The Ultimate guide and tips on things to do in Dubrovnik (Hrvatska).
Croatia is definitely one of my favourite Central European destinations, made up of a long coast overlooking the Adriatic and over 1,200 islands.
Croatia is truly a beautiful country where there is a real sweetness of life. The crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic make this pretty country a very photogenic destination.
History of Croatia
Even with a history strewn with conflicts, Croatia has managed to find its independence. Croatia has long been a land of struggles and challenges, mainly because of Dalmatia, a real gateway to the Mediterranean.
A long time ago, Croatia was under the control of the Roman Empire who ordered the construction of monuments such as the Fortified Palace of Split. The persecution of Christians was then among the hardest moments in this region.
Today, many vestiges of this Roman period can be visited, including Pula’s amphitheatre, the ruins of Solin and many others.
The First and Second World War once again redrew the Croatian map. In 1918, Yugoslavia was finally founded, but Nazi Germany invaded this brand new country. At the end of the war, Yugoslavia was reformed.
Led by Tito’s Communist Party, Yogoslavia is a federation of different countries claiming supremacy over their neighbours.
From the Yugoslavian confederation, two countries emerged: Serbs and Croats. When Tito died in the 1980s, ethnic rivalries were exacerbated. Milosevic’s Serbia and Croatia no longer contained their hostility. Croatia proclaimed itself independent.
Dubrovnik is commonly known to be the Pearl of the Adriatic, and it bears its name wonderfully for its natural beauty, cultural and historical wealth, and location facing the sea.
Each year, Dubrovnik establishes itself as Croatia’s top tourist destination, welcoming over 2.5 million visitors. I will not hide it, Dubrovnik is very touristy, and the crowds can quickly spoil everything.
If you want to fully enjoy the city, it is better to wake up early and walk through the medieval streets before people get up. Either way, you can’t be disappointed with the Pearl of the Adriatic.
4 reasons to visit Dubrovnik
1. Dubrovnik Historic Center
While visiting Dubrovnik historic centre, I had the impression of visiting an open-air museum. Dubrovnik historic centre regroups a few cobbled streets and 97 hectares of an architectural and cultural heritage at the crossroads of Roman, Byzantine and Venetian influences.
2. The Mediterranean climate
One of the reasons why I love Croatia is its Mediterranean climate. Hot in summer, mild in winter, not very rainy. The climate in the Dubrovnik region allows you to discover Dubrovnik in all seasons.
3. Great nightlife
You just have to walk around Dubrovnik’s old town to understand that the city’s nightlife is something else. To party in Dubrovnik, go out with friends to the Revelin club, a former fort where an archaeological museum was established during the day.
At night, the archaeological museum becomes a trendy disco with electronic music with national and international hits. In the Summer, you can attend Dubrovnik’s Festival to enjoy concerts, shows and fireworks.
4. Beautiful beaches
Croatia hosts numerous beautiful beaches. For instance, you can swim on the rocks at the foot of the fortifications in Banje Beach. You can also head to the pretty coves on the Elaphiti or in Lokrum Islands.
From London to Dubrovnik
To get to Dubrovnik from London, I took a two ways flight fro 120 euros. I landed at Dubrovnik airport, which is located in Čilipi, 20 kilometres south of the city. Looted and destroyed during the 1991 war, it reopened in 1992. Today, Dubrovnik airport is the third airport in the country.
To get to Dubrovnik, I took the platanus shuttle bus. The frequency of Platanus buses is aligned with the flight schedules so that all travellers can quickly get to Dubrovnik.
Keep in mind that the Platanus shuttle bus does not cross the old town and stop in front of the city walls. The trip cost me 55KN.
Regarding accommodation, I decided to rent one of the Majkovica Apartments. I chose Majkovica Apartments because they are a 10-minute walk away from Dubrovnik’s Old Town and only 150 meters from the famous Banje Beach.
Food whilst in Dubrovnik
If you’re looking for delicious dishes and amazing services in Dubrovnik, I invite you to visit Dubravka Restaurant 1836. The Dubravka restaurant is right next to the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik and one of the meeting points for tourists who want to relax before or after visiting the city.
In comparison to other restaurants in Dubrovnik, Dubravka Restaurant 1836 is on a different level. The view from the restaurant includes the city’s walls and the sea. Besides that, you have traditional decoration, amazing customer service and Free Wifi.
If you’re looking for delicious dishes and amazing services in Dubrovnik, I invite you to visit Dubravka Restaurant 1836.
The Dubravka restaurant is right next to the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik and one of the meeting points for tourists who want to relax before or after visiting the city.
Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
DAY 1 - Arrival at Dubrovnik
Unfortunately, I arrived very late at Dubrovnik Airport. It took me a while to finally arrive at Majkovica Apartments. On my first day, I couldn’t visit Dubrovnik’s monuments, so I decided to head to the Vita Bella Restaurant.
Without a doubt, Vita Bella Restaurant is the best place to taste delicious Pizzas in Dubrovnik. The Vita Bella restaurant is distinguished by its very welcoming staff and its delicious pizzas at very affordable prices.
As I walked through the small streets of the ancient Croatian town, I was overwhelmed by the ancient buildings’ beauty. After getting lost, I looked around to see if I could find my location. It was at this precise moment when I witnessed a splendid sunset.
I urge you to go to Ul. Branitelja Dubrovnika 38-40. A panoramic spectacle awaits you. Additionally, you’ll get a splendid view of the famous Rixos Premium Dubrovnik Hotel.
Day 2 - Mount Srđ and Banje Beach
The next day, I decided to get up early in the morning and head to Mount Srđ. You can enjoy the sunrise from the top of the mountain while admiring the old town with its alleys, palaces, monuments, ramparts, and the old harbour.
Additionally, you get a view of Lokrum Island. It took me approximately 45 minutes to make the trip between my place of residence and Mount Srđ. However, the views from the top of the mountain are worth the time spent.
In the afternoon, I headed to Banje beach. It is one of the most famous pebble beaches in southern Dalmatia. It is positioned near Dubrovnik’s city centre. Banje beach overlooks the old town of Dubrovnik and the beautiful island of Lokrum.
On Banje beach, you will find restaurants where you can taste Dubrovnik specialities and cafes with white benches where you can rest and sunbathe.
Apart from the sea and the sun, on Banje beach you can practice water sports such as jet-skiing, paragliding, water tube and other activities of this type.
After fully enjoying the beach, I decided to pay a visit to the walls of Dubrovnik, especially the Sveti Spasitelj bastion. I think the fortified city walls are a major attraction in any city. But in Dubrovnik, unlike many fortified towns, the ramparts are still more or less intact.
The Sveti Spasitelj bastion offers a beautiful view of the sea and the island of Lokrum, the closest of the Adriatic islands near Dubrovnik. You can also dive in the beautiful turquoise waters from the rocks.
Day 3 - The Island of Lokrum
On my third day, I decided to head to the magnificent Lokrum Island. It is a small paradise of only 2 km² in the bay of Dubrovnik. Lokrum Island has been a nature reserve since 1962. It is covered with pines and cypresses, exotic plants and oleanders.
To go to Portoc (Lokrum Island), I took a ferry ticket from Porat. The journey takes 15 minutes, costs 40 Kuna, and in summer you’ll find a boat every ½ hour.
From Portoč, I walked to Benedictine Monastery. For people who watched Game of Thrones, a visit to the Benedictine monastery is a kind of deja vu. Some scenes from the famous television series were filmed there.
This fact has undoubtedly given Lokrum Island a strong tourist impulse thanks to the multiplication of treks, souvenir shops, exhibitions and thematic events. Game of Thrones fiction contributes to the Benedictine monastery’s charm, but its legendary aura is much older.
The first written record of Lokrum dates back to 1023 and is linked to the abbey’s founding. Sometime later, in 1192, Riccardo Cuor de Leone would have landed on the island’s coast after being shipwrecked.
For many centuries, Lokrum Monastery was occupied by the Benedictines, who devoted themselves to prayer and the cultivation of medicinal and exotic plants.
After visiting Benedictine Monastery, It was time for me to discover the wonderful gardens of Maximilian. The gardens were created in the middle of the 19th century after Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg took possession of Lokrum.
Maximilian decided to turn what was left of the Benedictine monastery into a summer residence.
The luxurious residence – a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements – has been complemented by a lush botanical garden, enriched with a variety of exotic plants imported mainly from Australia and South America.
For those who can’t resist swimming in clear waters, I invite you to visit Plaže Lokrum. The Lokrum plaže is surrounded by a rocky coastline and rich vegetation. Additionally, the beach is protected at the back by a thick pine forest.
After your short swim in Plaza Lokrum, head to Fort Royal. Situated on the hills of Lokrum, Fort Royal is an impressive fortress that stands at the highest point of the island, about 96 meters above sea level.
Its construction was started by the French during the Napoleonic era. The fortified citadel is the most panoramic point of Lokrum Island.
From the top of the fort, you can admire an enchanting view that sweeps across the entire island, also embracing the nearby town of Dubrovnik.
Overall, I believe that you can explore the whole of Lokrum Island in 2 hours.
After visiting Lokrum Island, I went to discover and admire the wonderful Old Town of Dubrovnik. The UNESCO-listed site is made up of a maze of limestone-cobbled streets and fully restored medieval architecture. Dubrovnik’s Old Town is the medieval heart of the city.
The pedestrianized centre is still surrounded by its 15th-century fortification walls, and walking along the ramparts offers breathtaking views of the city. Strolling through Dubrovnik’s old town reveals many of the city’s most impressive buildings.
Points of interest include the reconstructed Gothic-Renaissance Rector’s Palace, the Baroque-style Assumption Cathedral built in the 18th century and the 31-meter-high Bell Tower. Also, visit the Franciscan monastery and its museum and the 16th-century Sponza Palace.
Other things to see in Dubrovnik's Old Town
1) Jesuit Stairs
The Church of St. Ignatius is the best example of Baroque architecture in Dubrovnik. However, its beauty is overshadowed by the famous Jesuit Stairs that served as the stairs in Game of Thrones for the “Walk of Shame” (Season 5 Episode 10 – Mother’s Mercy).
2) The Pile Gate
Pile Gate marks the main entrance to the Old Town of Dubrovnik. For many visitors, this gate is the first glimpse of the district’s medieval architecture and King’s Landing (Game of Thrones).
This stone monument is composed of an exterior door built in 1537 and an interior door dating from 1460. The Pile Gate is also known for being the place where the Riot of King’s Landing starts (Season 2 Episode 6 – The Old Gods and the New).
3) Pile Bay
Beyond the Pile gate, you will find Pile Bay. Pile Bay is known for being the place where Littlefinger Offers Sansa a Way Out (Season 3 Episode 1 – Valar Dohaeris).
4) Minčeta tower
Once an important bastion of protection, Minčeta Tower is today a favourite place for tourists. Its shape and volume dominate the northern-eastern part of the old town. Minčeta Tower was built as a quadrilateral protection tower against the Turkish attacks.
Later, the nature of the battles changed, as did the Minčeta tower. This is why it now has a rounded shape and why the last modifications were made in the 15th century.
Today, Minčeta tower is a museum and the cuty’s best viewpoint. Literally, the whole Old towncan be seen from there. You can admire the island of Lokrum, the neighbouring fortress Lovrijenac, and the Adriatic Sea.
Minčeta Tower has also served a shooting place for Game of Thrones, where Daenerys Searches for her Dragons at the House of the Undying (Season 2 Episode 10 – Valar Morghulis).
West of the Walls of Dubrovnik is the Fort Lovrijenac. Dating from the 11th century, this massive medieval construction built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea was one of the city’s protections.
The fort has also served as the backdrop to the Game of Thrones series. At more than 37 meters above the water, the fortress protected Dubrovnik in two distinct ways: watching over the sea to the south and controlling the road to the northwest.
Day 4 - The Walls of Dubrovnik
On my fourth day, I decided to start my journey with a visit to the Walls of Dubrovnik. With their imposing watchtowers over the medieval city and their imposing cliff-edge fortifications, the ancient walls of Dubrovnik offer an impressive sight and deserve their status as a flagship attraction.
The remarkably preserved walls are among the world’s most beautiful walls. Additionally, they offer magnificent views of every corner of the city.
Late Afternoon, I went again to mount Srđ. Once at the mountain, I took the Dubrovnik Cable Car. The cable car reaches the top in less than 4 minutes. I recommend bringing a tripod and DSLR if you are into photography.
The view is amazing from the top of the Dubrovnik cable car. You have a 360º panorama where you can see the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Additionally, You can admire the island of Lokrum and the islands of Kolocep and Lopud.
To go to Mount SRD and come back to Dubrovnik city centre, you can purchase two tickets for 22,5 euros. Instead of buying two tickets, I only bought a one-way ticket and went down walking.
At night, I decided to walk down the zigzag path down to the town fort to view the city by night. From there, I enjoyed a panoramic view of Dubrovnik harbour and the Paklinski Islands.