Stradun, next to the most popular entrance to the city walls. The first church at this very spot was built at the beginning of the 14th century, but most of it was destroyed during the earthquake in 1667. The only part that remained until today is the decorated, Gothic portal overlooking Stradun.
Be sure to step inside the complex as you can find real wonders there: two cloisters, the library with over 20.000 books and the third oldest pharmacy in the world, operating since 1317.
The second monastery, Dominican, is located on the other side of the Old Town, near Ploce Gate. It might not have as many attractions as Franciscan Monastery, hence it’s less busy, but it surely is a beautiful place. I spent an hour or so there, just sitting in the garden, listening to the birds and subdued sounds of the mass from the nearby church and reading a book. In that time maybe ten people in total came in to visit the monastery complex. It was like a completely different world from the busy streets just a few meters away.
In the Dominican monastery complex, you can also visit the museum with some valuable icons, manuscripts or golden hands (even here you can’t escape Game of Thrones). It’s a small museum, only three rooms, but interesting anyway.
Visit Rector’s Palace
The beautiful palace was built in the first half of the 15th century. What we can admire now is a mix of styles, mostly Gothic and Renaissance, that is a result of numerous redevelopments over centuries.
The palace was a seat of the rectors – de facto rulers of Dubrovnik (then the Republic of Ragusa) between 14th and beginning of the 19th century. They were elected from the noblest families in the town to rule for a month only (to entirely focus on their task). In that time, they lived in the palace, taking care of the republic’s well-being.
Besides the seat of the rector, the palace also served as the seat of Minot Council and the state administration, the armory, the powder magazine, the watch house, and a prison.
Since 1872 the Rector’s Palace is home to the History Department of the Museum of Dubrovnik and is definitely worth visiting, not only for the beautiful interiors but also for the interesting collection of numerous artifacts from the city’s history.
You can learn about Rector’s Palace and other interesting Dubrovnik sights during highly rated “Discover Dubrovnik Walking Tour”. Click here for more details and availability.
Pay respect at Memory Chamber at Sponza Palace
At the end of Stradun, next to the Peskarija gate you can find another beautiful palace – Sponza. It was built between 1516 and 1522 and is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Over the centuries it served numerous public functions, such as treasury, mint, bank or school. These days you can find there city’s archives with documents even from the 12the century!
Once you enter the doors of the palace, be sure to go inside a small room on the left side, just before the beautiful atrium. You will find there a Memory Chamber dedicated to the citizens of Dubrovnik who fought and lost their lives defending their city during the 1990s Balkans War.
See the Old Port
Once you leave Peskarija gate, you are in the heart of the Old Port of Dubrovnik that for centuries used to serve as the main point of entry to the city. The first bastion surrounding the port and protecting the place was built here already in 1470! Today the port is packed with small, private boats.
It is also a departure point of boat trips in Dubrovnik, ferries to Lokrum island and to nearby towns of Cavtat and Mlini. You can get the best view of the Old port from either the Old Town Walls or the Ploce gate.
Find “Game of Thrones” locations
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik should be very high on your bucket list. From season 2 of the show, the town has served as the iconic King’s Landing. Numerous scenes have been filmed here (in season 1 the capital of Westeros was portraited by Mdina, Malta).
When walking around the Old Town in Dubrovnik you can sometimes feel like you’re on the Game of Thrones movie set, so many places are well-known from the show. The most famous locations are Jesuits Stairs, Fort Lovrijenac, Pile Gate or West Harbour but some scenes were also filmed at the Minceta Tower, Rector’s Palace or at the footsteps of St. Dominic’s church.
Before visiting Dubrovnik, I haven’t seen a single one episodes of Game of Thrones, and I didn’t know why the whole world is so crazy about it. But seeing how big part it plays in Dubrovnik I’ve decided to check it. Very quickly I got really into it, and now I’m done with the whole show. It felt so nice to recognize Dubrovnik and surroundings in so many Game of Thrones scenes!
To find all the places known from the Game of Thrones and learn more about Dubrovnik being King’s Landing, I recommend joining Game of Thrones tour. You should join it even if you haven’t seen the show as it lets you look at the city from an entirely new perspective. These are two of the best rated Game of Thrones tours in Dubrovnik:
- Dubrovnik: ‘Game of Thrones’ Tour with Outer Wall Ticket
- Dubrovnik: 2-Hour Game of Thrones Walking Tour & Photo
Take the cable car to Mount Srd
One of the must do in Dubrovnik is the cable car that in a few minutes will take you from just outside the Old Town (near Ploce and Buze gates) to Mount Srd. From there you can admire some of the most stunning views of Dubrovnik and surroundings. It is actually one of the most photographed sights in whole Croatia!
Apparently, the best time to be up on the mountain is around the sunset time when the light is beautiful. I was around 2-3 pm, and the view was also spectacular.
The first cable car was built in this place in 1969, but in the 1990s, during the Balkans War, it stopped working. The new one has been operating all year long since 2010.
Most tourists visit Mount Srd only for the beautiful pictures and stunning views. But there is also a dark history behind the place.
During the siege of Dubrovnik, this is from where the Old Town was shelled, causing a lot of damage and pain to the city and its inhabitants. The fort Imperial that is located on the Mount Srd was the only place that withstood the attack of the enemy forces.
Visit the Homeland War Museum
Fort Imperial on top of Mount Srd is home to the museum dedicated to Dubrovnik during the Balkans War and its siege between October 1991 and May 1992. For me, it was one of the most interesting museums I’ve visited in Dubrovnik, not only because it very much covers my interests.
There is a relatively large exposition of recent events that many visitors forget or might not know about. There are numerous maps, pictures, weapons and other artifacts shown in here, as well as the video footage from the time of Dubrovnik siege. Visiting the museum is also an excellent opportunity to see the interiors of Fort Imperial and to admire even better views from the top of the fortress.
Sunbath at the beach with the stunning view of the Old Town
While the main reason to visit Dubrovnik is to see the beautiful Old Town don’t forget that this is a seaside town and you can use it also as a base to relax, sunbath and swim in the Adriatic Sea.
The best of Dubrovnik beaches is probably Banje, located not too far away from the Old Town. It might be small but offers some great views of the most beautiful part of Dubrovnik so overall should be the right place to relax at!
There are even more beaches further from the Old Town so if you want some chill time you can do that in Dubrovnik too!
Admire the Old Town from another perspective
When arriving in the city from the airport / Montenegro be sure to seat on the left side – you will be greeted with one of the most stunning views of Dubrovnik Old Town you will see! There is a viewpoint next to the road above the city but, unfortunately, you can reach it only by car.
But what if I tell you that I accidentally found a similarly beautiful viewpoint that you can easily access by walking? For me it was one of the most beautiful places to visit in Dubrovnik!
I was going to visit the abandoned Hotel Belvedere some 2kms away from the Old Town. The premises of the hotel were fenced, and I couldn’t get it from the upper level (and at that point, I didn’t bother checking from the sea level).
However, from the road leading to the hotel, I could admire a stunning view of Dubrovnik, with Old Town and surrounding mountains. This was one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in the city!
You can find it at the end of Frana Supila street that you can reach either by walking from the Old Town or taking the bus no 5 or 8 to Viktorija and then walking a bit.
By the way, when watching Game of Thrones, I recognized the abandoned Hotel Belvedere in one of the scenes too.
Ferry to Lokrum
That’s the only one of the Dubrovnik highlights that I didn’t do, but I think it’s worth mentioning. From the Old Port, you can take the ferry to the nearby Lokrum island – a green oasis just a few minutes away from the bustling Old Town.
There you can visit a botanical garden from the 19th century or the ruins of the Benedictine Monastery; you might also wander around and relax at the beach.
The ferries to Lokrum island frequently run only in the season, between May and September – that’s the reason why I didn’t go there. The price for the return ticket, including the entrance to the island, is 20€.
Go for a kayaking tour
Another way to see Dubrovnik from another perspective is to take a kayaking tour. You can see the Old Town, Lokrum island and some hidden sea caves from a unique point of view. That’s also a great way to escape the crowds yet still enjoy Dubrovnik!
These are the best kayaking tours in Dubrovnik (click on each link for more details):
- Dubrovnik 3-Hour Sea Kayaking Tour with Snack
- Lokrum Island and Dubrovnik City Walls Tour by Kayak
- 2 Tour Combo: Game of Thrones Walking Tour & Sea Kayak Tour
Day trips from Dubrovnik
I believe the Balkans is one of the most beautiful areas in Europe and many of the interesting places are in Dubrovnik’s vicinity making the town a perfect base. Here are some of the easiest and best day trips from Dubrovnik
Kupari + Cavtat
Take the local bus no 10 to the nearby Cavtat and enjoy a pleasant town located on the green and lush peninsula.
Cavtat has a long and rich history that is very much connected with Dubrovnik and the Republic of Ragusa.
Here you can admire the Franciscan monastery from the 15th century or the Baroque church from the 18th century. But most of all you can escape the crowds in Dubrovnik and enjoy the seaside vibe, including trying some delicious dishes in the restaurants lined along the harbor.
On the way to/from Cavtat you can stop in Kupari – the (in)famous bay of abandoned hotels.
Until the 1990s this place was bustling with tourism who used to stay in five high-standard hotels, including Hotel Grand from 1920. The area was severely destroyed during the Balkans War and ever since the hotels are abandoned, decaying slowly in one of the most scenic places near Dubrovnik.
If you are brave enough, you can explore the hotels and admire some stunning views from the upper floors or even rooftops. I did it solo and was fine but you might want to read this article I wrote about exploring abandoned places before.
Less than an hour drive away from Dubrovnik you can visit Trebinje – a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina known for the sunshine, wine and plane trees. The Old Town in Trebinje is small, but charming, with remnants from the Ottoman times as well as numerous cafes hidden in the shadow of impressive plane trees. The best view of the town and area is from the Herzegovacka Gracanica – a monastery located on the hill above Trebinje.
The famous town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, known from its iconic Old Bridge, is easily reachable as the day trip from Dubrovnik.
You can admire the famous structure yourself, and if you are lucky, you can see brave men jumping from the high bridge to the crystal clear waters of Neretva river. Be sure to climb to the minaret of Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque to see one of the most remarkable views in the Balkans. And try the local cuisine, including cevapcici.
On the way to Mostar, you can stop in Blagaj, Pocitelj, or Kravice Waterfalls that are all well worth a visit.
The best option will be to join an organized tour as some of the places cannot be reached by the public transport.
There are so many things to do in Kotor! You should climb to the St. John fortress above the town to admire one of the most spectacular views you will ever see, of the Kotor Bay. In the Old Town don’t miss numerous palaces of the noble families and some charming corners here and there. On the way to or from Kotor be sure to stop in Perast and take the boat to the island with Our Lady of the Rocks church.
While it is possible to go for a Montenegro day trip from Dubrovnik by public transport, I would recommend joining the tour. This way you can see more and won’t be too stressed about making it on time for the bus. Click here to find out more about the trip from Dubrovnik to Montenegro!
Alternatively, you can take the boat and cruise along the Adriatic coast and further down the Bay of Kotor. The views from the water perspective are absolutely breathtaking! Click here for more details!
Not too far from Dubrovnik you will find Trsteno, with its beautiful Arboretum – a stunning botanical garden. This is the oldest arboretum in this part of the world, dating to the 15th century. For many it is considered the most beautiful one too! You can see Trsteno arboretum in many Game of Thrones scenes but that’s not the only reason to visit the place. This is a perfect relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik. You can easily reach Trsteno by the local bus no. 12, 15 or 35.
A small town famous for the medieval walls surrounding the city. Ston has a strategic location and has always been an important place for the region. When you visit Ston be sure to try local oysters fresh from the sea!
The birthplace of Marco Polo, Korcula is a perfect day trip destination from Dubrovnik! It has beautiful old town with narrow, winding lanes and picturesque corners and you will enjoy it for sure! Be sure to try the local wine too, it’s delicious!
You can combine a visit to Ston and Korcula and see both places in one day. Click here to see the details and book the tour!
These are just a few propositions of day trips from Dubrovnik but there are so many other places you might visit! Here are some more tours options.
I hope this small Dubrovnik guide will help you plan your trip to Dubrovnik. The city might be expensive and overcrowded but it is also so worth the visit! Have a great trip! And if you have any more questions about Dubrovnik, Croatia or the Balkans be sure to join my Facebook group about traveling in the region. A friendly and knowledgeable community will help you with all your questions for sure! Click here to join the group!
And last but not least, don’t forget about travel insurance as you never know what might happen. Better safe than sorry! You can get the insurance policy for Croatia here.
For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:
- If you don’t want to miss new posts and news from me click here to sign to my newsletter! You can also follow me on Bloglovin!
- Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
- I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Croatia too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!
- Pictures from Trsteno, Ston and Korcula were taken by my friend and fellow blogger Marcin from one of the best Polish travel blogs – Wędrowne Motyle / Gdzie wyjechać. Thank you!
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