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, from there you'll take in the gorgeous city views by the sea. Pick your next stop from above. 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 why you came to the Dalmatian Coast in the first place -- the gorgeous beaches and warm crystal waters. You can hop a water taxi to the shores of Lokrum Island or enjoy one a local beach like Banje.
Updated October 10, 2018
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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. 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. A recent IgoUgo.com visitor advises: "Make sure your cameras prepared and you have something to drink and a hat (the Dalmatian sun can take a heavy toll on you if you're not prepared -- there's very little shade on the walls). There's also some stair climbing along the way, so children might better wait down below."
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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, nearly 20 years later, the cable car triumphantly returned during the Summer Festival -- the city's largest event. The company's website claims to offer "the best views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area … from the top of the Srd Hill." And recent visitors concur. One TripAdvisor user writes, "On a nice day, this is a must-do activity in Dubrovnik." The same traveler also includes a great money-saving tip: "The secret is that the cable car operator sells one-way tickets (for about 60% of the cost of a round trip). 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 Srd Hill drops you off right outside of the Old Town city walls. At the top, you'll find an elaborate snack bar that offers a small selection of drinks to be enjoyed on the two viewing terraces.
The cars rise about 450 meters above sea level in just three minutes; the cable cars are open for rides from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the high season. The operation shuts down much earlier in the low season and in bad weather. You'll want to check the hours and schedule at the base station. A round-trip ticket cost about 73 HRK (or about $14 USD).
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On its website, the War Photo Limited professes its intent is "to educate the public in the field of war photography, to expose the myth of war and the intoxication of war, to let people see war as it is, raw, venal, frightening, by focusing on how war inflicts injustices on innocents and combatants alike." In layman's terms, this museum might be a welcome change from the ancient history on view at Dubrovnik's other top sites.
According to recent travelers, this educational site (though some comment that it is more akin to an art gallery) achieves its purpose; one IgoUgo.com user confesses: "This museum is highly emotional. Make sure to allow yourself time to explore the whole museum, take in the photos, read the descriptions and give yourself extra time to emotionally recover. If you are sensitive to images take it slow and go with someone else. The photos are beautiful and horrifying." The exhibitions focus on modern warfare, featuring lately the violence in the Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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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, the artwork is of particular note, which includes Titian's The Assumption at the main altar. For about 10 HRK (or about $2 USD), you can explore the treasury that has amassed a large collection of previous reliquaries and several body parts of St. Blaise. One IgoUgo user remarks, "The cathedral’s treasury is a true spectacle; and if you happen to have any parts of St. Blaise lying around at home, I urge you to donate them."
Located right next to the Rector's Palace in Old Town, the church welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the exception of Sunday morning to observe mass. As mentioned, the treasury does charge a small entrance fee, but it is well worth the visit.
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If you didn't know, the Dubrovnik beaches are limited in space and number; those available can get very crowded. So where are you going to catch some zzz's in sun in this resort paradise? Lokrum Island is the picture-perfect answer. Less than half a mile offshore, this forested island calls to the onlookers from the Dubrovnik city walls. One IgoUgo visitor who made the short voyage recalls, "The beaches are very rocky … but they are clean and safe, unlike those on the mainland." For swimmers, the island also offers a small saltwater lack and, for exhibitionists, a nude beach.
Aside from the beaches, Lokrum has a historic attraction of its own -- the 19th-century Napoleonic Fort Royale. In 1023, a Benedictine monastery was built on the island; however, Napoleon's forces razed the complex. From the fort, you can catch stunning views of Old Town. There's also a pricey restaurant and a few shopping stalls for island guests.
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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. One head-over-heels TripAdvisor user exclaims: "There were men playing classical music, aromas in the area, the historical castle you are walking through, and some of the friendliest people you can meet. This was truly a great experience. We only stayed half the day because of the cruise but I would go again! Bring a camera because you don't want to forget this trip!"
The walls contain 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. Another TripAdvisor user reports, "There are great shopping opportunities and some fantastic little cafes" along the picturesque alleyways. Stroll down the town's main thoroughfare, Stradun, to understand the bustling vibrancy of Dubrovnik. And don't miss the impressive Luza Square or Onofrio's Fountain.
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Also known as the Dubrovnik 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. Here, you'll find antique furniture and works from local artists. You should also examine the bizarre collection of clocks. Reviews of the palace are generally positive; however, the museum lacks much warm praise. One TripAdvisor user reports: "The building itself is lovely, with a beautiful staircase in the courtyard. However, I found the actual exhibits rather boring."
Sandwiched between the Dubrovnik Cathedral and St. Blaise Church, the Rector's Palace occupies the best real estate in Old Town right on the water and at the end of Stradun, old town's main street. Admission costs about 40 HRK (or about $8 USD). The palace is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round with extended hours till 6 p.m. in the summer. For more information, check out the Dubrovnik Museums website.
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This Franciscan Monastery has operated continually for almost 700 years. Even more fascinating, the monastery houses the third-oldest functioning pharmacy in Europe. The museum portion of the pharmacy has antique laboratory equipment, tools and medical literature. In 1667, an incredibly destructive earthquake almost brought down the entire complex; all that remained was the church portal. One highlight is the 14th-century cloisters with ornate columns that have unique faces on the capitals.
Despite how enticing the monastery sounds, visitors have had mixed feelings. One TripAdvisor user says, "We were in and out of this in under 10 minutes," while an IgoUgo user comments, "There is an admission charge to enter but well worth the few dollars to experience and view this ancient pharmacy and a museum." We suggest that if you are interested in medicinal history or monasteries, pop in for a look as it is conveniently located in Old Town right near the Rector's Palace and the Dubrovnik Cathedral. The monastery welcomes guests from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. and charges about 30 HRK (or about $5.75 USD) to enter.
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