With its charismatic Old Town perched overlooking the Adriatic waters, Dubrovnik is deservedly one of Croatia’s most visited cities. Its UNESCO World Heritage-listed streets are packed with magnificent architecture, excellent museums and outstanding restaurants, not to mention a great selection of beaches that are just a stone’s throw away. If you’re looking for what to do and where to eat in this legendary city, we’ve done the research for you.
Get your bearings along the ancient City Walls
No visit to Dubrovnik is complete without wandering its ancient city walls, which were built (and rebuilt) during the 13th-15th centuries to defend against Ottoman invasion. They encircle the entire Old Town and are interspersed with forts and towers, with the walls 20 feet thick and more than 80 feet high in some parts. There are impressive views across the red-roofed Old Town and the Adriatic Sea from these white limestone defenses, with a full circuit taking around one hour.
Get lost in the charming streets of the Old Town
Radiating from the main street of Placa (also known as Stradun), Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a maze of little alleyways that are packed with traditional eateries and boutiques where it’s easy to while away a day or two. Grand old houses line the limestone-paved pedestrian strip of Placa, which was largely created following a devastating earthquake in 1667. As a result, all of its buildings share a similar pattern, with shopfronts occupying the lower level and residences above. The Old Town is home to the magnificent Dubrovnik Cathedral and the Franciscan Monastery, as well as the Rector’s Palace (housing the city museum) and the exhibitions of War Photo Limited.
Take in the outstanding views from the cable car
For a bird’s eye view of this enchanting city all the way to the Elaphiti Islands in the distance, don’t miss the opportunity to ride the cable car that connects to Mount Srdj. The cable car first came into operation in 1969 but was completely destroyed during the Croatian War of Independence and it’s only in the last few years that it’s been up and running again. At the top of Mount Srdj, you can explore the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence that is housed within the Imperial Fortress or just soak up the vistas at the cafe.
Admire the artworks of the Dubrovnik Cathedral
Renowned for its Baroque architecture, the Dubrovnik Cathedral was constructed following the 1667 earthquake and built on the site of a 12th-century Romanesque church and (before that) a 7th-century Byzantine church. The interior is adorned with iconic artworks, including a triptych of the “Ascension of Mary” by renowned Renaissance artist Titian, while the treasury holds relics from Byzantium and the Orient dating from the 11th to 18th centuries.
Discover Dubrovnik’s history at the Rector’s Palace
Adjacent to the Dubrovnik Cathedral is the Rector’s Palace, which served as the seat of the Rector of the Republic of Ragusa between the 14th and early 19th centuries and now houses the Dubrovnik Museum. Wander through the opulent hallways, beautifully restored private chambers and internal courtyard of this Gothic-Renaissance masterpiece, then admire the antique furnishings, coins and artworks by Croatian masters that showcase the history of Dubrovnik.
Escape to the beaches of Lokrum Island
Just a ten-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik is beautiful Lokrum Island, which is blanketed in a deep green pine forest crisscrossed by walking trails. It’s the perfect escape if you’re looking for a relatively uncrowded beach to relax on, with rocky coves and picture-perfect waters surrounding the island. It’s also home to the 19th-century Napoleonic Fort Royale and an old monastery that affords spectacular views across to Dubrovnik’s Old Town.
See one of the world’s oldest pharmacies at the Franciscan Monastery
In continual operation for almost 700 years, the Franciscan Monastery combines elements of Baroque architecture with Romanesque and Gothic styles. It houses one of the oldest still-functioning pharmacies in the world, with its small museum showcasing antique laboratory equipment, tools and medical literature. Take time to admire the 14th-century cloisters and their ornate columns, which are one of the few features to have survived the 1667 earthquake.
Pay your respects to Dubrovnik’s patron saint at the Church of St. Blaise
Another landmark not to miss is the ornate Baroque Church of St. Blaise, which was built by Venetian architect Marino Gropelli in the early 18th century on the foundations of a medieval church. Saint Blaise is the patron saint of Dubrovnik and was the protector of the Republic of Ragusa, said to have appeared in a dream of a local priest to warn him about a surprise attack by Venetian forces. It features a barrel-vaulted interior that is beautifully decorated, with a gilt silver Gothic statue of Saint Blaise above the white marble altar.
Admire the Renaissance architecture of the Sponza Palace
One of the few Renaissance buildings to have survived the 1667 earthquake is the Sponza Palace, which was built in the early 16th century and features an elegant loggia crafted by local stonecutters. It once served as a meeting point for merchants and traders in the city, with an inscription still visible on one of the arches reminding them not to rip each other off!
Witness the moving exhibitions at War Photo Limited
If you need a break from touring the historic architecture of Dubrovnik, stop in at the moving (and sometimes confronting) War Photo Limited. This museum gallery is dedicated to war photography and educating the public about the effects of war on innocent individuals and soldiers alike. Croatia is no stranger to war and the focus is on modern events, with the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan taking a prominent position in its current exhibition.
Dishing up Mediterranean-Asian fusion cuisine at the Buža II entrance, this new-kid-on-the-block has been rapidly racking up five-star reviews. It’s popular with locals who come to feast on red curry aubergines, Adriatic prawns and chili mussels, with waterfront views to match.
One of Dubrovnik’s most prestigious restaurants, Nautika boasts two spacious terraces where you’ll be treated to premium and locally-sourced produce created by master chef, Mario Bunda. Feast on Elafiti Island shellfish and lobster from Vis, complemented by five-star service and fine wines.
Situated within a beautifully renovated old stone house, Konoba Dalmatino is the place to go for traditional Dalmatian food served with a creative flair. Seasonal produce is showcased in the a la carte menu that features lobster fettuccine, truffle pasta and delectable desserts, all washed down with an excellent choice of Korčulan wines.
This iconic beach club overlooks bustling Banje, which lures sun seekers from far and wide (there’s even a private pier to anchor your yacht!) By day the restaurant dishes up freshly-caught seafood with a Dalmatian-Mediterranean twist while at night it transforms into a chic cocktail bar where locals come to be seen.