Dubrovnik is often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in the world due to the preserved history within the walls of Dubrovnik Old Town. Romantic sunsets, cobbled streets that never sleep, and a historic atmosphere is weaved into every stone in the Old Town.
Dubrovnik Riviera extends from the delta of the Neretva River to the cape Oštro in the south of Croatia. Reaching Dubrovnik was quite an adventure since the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina interrupted the area, and a passport was necessary. Nowadays, getting to Dubrovnik is more accessible thanks to the newly built Pelješac bridge.
The site offers many varieties – bays, beaches, cliffs, mountains, and islands. The vegetation of the whole area is very dense and rich, so that one can find cypress, pine trees, olive trees, vineyards, lemon and orange trees, carob, palm trees, agave, and many others. As this area had a very turbulent past, its traces can be found nowadays in the historical and cultural heritage of the whole area. Many visitors are attracted to the site by natural beauties and phenomena such as e.g., the Lastovo archipelago, Lokrum Reserve, spring of the river Ombla and many others. Even though Dubrovnik did not need any commercial, the fact that the Game of Thrones series was filmed here attracted more visitors to Dubrovnik and has impacted the popularity of the whole Riviera.
Lord Byron described Dubrovnik as “the pearl of the Adriatic," and we couldn't agree more. Some say Dubrovnik is called so due to the beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, and monuments. Still, we believe the mixture of everything Dubrovnik offers led to this nickname. As some historical records say, the city's history dates back probably to the 7th century when it was known under the name "Ragusa ." Throughout history, the city of Dubrovnik was under Byzantine and Venetian protection. Still, between the 14th and 19th centuries, Dubrovnik was a free state. It has achieved an incredibly high level of development and has become noteworthy due to its wealth and very skilled diplomacy.
Dubrovnik has preserved the medieval walls surrounding the city so perfectly that it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Today it is one of the most appealing Mediterranean destinations and a prevalent shooting location.
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WALLS OF DUBROVNIK
1940 m long walls surround the old city of Dubrovnik with six fortresses. The walls were built to protect the city and its inhabitants from numerous invaders. They indeed did preserve the city as they have never been breached despite many battles during the Middle Ages. Historians today believe the Walls of Dubrovnik are one of the best fortification systems of the era. Walking along the walls gives you incredible views of the city and the sea in front of it.
Whether you’re local or a tourist, Stradun – the main street of the Old Town - is one of the most popular spots for a simple walk or a refreshment in a bar. Walking down this street, you will get a feeling of stepping back into the intriguing history of Dubrovnik, thanks to the Baroque buildings along the road. Stradun is also an open-air stage for many different concerts and events.
Pile Gate was the main entry point to the old town of Dubrovnik, and today a starting point for the guided tours. The gate was built in the 16th century as a secure entry point for the town’s defenders fighting against all the invaders. Famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović has built the Statue of St. Blaise, patron saint of Dubrovnik, which can be seen above the inner gate. The fans of Game of Thrones will most probably recognize the gate, as it was featured several times in the series.
One… No, two, landmarks of Dubrovnik are the Onofrio’s Fountains – set of 2 fountains situated in the same area. When you pass through the Pile gate, you will see the 1st fountain. To see the 2nd one, you must walk along Stradun until the end. They were named after their builder, the architect Onofrio Giordano Della Cava. Both fountains were built in the 15th century.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin was built in the 6th or 7th century. There are different historical records concerning this beautiful landmark. It was designed in the Byzantine style but rebuilt two times throughout history in the Romanesque and Baroque styles. The treasury of the Cathedral is home to a world-famous collection of reliquaries comprising around 200 artifacts. The highlight of the collection is the gold-plated skull, arm, and leg of St. Blaise, patron saint of Dubrovnik.
Orlando’s column is Dubrovnik’s oldest, preserved sculpture carved out of stone. The Statue was carved in the 15th century by the sculptor Antonio Dubrovčanin and is situated under the City Bell Tower. It represents Dubrovnik's freedom as its story is based on the legend of Orland, who supposedly played a crucial role in repelling the siege by the Arab pirates in the 8th century.
The freestanding fort Lovrijenac is another historical proof of how serious the inhabitants of Dubrovnik were about protecting the city. The fort was built in the 11th century on a 37-meter-high rock overlooking the sea and the land. The fort's walls are thick, between 60 cm and 12 m at their widest part. The tour of the fort is incorporated into the tour of Dubrovnik city walls. Make sure to refrain from participating and enjoying the town's breathtaking views.
Sponza Palace was built in the 16th century in the Gothic-Renaissance style. The Palace got its name from the Latin word “spongia," where the rainwater collects. The Palace is now home to the State Archives with an invaluable collection of nearly 1000 years old manuscripts. During summer, the square in front of the Sponza Palace is where the opening ceremony of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival happens.
The Arboretum is in a small town, Trsteno, 24 km from Dubrovnik. It is the oldest Arboretum in Croatia, and it was set up in the 15th century by the local noble family. It has over 300 species of trees, but two trees stand out – 2 plane trees, each more than 500 years old, with trunks over 5 meters in diameter. Some of the trees are exotic, e.g., the Japanese banana trees. All the Game of Thrones series fans will most likely recognize the place as it was featured in the 3rd and 4th seasons.
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“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
– Gustave Flaubert
EXPLORE ELAPHITI ISLANDS
Elaphiti archipelago is located northwest of Dubrovnik and is a popular tourist destination. A large part of the islands remains green throughout the year. There are 13 islands in the archipelago. The inhabited islands are Šipan, Lopud, and Koločep, also known by its local name, Kalamota. The inhabited islands can be reached by regular ferry line departing from Dubrovnik, and the uninhabited ones can be reached on private boat tours or an organized boat excursion.
KAYAKING AROUND THE CITY WALLS
One of the unique experiences of exploring the beautiful landmarks of the town of Dubrovnik is kayaking. As you paddle out to sea, you will enjoy the fantastic views of the fortress Lovrjenac and the City Walls. After the walls, you'll paddle around Lokrum island and see its bays, beaches, and ruins of the monastery. The legend says that in the 12th century, Richard the Lionheart faced stormy seas upon returning home from the Third Crusade. He vowed to build a church wherever he touched land if they survived, and so he did.
GAME OF THRONES TOURS
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, please read this part with the utmost attention. As the series was filmed in many locations within the old town and the region, the most crucial thing before participating in the tour is to pick the right one for you. All the tours pass by the most important landmarks, but some tours have an extra touch. So you can book a tour with the guide involved in the shooting or a tour containing some production stories and on-set antics.
CABLE CAR RIDE
There are no better views of Dubrovnik than those you can catch from the cable car, and it was built in 1969 and has been used by millions of visitors. The cable car station in the old town is situated only a few steps away from the Ploče gate, and the top cable car station is located on the hill Srđ. Once you reach the top station, you will experience the breathtaking views of the old town, enjoy the Panorama bar & restaurant facilities, and visit the coin blacksmithing shop or the pearl shop.
WINE TASTING IN PELJEŠAC
“Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy.”
– Alexander Fleming
The Pelješac peninsula is a wine region on the Adriatic coast and home to some of Croatia's finest and best-known wines. This mountainous peninsula has a unique microclimate with ample sunshine hours, which are crucial for viticulture. Wines originating from the Pelješac peninsula are powerful and tannic red. As the historical documents say, viticulture in Pelješac began in the 13th century, leading to many wine cellars today. You can visit the most important ones in one day. Still, if you're a true wine enthusiast, we recommend prolonging your stay on the peninsula.
OYSTERS IN STON
The experts say wine should be paired with food, and we have the perfect ingredient. Besides the high-quality wine, the Pelješac peninsula is also known for its unique oysters. Mali Ston Bay, situated on the Pelješac peninsula, has a unique mix of freshwater and seawater. This mixture is essential for the outstanding oysters that existed here, even in Roman times. Besides the fantastic taste, many believe oysters to be the best natural aphrodisiac.
EXPLORE KONAVLE VALLEY
Konavle valley is situated in the southernmost region of Croatia. The valley consists of approx. Thirty villages and hamlets, some of which have only 2-3 houses. Konavle is a trendy destination for day trips and those who want to escape the crowds. Here you can do everything: spend the day at the beach; explore the region on an adventurous quad or ATV tour; visit the shell museum in Cavtat, visit some agrotourism, visit the Konavle city museum and explore the unique crafts, or maybe enjoy the horseback riding tour…
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FESTIVAL OF ST. BLAISE
The festival of the patron saint of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise, takes place every year on February 3. There are many different ceremonies by which the locals pay their respect to the saint. On the same day, the people of Dubrovnik celebrate the day of their city.
THE AKLAPELA FESTIVAL
The Aklapela festival is held in April and takes place in several locations in the old town. The festival celebrates traditional "klapa" a-Capella singing. "Klapa" is usually composed of up to a dozen male singers. Still, in recent times, female vocal groups have become quite popular. Experience this unique way of singing in its unique habitat – streets and squares of the old town.
DUBROVNIK SUMMER FESTIVAL
Dubrovnik Summer Festival was established in 1950 and has been held ever since. The festival includes theatre, opera, music, and dancing events held at open-air locations around the old town from mid-July until the end of August.
GOOD FOOD FESTIVAL
Every year in October, the excellent food festival is held. Besides the many food and drink tastings, there are many culinary workshops for adults and children and gastro tours. The program also includes Restaurant week where the restaurants present special lunch & dinner menus.
Banje beach is the most popular and famous beach in Dubrovnik. It is next to the historical old town, which means you can enjoy the view of the old town and island Lokrum while swimming. Banje beach is a pebble beach with almost no natural shade, but there is the possibility to rent sun chairs and parasols. The restaurant is available, and the DJs will create a party mood during the summer.
Sunset beach is situated on the Lapad peninsula, the tourist center of Dubrovnik. This pebbly beach can easily be reached by local buses. It is near several hotels, restaurants, bars, tennis courts, and other sports facilities. The scenery is stunning during the sunset, just as the beach's name reveals.
BEACH SVETI JAKOV (St. Jacques)
Several magazines have chosen the unique beach as one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. This beach can be reached by steps, and high rocks surround it. Thanks to its position, the beach offers excellent views of the old town of Dubrovnik. Here you can find refreshments in a beach bar and a restaurant. Sun chairs and parasols are available for rent for a relaxing day at the beach.
BETINA CAVE BEACH
This hidden gem is situated north of the old town and can only be reached by sea by kayak, boat, or similar. This small beach is in a rock cave and offers unique scenery to its visitors. The sea in this area is particularly clear, with a beautiful turquoise color. Thanks to the environment, snorkeling is a must.
The small Šulić beach is situated in the old town close to Pile gate. This little beach is located just below the fortress Lovrjenac and offers excellent views of this landmark. As the beach is quite hidden, it is never too crowded. Above the beach, there are a nice beach bar and a cozy restaurant.
Another spectacular beach in Dubrovnik is Pasjača, situated in Konavle, 25 km east of Dubrovnik. The only accessway to this beach is steps carved out of stone. Once you reach the beach, you'll be fascinated by the view of the red rock walls. The pebbles on this beach are tiny.
If you’re looking for a sandy beach, Šunj beach is the right choice. The beach is located on Lopud island, part of the Elaphite archipelago. Like many other beaches in the area, this one offers almost no natural shade, but there are parasols and sun chairs to rent. The beach can be reached by public ferry departing from Dubrovnik, by private boat, or as a stop on some day excursion to the archipelago. That is also possible if you'd like to spend the night on the island.
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WORLD’S FIRST COMMERCIAL PHARMACY
It is claimed that the world's oldest commercial pharmacy is in Dubrovnik. It was founded in 1317 as an in-house pharmacy for Franciscan friars. It was later introduced to the public and used by the population inside and outside the city walls. The pharmacy is open even today. Besides modern remedies, it offers some products made from local herbs according to Franciscan recipes.
FIRST ORPHANAGE IN THE WORLD
The world's first orphanage opened its door in 1432. The orphanage was built as part of the St. Clare monastery as its first institution, allowing mothers to leave their children in secret. After the age of six, children were put up for adoption, or their parents would take them back. If parents came to get the child back, they would wear a dark-colored hood when entering the orphanage with no questions asked.
ONE OF THE FIRST TO BANISH SLAVERY
Dubrovnik, a Republic at the time, was one of the first to abolish slavery on January 27, 1416. This decision was controversial at that time since everyone thought of slavery as a moral and legal system. Still, Dubrovnik takes pride in being one of the first (after Venice) European destinations where modern-day human rights as we know them have started.
DUBROVNIK’S SECRET AGENT
If a film about Dušan “Duško" Popov were ever made, it would be as popular as the films about 007. Popov and his family moved to Dubrovnik when he was very young. He was fluent in German and had many highly placed friends in the Nazi party but secretly despised them. Once Popov had been recruited as a double agent, he moved to London. He was known as a womanizer and led an extravagant lifestyle. He even published his memoirs in 1974.
CITY OF 5423 STEPS
Anyone who has visited the old town of Dubrovnik knows this is a city of many steps. A few years ago, a group of international students counted all the steps of the old town. Over the series of days, they have established there are 4343 steps in the old town. We'll have to believe them because we're not fit to check this by ourselves. Besides the steps inside the old town, they've also counted them on the City Walls. When we measure these two numbers, the total is 5423 steps.
DUBROVNIK AS A SHOOTING LOCATION
When it comes to shooting in Dubrovnik, everyone immediately thinks of Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019). Still, the list of films and tv series filmed here (partially or entirely) is quite extensive. Here are some of them: Emerald City (2016-2017), Robin Hood (2018), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), Captain America (1990), and The unbearable weight of massive talent (2022).