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Dubrovnik is Croatia's most visited tourism destination and it's easy to see why
Nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik’s ideal seaside location is home to a busy medieval port, a walled city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town is known for its narrow cobblestone lanes flanked by bustling pedestrian-only squares filled with restaurants, boutiques, historical buildings and monuments. Just outside the Old Town walls are an abundance of outdoor activity options and countless viewpoints of sand, sea and sky.
Here’s our roundup of eight things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia’s most popular seaside city...
Circle Dubrovnik’s Old Town from an elevated promenade on top of its ancient walls. The walkway spans two kilometres, along which you’ll pass by 17 towers and St. John’s Fortress, which was once used as a strategic defence point in protecting the city’s port. The city walls date back to the 13th century, although they continue to be reinforced regularly to host the increasing influx of tourists (more than 10,000 daily visitors during high season). For the most breathtaking views—and to avoid the daytime cruise ship crowds—visit at sunset.
Spend the afternoon at Banje, Dubrovnik’s most central beach. A short walk outside the Old Town’s Plo?e Gate, this city beach is well-equipped with amenities, including a restaurant, change room stalls, sun chairs and umbrellas for rent. For those looking for an active way to enjoy the sun at Banje, you can sign up for numerous guided watersport activities including waterskiing, tubing, or parasailing.
For the best views of Dubrovnik, soar above the city by taking a speedy cable car up to the 413-metre peak of Mount Sr?. On a clear day, you can see up to 60 km from the top with panoramic views of Dubrovnik’s red-roofed Old Town, the deep blue Adriatic Sea and the white boats in its harbour. At the summit, dine at the Mediterranean-inspired Panorama Restaurant and enjoy the view over a cocktail, local wine or a seafood platter. For those looking for a fitness challenge, Mount Sr? can also be summited, or descended, for free via the Serpentine footpath.
Have a drink and chill out on the panoramic terraces of Buza, a sea-view bar carved into the side of a cliff. The entrance is discreet: a hole in the wall, covered by an unembellished iron gate. A sign in the shape of an arrow points to “cold drinks. The wine, beer and bottled juices are overpriced; you’re paying for the view, not the drink selection. As you walk further down the open-air stairs, you’ll spot daring thrill-seekers jumping off the rocky cliffs into the Adriatic Sea to the cheers of the crowd.
Since season 2, Dubrovnik has been a prominent filming location for Game of Thrones and fans will love visiting familiar sites in real life from King’s Landing. There are several tour operators offering walking tours which begin in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a guide who has worked as an extra on the Game of Thrones set and get an insider’s anecdotes from behind the scenes. No time for a tour? Many souvenir shops in the city sell memorabilia dedicated to the show.
Get away from the crowds and see Dubrovnik from the water on a sea kayaking tour. Most agencies offer half-day excursions that take you on an easy route within view of the city walls, making stops for swimming and snorkelling on nearby beaches.
Lokrum Island is a protected natural reserve 600 metres off the coast of Dubrovnik. It’s a popular swimming and easy hiking spot, making it a great day trip destination. Boats depart frequently from Dubrovnik’s old port.
The Franciscan Monastery contains one of Europe’s oldest pharmacies, which has also been partially converted into a museum with collections of literature on pharmacology and medicine, as well as furniture and equipment dating back to the 15th century. Impressively, the ancient pharmacy has been continually in use since 1317. These days, it sells creams, remedies and perfumes to tourists in Dubrovnik.
For those of you who want to pack the most sights into a visit to Dubrovnik, get the Dubrovnik Card. Available in one-, three-, and seven-day passes, it includes complimentary admission and discounts on restaurants, excursions and shopping. The Dubrovnik card also includes free use of public transportation within the city.