Best Things To Do in Dubrovnik
Tiny Dubrovnik packs in a lot of to-dos. Start by tackling its history; patrol the elevated stone walkway, where you'll be treated to gorgeous city views by the sea. Here, you'll be able to look down on the city to select your next stop. Should it be a religious site like the Dubrovnik Cathedral or the Franciscan Monastery? Or should it be a political one like the Rector's Palace? And don't forget one of the Dalmatian Coast's biggest draws – the gorgeous beaches and warm crystal waters. You can hop a water taxi to the shores of Lokrum Island or enjoy a local beach like Banje.
Updated January 10, 2020
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The first thing you'll see as you approach Dubrovnik from the sky or the sea is the city walls. These ancient fortifications were built and rebuilt in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries as the threat of Turkish invaders grew. At some points, the walls are almost 20 feet thick and 82 feet high. They enclose the entire Old Town, protected by strategically placed forts and towers.
Since the eminent threat of invaders has dissipated, the walls have become a tourist favorite, and set the dramatic stage for shows like "Game of Thrones." Atop the city walls, you'll enjoy some of the best views of Dubrovnik's tiled-roof buildings and the blue sea. During the Summer Festival, Shakespeare plays and other performances take place in some of the forts along the wall. While recent visitors warned you may have to wait in line to get up to the walls, it's worth it for the amazing views.
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By the end of your visit to this circumvented paradise, you might find yourself wanting to stay inside the formidable stone city walls beyond your scheduled itinerary. The walls wrap around Dubrovnik's historic sites, such as the Franciscan Monastery, Rector's Palace and Dubrovnik Cathedral. Even new attractions like the War Photo Limited are squeezed into this dense area known as Old Town. Though past visitors raved about the restaurants and attractions housed within the city walls, they also complained of large tourist crowds. Several suggested visiting in the cooler shoulder seasons, such as fall and winter. Though reviewers reported that some restaurants and shops close for the season, they said it's a fair trade for the lack of crowds.
Stroll down the town's main thoroughfare, Stradun, to understand the bustling vibrancy of Dubrovnik. And don't miss the impressive Luza Square or Large Onofrio's Fountain, which was built in 1438 to provide fresh spring water.
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Dubrovnik's beaches, while gorgeous, are limited in space and number and can get very crowded. So where are you going to catch some rays in this resort paradise? Lokrum Island is the picture-perfect answer, according to recent visitors who say it makes for a fun daytrip away from the crowds of Dubrovnik. Less than half a mile offshore (or about a 15-minute ferry ride), this forested island calls to onlookers from the Dubrovnik city walls. For swimmers, the island also offers a small saltwater lake.
Aside from the beaches, Lokrum has a historic attraction of its own – the 19th-century Napoleonic Fort Royale. From the fort, you can catch stunning views of Old Town. The remains of a medieval Benedictine monastery can also be found on the island – today it houses a restaurant and a replica of the iron throne from "Game of Thrones." When you need a break from the sun, wander through a botanical garden and woods and keep your eyes peeled for the many rabbits and peacocks that roam the island freely.
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This museum might be a welcome change from the ancient history on view at Dubrovnik's other top sights, however, much of the material may be disturbing for some. Occupying two floors of exhibits, the gallery aims to educate visitors on historical and ongoing regional and global conflicts through photojournalism displays. Past temporary exhibits have shown images from the Syrian war and the Iraq war, among others, while the permanent exhibits showcase images from the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Recent visitors found the museum to be moving and emotional and said it provides important context for understanding Croatia's history.
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The original Dubrovnik cable cars shut down in 1991 after the town sustained heavy bombing. But in the summer of 2010, the cable car triumphantly returned during the Summer Festival – the city's largest event.
Take the cable car up the mountain and then extend your enjoyment of the fabulous views of the southern Dalmatian coast by walking the trail back down the mountain at your leisure. The approximately 30-minute walk down Mount Srd drops you off right outside of the Old Town city walls. At the top, you'll find a restaurant and bar serving Mediterranean fare, cakes and wine to be enjoyed on the two viewing terraces. There's also a gift shop where you can pick up souvenirs. According to recent visitors, the cable car is a must thanks to the stunning views. However, a few reviewers expressed frustration with the crowds and high prices.
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Founded in 2016, the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence features original documents, art and documentary photographs, weapons, explosives, war equipment parts, troops' flags, authentic recordings and video material to offer an account of the Homeland War in the Dubrovnik area. A permanent exhibit called "Dubrovnik In The 1991-1995 Homeland War" depicts the city's response to Serbian and Montenegrin forces in the early 1990s and the return of displaced refugees.
Recent visitors said this is a must-see museum, with powerful and moving exhibits. Several reviewers were particularly interested in the archival news videos that depicted how media outlets around the world covered the conflict, as well as interviews with eyewitnesses. A few travelers noted that the museum is quite small.
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This Franciscan Monastery has operated continually for almost 700 years. In 1667, an incredibly destructive earthquake almost brought down the entire complex; all that remained was the church portal. Even more fascinating, the monastery houses the third-oldest functioning pharmacy in Europe. The museum portion of the pharmacy houses antique laboratory equipment, tools and medical literature. Another highlight is the 14th-century cloisters with ornate columns that have unique faces on the capitals.
Many visitors make note of the site's peaceful atmosphere – especially the cloister garden – and say it provides a welcome reprieve from the crowds of Old Town.
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Also known as the Cultural History Museum, Rector's Palace isn't what you think of when you imagine a monarch's residence. Perhaps, that's because each rector only lived there for one-month stints at time. This system was in place in the Dubrovnik republic until 1806, when Napoleonic forces ended its sovereignty. Now, you can explore the halls of this public palace. The internal courtyard stands as the most memorable feature, but there is also the city museum on the second floor, which includes more than 10,000 objects from the end of the 15th century to the 20th century. Artifacts on display include everything from furniture and photographs to postcards and old weaponry.
Recent visitors provided mixed reviews. Some enjoyed learning about the city's history through the variety of objects on display, while others thought the ticket price was too steep for the museum's contents. A few past travelers said the museum is only worth touring if you purchased the Dubrovnik Card, which covers entry to the Rector's Palace.
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Dating back to the 14th century, this is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. Located in an area that was once the Jewish ghetto, the synagogue is also home to a small museum that houses a number of religious artifacts and archive documents, including Torah scrolls that date from the 13th to the 17th centuries.
Recent visitors say the museum is quite worthwhile and moving, and offer high praise for the knowledgeable docents.
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Dubrovnik Cathedral, or the Church of the Assumption, is actually the third church built on the site. The first, a Byzantine-style building, was constructed in the 6th and 7th centuries, before a Romanesque church replaced it in the 12th century. Then, the 1667 earthquake wrecked the structure. The final incarnation assumed the Baroque fashion soon after. Aside from the architecture, which recent visitors praised, the artwork is of particular note, which includes Titian's the "Assumption of the Virgin Mary" at the main altar. For a small fee, you can explore the treasury that has amassed a large collection of previous reliquaries and several gilded body parts of St. Blaise.
Located right next to the Rector's Palace in Old Town, the church welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April to November, with the exception of Sunday morning to observe Mass. The rest of the year, it opens at 10 a.m. and closes between noon and 3 p.m. The treasury charges a small entrance fee, but it is well worth the visit, according to reviewers.
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Located in Fort St. John's ground floor, the aquarium, run by the University of Dubrovnik's Institute for Marine and Coastal Research, is a cool and peaceful spot to take in the Adriatic Sea's flora and fauna via 31 aquarium tanks that are built into the fort's stone. Everything from conger eels to sea sponges are on display. The oldest inhabitant is a loggerhead turtle, which has lived in the biggest tank since 1953. Other sea creatures include starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumber, conches, shells, crabs and more.
While recent visitors say the museum is pretty small, they note that it provides a nice shelter from the crowds or rain.
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Located inside Fort St. John, the Maritime Museum looks at Dubrovnik's long history of navigation with exhibits showcasing ship models and maritime objects, such as tools and flags, paintings and photos. In total, there are more than 5,000 objects in the collection. The fort itself has quite a history and was once an important part of the city's defense, guarding the entrance to the city port. According to the museum, construction of the fort began in 1346.
Recent visitors offered mixed reviews of the museum, with some admiring the collection and others complaining of its small size. Several said that if you're not a history buff, you may not find this museum interesting.
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The Ethnographic Museum boasts more than 6,500 objects pertaining to the ethnographic heritage of the Dubrovnik region, the Croatian people and surrounding states. You'll find the museum in the Dubrovnik Republic's former granary, which is also known as Rupe (translated to "holes" in English) because of the way grain was once stored underground. Museum highlights include traditional attire from various Croatian regions and islands, as well as textiles and artifacts related to agriculture. Plus, on the ground floor of the building, visitors can see the way grain was once stored.
Recent visitors enjoyed the museum's exhibits, but say the signage could be better. Many said a stop here is only worth it if you have the Dubrovnik Card, which covers your entry fee. Others said "Game of Thrones" fans may recognize the museum's entrance, as several scenes were filmed here.
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