20 Best Things to Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik really lives up to its name as the Pearl of the Adriatic. Surrounded by sparkling blue water, the city has become the tourism darling of Croatia. The former centre of the Republic of Ragusa brings in the majority of Croatia’s vacationers and for good reason. Whether you like strolling tiny walkways, tasting some of the best pizza outside of Italy (or New York, depending on how you lean), or sipping cocktails at a cliff bar there’s something for you in Dubrovnik.
Discover the best things to do in Dubrovnik, with my tips on sights, activities, eating and drinking.
When I told people that I was planning to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia as a stopover on my way to South Korea in 2012 the most common reaction I got was “Why?” I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the beaches or the history of the old town or even the city’s connection to Game of Thrones that first intrigued me. It was an episode of House Hunters: International.
I saw an episode set there and thought that it looked like a beautiful city but maybe a bit hard or expensive to get to. So when I had the chance to stopover pretty much anywhere in Europe, my first thought was “Dubrovnik!” Now that I’ve been, I think it should be foremost on your mind when thinking about a European vacation as well.
To help with your own planning I’ve highlighted my 15 top things to do in Dubrovnik to help you have an unforgettable vacation.
Let’s explore some of the best things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- 1. Walk the city walls
- 2. Swim off the city walls
- 3. Have a drink at a cliff bar
- 4. Visit a beach
- 5. Take a cable car up Mount Srđ
- 6. See a folklore show
- 7. Go on a boat tour
- 8. Go for a paddle
- 9. Get out of the city
- 10. Go wine tasting
- 11. Visit Lokrum Island
- 12. Find love
- 13. Shop for figs and candied orange peel in the market
- 14. Learn about recent history
- 15. Watch the ceremonial guards
- 16. Stroll the Stradun
- 17. Visit a Medieval Pharmacy
- 18. Rave on at Revelin Club Culture
- 19. Drink like a VIP
- 20. Take a Game of Thrones Tour
1. Walk the city walls
Ask anyone what you should do in Dubrovnik and this will be the first thing they say. It may be touristy and sometimes crowded, but trust me, it’s popular for good reason. I couldn’t get enough of looking out at the sea on one side and the red roofs of the old town on the other. I also took a ton of photos.
The city walls were built mostly in the 15th and 16th century and completely encircle the Dubrovnik Old Town.
Give yourself at least an hour to make the almost 2km loop and always wear sunscreen as there’s not really any shade. Go as soon as they open to avoid the majority of the crowds – the light is better then too. Let me know if you find the House of the Undying along your way.
Cost: Adult 200 Kn, Child 50 Kn | Book Online
Hours: Apr/May, Aug/Sep: 8 am-6:30 pm | Jun/Jul: 8 am-7:30 pm | Oct: 8 am-5:30 pm | Nov-Mar: 10 am-3:00 pm
2. Swim off the city walls
During your walk along the walls you’ll probably notice a few people swimming in the water. You should definitely join those people. There are a few spots where there are pool ladders to climb in an out of the water and if you’re brave, you can cannonball off one of the bigger rocks. You’ll get a view of the city that not everyone has. There are no shallow areas here so this is probably best for stronger swimmers.
3. Have a drink at a cliff bar
There are two small bars perched on the cliffs outside the city walls where you can have a drink and relax at the end of the day. Buza I and Buza II are literally hole-in-the-wall cliff bars and you would easily miss the entrance if you weren’t looking for it. One of them you’ll spot during your spin around the city walls while the other you’ll need to hunt a bit more for, but that’s part of the fun.
There are no bathrooms and prices are higher than elsewhere so you’ll probably only want to stay for a drink or two.
4. Visit a beach
The easiest Dubrovnik beach to get to is Banje Beach east of the Ploče Gate. Fine white sand it is not but the water is so crystal clear it makes up for it. You can bring a towel and hang out for free on the public side or pay for a lounger and umbrella on the beach club side. If you want to be at one with nature Dubrovnik also has a few nude/naturist beaches to choose from such as Plat, Cava Beach or Lokrum Beach.
5. Take a cable car up Mount Srđ
The top of Mount Srđ is one of the places where you snap that iconic postcard picture of the old town. You can see the entire Old Town peninsula with Lokrum Island in the distance. Look for the man stamping Republic of Ragusa coins to find a unique souvenir. To get there, you could hike up the mountain on foot or you can do what I did and get a ticket for a return trip on the cable car. Go just before dusk to watch the sunset.
Cost: 150 Kn adult (13+) | 60 Kn (4-12) | Book Online
Hours: Starts at 9am year round, Closing varies each month from 4pm to midnight.
6. See a folklore show
If you’re visiting during the summer do your best to catch a performance of Folklor Lindo. The folklore ensemble was founded in 1964 to promote traditional dances and songs of the Republic of Croatia. They perform traditional dances and songs in an outdoor theatre near Banje Beach. In case of rain, the performance moves to the Sloboda cinema or Marin Drzic Theatre. Tickets were 100kn when I went and worth every penny lipa.
Cost: 100 Kn
Hours: Tues/Fri 9:30pm
7. Go on a boat tour
A boat trip out of Dubrovnik can take you a few different places. You can do a quick swing around Lokrum Island. You can tour the nearby Elaphiti Islands. You can party on a pirate ship or watch fish on a glass bottomed boat. No matter which you choose, you really can’t go wrong.
8. Go for a paddle
If just sitting in a boat isn’t adventurous enough, you could always take a sea kayak tour. I did a trip out around Lokrum Island. It’s an 8km loop and passes one of the city’s nudist beaches (avert your eyes if that bothers you). We also made a stop at one cave to do some snorkelling and have lunch before paddling back along the city walls. Obviously, by now you can tell that I liked looking at the city walls from the other side.
9. Get out of the city
I guess this is more of Dubrovnik-as-a-base thing, but the city makes a great jumping off point for several day trips. You could head to Korčula and the Pelješac peninsula for some wine tasting, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina to watch young men jump off the old bridge into the Neretva River, or Kotor in Montenegro to go rafting. All of these, and more, are possible as day trips from Dubrovnik.
10. Go wine tasting
The Pelješac peninsula is good grape growing country and as a result you can get some surprisingly good Croatian wine in Dubrovnik. A few bars in the Old Town, like D’Vino, offer tasting options or you can stop right at the vineyards on your way to or from Korčula. Try the Dingač.
11. Visit Lokrum Island
Just beyond the city walls lies the uninhabited island of Lokrum. Once the summer playground of the Hapsburgs, it’s now the domain of wild peacocks. It makes for a leisurely day trip from Dubrovnik. Wander through the various remains and ruins and enjoy the lush pines, palms, and cypress trees. Water taxis leave from the Old Town every half hour with the last one returning from the island at 7pm in the summer. If you try to sneak an overnight stay in, you may fall prey to the curse the displaced Benedictine monks placed on Napoleon.
12. Find love
Dubrovnik’s Love Stories Museum is a collection of unique personal love stories and items of great sentimental value donated from all around the world. Learn amazing local historical & mythical love stories, Experience the drama and romance of legendary film & tv shows filmed in Dubrovnik, meet the people who inspired some of the most famous love songs of all time, and more.
Cost: 50 Kn Adult | 35 Kn Youth (10-18) | Free 0-9 | Book Online
Hours: High season 10am-9pm, Low Season 10am-6pm
13. Shop for figs and candied orange peel in the market
I completely stumbled upon this market one morning while exploring the old town. The most common items for sale were lavender pouches, candied orange peel and dried figs. I miscalculated my kuna and ended up with enough figs to feed an army but they were tasty. The vendors all offer samples and may be open to haggling since there are so many of them selling similar products.
14. Learn about recent history
The first thing a lot of people I know think of when I mention Croatia is the war in the early 90s. Even though there’s very little trace of it in Dubrovnik these days (unless you pay attention to the different coloured roof tiles), that doesn’t mean that you should ignore recent history. War Photo Limited is an exhibition center of war and conflict photography in the Old Town that tries to lift any romantic veil from war and show how it really is. It’s uncomfortable but it’s one important stop I think everyone who visits Dubrovnik should make.
Cost: 50 Kn Adult | 40 Kn Student
Apr/Oct Wed – Mon 10am – 4pm; Tues Closed
May – Sep 10am – 10pm
Nov – Mar Closed
15. Watch the ceremonial guards
Each evening four ceremonial guards march down the Stradun accompanied by a drummer. They keep guard over the two main city gates in full period costume until 9:30pm and then repeat the march back down the Stradun. It’s a big crowd favourite and for a moment you can pretend you’re back in the Republic of Ragusa.
16. Stroll the Stradun
I can’t count how many times I just walked up and down the main drag, called the Stradun or the Placa, people watching and eating ice cream. The wide limestone walkway is smooth as ice and actually shimmers in the sunlight. I kid you not. Just be careful when it rains so you don’t end up slipping and sliding onto your arse.
17. Visit a Medieval Pharmacy
There are many old treasures in Dubrovnik but the Pharmacy Museum in the Franciscan Monastery might be one of the true gems. Down a narrow passageway you’ll find the pharmacy, which is still in operation after 700 years. Peruse jars of medicine and tools of the chemist’s trade from yesterday as you nod hello to locals as they come to pick up their regular prescriptions.
Cost: 30 Kn
Hours: Mar-Oct 9am-6pm, Nov-Feb 9am-5pm
18. Rave on at Revelin Club Culture
While you might not think of Dubrovnik when you think of club culture but Revelin has hosted the likes of Fatboy Slim and Martin Solveig since it opened. The 16th-century fortress at the eastern end of Dubrovnik’s Old Town has become the place to go for late night drinks with a side of light show and confetti cannons.
Hours: Summer 11pm-7am daily; Winter Fri-Sat 11pm-6am
Check Upcoming Events
19. Drink like a VIP
It’s not hard to find a spot to feel like a celebrity in Dubrovnik. There’s a wealth of swanky beach clubs with VIP sections like Coral Beach Bar or the East West Beach Club at Banje Beach and unique bars to get the perfect sipping cocktail like Cave Bar More, where you guessed it, you can sink your drink in a cave. If local wine’s more your speed, D’Vino stocks more than 100 varieties, 76 available by the glass. If it’s sundowners you’re looking for, you won’t go wrong surrounded by the luxury of the five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace’s Sunset Lounge.
20. Take a Game of Thrones Tour
If you didn’t know by now that Dubrovnik was one of the main filming locations for Game of Thrones, you must be living without HBO. The show was filming it’s second season when I was in town and it was thrilling to be able to see some of the places that I’d been show up on tv months later. These days no trip to Croatia would be complete without a visit to King’s Landing itself. See the stairs where Cersei made her walk of shame or where the Battle of the Blackwater was fought. Look for the gold cloaks of the City Guard around each corner.
There are even more things to do in Dubrovnik than I’ve listed here. I didn’t check out the Rector’s Palace or any of the churches or monasteries. I didn’t go to a classical concert or the aquarium and I missed out on the 3D multimedia exhibition. You can see now why I think that everyone should consider making a stop to visit the Pearl of the Adriatic at least once. You won’t regret it.