Top Attractions in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a must-visit for anyone planning a Croatia vacation. It boasts a backdrop of the Dinaric Alps while the medieval Old Town, surrounded by stone walls and imposing gates, sits at the edge of the brilliant blue Adriatic Sea. The city and its many centuries-old landmarks served as the fictional King's Landing in "Game of Thrones" although it's been a popular destination for decades, even drawing Hollywood stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who once stole kisses in its cosy cafes. There is a wide range of attractions with so much to see it can almost feel overwhelming. To narrow down your options, consider these top attractions in Dubrovnik for your itinerary.

The Old City Walls

The Old City Walls are the reason Dubrovnik was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They surround the historical centre, stretching for approximately 6,360 feet. Visitors can walk them for some of the most stunning views over the Old City, with its tight maze of terracotta roofs and church steeples. On the other side, the view of the sparkling blue Adriatic and nearby islands is sublime. While there are many medieval fortresses around the world with their own unique histories, few offer such breathtaking views. There are even hidden areas within them housing museums, shops, and more.

Stradun

Stradun is the main pedestrian thoroughfare running between Pile Gate and Ploče Gate in the heart of Old City Dubrovnik. It’s paved with smooth, white limestone and lined with magnificent buildings, including some iconic landmarks. While many historic buildings were destroyed during the 17th-century earthquake replaced by rather sober buildings with small shops and cafes, there are also some grand structures like the Gothic-Renaissance Rector’s Palace, once the residence of Dubrovnik’s elected rector. Today it’s the Cultural History Museum where one can get a sense of how the wealthy lived during the period through lavishly restored rooms, ornate staircases, portraits, and elegant decor. Other highlights include the 16th-century Sponza Palace, also with a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Fort Lovrijenac

A three-level fortress and one of Croatia’s most impressive historic sites, Fort Lovrijenac is a top attraction that really shouldn’t be missed. Also known as St. Lawrence Fort, it’s perched high upon a rock at the edge of the city soaring nearly 122 feet above the sea, causing many jaws to drop at first glance. It was originally built to defend the city, protecting it from invasion by both sea and land. Today, it’s often used as a theatre. During the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, its three terraces now serve as performance venues for plays with Shakespeare’s Hamlet one of the most famous. “Game of Thrones” fans will be interested to know that the fort was the original filming location for the Red Keep.

Dubrovnik Cable Car

While the Old City Walls offer incredible panoramic views, the very best views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area can be enjoyed from the top of Mount Srd. The Dubrovnik Cable Car can bring you there, ascending over 2,550 feet above sea level in less than four minutes. It originally opened in 1969 and while the war shut it down in 1991, it made a triumphant comeback in 2010 during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. From the summit, you’ll be able to gaze out at the Old City, the Adriatic, and numerous islands nearby. On a clear day, you can see as far as 37 miles. There’s also a gift shop with a variety of souvenirs, a restaurant, and a bar.

The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

The iconic Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a highlight when it comes to stunning photo opportunities, particularly from the Old City Walls which provide a vantage point for admiring it in every direction. It was built on the site of a 7th-century basilica and was expanded in the 12th century. Although the 1667 earthquake destroyed much of it, it was rebuilt in Baroque style in 1713. It’s particularly notable for its altars, especially the altar of St. John of Nepomuk, made of violet marble. There are religious paintings that can be seen as well, with the most striking behind the main altar. The Assumption of the Virgin was painted in the 16th century by Venetian artist Titian.

Lokrum Island

Lokrum Island is a small, uninhabited island just a short distance from Dubrovnik’s Old City. One can easily visit via a 10-minute ferry ride or by kayak, with tours available that will take you to paddle the .35 nautical miles while soaking up the scenery. You’ll get an outstanding perspective of the Old City Walls and Fort Lovrjenac from the water before exploring the hidden beaches and caves on the island. Either way, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon sunbathing and swimming, exploring the nature preserve with free-roaming peacocks and bunnies, and the botanical gardens with around 500 different plant species. There’s also an 11th-century Benedictine monastery that history enthusiasts and “Game of Thrones” fans won’t want to miss.

Sponza Palace

Sponza is a 16th-century palazzo that sits at the east end of the Stradun looking out to Luza Square. One of the few buildings to have survived the earthquake of 1667, it boasts an elegant facade that blends Venetian-Gothic windows with Renaissance arches. While much of it is closed to the public, you can step into the central courtyard to see the entrance of the  Memorial Room of the Defenders of Dubrovnik which honours those who died during the city’s 1991-1992 siege. On the ground floor, you’ll find copies of the most significant pieces from a priceless collection of manuscripts held in the State Archives that date back nearly a thousand years.

Franciscan Church & Monastery

While all that remains of the Franciscan Church is the remarkable pieta over its door, sculpted by local masters in 1498, the monastery is another one of the rare buildings that survived the devastating earthquake in the mid-17th century. Its inner courtyard is one of the most beautiful in Dalmatia, a Romanesque structure bordered by Renaissance arcades providing a tranquil space away from the hustle and bustle. The monastery also hosts one of the oldest pharmacies still in operation in Europe and a small museum. The 14th-century pharmacy may have been the very first one to open in Europe. You’ll find the museum here with pharmacy displays on one side and the other filled with religious art and artefacts.

Elaphiti Islands

The Elaphiti Islands are easily reached on a day trip from Dubrovnik, just 16 nautical miles or a 45-minute ferry ride away. The archipelago is made up of six islands with a total population of only around 850 although that increases quite a bit during the summer when many come to take advantage of the beaches and abundant sunshine. Kolocep is a car-free paradise providing a serene setting with idyllic beaches nestled in picturesque coves for secluded swimming and snorkelling in remarkably clear water. There are also historic sites, including ancient churches and monasteries to explore. Lopud is another beautiful, car-free island to consider with ruins of early medieval pre-Romanesque chapels and postcard-perfect beaches like sandy Sunj with shallow cobalt waters.

Church of St. Blaise

Our last of the top attractions in Dubrovnik to visit on your Croatia vacation, the Church of St. Blaise dates to the early 1700s, built on the site of a 14th-century Romanesque church that was damaged in the 1667 earthquake. Its Corinthian columns, gold leafing, and angels combined the popular Baroque style the Catholic Church favoured in the 18th century with neoclassical Venetian architecture. The design showcases Dubrovnik’s status as fashionable and wealthy while asserting the church’s strong ties with Rome. Visitors can explore the ornate interior with no admission cost to see the various art objects on display, some of which were saved from the damaged church. Outside, there’s a terrace ideal for watching the world go by.

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