Best Things to Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia’s Stunning Coastal Gem

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Game of Thrones location, Dubrovnik, is a fascinating city
Recognize Kings Landing? Dubrovnik, Croatia is the location for many Game of Thrones scenes. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

Dubrovnik is a daydream. That was the biggest feeling I took away from my recent visit to this magnificent European city in the lesser-explored Balkan Peninsula.

Set along the sparkling Adriatic Sea in Dalmatia, the South of Croatia, the quaint old town of Dubrovnik is marked by pristine marble streets, towering cathedrals, and a wave of orange-tiled roofs that make it truly one of the most photogenic cities in all of Europe.

Step foot into the medieval streets and it’s no surprise why HBO selected this fantastic gem as the filming location for much of Game of Thrones (GOT).

While it’s a popular port of call for cruise ships in the Mediterranean and Adriatic, Dubrovnik is best visited for 3-4 nights to allow ample time to take in all the sights and explore in the more leisurely morning and evening hours before and after hordes of cruise ship passengers descend on the gem of the city. An international airport in Cavtat is just 20 minutes from Old Town, making it highly accessible.

Here’s a look at the best things to do and top Dubrovnik attractions to take advantage of all it has to offer and experience a renaissance of the heart in the charming Dalmatian city. Before we get started, one of the top travel tips for visiting the Pearl of the Adriatic is to purchase a Dubrovnik card to experience more must-see attractions at a lower price.

Read More: Unforgettable Things to Do in Warsaw, Poland’s Vibrant Capital City

Wander Stradun Street

The Stradun is the main street – and a pedestrian-friendly one at that –  which stretches through the Old Town of Dubrovnik and makes for a perfect starting location to explore – and grab ice cream. The limestone street is charming and leads past an array of architectural wonders from medieval, gothic, and baroque periods of history. Architectural gems here date from the 9th century to the 14th century and even the 15th century. The history is quite impressive!

There’s a large Franciscan Monastery inside the Old Town that’s often touted as a highlight for visitors, as is the 16th century Sponza Palace and Dubrovnik Cathedral. St. Blaise Church is also a must-see attraction in the old city, thanks to its impressive set of stairs. Ploce Gate makes for a natural end point of a walking tour in the Old Town after you stroll Stradun Street.

Tour the City Walls in Dubrovnik Old Town

One of Dubrovnik’s most defining features is its City Walls that ring the Old Town for more than a mile. While you can visit on your own, I’d recommend taking a guided walking tour to learn more about the history of these medieval walls that date back to the 9th century. A walk on the walls reveals the best views of Fort Lovrijenac, the 14th-century fort that is one of the most magnificent vistas along the entire Dalmatian coast.

SheBuysTravel Tip: This tour is best experienced at sunset. Foot traffic is lower in these hours as most cruise ship passengers have left the Old Town, and it’s a remarkable site to witness the pink, orange, and purple hues of sunset gently kissing the marble buildings and orange tile roofs of the city, not to mention the sparkling water.  

Live Out a Croatian Yacht Fantasy

Any travel guide will tell you not to visit Croatia without taking to the water! While Croatia is famous for its sailing adventures down from Split in the North, you can do a day version from the city. Charter a yacht or join a group excursion for the day to explore the surroundings of Dubrovnik from the sea. There are three caves on the island of Koločep that are ripe for exploring. The Blue Cave is stunning, with its glistening azure waters. Locations around here are also splendid for snorkeling and most tour operators include snorkeling equipment so you can fully explore the underwater scenes.

Most tours will end at Šunj, a sandy beach that is one of the most famous in the region. You can enjoy a meal here and sunbathe in rented chairs. Others will take you to Banje Beach, another sandy option with views of Old Town.

Get a Bird’s Eye View with the Dubrovnik Cable Car

Dubrovnik is seriously impressive from great heights, thanks to the well-preserved nature of its Old Town. To truly get an idea of how magnificent the city is, you need to climb. The easiest way to do this is with the Dubrovnik Cable Car, which leads up Mount Srd.

Take in the scenic views of Dubrovnik City Walls and the Dalmatian coast with a meal at Panorama Restaurant atop the mountain. If you’re staying for more than one night, make sure to take the ride at sunset to discover better views.

Take a Day Trip to Lokrum Island

Croatia is a sea-facing nation marked by its multitude of islands that sit in the Adriatic Sea. The closest island to Dubrovnik (and a popular day trip with locals) is Lokrum Island, just a 10-minute ferry ride away from Old Town. Boats run every hour during high season.

The main attraction on the island is a medieval Benedictine monastery that dates back to 1023 and has impressive cloister architecture. There’s a stunning arboretum and botanical garden here that’s home to many peacocks and local plants. Locals visit to spend time in the forested areas of the island or swim off the rocky coastline. Screen geeks flock here to sit on the Iron Throne found in the Lokrum Island Visitor Center – a gift from HBO following the massive success of Game of Thrones.

Visit Filming Locations on a Game of Thrones Walking Tour

Ok Game of Thrones fans. It’s time to acknowledge you – Dubrovnik GOT you!  In recent years, King’s Landing has become synonymous with the hit HBO series, and Dubrovnik is buzzing with excitement about all the filming locations found within their City Walls and surroundings.

The City has dozens of Game of Thrones walking tours that take fans to filming locations including Pile Gate, Rector’s Palace, and Fort Bokar.

Read More: Want More GOT film locations? Check out historic Caceres, Spain

Jump Off a Cliff at Buza Bar

Dubrovnik is famous for its stunning sea cliffs that lead out to azure waters below. For the brave, a cliff jump is an essential part of a visit to this enchanting city. The most famous place to take such a leap of faith is at Buza Bar, located on the rocks right outside the City Walls of Old Town.

If cliff jumping isn’t your thing, this is a great place for a gentle swim – steps lead down to the water as well. Or, simply enjoy the view of the sunset and take in the brave souls who choose to jump straight off the cliffs and into the sea. If you’d rather take to the water, consider a sea kayaking tour for views of the cliff jumpers from the water.

Hideaway at Heritage Villa Noble

Dubrovnik is one of the most over-tourist cities in Europe. There’s a price to pay for its supreme beauty! Because of this – and the soaring temperatures that summer brings mid-day – my best insider tip is to select a suitable hotel or accommodation option that doubles as a hideaway from peak temperatures and crowds.

During my visit, Heritage Villa Nobile served as the perfect hideaway. With just six guest rooms set in a 19th-century villa, this property truly has the best location in all of Dubrovnik, located just steps from the entrance to Old Town. This allows you to be close to the major attractions while still having space from the madness.

During the prime day hours, I came back to the villa to relax in the lush garden, surrounded by an abundance of foliage and two adorable turtles who live on the property. It was so refreshing to have a private space to relax and cool down, all while being a two-minute walk from the city’s action when I was ready to return.

Read More: Heritage Villa Nobile Review: Dubrovnik Luxury Hotel

Take a Day Trip Outside the City

One of the great advantages of spending more than a day in Dubrovnik is its convenient location to other great countries and cities in the region. If you are visiting for more than two nights, you’ll have time to take a day tour to another country to learn more about the Balkan region and history.

Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the neighboring country of Montenegro that has sandy beaches set in a charming fjord. The city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina is another UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for a renowned bridge with bridge divers. It’s only about 3 hours from the city.

Within Croatia, there are a plethora of nearby national parks that are great for hiking. Ston is another close town that has an interesting history and Croatian culture. Within the city limits, Lapad is a local neighborhood worth exploring as well.

A Californian native, Lauren is an adventurous traveler on a mission to visit 100 countries. From hiking mountain peaks in Bolivia and scuba diving coral reefs in Panama to visiting ancient tribes in Papua New Guinea and trekking with pandas in China, an avid sense of adventure fuels her wanderlust. When she’s not traveling she lives in Los Angeles and enjoys mountain biking and roller skating.
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