It is not for nothing that this wonderful city of Croatia is called the “pearl of the Adriatic.” Dubrovnik is located in the southern part of the Dalmatian coast, the most beautiful place in Europe, famous for its purest seawater, temperate Mediterranean climate, and islands covered with lush forest vegetation.
A city with a long and fascinating history, Dubrovnik is rich in sights. These are magnificent cathedrals, historical palaces, and fortresses, ancient squares, and streets, as well as picturesque parks and beaches, colorful city markets, museums, and much more. The unique historical center of Dubrovnik, the Old Town, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In this post, I will show you some of the 15 best things to do in Dubrovnik that will interest you. Read on!
Things to Do in Dubrovnik
1. Dubrovnik City Walls
I start this article with one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubrovnik: The city walls. For all tourists, without exception, the highlight of staying in Dubrovnik is a trip along the top of the medieval city walls. Exploring this historic landmark will take at least an hour, as ancient walls surround the entire Old City quarter.
Most of the city walls were built in the 13th century, but over the following years, they were additionally fortified to withstand repeated enemy attacks.
For example, in the 15th century, a number of massive towers were added to protect the city from the Turks. Game of Thrones fans will definitely recognize the locations where the scenes were filmed in the capital of King’s Harbor.
The powerful ancient walls, which in some places reach 25 meters in height and 6 meters in width, are themselves an impressive historical site, not to mention the breathtaking views that open from here over the city, the harbor, and the Adriatic Sea.
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2. Stradun Street
During a strong earthquake in 1667, most of Dubrovnik was destroyed. However, thanks to the developed reconstruction plan, the prosperous city was restored. The rows of baroque houses and shops lining the central street of Dubrovnik’s historic center are the result of a long-term implementation of this carefully thought-out planning.
On the picturesque Stradun Street, you can buy original souvenirs, eat ice cream in one of the cafes located right on the sidewalk, or join the townspeople who love to walk here in the evenings. In addition, this street contains many city monuments, including the famous 15th-century bell tower. It stands on Lodge Square, at the very end of the street.
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3. Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Another of the most popular Dubrovnic attractions that you can’t miss is the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is one of the largest architectural ensembles of the Italian Baroque in the city. Among the many reasons to visit this cathedral of the Diocese of Dubrovnik is to see priceless works of art in its interior.
On the main altar of the temple is a triptych depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It dates from the early 1550s and belongs to the brush of the great Renaissance artist Titian. The side altars also display several impressive works by Croatian and Italian artists from the same era.
The cathedral’s treasury houses a collection of religious art artifacts dating from the 1000s to the 1700s. Among the most valuable of them are the relics of the patron saint of Dubrovnik: St. Blaise.
4. Lodge Square
This central square of the Old Town has long been a favorite meeting place for residents and guests of Dubrovnik. Here you will see many historical buildings and monuments. One of the most striking sights on Lodge Square is the famous Orlando Column, designed by the sculptor Antonio Ragusino.
Another famous historical building is the bell tower, dating back to 1480. The alarming ringing of its four bells warned residents of the city of danger. Among other architectural objects of the Lodge square of great interest: the Church of St. Blaise with a beautiful baroque façade and a collection of priceless works of art in the interior, a 15th-century clock tower with old chimes, the Main guardhouse, as well as the beautiful Small Onofrio Fountain.
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5. Cable Car in Dubrovnik
The best way to enjoy the attractions in Dubrovnik is by riding the Cable cars. And you can enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town by climbing to the top of Mount Srd via the state-of-the-art cable car, the only one on the entire Adriatic coast. The landing station is located near the ancient city walls, and the ascent to the top takes only 3-4 minutes.
In addition to the observation deck, at the peak of Mount Srd, you will find a cozy restaurant, a snack bar, a souvenir shop, as well as a small history museum and memorial dedicated to the defense of Croatia during the war of the 1990s. Hikers can reach the mountain peak along a walking path that is winding and quite steep in places.
6. Fort Lovrienac
Located on a high cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Lovrienac Fort was built as a separate defensive fortification to repel enemy attacks from both land and sea. The construction of the original structure dates back to around 1301. The fortress is a triangular structure with three stepped terraces. They had to be built due to the different heights of the cliff at the base of the fort.
The fortress was so impregnable that it could be defended by a garrison of only 25 people. Lovrienac Fort is currently one of the popular tourist attractions in Dubrovnik. It often hosts a wide variety of cultural and sporting events, from the world series of cliff diving competitions (cliff diving) to local productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
In addition, some of the most memorable scenes from the hit TV series Game of Thrones were filmed in this fortress.
7. Mount Srd
From the height of this 412-meter hill, Dubrovnik’s Old Town looks much more unusual, like a miniature model of itself or like an illustration on a book page. From here, you can see all of Dubrovnik and Lokrum, as well as the Elaphite Islands, filling the skyline.
It is thanks to such a favorable location and a wide view that Mount Srd played an important strategic role during the hostilities of different eras in the 1810s and 1990s. The exposition of the museum, located on the top of a mountain in the Imperial fortress, once built by Napoleon, tells about this.
8. Pile Gate
The Pile City Gate is the busiest place at the entrance to the Old Town of Dubrovnik, surrounded by a fortress wall. In fact, they are double at the outer gate, erected in 1537, and there is an arch that is built into a semicircular fortification in the form of a tower. The 15th-century inner gate, decorated with a statue of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, leads to Stradun Street.
The drawbridge in front of the double gates is no longer raised at night using a system of winches and counterweights. The entrance to the city is open around the clock. Sometimes locals, dressed in old guard costumes, pose in front of tourists for a photoshoot.
The most convenient and fastest way to get to the mountain top is to take the cable car. You can also get there by car (following the signs) or by shuttle bus. This is definitely one of the top Dubrovnik attractions that you can’t miss.
9. Great Fountain
In the 15th century, the Dubrovnik authorities decided to take measures to provide the city with a supply of freshwater. For this purpose, the Neapolitan architect Onofrio Giorgiano Della Cava was invited to the city. He was entrusted with a difficult task: the construction of an aqueduct and several city fountains. The aqueduct, one of the first aqueducts of that time in Eastern Europe, was brought to a mountain spring in the neighboring Shumet valley. The other endpoint of the aqueduct was a large fountain.
Two fountains created by Della Cava in Dubrovnik bear his name: Onofrio’s Big and Small Fountains. The most impressive of these is the Great Fountain, which is located on Stradun Street in front of the Church of St. Savior. This is a large-scale structure with 16 sides, decorated with carved inserts. The fountain is crowned with a huge dome created by the Milanese artist Petar Martinov.
Even today, the purest spring water flows from several functioning fountain taps, coming from the same mountain source.
10. Dominican Monastery and Museum
This imposing structure is one of the main attractions in Dubrovnik and also a historical architectural monument. The concept of the building is dominated by the Gothic and early Renaissance styles. The Dominican monastery is also known for its rich library and museum, which houses an impressive collection of religious art.
The construction of the monastery began in the 14th century, at the same time as the construction of the city walls. Therefore, with its huge appearance, the monastery looks more like a fortress than a religious complex. The interior of the temple acquired its present form in the 15th century.
All architectural elements were created by local artisans, including the covered gallery, which was designed by the famous Florentine architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo.
11. Lokrum Island
If you want to take a break from the bustle of the city and visits numerous Dubrovnik attractions, head to the picturesque island of Lokrum, which is located near Dubrovnik. Boats regularly sail from the port to the island during the day, and the trip takes only 10-15 minutes.
The island of Lokrum is almost entirely covered with a dense pine forest, which is pleasant to walk on foot. Walking paths lead to the coastline with rocky coves and crystal clear waters. During the summer season, a restaurant with a rich selection of food and drinks is open in the old Benedictine monastery.
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12. Franciscan Monastery
This Franciscan monastery, located near the city gates of Pile at the western end of Stradun Street, houses a unique pharmacy, one of the three oldest functioning pharmacies in the world. Most of the originally built monastery was destroyed during a strong earthquake in 1667. Only the Romanesque cloister and monastery gardens survived. However, they look almost the same as they did 500 years ago.
In the church building itself, there is a Gothic portal from 1498, richly decorated with carvings. The monastery library contains a rich collection of rare old books, and in the large Renaissance hall, you can see works of religious art, paintings by old masters, gold items, and other priceless exhibits.
The monastery pharmacy, founded in the 14th century, offers visitors herbal lotions and elixirs prepared according to old recipes.
13. Church of Saint Blaise
The richly decorated Baroque church of St. Blaise was erected on the site of a Romanesque temple that was badly destroyed by an earthquake in 1667 and then burned down in a massive fire in 1706. The current building was built in the early 1700s by the Venetian architect Marino Grappelli.
What makes this church a well-known city landmark is its affiliation with the patron saint of Dubrovnik, Saint Blasius, who, according to legend, helped prevent a surprise attack by Venetian troops in the 900s.
Although Saint Blasius was already dead by that time (he was executed by order of the ruler Agricola in the 300s), he appeared to the priest of Dubrovnik Cathedral in a dream to warn him of the impending enemy invasion.
14. Orlando Column
On your trip to Orlando Column, you can’t miss a tour to the Orlando Column, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubrovnik. This famous stone column with a flagpole, dating back to the 1400s, is located on the eastern edge of Stradun Street, right in front of the Church of St. Blasius. It is one of the main attractions of the Old Town and a favorite meeting place for residents and guests of Dubrovnik. The column is decorated with a statue of the medieval knight Roland (Orlando).
According to local legends, in the 800s, this hero helped the Republic of Ragusa withstand a long 15-month siege by Saracen pirates, which allowed Dubrovnik to maintain its status as a free-trade city-state.
For this reason, the Orlando Column is a symbol of the freedom and independence of Dubrovnik, and during the annual city festival, the flag of the independent republic always flies on the column.
15. Old Town
I finish this post on the best tourist attractions in Dubrovnik in style by taking a walk in the old town. Walking the winding streets will often get you the feeling that you are on the set of a famous TV series or movie. By succumbing to the ensuing curiosity, you can easily get lost in the maze of small alleys.
An excellent landmark is Placa Street, which is often called Stradun. This is the main street of the historic city center, paved with limestone and framed by large old houses. It is noteworthy that all buildings here are built according to the same architectural plan.
This is due to the fact that after the devastating earthquake and fire in the 17th century, a citywide decree was issued on the design of urban buildings. On the Day of St. Blaise, which is annually celebrated in Dubrovnik on February 3, a festive procession takes place along Placa Street in honor of the patron saint of Dubrovnik.