Huddled at the base of a rugged mountainside, the elegant city of Dubrovnik is Croatia's irresistibly beautiful star attraction. Lapped by the glittering Adriatic Sea, its sturdy walls encircle white marble streets and Baroque churches. Off of the coast lie wooded islands with extensive, rocky beaches and crystal-clear seas. Explore this list of our favourite things to do in Dubrovnik and the surrounding area.
1. Walk the City Walls
One of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is making a tour of the still largely intact Old city walls (Gradske zidine), 25m high and stretching for some 2km, completely surrounding the city’s historic heart. The full circuit takes about an hour — longer in high summer when crowds may slow down your progress. The path along the walls is narrow in places and you’re not allowed up there if you’re wearing a backpack.
Stay in a beautiful hotel in Dubrovnik and take day tours, either in small groups or privately guided, all throughout Dalmatia on our tailor-made trip to the Pearl of the Adriatic - Dubrovnik. Visit vineyards, hidden bays, islands, neighbouring Montenegro and more.
2. Discover the Dominican monastery
In Dubrovnik’s Old Town, this monastery’s quiet cloister harbours a small but stunning collection of Renaissance art. The monastery is approached by a grand stairway with a stone balustrade whose columns have been partly mortared in, an ugly modification carried out by the monks themselves. At the top of the steps, a doorway leads through to a fifteenth-century Gothic Renaissance cloister, filled with palms and orange trees.
Accessed via the monastery cloister, the Dominican monastery museum (Muzej dominikanskog samostana) has some outstanding examples of sixteenth-century religious art from Dubrovnik, including three canvases by Nikola Božidarević.
3. Take a boat trip to Lokrum island
This densely wooded islet, a short boat ride from Dubrovnik, is the perfect place for a sunbathe or a stroll. Just up from the island’s jetty, the former monastery complex contains a fascinating network of walled gardens featuring colonnades and clipped ornamental hedges. These gardens featured extensively in various scenes of the HBO series Game of Thrones.
The best of Lokrum’s rocky beaches are beyond the monastery on the island’s southeast side. Here you’ll find a small salt lake named the Dead Sea (Mrtvo more) just inland, and a naturist beach at the island’s southern tip.
4. Scaling Mount Srd - one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik for stunning views
Towering above Dubrovnik to the north, the 412m summit of Mount Srđ offers stunning views of the walled town below, with a panorama of the whole coast stretching as far as the Pelješac peninsula to the northwest.
The quickest way to get here is by cable car which was destroyed by attackers in 1991 and reopened to much fanfare some twenty years later. It’s a breathtaking, super-smooth ride, the only drawback being that the journey lasts a mere two minutes.
While planning your trip to Dubrovnik, read our list of tips for first-time travellers in Croatia.
5. Experience Dubrovnik’s summer festival
This annual cultural shindig brings top-class drama and music to the Old Town’s courtyards and fortresses. Croatian culture heads for the coast in summer. Almost every Adriatic town organizes a cultural programme, usually featuring outdoor concerts of pop, classical music or folk.
Most important of the heavyweight events is the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, six weeks of classical music and drama beginning in early July, much of which is performed in the squares and courtyards of the Old Town.
6. Explore Trsteno
These Renaissance gardens, perched on a hillside overlooking the sea, provide an ideal excuse for an out-of-town excursion. Standing on the coastal highway 13km northwest of Dubrovnik, the straggling village of Trsteno is an essential day-trip destination. Visiting it is one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik if you’re interested in things horticultural.
It was here in 1502 that Dubrovnik noble Ivan Gučetić built his summer villa, surrounded by formal gardens extending along a terrace overlooking the sea. Such gardens were considered de rigueur by the aristocracy of sixteenth-century Dubrovnik. Sadly, those of Trsteno are the only ones which can still be enjoyed in something approaching their original form.
7. Take a trip to Mljet
The westernmost of the islands accessible by local ferry from Dubrovnik is Mljet, a thin strip of land some 32km long and never more than 3km wide, running roughly parallel to the Pelješac peninsula.
If you are into hiking, visiting Mljet should be on your list of things to do in Dubrovnik. The most visited part of the island is the green and unspoilt west. Here untouched Mediterranean forest and two saltwater lakes provide the focus of the Mljet National Park, an area of arcadian beauty within which lie the villages of Polače and Pomena.
Despite the presence of a hotel in the village of Pomena, the region remains blissfully unspoiled, full of bicycle-pedalling trippers during the daytime, and romantically quiet and stress free at night.
8. Go inside Dubrovnik Cathedral
The bulky grey building rising south of the Rector’s Palace is Dubrovnik’s cathedral (katedrala), a plain but stately Baroque structure begun by Andrea Bufalini of Urbino in 1672. Construction was supervised by a succession of architects imported from Italy.
Inside the cathedral are a couple of Italian paintings, including Titian’s polyptych The Assumption behind the main altar, a work originally bought by the Brotherhood of the Lazarini – a sign of how rich some of Dubrovnik’s commoners’ associations really were. The west side of the nave holds the icon of Our Lady of the Port, a Veneto-Byzantine Madonna once carried through the streets in time of drought for its rain-making powers.
9. Visit Game of Thrones filming locations
West of Dubrovnik's Old Town, just outside Pile Gate, steps descend towards a small harbour overlooked by the Bokar Fortress on one side and by the monumental, wedgeshaped fortress of Lovrijenac on the other. In recent times Lovrijenac has become famous as the venue for performances during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Game of Thrones fans might recognize the fortress as the setting for the Red Keep.
Another famous location that was featured in Game of Thrones is Pile Bay. Significant scenes were filmed in the area around the bay, such as arrival of King Joffrey Baratheon and Queen Margaery Tyrell, and the infamous "walk of shame" scene.
On this tailor-made trip to Croatia Game of Thrones and Highlights you will discover the lakes and waterfalls of forested parks that are Croatia Game of Thrones locations, before exploring medieval walled Trogir and the Diocletian’s Palace in Split. Ancient fortresses on the stunning Makarska coastline await en route to dramatic Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island monastery ruins.
10. Dining out at the Panorama Restaurant - one of the unforgettable things to do in Dubrovnik
At the top of Mount Srd, the Panorama restaurant and bar has a stunning viewing terrace and is no more expensive than similarly touristy restaurants back in town. The summit is an increasingly popular place from which to observe spectacular Adriatic sunsets, and it can get quite crowded up here on summer evenings (so if you’re coming up by cable car, be sure to set off in good time).
11. Enjoy sea kayaking
Sea-kayaking is a popular pastime and one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik. Shoals of orange-bibbed paddlers pulling into Banje beach has become one of the city’s most characteristic sights. A trip usually involves a group excursion in one-person kayaks, led by an instructor, and is an exhilarating way of seeing the walled city and its surrounding islands from a maritime perspective.
Previous experience is not necessary, and the pace is gentle enough to suit most people of average fitness
12. Discover the museums
Dubrovnik boasts a couple of interesting museums. Through a mix of shrewdly assembled visuals and domestic knick-knacks, the privately owned Red History Museum offers a fascinating glimpse of life under communism. The consumer communism that flourished under Tito’s Yugoslavia is evoked through well-captioned displays of vinyl records, colour magazines, comic books and film posters.
The Maritime Museum (Pomorski muzej), which takes up the upstairs floor of St John’s Fortress traces the history of Ragusan sea power in a chronological and easy-to-follow fashion. There is also an excellent сollection of models of Dubrovnik boats through the ages.
13. Relax at the Banje Beach
The daily trip to the beach is a way of life for Dubrovnik folk, and locals discuss their favourite bathing spots in the same way that British people talk about the weather. Banje beach is the busiest of the town’s beaches, a mixture of fine shingles and sand just east of the Old Town, backed by trendy cafés, and with good views of the island of Lokrum.
It holds a special place in the heart of Dubrovnik folk, as almost all of them spent at least part of their childhoods here. With much of the beach now covered in sunloungers for hire, Banje has lost a great deal of its egalitarian bucket-and-spade charm.
If a beach holiday is what you're looking for in Croatia, also read our guide to the best beaches in Croatia.
14. Go on Dubrovnik Wine Tour
Croatia’s wine industry has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, with a new breed of boutique wineries and family businesses leading the way. Although there are plenty of decent-quality Chardonnays, Cabernets and Merlots in Croatia, it’s really the indigenous or near-indigenous grape varieties that are creating the most excitement.
Dubrovnik is one of the places in Croatia where you can enjoy a variety of wines. On our Wine & Adventure trip in Croatia, you will explore Dubrovnik on a guided tour before heading to Split. Here you'll have a chance to explore the stunning surroundings and take part in fantastic wine tastings. Our tailor made trips are crafted by local travel experts and are completely customisable.
- For luxury: Rixos Premium Dubrovnik
- For families: Hotel Lero
- For a beach holiday: Sun Gardens Dubrovnik
- For Old city charm: Scalini Palace
- For couples: Hotel Dubrovnik Palace
Where to stay in Dubrovnik:
For more accommodation options, explore our guide to the best area to stay in Dubrovnik.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Croatia without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
Ready for a trip to Dubrovnik? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Croatia. If you travel further in Croatia, read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia.
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