Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea in the south of Croatia, complete with an old town and city walls that make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time 400 years, making it one of the most stunning locations in Europe.
Since the filming of Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik, visitors have flocked here to see “King’s Landing” in the flesh. This has resulted in the town becoming seriously over populated in the summer months. There has even been talk of issuing tickets per day in order to limit the number of people allowed into the old town. I suggest a visit before this comes into play!
While tourism is booming and great for the economy, the number of locals who permanently reside in the historic centre has seriously decreased. Total Croatia News reported that as of 2017, there are only 568 privately owned houses (with 1,557 residents) in Dubrovnik as opposed to 2,116 inhabitants in 2011.
Whilst walking around Dubrovnik it felt as if everyone there was a tourist; for this reason alone Dubrovnik was an interesting place to visit. I think it will be even more interesting to see what happens in the next few years and if the ticketing will actually be put in place.
What to do:
- Walk the city walls- First things first, walk the city walls. If you’re only in Dubrovnik for one day and only have time to do one activity- make it this. Walking the walls, that date back to the 15th century, will take about an hour. You will walk the circuit around the walls and up the towers, which boast the most beautiful views over the infamous orange roofs and out towards Lokrum Island. This costs 120KN.
- Lovrijenac Fort- If you walk the city walls you’ll have an amazing view towards the fort. But if you’d like to get up close and personal that’s an option too. It is also included in your city walls ticket.
- St. John Fortress- This is also part of the city walls, located on the southeastern side. Inside the fortress is a maritime museum. If you visit, make sure you walk around it and out to the jetty with a bench, Lokrum Island is right there and people were swimming here too.
- Go on a Game of Thrones walking tour- If you’re a GOT fan, you’re in luck! There are a number of tour groups offering GOT tours- they were advertised around the town, so if you haven’t pre-booked before you get there don’t fret.
- Cable car- If the city wall views aren’t enough for you, you can go on the cable car high above the city. I didn’t do this, but if I stayed longer I would have. A round-trip ticket costs 150KN and a one-way ticket costs 85KN.
- Stroll Stradun- This is Dubrovnik’s main street and the centre of the city. It is the most lively area, and is filled with delicious restaurants, ice-creameries and souvenir shops. You can also find the Clock Tower, Franciscan Monastery and the Church of St Blaise.
- Luža Square- This is located at the eastern end of the Stradun. In here you will find Sponza Palace, the 31 metre tall clock tower and a few restaurants.
- Sponza Palace- This is a beautiful building in the centre of the old town built in the early-1500s. The building now holds the city archives, with around 100,000 documents that date back to the 10th century.
- Swim at Banje Beach- This is the closest beach to Dubrovnik old town, located just outside the city walls. There is also a beach club and restaurant here.
- Ferry to Lokrum Island- The ferry is run by one company. In the high season the ferry from Dubrovnik to Lokrum runs 20 times per day, taking approximately 15 minutes. Once here you can walk around the island, swim, snorkel, kayak or canoe. If you have a few days in Dubrovnik, definitely do this.
- Time to spend in the city- I stayed 1 night in Dubrovnik, starting my day around 2pm and leaving mid-day the next day. I didn’t see everything nor did I swim but I felt I saw all I wanted to. I would recommend spending 2 nights here, leaving early in the morning on the third day. This gives you enough for all the tourist activities in the old town, to go on a ferry to Lokrum Island and still have enough time to eat, relax and swim.
- Cost- Dubrovnik is about double the price of every other Croatian city, so definitely don’t spend more than 2-3 nights here unless you want to waste your money. There isn’t THAT much to do in the city and there’s other beautiful beaches and towns to see where you can get more bang for your buck.
- Views- For great free views back towards Dubrovnik’s city walls go to Banje Beach or check out Komarda restaurant.
- Walking city walls- Try to go in the morning when they open (8am) or in the afternoon (the walls stay open til 7:30pm) to beat crowds. Also, remember that if you purchase a city walls ticket you can visit the Lovrijenac Fort for free!
- Get up early- On my last morning of my holiday I woke up at 5:30am out of fear I’d miss my 3pm flight (I know haha) but this meant I was able to watch the city come alive. I was out of my hostel by 7:00am, and it was just me and the garbage collectors. I could barely believe it was the same city from the day before.
- Getting here- I caught a ferry from Split to Dubrovnik, which cost me $44AUD and took just over 4 hours (as it stopped off at other destinations on the way). Admittedly, I only took the ferry because I didn’t realise you could get a bus… but it was a pleasant way to travel and probably would have taken a similar time to the bus anyway.
- Getting to the airport- If you wish to take public transport to the airport, walk to the cable car and there are multiple bus companies running buses to the airport. Make sure you get there early as there is a lot of traffic in Dubrovnik and the bus may be late. This will cost you 40KN and took about 40 minutes.
I stayed in Old Town Hostel, Dubrovnik for my last night of my Europe trip. I chose the private single room which cost $84AUD for one night. Remember what I said about Dubrovnik being ridiculously expensive? The room looked like a prison cell with a single bed and a sink, but the location was amazing! The end of my street was attached to Luža Square and Stradun, so I was literally in the centre of Dubrovnik.
If you’re after cheaper accommodation in Dubrovnik, be prepared to stay outside the city walls and catch a bus or walk into town. I couldn’t be bothered to do that for my last city, so I just bit the bullet and paid for the extremely expensive hostel.
The best time to visit Croatia:
I visited Croatia in July and it was very hot. July and August are the peak travel times as that is summer school holidays for Europeans and Americans, and it is Australia and New Zealand’s winter so they’re looking to escape the cold.
I would suggest visiting in April-May or September-October in the shoulder seasons as the weather will be much more pleasant going in to or out of summer, prices will be slightly cheaper and there will be less tourists!