Croatia Travel Guide To Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is one of the most popular destination in Croatia and for good reasons.
Tourists who have visited the city find themselves planning a trip back and many do keep coming back because they always find something that take their breath away.
Some have described it as a truly bewitching place.
George Bernard Shaw have been to Dubrovnik and he described it as a place for those who seek paradise on earth. He also called it the “pearl of the Adriatic”.
The city is stunning with a captivating old town that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Dubrovnik has become a hot spot for beach lovers and island hoppers but it has quite a long and interesting history.
This Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea used to be called Ragusa, meaning rocky island, and was founded in the 7th century. The name Dubrovnik was first recorded in 1189 and most likely came from the word “dubron” which was Celtic for water.
It came under the protection of the Byzantine Empire then later became a Venice province after the Crusades.
The Republic of Dubrovnik was an ally of Ancona, a rival of Venice, for a very long time and the two nations helped keep the Venetians from taking control of the area.
The city has been through a lot over the years especially the horrific shelling in 1991 but it has since recovered and you can see how vigorously it bounced back today by the way it enchants its visitors.
The Best of Dubrovnik: Attractions and Fees
If you are still not convinced that a trip to Dubrovnik Croatia should be in your bucket list, maybe this list will.
These are the best spots to include in your Dubrovnik itinerary when you visit Dubrovnik.
Walls of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik’s famous city walls enclose the city’s Old Town and walking along these walls should be on the top of your list of Dubrovnik attractions.
China has its Great Wall and though Dubrovnik’s city walls may not have been a world wonder, it is definitely a sight to behold.
This is the main attraction in Dubrovnik Croatia apart from the monasteries. It is designed with an intricate system of forts, bastions, and towers that had protected the city during the ancient times.
In fact, these walls are the most important feature of Dubrovnik. It is perhaps, one of the most iconic white stone structures in the whole world.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can challenge yourself and join others who walk all the way around the walls which takes about 2 hours to complete. If not, you can take a walk and climb down at any time.
A walk around the Walls of Dubrovnik would be one of the most enchanting things you will do in your lifetime. It will let you explore Dubrovnik from a completely unique angle. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes for this particular activity.
Just an additional fun fact, if you’ve ever watched Game of Thrones before, it would delight you to know that this city and these exact walls were used as filming locations for George RR Martin’s fictional world.
It is that majestic that the creators of the show have chosen Dubrovnik Croatia as the perfect spot to make the spectacular fictional world of King’s Landing come to life.
Entrance Fee: The fees for the Walls of Dubrovnik would depend on the kind of tour you want to do. You can sign up for a Game of Thrones tour which is a walking tour that includes walking some way around the walls.
Without a tour, a single entrance ticket to the walls is 150kn per person for adults. Children under 18 years old as well as students pay a discounted price of 50kn only.
Children below 5 years old are free to enter.
How to Get There: The city walls are 7 minutes away by car from the city center. There are 3 entrances to the walls, one from Inner Pile Gate which is the main gate, St. Lucas Fortress, and St. John’s Fortress.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Opening and closing hours of the city walls are different in the summer and winter.
The walls open for tours and visits at 8am and closes at 5-7pm during the summer. In winter, it opens at 10am and closes at 3pm.
This place is so iconic and it’s absolutely dazzling no matter the season that there really is no one best time to visit. It will be just as stunning in the warmer months as it is in the cold season.
But if you are planning to take the whole 2-hour walk, it’s best to do this either first thing in the morning or last in the evening.
A short ferry ride from Dubrovnik Old Town will take you to the idyllic Lokrum Island.
This is another popular spot among Dubrovnik attractions in Dubrovnik Croatia. Travel time is only about 10 minutes but the time you will spend catching your breath after seeing the island will take so much more than that.
Lokrum Island lies in the Adriatic Sea and this where the Fort Royal Castle which was built by the French, still stands to this day.
It served as a shelter to King Richard the Lionheart when he was stranded on his way back from the Crusades. You will also find a monastery and a botanical garden but there are so many other things to do.
After a revitalizing walk at the botanical garden and seeing the Benedictine Monastery ruins, you can head out to actually swim in the surrounding waters.
Snorkeling is also offered along the coast of the island. Others play volleyball and football on the nearby pitches.
Snacks and drinks are available in the vicinity.
Entrance Fee: A ferry ride to the island costs 40kn. These are serviced by a local ferry company that offer daily sailings to and from the port.
How to Get There: The sea is no obstacle for you to quickly access the island. You just need to take one of the boats or ferries from Porporela, which is the city’s old port.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It’s best to start your trip to Lokrum Island too late as it’s not quite a lively place after dark. Aim to go in the morning or early afternoon.
Another iconic location to include in your list of Dubrovnik attractions when you make your Dubrovnik itinerary is the Fort Lovrijenac.
This is also a famous filming location for the Game of Thrones series that we’ve mentioned above. Basically, Game of Thrones used the city of Dubrovnik as the backdrop of King’s Landing where the Queen Cersei rules.
Fort Lovrijenac, also called the Fort of St. Lawrence is in the west side of the Old Town and is outside of the city walls.
What’s unique about this structure is its triangular shape. This fortress is composed of three levels or terraces and is defended by oversized cannons.
It was originally constructed as a defensive building in order to protect the city from enemies so that invaders can easily be destroyed from the walls.
Make sure to check out the famous inscription carved above the door that leads to the fortress that translates to “Freedom cannot be sold for all the gold in the world”.
Entrance Fee: Some walking tour packages include a trip to the Fort Lovrijenac.
How to Get There: The fort is only four minutes away from the city walls by foot. It is also near other Dubrovnik attractions in the city center like the West Harbor.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It opens at 8am and closes at 7pm from Monday to Sunday. You don’t have to worry much about crowds because even though it’s a famous spot, the tours are very well-organized so you can go on a weekend if you like and it will still be a pleasant tour.
Just when you thought you’ve seen the most amazing sights in the city when you visit Dubrovnik, another spot like the Rector’s Palace will amaze you once again.
It’s not just the Game of Thrones filming locations that you should see in this city. It is so rich in history, art, and architecture and this palace is just one of the things that will take your breath away.
The palace was built in the late 15th century and is a Gothic-Renaissance structure. It was constructed for the rector who ruled the city and in it, you will find his office, private chambers, and make sure to take a trip down the dungeon!
It now serves as a Cultural History Museum that displays the restored portraits and other relics of the palace’s glorious history.
The structure has been rebuilt many times but it retains its original design.
You might also be interested in visiting the notorious prison.
Entrance Fee: A single entrance to the Rector’s Palace is 80kn for adults. There is also a multi-museum pass that would grant you entrance to other museums as well which costs 120kn for adults and 25kn for children.
How to Get There: Rector’s Palace is only about 10 minutes away by foot both from the city walls and the fort. Almost right beside it is a catholic church which you can look for as a landmark once you are near enough.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The palace opens at 9am and closes at 6pm. It’s open from Monday to Sunday. It’s best to visit on a Saturday since it’s relatively more crowded on Sundays because of the mass at the church.
Yet another kingly structure in the list of Dubrovnik attractions that you should add to your Dubrovnik itinerary is the Minceta tower. Because of its iconic design, it has also become a filming location for the said TV series, Game of Thrones.
The Minceta tower is one of the most visited towers in the Dubrovnik Croatia. It’s a rounded tower with very thick walls that was built to protect the city from attacks. This tower is the highest point in the stretch of the city walls. If you climb it, you will see a spectacular view of the Old Town. It is also considered as the symbol of the city.
Entrance Fee: Most walking tours in Dubrovnik include access to the Minceta tower.
How to Get There: The tower is connected to the Walls of Dubrovnik.
The city walls are 7 minutes away by car from the city center. There are 3 entrances to the walls, one from Inner Pile Gate which is the main gate, St. Lucas Fortress, and St. John’s Fortress.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It opens at 10am and closes at 7pm from Monday to Sunday. Take a tour of the tower the same day that you will explore the walls.
Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srd Hill
Climbing the Srd hill would give you the best view of Dubrovnik Croatia. Of course, not all of us are experienced hikers and would like to walk to the top. In that case, take the Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srd Hill.
Riding the cable car will allow you to experience panoramic views not of the hill and the surrounding areas. You can see up to 37 miles from the top on a clear sunny day. Once you’re on top of the hill, you will discover that the main attraction in it is really the breathtaking view.
Entrance Fee: The most convenient way for you to buy tickets to the cable car is to buy directly at the stations. An adult roundtrip ticket is 150kn for adults. One way tickets are priced at 85kn. Roudtrip tickets for kids cost 60kn and 40kn for one way. Kids below 4 years old are free to ride.
How to Get There: Entrance to the Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srd Hill is only 9 minutes away by foot from the city walls.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Operating hours of the cable cars depend on the month of the year so be sure to check the official site for accurate schedules. The first trip usually starts at 9am and the last trip usually ends at 10pm.
You may find it hard to believe but there truly are more palaces in Dubrovnik than you might have imagined and the Sponza Palace is one of them.
It’s a 16th century palace that is designed with a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
The name was derived from “spongia” which refers to the spot where water is collected. It’s a rectangular structure designed with an internal courtyard.
It features 6 Corinthian columns and an alcove that houses the statue of St. Blaise. The palace used to serve as a customs house and has gone through several transformations from a mint to a treasury. Now, it’s just one of the remaining buildings from the Old Town that have survived the Great Earthquake in 1667.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the Sponza Palace is 25kn. Some walking tours of the city also includes this spot.
How to Get There: The palace is 3 minutes away by foot from the city walls.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Sponza Palace is open from 8am to 7pm every day. It’s best to visit or take a tour of the palace during the day to mid-afternoon.
St. Blaise’s Church in Dubrovnik
If you’re like some romantics, you’ve probably dreamed of being married in a church like St. Blaise’s Church. This magnificent structure is perfect for the ultimate fairy-tale wedding. What an experience it will be to walk in its interiors and marvel at its outer design.
St. Blaise’s Church is one of the most majestic sacral buildings in the Dubrovnik Croatia. St. Blasius was revered in the city as the patron saint for ages. The saint has been an inspiration to many artists who have sculpted and painted his image.
The church was built in honor of him. Other interesting pieces that you must see when you visit the church are the two stone statues.
A lot of couples choose St. Blaise’s Church to hold their wedding ceremony. The interior of the church is amazing for photoshoots.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the church is free but you can join certain activities for a fee. It will also be included in some of the guided tours.
How to Get There: The church is 3 minutes away from the city walls.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Best time to visit the church is on the weekends where you may luckily spot some wedding ceremonies if that’s a thing that you like seeing.
Franciscan Church and Monastery
Dubrovnik Croatia is full of surprises and inside this old Franciscan Church and Monastery is a pharmacy and small museum that features an exhibit of relics and liturgical objects.
The monastery is a large complex which belonged to the Order of the Friars Minor.
There is also a library inside.
It was built in 1360 in late Romanesque style and it includes two cloisters, the lower one being of mix of Romanesque-Gothic design with arches, columns, and a promenade. These are intricately designed and you can still see some of its details today.
If you love books, make sure to visit the library that contains over 20,000 titles including 1200 valuable old manuscripts.
Some of the liturgical objects you will find in the museum are old chalices, jewelry, and pharmacy equipment like laboratory gear and medical books.
They were also able to save the remains of the artillery that destroyed the monastery in the 90s war.
Stop by the pieta over the church door before exploring the inside of the church. This cloister is one of the most intricately designed late-Romanesque buildings in Dalmatia.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the monastery is 30kn for adults. This includes access to the library, pharmacy, and museum.
How to Get There: The Franciscan Church and Monastery is right inside the city walls which are 7 minutes away by car from the city center. There are 3 entrances to the walls, one from Inner Pile Gate which is the main gate, St. Lucas Fortress, and St. John’s Fortress.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It is open from 9am to 6pm but they close an hour earlier during the cold season.
Yes, there truly are more castles and fortresses in Dubrovnik than you may have expected. The Revelin Fortress is just one of the most impressive structures you will see when you visit Dubrovnik.
You should definitely include it in your Dubrovnik itinerary.
This fortress is right outside the Walls of Dubrovnik and is the largest of the Old Town forts. If you look out from inside it, you will be overlooking the Old Harbor and you will also see the entrance to the town to the east. They also call it the Revelin Fort.
It protected the city both on the east and on the entrance to the harbor from the dangers of Venetian attacks and during the First Holy League, the people had to strengthen it to add more protection on the walls.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the Revelin Fortress is included to the city walls access. It may also be included as part of a walking tour package in Dubrovnik.
How to Get There: There are 3 entrances to the walls, one from Inner Pile Gate which is the main gate, St. Lucas Fortress, and St. John’s Fortress.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Today, the fortress serves as a venue for several events and performances so you may want to check out what’s going on and try to catch one that you like.
Homeland War Museum of Dubrovnik
When visiting a foreign place, it’s only right to learn as much about it as you could. This will not only enrich your travel experience or vacation as a whole, you will also end up bringing home more than just photos and souvenirs.
In the Homeland War Museum, you will learn about the Croatian War and how these people fought for their independence.
By the end of it, you will really have a piece of Croatia with you. The museum showcases about 500 items in its collection, all ranging from the period of 1991 to 1995. It is more of a contemporary history museum but one that is quite valuable.
It features four themes including the fall of Dubrovnik Republic, the days of victory and their liberation from the Croatian Army, among others.
Entrance Fee: Tickets to the museum cost 30kn per person for adults.
How to Get There: The museum is right on the bottom of Srd hill so you can stop by either before or after you take the cable ride. Entrance to the Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srd Hill is only 9 minutes away by foot from the city walls.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The Homeland War Museum is open from 9am to 5pm. It’s best to go on weekdays to avoid the crowd who are on their way to ride the cable car to Srd hill.
See the oldest Sephardi Synagogue in the whole world in Dubrovnik Croatia. Though it’s not the most popular in Dubrovnik attractions, it is definitely worth seeing because you will learn a lot about Croatia’s Jewish history.
It is the second oldest synagogue in all of Europe, owned by the local Jewish community. The religious still come here today to worship on its main floor.
The synagogue is located in the Old Town of the city. Its internal layout or design is a bit different from most European synagogues.
It has been refurbished quite a few times especially after the great earthquakes and the wars that followed but has since been repaired and it still stands today still looking close to its original design.
The museum inside features many artifacts that tells the story of the history of the Jewish community in Dubrovnik.
Entrance Fee: There is no entrance fee to acess the Dubrovnik Synagogue.
How to Get There: The synagogue is only 3 minutes away from the city walls by foot if you walk on Stradun street, turning toward Poljana Paska.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It’s best to visit the synagogue during their services in the weekend if you want to observe their practices.
Orlando’s Column – Symbol Of Dubrovnik
A smaller structure but definitely not the least impressive you will see inside the city walls is Orlando’s Column. It stands right in the heart of the Old Town, in the middle of Luza Square, right out the door of St. Blaise’s Church.
It was built in 1418 and features the sculpture of the armored knight Orlando. Legend has it that this knight helped the townsfolk defeat the invaders of the city during the middle ages. He helped keep Dubrovnik a free trade city.
What it truly symbolizes is freedom to the citizens of Dubrovnik.
It’s a symbol of liberty so it also features the freedom flag called Libertas of the Old Town’s summer festival.
Entrance Fee: None. The column is right in the center of the town and is free for anyone to access.
How to Get There: Orlando’s Column is in the heart of the Old Town. You can access it by foot from any of the main attractions inside the town.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: None. The statue and column is accessible at any time and is not enclosed within any gate.
They call it the “island of ghosts” and the history behind this fact is quite chilling. Still, it’s a historical sight that’s worthy of a visit, especially if you care about how people fought for justice over the ages. Daksa Island is a deserted one but people still visit it for its story.
From the northern part of Dubrovnik Croatia, you will see the island as a cluster of dark cypresses in the Adriatic Sea. There is a lighthouse that sends its bright beam during the night. So, what’s its story?
Daksa Island is known because of the accused Nazi sympathizers who have been massacred in it after the second World War. The quest to end the fascist regime is a just one however, it took on a frenzy and went out of control, claiming the lives of many without giving them a trial.
The partisan officers gathered about 53 people, some say there were more, and shot them on site.
What you will see on the island would be left to your imagination. But whether you believe in ghosts or not, just knowing what happened here is enough for you to believe at least for a moment that it is indeed, haunted.
Entrance Fee: Access to the island is included in most day trips that include the boat ride. Take note that the ferry ride fee alone, if not included in a package, does not cover entrance to the island.
How to Get There: It takes 11 minutes from the city walls to drive to the spot where you can take a ferry to the island. There is no public transportation going to the port so you may have to rent a car or take a taxi.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It’s best to take a day tour to Daksa Island during the afternoon. If you’re feeling brave and really want to experience the chills of the ghost stories, you can visit when it’s a bit darker, early evening.
A lot of Dubrovnik attractions are islands so if you want to maximize your trip, be prepared to ride a few ferry boats when you visit Dubrovnik.
Elaphiti Archipelago, up in the northwest would give you a revitalizing escape perhaps after a few days of contending with the crowds in the main tourist spots.
A trip to these islands will give you a much-needed break and will allow you to take home more memories of the natural beauty of Croatia. The three largest islands in the archipelago are the only ones that are inhabited. You can visit all three in one day tour.
Entrance Fee: You can include a trip to Elaphiti Archipelago to your day tour package. If not, take note that the ferry ride fee does not include access to the islands.
How to Get There: Traveling to the archipelago takes a bit longer than the other islands. Ferry rides are available down the Gruz port which is a 6-minute drive from the city walls. The boat ride can take up to two hours long.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It’s best to visit the archipelago early in the morning so you can explore the main three islands plus some others.
Cavtat Dubrovniks little brother
Of all the many sights to behold in Dubrovnik, one that is not often mentioned in other travel guides but definitely has a heavy significance in the city is Cavtat.
Without it, Dubrovnik would not even be here today because it was the Cavtat refugee who established the city in 614. But there is a lot more to see in there.
Though it is not as flooded by tourists as the other towns, Cavtat is very charming, surrounded by a picturesque harbor. You will enjoy its beaches and its general setting.
How to Get There: Cavtat is 25 mnutes away by car from the city walls and main attraction sin Dubrovnik Croatia via D8. You must head to Zvekovica and take Put od Cavtata.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Cavtat is not often busy so it’s safe to take a day trip there even in the weekends without having to worry about long lines.