Dubrovnik is a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the south of Croatia. The city has a competitive history with Venice; over trading power some centuries ago, nowadays over who is the most popular tourist attraction around the Adriatic Sea.
Last year 18.5 million tourists visited Croatia. Especially Dubrovnik has become a tourist hotspot in recent years thanks to Game of Thrones filming within the old town walls. Incoming cruise ships take it even one level further. I now understand why all these people want to visit this city; it’s absolutely gorgeous!
View from the city wall to Stradun (main street) in Dubrovnik
Back in the early 90s, my parents and another couple made plans to go on holidays together as two families to former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately the outbreak of war forced us to put off our holiday plans to Croatia. After seeing Farmer Tom and his girlfriend on a city trip to Dubrovnik in the popular Dutch TV program ‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ (Boer zoekt vrouw) in 2015, I knew for sure: I need to go to Dubrovnik! 3 years later I finally went. So happy!
Did you know that Dubrovnik was named ‘Ragusa’ many centuries ago?
A must do when in Dubrovnik is walking the city wall. It provides fantastic views! The entrance fee is 150 kn per person. To be honest we did not realize the value in euro (EUR 20.25) when we bought the tickets, but you really do not want miss this chance. I hope thy will use the entrance fees for the maintenance of the wall. The wall does provide beautiful views of the city, Fort Lovrijenac and the sea.
My tip: in summer go as soon as the wall opens at 08:00h to avoid crowds.
The walls are 1,940 meters long and you can walk all the way around. Halfway there is an exit, near the old port. The entrance and ticket office are right after entering via Pile gate, opposite the Onofrio Fountain. Walking left, at about 1/3 of the wall there are two bars that serve great freshly squeezed juices for – especially comparing with establishments downstairs – reasonable prices.
Roof top view from Dubrovnik’s old town wall
The above churches on the photos are, from left to right:
- The Serbian orthodox Church of the Holy Annunciation (1877)
- Church of St. Blaise (1715) at Luža Square
- Dubrovnik Cathedral, which has been damaged by several earthquakes in the past
The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Poljana R. Boskovica square is Dubrovnik’s most beautiful baroque complex. The church bell is the oldest of Dubrovnik (1355). The side entrance of the church (green door left in this picture) is a high school. The kids look at the tourists walking the city wall from the classroom windows!
The Rector’s Place
The Rector’s Palace is a beautiful Gothic style building with Renaissance and Baroque elements, such as beautiful long pillars, and a long history. Nowadays it’s open to the public as an historical site. Unfortunately the interior was closed down for renovation when I visited Dubrovnik (early June 2018).
Dubrovnik has a truly wonderful compact city center that you can easily stroll around for half a day. We went pretty early, arriving around 07:30h, ahead of the big flock of tourists that we were expecting and the heat. It was June! By 10:30h we were sipping our coffee and tea at the terrace next to the statue of Marin Držić, watching big groups of tourist groups coming in, whether or not from cruise ships. This terrace is not the cheapest place but a great spot for people watching!
Onofrio Fountain & Gundulić Sq.
- That round stone thing left of the stairs is the large Onofrio’s Fountain. Italian architect Onofrio solved Dubrovnik’s water issues in the 15th century after the city struggled with the supply for centuries.
- Market at Gundulić Square, named after Ivan Gundulić, a Croatian poet. It’s his statue in the middle of the square. His face is also on the 50 KN note.
Dubrovnik’s Cable Car is not cheap but the view is amazing! Alternatively you can also reach the top of the hill by car via highway 8. Unfortunately the road to access turned out to be under construction the day we wanted to drive up, and our time was up (we had to go to the next city) so I guess we’ll have to do that next time! Be smart and book in advance not to miss it!
Fishing boats and other small boats in the old port of Dubrovnik. A lovely place with its 15th/16th century buildings and inviting terraces looking over the crystal clear water. This small port is obviously another port than the new, big port where the cruise boats and other big ships arrive!
Lapad Beach is only 10 min by bus from old town (15 HKR, every 20 min, bus 4 in the direction of Hotel Palace). From this side of town you can see an amazing sunset!
Game of Thrones
When in Dubrovnik, I would highly recommend to book a Game of Thones tour. This city was a movie set after all! A guide will show and tell things that you will not see and hear on your own. See below three great Game of Thones tour options that you can book in advance.
Should you not be into Game of Thones, but would like to consider a guided tour through the Old Town of Dubrovnik, consider this guided walking tour.
Hotel Dubrovnik Palace
How wonderful life is! The mail building of Hotel Dubrovnik Palace does not have the ‘classic palace look’ that you may expect based on the hotel’s name, but Hotel Dubrovnik Palace does make you feel like a princess! And look at that view!! Click on the button below to get the best price for your dream stay at this wonderful hotel in Dubrovnik. I love that sea view!
Another great option is Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, which is just a few hundred meters from Pile gate and the old town wall. Not cheap but beautiful, comfy and on a fantastic location! Set in a historic building built in 1897, the guest rooms are reflecting late 19th century charm combining it at the same time with modern technology. The Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik includes a bar, restaurant, indoor pool and a wellness centre with saunas, a hammam, fitness and massage facilities.
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and is smartphone friendly. You can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. You can (un)select categories/areas to customize the map to your needs.
How to get to Dubrovnik
You will probably arrive in Dubrovnik by airplane, car or public transport.
If you only want to see Dubrovnik and possibly want to take some day tours, there is no need for a rental car. If you plan to travel around Croatia in combination with visiting Dubrovnik, traveling by car would be the easiest and most flexible way to make a round trip, either your own or a rental car.
For rental cars, I am a big fan of Sunny Cars. Most Dutch professional travel agents use them and they are SMART! Sunny Cars is an all-inclusive, worry free rental concept with affordable, fair prices, great service and no unpleasant surprises upon pick up or drop off. Ideal, I use them all the time!
Dubrovnik has its own international airport (DBV). It is located about 15 km outside of the city center. Check Skyscanner for flight options.
From the airport, you can either rent a car, take public transport, a local taxi or book in advance a convenient, air-conditioned, shared or private shuttle to avoid the scramble for taxis outside the airport.
Tours from Dubrovnik
If you stay for multiple days, you may want to see more than Dubrovnik’s Old Town and the above mentioned the city beaches. Explore further! My suggestions for great (half) day tours and activities around/from Dubrovnik:
- Lokrum Island and Dubrovnik City Walls Tour by Kayak
- 2-Hour Sunset Dinner Cruise
- Traditional Dalmatian Cooking Class
- Wine tasting tour to Konavle Valley or Pelješac Peninsula with Ston and Korcula
- Elaphite Islands-Hopping Tour with Lunch
- Discover the Country Side Tour with Čilipi, Poljice and Ljuta
- National Park Mljet Island Day Trip
You can also take a day tour to nearby countries, although it will be very quick:
- Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls (Bosnia) Small Group Day Tour
- Montenegro Day Trip: Perast, Kotor, Budva, Boka Kotorska Bay
From Split or Trogir
Should you stay in Split or Trogir and you only have one day available to visit Dubovnik, consider taking this small group day tour from Split or Trogir to Dubrovnik. If you have your own (rental) car, you could of course also drive yourself from Split or Trogir to Dubovnik, but it will be an exhausting day trip. In that case I would suggest to spend at least one night in Dubrovnik. The ride along the Makarska Riviera is beautiful!
I wrote several articles about Croatia. Check them out here. More to come in the future!
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Have you every been to Dubrovnik? Or is it still on your bucketlist? Share your story in a comment below!