Few cities instill a better first impression than Dubrovnik, once dubbed the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and now, undoubtedly, the most popular travel destination in Croatia. Descending into the Old Town feels like walking into a world where time’s stood still—well, at least if you ignore the ever-growing onslaught of modern tourists that Dubrovnik rightfully attracts.
Even sticking to just the basics, there are a ton of things to do in Dubrovnik ranging from plying its ancient city walls to frolicking on the Adriatic while scoping out Croatia’s magnificent natural attractions just offshore. Get started with this guide to the top Dubrovnik attractions for travellers…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Dubrovnik: Top attractions & places to visit
- Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Dubrovnik
What to do in Dubrovnik: Top attractions & places to visit
Walk along the ancient Walls of Dubrovnik
Whether you have one day in Dubrovnik or a week, make it your mission to pound along the stunning ancient Walls of Dubrovnik. The city walls, originally built to defend the 300-year-running independent Republic of Ragusa city-state, stretch about two kilometres to encircle the entire Old Town of Dubrovnik.
Treading along the Walls of Dubrovnik, over a dozen towers, five bastions and three fortifications (including St. John Fortress) await. The views are the real kicker though. Nearly every step seems to unleash a stellar vista, sweeping in over the Old Town and the azure Adriatic Sea.
As the Walls of Dubrovnik are among the most popular Dubrovnik tourist attractions, be sure to arrive as early as possible to minimize brushing up against the biggest crowds. Bring along a hat & sunscreen as it can get a little hot being fully exposed to the hot Croatian summer sun!
- Opening Hours: 8:00am to 6:30pm (Apr-May, Aug-Sep), 8:00am to 7:30pm (Jun-Jul), 8:00am to 5:30pm (Oct), 9:00am to 3:00pm (Nov-Mar)
- Admission: 150 Kn (adults), 50 Kn (children)
Wander around Dubrovnik Old Town
I can hardly think of a more enchanting place for a stroll than Dubrovnik Old Town. Like so many ancient cities in Southeastern Europe & the Balkans, Dubrovnik’s Old Town feels impossibly beautiful—there’s hardly a corner of it that doesn’t leave your mouth gaping wide in awe.
Even with many centuries passing (and a not-so-distant war that left parts of the city shattered), Dubrovnik retained much of its ancient character, reflected in a rich tapestry of Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque architecture blanketing its palaces, churches, monasteries, and piazzas.
Here are a few of the top Dubrovnik Old Town sights to look out for:
- Palace Sponza: An early-16th century palace blending Renaissance and Gothic elements including a six-column portico that’ll stop you in your tracks.
- Church Sveti Vlaho (St Blaise): A Baroque church hailing from the early-18th century. The central location on the lovely Luža Trg makes it a popular place to congregate and rest.
- Dominican Monastery: A 14th-century monastery with a popular museum housing works of religious art from Dubrovnik and other areas in Europe.
Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car up Mount Srđ
As amazing as spotting Dubrovnik Old Town from the city walls is, the best views in Dubrovnik are found at none other than Mount Srđ, a 412-metre mountain looming north of the city centre.
With a little gumption, you can trek up Mount Srđ on your own volition, but, undoubtedly, the easier experience is to scroll up with the Dubrovnik Cable Car. Tracking the route up Srđ since 1969, the Dubrovnik Cable Car hangs high above to deliver world-class views of Old Town—even on the ride itself!
Besides pulling buzzworthy vistas, Mount Srđ is home to Fort Imperial, an early-19th century fortress that saw Dubrovnik through numerous military battles. The fort now hosts a museum dedicated to the Croatian War of Independence including the Siege of Dubrovnik which took place in this very spot.
To see Dubrovnik from above at its absolute best, time your trip up Mount Srđ with the sunrise.
Reimagine history at Lovrijenac Fort
Visiting Lovrijenac Fort, yet another entry into Dubrovnik’s endless list of military defense structures, should further hint at how important this ancient port city once was to conquerers. Legend has it that Lovrijenac Fort, also known as Fort Lawrence, was built in response to a leaked threat of attack by the Venetians, who drew up plans to build their own fortress in that very same location.
Like Fort Imperial on Mount Srđ, Lovrijenac Fort saw its fair share of action. With outside walls up to 12 metres thick, the fortress had little difficulty protecting the town from foreign invaders over the centuries.
Today, Lovrijenac Fort has shown itself capable of another intense battle: show business. Its stunning location has made the fortress a favourite filming location for historical fiction dramas including Knights Templar and, most famously, Game of Thrones. Lovrijenac Fort also provides the backdrop to theatre productions during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival including Hamlet.
Chill out on Lokrum Island
Need to escape the chaos of Old Town? Lokrum Island, one of the best day trips from Dubrovnik, lies just ten minutes from Old Town by ferry. Blanketed with a dense cloak of oaks, pines, cypress and olive trees, the island delivers a relaxing getaway—even if you can only squeeze in half a day!
Once on Lokrum Island, exploring by foot is the best way to experience the island. The coastal areas of Lokrum hide pebbly beaches that are prime spots for swimming, tanning, and even for a little snorkeling. (You’ll probably want to avoid the beach labelled FKK unless you’re okay with letting it all hang out—if you catch my drift.)
Also be sure to check out the old Benedictine Monastery including its 13th-century Romanesque-Gothic basilica and 15th-century Gothic-Renaissance main building. In addition to a restaurant, the monastery hosts an exhibition on Lokrum’s history and a botanical garden full of exotic plants from around the world.
Dip into the Adriatic Sea
While Dubrovnik’s historical charms might have summoned you here, that’s not to say you should ignore some of its more natural ones. With its prime seafront location, there’s plenty of opportunities while visiting Dubrovnik to dip your toes into the beautiful Adriatic Sea.
There’s a handful of beaches spread throughout Dubrovnik. But they might not quite be what you’re expecting (unless you’re already following along with our guide for 10 days in Croatia). Many of the beaches along the Adriatic feature pebbles rather than sand. And Dubrovnik isn’t much different.
In any case, if you want to swim in the Adriatic (and, yes, you should!), here are a couple of the best beaches in Dubrovnik to check out:
- Banje Beach: The most popular beach in town and the closest to Old Town. Banje Beach is semi-private, requiring a lounger rental to hang out there.
- Sveti Jakov Beach: A local favourite that’s about 15-20 minutes down the coast from Banje. It’s further-flung location means its less-crowded than beaches closer to town.
- Lapad Beach: The largest beach in Dubrovnik and a favourite for families. The pedestrian zone adjacent to the beach features several bars and restaurants. It can get a little hectic at times.
Sail to the Elaphiti Islands
If you’ve got a couple days in Dubrovnik and need a relaxing escape from town, grab some sunscreen and head offshore for a trip to the lovely Elaphiti Islands. Although not as famous as other popular Croatian islands like Hvar or Rab, this relaxing archipelago features 13 islands with the closest lying just over 7 kilometres from Dubrovnik.
One of the best places to start a sailing trip to the Elaphiti Islands is at Koločep, the closest island to Dubrovnik. When Dubrovnikers need a break (and to that I say, “really?”), this is a favourite escape, offering plenty of relaxing walks among lush pine forests and along pebble & sand beaches on the Adriatic coast.
The other two inhabited islands in the chain—Sipan and Lopud—are also worth visiting to get a taste of their quiet, laid-back lifestyles and to catch a glimpse of their stunning Mediterranean scenery.
Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Dubrovnik
As Croatia’s top destination’s popularity soars, choosing between the best places to stay in Dubrovnik is becoming ever more difficult. Every month, there’s seems to be an explosion in the number of apartments, hotels, and guesthouses offered to travellers.
For getting close to the top things to see in Dubrovnik, the best location is, undoubtedly, in and around the Old Town. For those more inclined to take on Dubrovnik’s seaside pleasures, the areas of Lapad and Ploce are also great choices.
Here’s a quick primer to help you get your accommodations search started…
- Apartments Festa: Set in a historical building in the heart of Old Town, this lovely apartment features modern furnishings that blend stunningly with the old character of the property. The value you’ll find here is excellent!
- Scalini Palace: Occupying a 16th-century manor, this guesthouse is perfect for digging into Dubrovnik’s top points of interest as it lies just steps from Stradun, Old Town’s main pedestrian street. All units here are self-catering with a kitchenette. The balconies available on the pricier units offer brilliant Old Town vistas.
- Grand Villa Argentina: If you’re in Dubrovnik to explore the Adriatic, this grand seaside villa is the perfect choice. It includes direct access to the beach and features an on-site pool. The views of Old Town, hovering just 5 to 10 minutes away by foot, are simply spectacular.