Almost everybody has heard of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, especially since the series Game of Thrones gained popularity. But this southern coastal city is always worth a visit, even if you haven’t watched the stories of John Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and King Joffrey on T.V.
In this article, we’ll tell you about the highlights of Dubrovnik and show you how to make the most of your trip to the city.
There are three possible ways to reach Dubrovnik – by plane, land or sea.
Dubrovnik has its own airport only 20 kilometres south of the city. From there, you can comfortably reach the old town via taxi or shuttle bus.
If you take a bus or car down to Dubrovnik from the north of Croatia, you’ll have to leave the country for a moment when crossing the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The stretch of coast Neum doesn’t actually belong to Croatia. Make sure that you take your ID card or passport with you and prepare for possible border control traffic.
You can also reach Dubrovnik via ship from the city of Split or from Montenegro. The view of the coast is very scenic, so this option is highly recommended – you also save yourself from going through border control.
The Most Beautiful Sights in Dubrovnik
The Old Town of Dubrovnik
Beyond the captivating drama and battles in Game of Thrones, the spectacular settings and buildings in the series certainly held our attention. Dubrovnik draws in countless visitors each year and is a particularly popular travel destination. This is also why we recommend visiting the city outside the peak season and going in spring or autumn instead. The prices are much cheaper at these times of year and there are fewer tourists. Plus, Croatia still has wonderful weather in April or October.
The Old Town is not particularly big, so it can be explored on foot in a day. The area is full of impressive sights at every turn. You’ll likely enter the heart of Dubrovnik through the Pile Gate to the west of the city, and you’ll then be on the main street, Stradun. From here, you’ll can fully explore Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Stradun simply means “big street”– a name with Venetian origins.
Before continuing your tour, you can take a moment to relax by the Onofrio Fountain.
Dubrovnik City Wall
A tour of the city wall is, of course, the main attraction in Dubrovnik. While entry to the walls isn’t exactly cheap and it can get crowded at peak times, the view is absolutely fantastic. You can receive a discount if you have a student ID, a combo ticket for multiple attractions, or if you are visiting outside the peak season.
Up on top of the walls, you have a breathtaking view of the Adriatic Sea on one side, and the red roofs, squares and hidden corners of Dubrovnik on the other. Make sure to give yourself enough time to truly enjoy the experience.
Franciscan Church and Monastery
Diagonally across from the fountain stands the first attraction of your tour. The Franciscan Church and Monastery building dates back to the 14th century. You’ll admire the architecture of the church and the wonderful inner courtyard of the monastery, where orange trees bloom in the summer. There is also a museum here for you to visit.
You also shouldn’t miss out on the Old Pharmacy, one of the oldest in all of Europe still running today. The business is over 700 years old and, while the pharmacists also sell normal modern supplies, you can also take a look at relics from the 15th century.
Luža Square and the Rector’s Palace
Take plenty of time to stroll along Stradun, where you’ll soon reach Luža Square. There are heaps of souvenir shops, cafés and ice cream parlours in the square. If you walk straight ahead, you’ll go past another gate and come across Dubrovnik’s small port. This is where you can take a ferry to Lokrum Island.
The Rector’s Palace lies to the right of Luža Square, and has a museum where you can learn about the history of Dubrovnik. You can also admire ancient artefacts; including sedan chairs, carriages, capes, wigs and portraits of nobles. Regular cultural performances also take place in the palace’s courtyard during the peak season.
With a ticket to the Rector’s Palace, you also have access to the archaeological collection, where you can admire various carvings from the Middle Ages.
Church of St. Blaise
If you follow Stradun to the east, you’ll find the Church of St. Blaise to your right. The church, which was built in 1715 in the typical baroque style, is the work of Marino Gropelli, a Venetian architect. St. Blaise is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik, and there’s a golden statue inside the church in dedication to him. If you look closely, you can see the statue cradling a model of the city in his arm. The model shows Dubrovnik before the earthquake that destroyed many of the buildings in the city.
If you follow the street to the Church of St. Blaise and the Rector’s Palace, the impressive Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin will be directly in front of you. The cathedral dates back to the early 18th century. However, during a restoration of Dubrovnik Cathedral in 1981, workers found relics from a much older church that is estimated to have been constructed between the 6th and 8th centuries. The remains prove that there were people living in Dubrovnik during at least the 7th century. The main feature of the cathedral today is the triptych of “The Ascension of Mary”, painted by Titian in 1552.
Church of St. Ignatius
From Dubrovnik Cathedral, you should make a quick detour towards the Gundulićeva Poljana market. At the market, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as regional specialities, before heading to see the Church of St. Ignatius.
Do the stairs up to the church square seem familiar to you? This is where the legendary scene of Cersei’s public humiliation on the streets of King’s Landing was filmed. The Church of St. Ignatius is a Jesuit church from the period in which Dubrovnik had a very active Jesuit community. The building was built in 1725, but the church bell dates back to 1355 and is the oldest in Dubrovnik.
If you’re in need of a break after this, don’t give up just yet. Standing on the square in front of the Church of St. Ignatius, you’ll see hand-painted signs displaying the word “buza”, which roughly translates to “hole”. If you follow the signs, you’ll find a hole in the city wall and, on the other side, a little bar. The bar itself is nothing out of the ordinary, but sitting by Dubrovnik’s city wall and listening to the sound of the sea below is something special. This combined with a cold drink in our hands was definitely the highlight of our trip to Dubrovnik. The bar is also a great spot to admire the sunset.
Game of Thrones Guided Tour
If you’re a big Game of Thrones fan, it’s definitely worth taking a guided tour. Despite being able to recognize some of the shooting locations on your own, some of the other locations are pretty hidden and can be difficult to find without a guide. The tours are a great experience for any fans. Make sure you take as many photos as you can!
Round and About in Dubrovnik
Although there are many attractions in Dubrovnik’s Old Town, there’s plenty more to be discovered outside the city walls.
Mount Srđ, also called Mount St. Sergius, rises just beyond the city walls. Although it’s only 412 meters high, it offers an amazing view over Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. There are multiple ways of getting to the top.
If you’re visiting Dubrovnik with a car, you can simply drive all the way up. It can be a little difficult to find a parking space, however, depending on how busy it is.
Another option is the cable car. The tickets aren’t exactly cheap, and the journey up only lasts a few minutes, but the sight of the city shrinking away below the windows of the gondola is certainly something special.
If you have a budget to keep in mind and are physically able to do so, you can also simply walk up the mountain. The short hike takes between 30 and 45 minutes, and you’ll definitely have earned the view from the top of Mount Srđ.
A restaurant, viewing platform and a war museum, where you can learn about Dubrovnik’s history, are all waiting for you at the top.
If you bought a ticket to the city walls, then we have good news for you: it’s also valid for a visit to Fort Lovrijenac! You can reach the old fortress in less than 10 minutes on foot from the Pile Gate. The fortress, which is slightly raised up on a cliff, offers you a different perspective of the city. The fort is particularly interesting because of its history. No one is sure exactly how old the building is, but the first documents to mention Lovrijenac date back to 1301, and it played an especially important role in Dubrovnik’s protection. In Game of Thrones, this was the location for the tournament held in honour of King Joffrey’s name day.
Dubrovnik from the water
If you need a break from all this history and culture, we have the perfect suggestion. Below Fort Lovrijenac is Kolorina bay, where you can rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, and discover another view of Dubrovnik from the water.
The best beaches in Dubrovnik
Even though a trip to Dubrovnik is usually centred around the city, beach fans won’t be missing out. The nearest beaches by the Old Town are Sulic and Dance Beaches to the west, and Banje Beach, located on the other side of town. There are also plenty of other beaches along the coast that are easily accessible by bus or taxi. Some notable examples include Copacabana, Sveti Jakov or Lapad. Swimwear is a must-have on your trip to Dubrovnik!
Need to know
As we’ve already mentioned, Dubrovnik isn’t always cheap. The ticket prices for the attractions are comparatively high, and the same applies to just about everything in the city. Make sure to check the prices for parking spaces, in particular if you are travelling by car – you could easily be met with prices up to €10 or more per hour. Bargains in restaurants, bars and cafés are also hard to find in Dubrovnik. Nonetheless, the city is a great travel destination and, in our opinion, everyone should take an opportunity to visit King’s Landing. 1-2 days in Dubrovnik is normally all the time you need to take in its sights.
In the high season, it’s probably best to give Dubrovnik some space. The city is super popular with tourists from all corners of the world – and that’s really no surprise. The setting for the legendary series Game of Thrones offers impressive churches, squares and city walls, directly on the Adriatic Sea.
But it’s not just the architecture that makes Dubrovnik a must-see-destination. Mount Srđ rewards hikers and cable car passengers alike with a beautiful view over the region. If you feel like cooling down, you can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to see the city walls from a different perspective on the water. Or simply take the chance to relax on one of the beaches.
Even if Dubrovnik isn’t the cheapest travel destination, seeing the Old Town and its city walls are experiences worth spending an extra Euro.