Dubrovnik, Croatia more than lives up to its nickname as “the Pearl of the Adriatic.” The views of the burnt orange roofs are a feast for the eyes, while the sound and smell of the salty Adriatic Sea are a treat for the senses. Thousands of years of history are packed into the Old Town streets. Here are the the best ways to dive into everything Dubrovnik has to offer during your free time.
The city’s calling card is the defensive stone walls surrounding the Old Town. Florentine architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, considered one of the great pioneers of architecture during the Renaissance, designed the walls—which reach up to 82 feet high and 20 feet deep. As you walk, you’ll see every shade of blue as you peer out onto the Adriatic and admire the city’s terracotta sea of rooftops from a bird’s eye perspective. The tiles are part of the city’s restoration efforts and are from Naples, which is part of the reason the city has an Italian look and feel.
Before you buy your ticket to walk the walls, make sure you’re up for climbing the stairs at the entrance and spending time under the sun. There’s very little shade along the path and the walls total a little over a mile in length. The ticket costs around $20 and you can opt to walk all the way around or stop at the halfway point. If you’re walking at a leisurely pace and stopping to take pictures along the way—which you definitely should—it will take about two hours to walk the full length of the walls.
This is the activity for those who want views similar to what you’d see if you walked the city walls, but don’t want to spend as much time under the sun. Exit the Old Town from either Pile Gate to the north or Ploče gate to the south by the Old Port. You’ll walk about 10 to 15 minutes from either gate to arrive at the lower cable car station where you’ll buy your ticket, which costs around $20. Hop into one of the funiculars and enjoy the four-minute ride to the top of Mount Srđ, where panoramic views of the Old Town, the sea, and the neighboring towns await.
You’ll also have a chance to dive into the local history by visiting the Imperial Fort. The fort was built for Napoleon at the top of the hill over 200 years ago and doubles as the Homeland War Museum. Photos and artifacts from the time of the Yugoslav Wars hang inside the fort and show how the Serbian-Montenegrian conflict impacted Dubrovnik in the 1990s.
Calling all Game of Thrones fans! Pay a visit to Lokrum Island if you’re interested in seeing some of the filming locations from the hit HBO show. The island’s Benedictine abbey and botanical gardens served as the backdrop for the city of Qarth, where characters like Daenerys Targaryen and Ser Jorah Mormont spent time during the second season. Plus, you can stop by the Lokrum Visitor Center to take a photo of yourself sitting on a replica of the Iron Throne.
Even if you’re not an avid Game of Thrones viewer, the island offers a look into the more serene side of the region. Ferries run from the Old Port to the island throughout the day and it’s the perfect place for outdoorsy travelers to get their nature fix. Spend time walking through the olive groves, spotting the peacocks that inhabit the island, visiting the Aleppo Pine Forest, or viewing exotic plants in the Gardens of Maximilian.
All roads in Dubrovnik lead to the Stradun. This wide, marble-tiled street is the main road in and out of the city. You’re free to leisurely stroll alongside locals and fellow travelers since there are no cars allowed in the Old Town. Souvenir stores and restaurants line the road, but you can also opt to walk down any of the side streets for more shopping and dining options. Be sure to head down the Stradun after sunset to see the city awash in a glow from the lanterns that illuminate the road.
Don’t worry, knowing the ins-and-outs of the local beach scene isn’t a prerequisite to visiting one of the city’s most beautiful and secluded spots. Add the Scenic Dubrovnik Coast Cruise & Dinner excursion to enjoy a private boat ride past the city walls and over to St. Jacob’s Beach, where you’ll be treated to a three-course dinner on the shores of the beach.
As you enjoy the local food—pick the seafood if you like fresh fish—you’ll watch the sun dip below the horizon as shades of orange and pink fill the sky. The Dalmatian coast is known for its relaxed, beachy lifestyle and this excursion is the perfect way to feel like a true Croatian for an evening.
Have a favorite restaurant or spot in Dubrovnik that should be on our list? Let us know in the comments!