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Travel tips

7 reasons to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia

Oct 03, 2022 by Jamie Gallerani

If you’re asking yourself, “Is Dubrovnik worth visiting?” then the answer is a resounding yes! Any city known as the Pearl of the Adriatic is a place you want to see. The sunsets are prime, the culture is fascinating, and the city views are some of the best in the world. Need we say more?

Read on to see seven reasons to take a trip to Dubrovnik, and find out about some of the best things to do in Dubrovnik for a truly memorable experience.

Where is Dubrovnik?

Dubrovnik, Croatia, is a coastal city located in the Balkans region of Europe. It sits near the southeastern tip of the country and is bordered to the west by the Adriatic Sea.

Whens the best time to go to Dubrovnik?

Short answer: There’s no one “right” season, as it all depends on what you’re looking to do while visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia. Long answer: Well, you’ll just have to read our season-by-season guide to the best time to visit Croatia to see why each time of year has a reason to be our favorite.

How can I travel to Dubrovnik?

By joining one of our guided tours of Croatia! You’ll get your fill of fun in Dubrovnik before setting out to see more of the country. In fact, Dubrovnik is just one of the 11 cities in Croatia that you can see on one tour. You can even pair your Dubrovnik travels with time in neighboring countries like Montenegro, Italy, and Greece.

Is Dubrovnik a good destination for solo travelers?

Yes! In fact, it made our list of the best places to travel solo this spring. The Old Town is compact enough that it’s nearly impossible to get lost and there are ample ways to spend your free time in Dubrovnik—whether that be on your own or with new friends.

dubrovnik croatia city walls

1. It’s easy to explore all the historic sites

When it comes to historic cities on the Adriatic coast, Dubrovnik tops the list. Just ask staffer Emily, who stepped into the city’s storied past on our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour. “The city is so historic, but it’s also small enough that you can explore without getting lost,” she said in our Go Ahead Travel Guide to Croatia. “It’s really easy to see the whole city in a day or two.”

Best things to do in Dubrovnik if you love history:

  • Walk the city walls. This is one of the best ways to spend free time in Dubrovnik—and as staffer Rina said, “It’s breathtaking and worth the money.” But keep staffer Amanda’s tip in mind: “Either go early in the morning or late in the evening to beat the heat, as there isn’t any shade,” she said.
  • Stroll along the Stradun. You can souvenir shop and restaurant hop down this scenic main street, which runs through Dubrovnik’s Old Town. The best part? Cars aren’t allowed, so you can explore at ease on foot. You can even head down to the Stradun after sunset to see it illuminated by lanterns! No matter when you go, the Old Town is one of the must-see places in Dubrovnik.
  • Visit the statue of writer Marin Drzic. This bronze statue of “Dubrovnik’s Shakespeare” was created by famed sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and has one notable feature: a gold-colored nose. “You will notice these statues that have gold sections to them because visitors believe if you rub it, it will give them good luck,” said staffer MacKenzie. But, word to the wise: Locals generally frown upon rubbing the statue, so snapping a pic is your best bet.
  • Test your balance. “One of the more interesting legends I learned about in Dubrovnik was that of the balancing stone,” said staffer Lynne while sharing travel photos from Croatia. “Along the city walls, there is a carved stone face sticking out of one of the buildings, facing into the main street about a foot or so off the ground. The story goes if you can balance on the stone and take off your shirt without falling off, you will find true love! It looks so easy… until you try it!”

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dubrovnik croatia lovrijenac fort

2. You can step into the world of Game of Thrones and A Court of Thorns and Roses

Did you get swept up in the Game of Thrones frenzy or voraciously read the A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) books? (We don’t blame you, so did we!) Well, it’s one thing to watch or read these series at home, and another to visit Game of Thrones filming locations or see the destinations that inspired the world of ACOTAR while on tour in Croatia. The country is full of ’em, and Dubrovnik is no exception.

Places in Dubrovnik to visit for Game of Thrones and ACOTAR fans:

  • Look out from Lovrijenac Fort. This scenic spot served as the Red Keep in Game of Thrones. Visiting allows you to step into the TV set—and into history, since the fort dates as far back as the 11th century.
  • Climb the Jesuit Stairs. “These are most famous for Cersei’s ‘walk of shame’ scene in Game of Thrones,” said staffer Morgan. “I was a big fan of the show, so visiting some of the filming locations like the Jesuit Stairs was great! It’s a good place to take a picture.”
  • Explore TV locations on Lokrum Island. The island served as the city of Qarth in some of the episodes (looking at you, season two), and even has a Game of Thrones exhibition in the former Benedictine monastery. “They have the real iron throne used to film the show, which you can sit in and take pictures of,” said staffer MacKenzie.
  • Walk atop the city’s walls. Dubrovnik is a detailed study of the Summer Court from the ACOTAR books. They share a climate, a moniker (we don’t think “Adriata” was a coincidence), and even a color palette. Do as High Lord Tarquin might do and admire the boats bobbing atop sky-blue seas. Or, savor the ocean breeze as it funnels between stone buildings from your perch atop the city’s walls.

Take a trip to Dubrovnik

croatian borek pastry dubrovnik croatia

3. Dubrovnik has top-notch food & wine

Thanks to regional influences from neighboring countries and easy access to the Adriatic, the culinary scene in Dubrovnik is worth writing home about. You’ll find everything from robust meat dishes to fresh seafood (don’t leave without trying oysters from Ston Bay). Foodies will be right at home on our trips to Dubrovnik.

Things to do in Dubrovnik for foodies:

  • Visit Buza Bar. “It’s built into the cliffside, you can grab a drink, and look out on endless blue ocean, and get a nice view of Lokrum Island,” said staffer Nic.
  • Find your favorite börek. These traditional, baked pastries are found throughout the Balkans and are made with phyllo dough filled with savory bites, like meat, cheese, and spinach. “My friends and I did a börek crawl, trying to find the tastiest, most delicious börek in town,” said staffer Rina. “In Dubrovnik our favorites were Holy Burek, Bosancica, and Zlatno Zrno Bakery.”
  • Sip wine while watching the local scene. If you’ve never tried Croatian wine, it’s not because it’s not delicious—it’s mostly because the country doesn’t produce enough to ship around the globe. But, that just makes trying it on our Croatia tours even more exclusive. Croatia’s wine country isn’t far from Dubrovnik, which makes the city the place to try some up-and-coming sips. If you add the extension on our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour, you can sample some of the best varietals alongside experts on the Konavle Wine Tasting & Lunch excursion. Cheers!
  • Taste squid ink rice. “It’s the dish to try,” said staffer Karolina of this traditional nosh made with local seafood. Just be sure to plan ahead to visit places like the popular Forty Four restaurant. “Book your restaurant reservations in advance, if possible, as restaurants fill up incredibly quickly,” she said.
  • Sip the city’s water. “Get a drink or fill up your water bottle at Onofrio’s Fountain in the Old Town,” said staffer Morgan. “Croatia has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world and it flows through all of the fountains.”

Shop trips to Dubrovnik

dubrovnik croatia mount srd sunset

4. There’s adventure around every corner

Whether you’re country hopping on our Croatia & Italy: Dubrovnik to Venice tour or staying close on our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour, planning a visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia, means planning for a lot of wow moments. Fancy a kayak ride around sea cliffs? Want to going off-road in a buggy? The Pearl of the Adriatic has it all.

Top things to do in Dubrovnik during free time:

  • Watch the sunset from Mount Srd. “Ride the cable car to look down on the city walls encompassing the whole of old Dubrovnik’s white limestone and red-roof houses,” said staffer Nic. Staffer Andy counted this as one of his favorite memories, too, and knows just the spot to take in the vista once you’re at the top of the mountain: “There’s a restaurant called Panorama Restaurant & Bar at the top, which overlooks the sea and Dubrovnik’s Old Town, and offers stunning views,” he said.
  • Set off on a Dubrovnik Buggy Safari. “There is a guided buggy tour that takes you off-road,” said staffer Mariah. “It is a hidden gem. It was so much fun. I have amazing pictures of the sunset. It was a highlight of my time in Dubrovnik.”
  • Take a sunset kayaking tour. “I did a sunset kayaking tour of Dubrovnik Bay that took us from the Old Town’s harbor to a small cave in the cliffside just south of the city where we snorkeled,” said staffer Andy. “Then we kayaked back to the Old Town at sunset, stopping off briefly at the shore of Lokrum Island for a little history lesson.”

See Dubrovnik on tour

dubrovnik croatia coastline

5. The coastline is postcard-worthy

If seeing the Adriatic is on your bucket list, you’re in luck—Croatia has ocean vistas in spades, and we show you the best coastal spots on our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour. Traveler Eric summed up the Croatian coast perfectly: “Imagine walled cities with cobblestone streets, narrow passages, doors and shutters of different colors, and window boxes overflowing with flowers, with a backdrop of clear, aqua ocean water of the Adriatic.” All those pretty things come together in spectacular fashion in Dubrovnik, so prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Things to do in Dubrovnik for ocean lovers:

  • Find a quiet beach to kick back on. The city doesn’t have tons of long, sandy beaches for strolling, but there are more than a few places to take a dip when you visit Dubrovnik. “Lapad Beach is a nice little spot to unwind,” said staffer MacKenzie.
  • Add our Dubrovnik Coast Cruise & Dinner excursion. It’s just one way to spend a free evening on our Croatia & Italy: Dubrovnik to Venice tour. “You take a boat to an island and can watch the sunset,” said staffer Nic. “The food was lovely, but the ambiance was unmatched.”
  • Cruise over to St. Jacob’s Beach, which is one of the best beaches in Europe to visit based on your interests. “I couldn’t have picked a more perfect backdrop to enjoy fresh-cooked seafood and watch the sunset,” said staffer Emily. Once you visit, you’ll see why it made our list of the world’s best restaurants with a view.

Explore Dubrovnik

lokrum island dubrovnik croatia

6. The nearby islands are stunning

While you’ll find no shortage of things to do within the city walls, the islands off the coast are some of the best places to visit in Dubrovnik. They even nudged coastal Croatia to the number one spot on our list of honeymoon destinations you can visit without planning a thing. Take a free afternoon to see even more of the Croatian coast while on tour in Dubrovnik. (Trust us when we say that scenic Dubrovnik is in good company with the stunning islands and countries around it!)

Islands to see when you visit Dubrovnik:

  • Spend time on Lokrum Island. “This is is a can’t miss,” said staffer Julianna. “You take a little boat from the Old Town Port of Dubrovnik to this nature preserve right outside the city walls. There are no cars or overnight stays, but there are super beautiful nature trails, a crumbling old abbey, peacocks, a salt lake (like a mini Dead Sea!) in the middle, and beautiful spots to swim all over the island’s coast. You can walk the length of the island within about 15 minutes, but it’s got some lovely restaurants, so you can enjoy an afternoon in what feels like a giant botanical garden.”
  • Explore the Blue Cave on Kolocep Island. “During my last trip to Croatia, I arranged a half-day trip to explore two stunning islands located just northwest of Dubrovnik in the Elaphiti archipelago,” said staffer Teresa. “Our first stop was Kolocep Island, the smallest of the Elaphiti Islands you can visit. We enjoyed a swim in the crystalline water and explored different natural caves. The last cave that we visited was the Blue Cave, which had turquoise water surrounded by a lush, natural vegetation. This day was definitely the highlight of our road trip in Croatia!”
  • Sip a cocktail on Sunj Beach on Lopud Island. “This is a sandy beach where you can find the perfect activity for you,” said staffer Teresa. “Wear your trekking shoes and take a short hike up the nearby hill for a magnificent view from above. Or just relax under the umbrella sipping a fancy cocktail. Just a tip: Pack a waterproof bag. If you arrive by boat, you need to swim to reach the beach.”

Set off on a Dubrovnik tour

dubrovnik croatia montenegro

7. Dubrovnik is just a stone’s throw from other must-visit destinations

If you’d like to pack even more adventure into your overseas trip, then you can use Dubrovnik, Croatia, as a jumping-off point for other places on your bucket list. We pass through Montenegro on our Greece, the Balkans & Croatia tour, and the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina is also relatively close. So, even if your particular Dubrovnik itinerary doesn’t include a stop in a nearby country, it’s possible to visit it during a free day in Croatia.

Things to do in Dubrovnik during a free day:

  • Take a day trip to Montenegro. The easiest way to cross the border is by adding our Montenegro excursion during your free day on our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour. You’ll hop from Perast to the islets of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks to the UNESCO-protected town of Kotor—all with an expert guide by your side. Check out more top excursions that travelers love.
  • Pay a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “If people have free time and want to take a day trip, Mostar is a little over two hours away, and it was unbelievable!” said staffer MacKenzie. Staffer Teresa agreed. “The border is really close, and this is a good opportunity to check out another country,” she said. Don’t want to go on your own? Our experts bring you to Mostar on our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour. Multi-country travel doesn’t get more stress-free than that.

Dreaming of visiting Croatia? Join us on our Dubrovnik tours!

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About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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