They say once you’ve experienced the enchantment of Dubrovnik, you’re bound to return. I got that feeling on the drive from the airport to our apartment in Lapad. The sight of the mesmerising azure Adriatic Sea, stretching out before us, was nothing short of captivating, tempting me to jump out of the taxi for a closer look.
Dubrovnik, often hailed as the crown jewel of the Dalmatian coast, is a renowned tourist destination in southern Croatia, celebrated for it’s iconic old town. Having explored many European cities, I can confidently state that Dubrovnik stands out with it’s exceptional medieval architecture. This city boasts a rich history, dating back to it’s foundation by Greek refugees in the 7th century.
In modern times, Dubrovnik gained worldwide fame as one of the filming locations for the hit series, “Game of Thrones.” Although I only followed the series through it’s first season, fans can indulge in guided tours to visit the actual filming sites within the old city.
Dubrovnik stands as one of the world’s most beautifully preserved medieval cities. I fell in love with the old town’s charm, from it’s limestone-paved Stradun to its magnificent Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, ancient monasteries, and historic palaces. Meandering through the winding, cobbled streets, I immersed myself in the city’s rich history, all while contemplating which delightful flavour of ice cream to savour next.
Dubrovnik’s restaurant scene is a culinary treasure trove, where historic charm meets delectable cuisine. Whether you’re dining in the heart of the Old Town or enjoying seafront views, the city offers a diverse array of dining experiences. With it’s rich gastronomic heritage and picturesque settings, Dubrovnik is a true haven for food enthusiasts.
Read my blog, 10 Great Stand Out Restaurants To Visit In Dubrovnik here.
Top Things To Do In Dubrovnik
City Wall Walk
The spectacular wall encasing the historic centre is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. A stroll along the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik offers captivating views of the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea, a breathtaking panorama that stretches as far as the eye can see. The sturdy stone walls, weathered by centuries of history, are echoes of Dubrovnik’s rich past. As I gaze out over the terracotta rooftops within the city walls, I imagine what it was like living in the old town in the 17th century. With each step, I’m immersed in the captivating beauty and timeless charm of this historic Croatian gem. If you have time to do only one thing on a visit to Dubrovnik, make it a city wall walk.
Before booking your city wall walk in Dubrovnik, there are several important considerations to keep in mind.
- Firstly, if you plan to visit during the summer months, it’s advisable to schedule your walk in the cooler parts of the day, ideally in the morning or early evening before the wall closes at 6:30 PM.
- Ensure you’re dressed comfortably in light clothing, have sunscreen applied, wear a sun hat, and carry a water bottle to stay hydrated.
- It’s worth noting that the walk can be physically demanding, featuring 1080 stairs and significant climbing. However, there are resting points along the way to sit down, catch your breath and have a drink and a nibble.
- If you have a fear of heights, be prepared for some nerve-wracking moments.
- Lastly, the wall walk covers a distance of 2 kilometres around the city, be ready for a scenic but potentially (depending on your fitness level) challenging adventure.
Mount Srđ, overlooking the enchanting city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, is a picturesque vantage point that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the historic Old Town and the sparkling Adriatic Sea. Rising 412 meters above sea level, this iconic hilltop destination beckons visitors with it’s awe-inspiring view, making it a must-visit for tourists and a cherished spot for locals. Whether you ascend by cable car or choose to hike the scenic trail to the summit, Mount Srđ provides a remarkable setting for capturing the beauty of Dubrovnik’s red-roofed architecture against the azure backdrop of the Adriatic, making it an unforgettable experience for travellers seeking both natural beauty and cultural immersion.
4 Ways to go up mount Srđ
By Cable Car
The cable car provides the quickest way to reach the summit in just a few minutes. The cable car ride to Mount Srđ from Dubrovnik’s Old City typically takes approximately 4 minutes. During this short but scenic journey, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city and the Adriatic Sea as you ascend to the summit. It’s a convenient and enjoyable way to reach the top of Mount Srđ and capture breathtaking views of the surrounding area. I had a strong desire to take the cable car, but given that one member of my household has a fear of heights, we held an unanimous vote in favour of taking a taxi instead. At €27 per person, the cable car works out to be the most expensive way up.
Driving or by Taxi.
As we embarked on our journey to Mount Srđ by car, the road twisted and turned through charming coastal landscapes, revealing glimpses of the glittering Adriatic Sea on one side and the lush, rugged terrain on the other. As we gained altitude, the city of Dubrovnik slowly unveiled itself below, with it’s terracotta roofs and historic walls. The view was a mesmerising blend of natural beauty and ancient architecture, a testament to the rich history of this coastal gem. With each twist and turn, my anticipation grew, knowing that the summit promised even more spectacular views. The drive up was an adventure in itself, gradually revealing the breathtaking panorama that awaited us at the top. Driving up is not as unsettling as the cable car for those afraid of heights. We called an Uber, which is much cheaper than local taxis. The ride up cost €17.
Bus 17 from Pile in the old city. Cheaper than taking a taxi or the cable car up. The experience will be similar to a taxi ride, great views if you’re sitting on the left side. The downside of using the bus option is, the bus time table. There’s only 1 bus an hour.
This is also something I’d have liked to do, however, no one in my family was keen. The distance for the hike from Dubrovnik’s Old City to the summit of Mount Srđ is approximately 2.5 to 3 km, depending on the specific trail or path you take. It’s a moderately challenging hike, but the rewarding views from the top make it well worth the effort. The pros of this are, it cost you nothing and you’ll be earning your dinner. The ideal time for a hike up Mount Srđ depends on your tolerance for heat, but I’d recommend aiming for the morning or evening when the sun is not at it’s peak intensity. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear for uphill walking to ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience
Other things to do on Mount Srd.
Opting to walk down Mount Srd, we observed the sheer joy radiating from people we walked past. Thrill-seekers were embarking on daring adventures above Dubrovnik, soaring through the skies via the exhilarating Zipline or Skybike experiences. Suspended high in the air, guided solely by the natural breeze, they were treated to awe-inspiring views of the surrounding islands, the picturesque landscape, and the historic old city, all combining to create a truly breathtaking spectacle. If walking isn’t your preferred way to explore, consider touring the mountain on a safari buggy.
Mount Srd houses the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence, nestled within the historic Fort Imperial. This fort witnessed the intense siege of Dubrovnik during a pivotal period. Fort Imperial stands as an enduring symbol of Dubrovnik’s heroic defence. Inside the museum, visitors can explore a rich collection of exhibits, including photographs, videos, documents, and weaponry, alongside other poignant memorabilia. These artefacts serve as a moving tribute to the courage and sacrifices made during the Croatian Homeland War from 1991 to 1995.
A boat tour of the Islands
After carefully considering our choices, we decided on a private family boat tour. It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to prebook a tour before arriving in Dubrovnik. The city offers a multitude of vendors both inside and outside the old town, each offering a variety of boat tours. We took our time exploring these options, browsing through the offerings from different vendors, ensuring we found the perfect tour that suited our preferences before making our choice.
Our tour began with a visit to explore the Blue Caves. We embarked on the boat at Fort in the old city. I had been reassured by our tour guide that I could use a life jacket to enter the cave, which was a relief as I can’t swim. However, as we approached the cave and witnessed how low and narrow the entrance appeared, a collective decision was made by my family to forgo the idea of taking a dip. The sight of the cave entrance filled us all with a sense of trepidation, and we chose to admire its beauty from the safety of our boat instead.
Croatia boasts some of the most enchanting Blue Caves along it’s stunning coastline. These captivating caves are renowned for their mesmerising azure-blue waters, created by the interplay of sunlight and the underwater limestone formations. As the rays of the sun hit the surface of the cave, an iridescent aquamarine blue glow illuminates the grotto. The almost otherworldly beauty of the sunlight dancing off the submerged surfaces, casting an ethereal blue glow within the cave chambers is quite surreal. It’s a breathtaking natural spectacle that adds to the allure of Dubrovnik’s coastal wonders, making it a must-see for anyone visiting this historic city.
Our next stop was Koločep Island. Koločep, also known as Kalamota, is one of the southernmost inhabited islands in Croatia. It’s part of the Elaphiti Islands archipelago, which is located in the Adriatic Sea. Koločep is situated just off the coast of Dubrovnik and is easily accessible from the city.
The island is known for it’s stunning natural beauty, including lush vegetation, rocky cliffs, and crystal-clear waters. The island is a beautiful retirement haven where elderly people grow their own food. Many of the residents share the food they grow with their neighbours thereby forging healthy food relationships. It’s also a great place to fish.
Koločep offers several beautiful beaches, both sandy and pebbly, where visitors can relax, swim, and soak up the sun. We had enough time on our tour to visit Donje Celo beach and take a dip its clear blue waters. The island features hiking trails that lead to scenic viewpoints and provide opportunities to explore the island’s natural landscapes. You can take leisurely walks to discover it’s lush forests and Mediterranean plants. In addition to swimming and hiking, visitors to Koločep can engage in activities like snorkelling, kayaking, and sailing. The island’s clear waters make it a great spot for underwater exploration.
According to our tour guide, Koločep Island has a dwindling population of approximately 150 inhabitants. Several factors contribute to this decline. The island lacks essential facilities like hospitals and has limited educational facilities. Additionally, the absence of cars on the island, along with restrictions on parties and loud music, creates an environment that is less attractive to younger people, resulting in it’s gradual population decline. Despite these challenges, Koločep’s serene natural beauty and tranquility continue to draw visitors seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
While Koločep is not as developed as some other Croatian islands, it’s a popular destination for those seeking a quiet and picturesque retreat. It offers accommodation options, including hotels, private apartments, and guesthouses. There are also a few restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy local cuisine and fresh seafood. Consequently, Kolocep is a tranquil, scenic and perfect destination for visitors looking to exhale and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern day living.
Lopud Island, a serene jewel in the Dubrovnik archipelago, captivates with it’s car-free charm, Šunj Beach’s golden sands, and lush Mediterranean landscapes. Historical treasures like the 15th-century Franciscan Monastery and quaint churches dot the interior, while local cafés serve up delectable cuisine. Lopud’s unhurried pace, just a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik, beckons visitors to unwind on it’s sun-soaked shores or explore it’s rich history, making it the perfect escape from the ordinary.
Our next stop is the picturesque Sunj Beach, nestled in a pristine bay on the southern shores of Lopud Island. Renowned as one of southern Croatia’s most famous beaches, Sunj Beach offers a unique charm. It’s claim to fame lies in the fact that it boasts shallow waters extending up to 100 meters, making it perfect for non-swimmers like myself and families with children.
Our experienced tour guide skilfully anchored his speedboat a short distance offshore, allowing my more able family members to leap into the clear, azure waters, instantly feeling the soft embrace of golden sands beneath. As a non-swimmer, I opted for the reassuring comfort of a life jacket. It was a moment that filled me with pride because I would normally have opted to stay on the boat. Wading through the pristine waters to the beach from the speed boat has inspired me to take up swimming.
Lokrum Island wasn’t included in our boat tour. I suggested we explore it before our holiday ended, as I believe that a visit to Dubrovnik wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the allure of Lokrum. Being the closest island to the old city, I had captured numerous pictures of Lokrum from different viewpoints throughout our trip. It seemed only fitting to explore the island and uncover it’s hidden treasures.
Getting to Lokrum
We decided to take the ferry to reach Lokrum, because the Island is a 10 minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik’s bustling city centre. Tickets cost €27 pp and can be bought at the old town port.
The island is a leafy oasis of natural beauty and historical intrigue. This lush paradise offers a delightful escape with it’s botanical gardens, walking trails where you’ll experience peacocks walking along side you, and pristine swimming spots along the rocky coastline. Lokrum’s crowning jewel is the 12th-century Benedictine Monastery, surrounded by serene gardens and a tranquil saltwater lake known as the “Dead Sea.” This island’s mystique is heightened by legends of Richard the Lionheart’s shipwreck and a curse placed upon those who attempt to claim it. Whether you seek a peaceful day in nature or a taste of Dubrovnik’s folklore, Lokrum Island promises a unique and enchanting experience. The Island reportedly has a nudist beach for the Adam and Eve’s of this world.
Some interesting historical facts.
Maximilian of the house of Habsburg, also known as Maximilian I, had a significant historical connection to Lokrum Island. In 1859, Archduke Maximilian of Austria and his wife Charlotte, who were both members of the Habsburg dynasty, acquired the island. They transformed it into a lush botanical garden and park, introducing various exotic plants and species. Maximilian also built a summer residence on the island. However, his time on Lokrum was short-lived, as he later became Emperor of Mexico. Tragically, his reign ended in execution, and the island reverted to state ownership. Despite the brevity of Maximilian’s ownership, his legacy remains in the form of the botanical gardens and the tranquil ambiance that still characterises Lokrum Island today.
Game of Thrones set
Part of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” was indeed filmed on Lokrum Island. Lokrum served as the backdrop for several scenes in the show, including the city of Qarth and the gardens of the city of Meereen. The island’s lush vegetation and historic buildings provided an ideal setting for the fantasy world of the series.
A visit to Cavtat was suggested by the elderly lady who sat next to me on the British airways flight into Dubrovnik. She owns a holiday home there and recommended we visit the beautiful town. Cavtat is a delightful coastal town along the Adriatic and Dubrovnik’s charming little sister. This fishing town is an ideal destination for those seeking the rich culture and attractions of Dubrovnik without the hustle and bustle of the city.
In Cavtat, you’ll discover an array of activities to enjoy. Begin by exploring the town’s picturesque Old Town, with its charming streets and historic sites like the Church of St. Nicholas. Bask in the sun at one of the pristine beaches or take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. For a touch of culture, visit the Račić Mausoleum and the Bukovac House, showcasing the town’s artistic heritage. Enjoy leisurely walks along the scenic seaside promenade, followed by delectable seafood dining at local restaurants. Adventure seekers can indulge in water sports like kayaking and snorkelling, while those seeking relaxation can relish in the serenity of this tranquil coastal haven.
After your tour of Cavtat, visit Leut Restaurant for perfectly cooked delicious seafood.
Relax on a beach
Dubrovnik is truly a haven for water enthusiasts. Along it’s stunning coastline, you’ll discover a plethora of inviting beaches and picturesque swimming spots. Strolling through the city streets with a view of the sea, it’s a common sight to witness people joyfully leaping off cliffs into the crystal-clear waters below. Whether you’re basking in the sun on the pebbled or sandy shores, taking a refreshing swim, exploring the underwater world through snorkelling, or gliding along the coast in a kayak, the Adriatic Sea offers endless aquatic adventures in this enchanting coastal town.
Some things to note in Dubrovnik
Taxi Tip: Opting for Uber is a cost-effective choice compared to traditional city taxis.
Insect Bites: Ensure you have insect repellent and use it daily to ward off pesky bites.
Dining and Shopping: Keep in mind that dining and shopping within the old city tend to be pricier compared to options outside.
Feline Friends: Don’t be surprised by the abundance of cats in Dubrovnik and it’s neighbouring islands. These feline residents prefer to roam the city freely rather than staying indoors, adding to the unique charm of the area.
It was indeed unusual to encounter cats wandering without their owners everywhere we went in Dubrovnik. Initially, we assumed they were stray cats until a local resident enlightened us, revealing that these feline friends were actually pets.
As depicted in these pictures, the cats of Dubrovnik seem to lead a remarkably social life. They often gather in groups and eagerly approach humans, hoping for a friendly stroke or two. Their sociable nature adds to the charm of the city and makes them endearing companions to visitors and residents alike.