Best things to do in Dubrovnik
Find out more about those top places in Dubrovnik
It is hard to imagine a more spectacular city than Dubrovnik. Nestled beneath barren limestone crags, the city’s old town walls remain as spectacularly imposing today as they would have been to Ottoman invaders in the Middle Ages. The city’s maze of medieval streets and cobbled alleyways conceal bejeweled Renaissance villas, which were once home to the city’s immensely wealthy patricians. Much like Venice, Dubrovnik’s star attraction is the gothic Doge’s Palace, which crowns the city’s main square. While the success of Game of Thrones has catapulted Dubrovnik to international stardom, it has not always been such smooth sailing for this bewitching seaside city. After falling to the status of provincial backwater for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was only Dubrovnik’s shelling during the Yugoslav Wars that alerted the world to this remarkable hidden gem of a city.
Catapulted to worldwide fame through their starring role in Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik’s awe-inspiring city walls, complete with 15 imposing forts, are now one of Europe’s most sought after destinations. No trip to the city would be complete without admiring the old town from the medieval bastions and for the best experience local guides can take you on a tour that will reveal the city’s rich history of repelling Ottoman invasion.
Comparable only to the Doge’s Palace in Venice, a trip to Dubrovnik’s 15th century Rector’s Palace is one of the best ways to experience first hand the riches of medieval Ragusa. Today the palace is the Cultural History Museum, which contains a treasure trove of Ragusan artifacts spread across the palace’s vast Gothic halls.
For a lofty view, take the cable car up to the top of Srd, a 400 meters high limestone crag that towers over the city. While the view may be one of the Adriatic’s most breathtaking, Srd has a dark history, as it was a key battleground in the Yugoslav Wars. To commemorate this bloody historical moment, a museum commemorating the conflict is located at the summit.
Barely a 10 minutes ferry ride off the coast of Dubrovnik lies the oak-clad islet of Lokrum. The centerpiece of this tranquil island is the vast Benedictine monastery, which has a well-maintained gothic cloister and a lush botanical garden with plants from as far afield as Brazil. For Game of Thrones enthusiasts, the island will be a highlight of Dubrovnik as you can pose next to a full-size replica of the iconic Iron Throne.
Showcasing the moving photographs taken by the New Zealand photojournalist Wade Goddard during the wars of the 1990s, War Photo Limited is Dubrovnik’s most moving attraction. Detailing the vicious shelling of the city, alongside the other conflicts that raged across the Balkans, the gallery provides a fascinating insight into the region’s harrowing history.
Allegedly funded by England’s King Richard I, better known as Lionheart, the Cathedral of the Assumption was largely constructed in the 12th century. Renowned for its dazzling marble pieces and medieval art, the cathedral is undoubtedly Dubrovnik’s most impressive places of worship.
Crafted by the famed sculptor Ivan Meštrovic, the statue of Dubrovnik’s most famous playwright Marin Držic adorns the Stradun. Držic, referred to locally as Croatia’s Shakespeare, was one of the Renaissance’s finest playwrights and tour guides can reveal locations in the city that relate to his most famous works. For those who want to know more about this great artist head to the insightful Marin Držic Museum.
Sponza Palace, one of Dubrovnik’s most ornate Renaissance buildings, was built in the mid-16th century and thankfully survived the destruction wrought by the 1667 earthquake. Today, the interior of this dazzling building houses the Memorial to the Defenders of Dubrovnik, which preserves black and white photographs of the young men and women who gave their lives defending their hometown between 1991 and 1995.