Lovingly nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik has become a preferred European travel destination over the past few years. It’s quite easy to fall in love with this city: whether it’s due to the Game of Thrones frenzy, its delicious food, ancient architecture or charming atmosphere, there’s plenty to see and do in Dubrovnik.
Located on Croatia’s southern Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik is popular for its stunning seafront, its charming Old Town district and splendid ancient buildings such as its cathedral and monasteries. A perfect destination to visit after so many months of lockdown and the stressing COVID-19 scenario, at Bonzah we’ve compiled the most interesting attractions that Dubrovnik has to offer:
Walk the City Walls
The medieval city walls have protected Dubrovnik from invasion for centuries and they are now a major tourist attraction. Walking along the city walls gives visitors the opportunity of admiring the Old Town and one of the greatest fortification systems of the European Middle Ages. They are open from 8am in the summer and 9am in winter and you can easily spend a couple of hours walking the entire city if you’d like. The walls stretch a total of 1940 meters and they are so popular amongst tourists that you’re advised to visit them as early in the morning as possible to avoid crowds and have the chance of taking the best pictures ever. The ocean side of the wall is easier to walk and gives you breathtaking views of the city.
Dubrovnik’s medieval city walls can’t be missed. You’ll spot around 17 towers and plenty of fortresses. In fact, if you’ve never missed a chapter of Game of Thrones you’ll recognise several locations! There’s a fee to access the Walls and there are also guided tours available.
There are only three access points to the walls; the main entrance is on the left of Pile Gate. The other entry points are located by St Lucas Fortress on St Dominic’s Street and by St. John’s Fortress.
Despite walking the whole city walls won’t take you more than a couple hours, you’re advised not to rush: the views from up there are absolutely stunning: Dubrovnik itself, Lokrum island, Fort Lovrijenac and much more are awaiting for you. Minceta Fortress, the highest fort in Dubrovnik, is only accessible from the city walls.
As you start from the Ploce Gate entrance, you’ll quickly reach St Luke’s Tower, which faces the Old Harbour and Fort Revelin. The northern landward section of the wall is the highest, reaching a peak at rounded Fort Minceta at the city’s NW corner. The battlements at the top provide remarkable views over the rooftops in the old town. From here it’s mainly downhill as you pass over Pile Gate and then climb towards Fort Bokar at the city’s SW corner. The seaward stretch ends at Fort St John at the entrance to the Old Harbour.
Explore the Old Town
Strolling through Dubrovnik’s Old Town is the best thing you can do after spending some time admiring the city walls. As you walk through the narrow, cobbled streets enjoy the view of the old buildings, towers and squares that give Dubrovnik such an incredible atmosphere.
There are many interesting ancient buildings to admire and we’ll mention some of them in the following paragraphs. Amongst the highlights of this area you can’t miss the landmark bell tower or Orlando’s Column that stands in front of the Church of Saint Blaise, Rector’s Palace, Dubrovnik Cathedral or the Franciscan Monastery just to mention a few of them.
Whether you choose to explore it by yourself or with a guided tour, the Old Town is one of Dubrovnik’s most interesting highlights.
Don’t Miss Stradun Street
Stradun is the main street that runs through Dubrovnik. It’s the widest in the city and it divided the town into northern and southern halves. There are many shops and restaurants along the street and it is not rare to watch a parade here. Stradun connects the Pile Gate and the Ploce Gate. While you’re here, spot the former seat of the government at the Rector’s Palace and stop for a coffee and something to eat at any of the cafés nearby.
It’s one of Europe’s most picturesque pedestrian streets and it’s famous because of its limestone paving. Although it dates back to 1468, many of the surrounding buildings were built in the XVII century after the city was hit by a devastating earthquake.
Are you a GoT Fan? Join a Game of Thrones Tour!
If you haven’t missed a single chapter of HBO hit series Game of Thrones and you’ve suffered and rejoiced with the adventures and misadventures of your favourite characters then you have another important reason to visit Dubrovnik: it’s the main location of King’s Landing so don’t be surprised if you recognize man locations from the series and you see merchandise sold around just about every corner!
Show fans can do a little exploration on their own and see a bunch of locations in a single day or join the formal walking tour that is offered.
Amongst the filming locations that you can see in Dubrovnik we can mention: the Old Town, Lovrijenac Fort as the Red Keep, Jesuit Staircase where Cersei took her walk of shame, Trsteno Arboretum, the City Walls, Dubrovnik’s West Harbour and Hotel Belvedere. There’s also the inner courtyard of the Rector’s Palace and its stone staircase where Daenerys and the Spice King in Qarth met, Minceta Tower and many others.
Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Fort Lovrijenac is one of the largest fortresses in Dubrovnik. Guarding a tall spur 40 metres high, it’s one of the city’s picture-book defensive installations. Also notable for its unusual triangular layout with its terraces, it can be accessed via two drawbridges and a gateway through its impressive walls. It’s not only a tourist attraction and a theatre.
Located just outside the Old Town, it offers stunning views of the oldest part of the city. Even though there isn’t much to see inside the fort, it’s still worth it to climb all the stairs for the view from above.
Visit the Franciscan Monastery
The Franciscan Church and Monastery was built in the 1300s and, after being devastated by an earthquake, the Gothic ornaments above the entry doors are all that remains from the original building. It was rebuilt in Baroque style and completed in the XVIII century.
Located in the Old City as you enter through the Pile Gate, it’s an interesting place to visit. It is now home to one of the most valuable libraries in Croatia with a collection of more than 21000 rare book manuscripts. It’s also the location of a fascinating medieval pharmacy that’s been in use since the late 1310s. Step inside and admire its old decorated jars, mortars and measuring devices!. This old pharmacy is absolutely a must-see. You’ll find it in a narrow passageway dividing the monastery from the Church of Our Saviour. Another highlight is the XIV cloisters with ornate columns that have unique faces on the capitals.
The Franciscan Monastery is a complex owned by the Order of the Friars Minor and it includes a monastery, a church, a library, a pharmacy and a cloistered garden.
Admire the Rector’s Palace
With its exquisite combination of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture, Rector’s Palace is arguably the finest heritage landmark in Dubrovnik. The building has served as a powder magazine, a watch house, an armoury and a prison and it’s now home to the History Department of the Museum of Dubrovnik.
It’s one of the main historical and tourist attractions and, if you’re a GoT’s fan, you may recognise it as the setting for a lot of the Qarth scenes in season 2.
It’s really a pleasure to explore the Rector’s Palace. On the ground floor there’s a courtyard, the prison and courtrooms of the Ragusa Republic and a glittering display of medieval church art. Upstairs there is a strange assortment of carriages, sedan chairs, robes and wigs. The palace was a seat of the rectors _de facto rulers of Dubrovnik between the XIV and the XIX centuries. Each rector lived there just for a month so that they could focus on the wellbeing of the city.
Chill out on Lokrum Island
Located just 600 meters from Dubrovnik, the island of Lokrum is pretty hard to miss. That said, hop aboard the ferry and enjoy a short ride to this fascinating island. Once there you’ll be rewarded with superb views from the Old Town and a few interesting attractions that are definitely worth exploring.
Fort Royal Castle should be one of your first destinations while in Lokrum. It’s a fortification constructed by Napoleon’s troops to defend the harbor city and from where you can admire great panoramic views. Other interesting points are the small inland salt lake that is great for scuba diving, an old Benedictine Monastery and a delightful botanical garden. Within the remains of the monastery there’s a restaurant and the replica of the iron throne from Game of Thrones.
Lokrum is a beautiful forested island and a must-visit while in Dubrovnik. Beaches are nice but rocky and they are great for swimming and scuba diving.
Admire the Views from Srd
Hill Srd offers stunning views of Dubrovnik, especially around sunset. Whether you hike up to the top or ride the cable car, you’re bound to enjoy a wonderful experience. There’s even a restaurant near the top for an exceptional dining experience!
After the 10-minute ride you can look out for the XIX century Imperial Fortress and unique shopping facilities including a fascinating traditional coin minting blacksmith shop.
The views are fantastic: visitors can take in all of Dubrovnik and Lokrum, with the Adriatic Sea and Elafiti Islands filling the horizon. It’s this extraordinary vantage point that made Srd a key battleground during the 1990s war. The story is told in Dubrovnik During the Homeland War, an exhibition housed in Fort Imperial at the summit.
Visit Dubrovnik Cathedral and Its Treasury
Dubrovnik Cathedral is one of the city’s large ensembles of baroque architecture. It’s a must visit destination within the city, mainly because of its exquisite interior’s artworks. On the main altar you can appreciate a triptych of the Ascension of Mary by the renaissance painter Titian. On the church’s side altars there are several other impressive works by other renaissance Croatian and Italian artists.
The building stands out for its three aisles, three apses and splendid interior decor. The Cathedral Treasury is a must-see because of its many important relics, the most famous being a portion of the cross that Jesus is thought to have been crucified upon. Other famous relics include the head, leg and arm of St Blaise, the city’s patron saint, dating from the XIII century as well as a splendid display of 138 gold and silver reliquaries from around the world.
Located right next to the Rector’s Palace in Old Town, it’s one of the most beautiful and significant places to visit in this magical Croatian city.
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