Dubrovnik Old Town – The History, Culture, and Cuisine of Croatia in One Place!
Take a trip to Dubrovnik Old Town, a mesmerizing and a well-preserved city located in southern Croatia, extending over the Adriatic Sea with a beautiful background of a rocky coastline and limestone mountains that can be seen from afar.
The spectacular seafront location of Dubrovnik made the city a famous trading center for hundreds of years, competing with the trading port of Venice.
City walls are a prominent tourist attraction. Originally, these giant walls, built between the 11th and the 17th centuries, offered massive protection to the city.
Now, they are the same walls of King’s Landing in ‘Game of Thrones’! You can take a walk along the walls and witness the beauty of Dubrovnik’s Old Town from the top! Take as many pictures as you want, as you admire the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic,’ especially at sunset.
The fascinating medieval city offers many unchanged sights. The diversity of architecture is very remarkable: There are monasteries, baroque-style churches, streets paved with cobbles, terracotta-roof houses, etc.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Dubrovnik Old Town, is a finely preserved city due to major and neat reconstruction works.
After the earthquake of 1667, Dubrovnik witnessed many reconstructions to keep the old look of the city as it is. In the 90s, other renovations were done following the civil war in order to return the city to its initial state.
Even now, building works and reconstructions are strictly supervised to maintain Dubrovnik in its glorious look. Small details, like painting window shutters with green, in the main limestone-paved street of Dubrovnik (The Stradun), are also controlled.
Does all of that seem appealing? Join one of our tours today to get the most out of your trip to Dubrovnik Old Town!
What to Do in Dubrovnik Old Town
There are endless things to do when you visit Dubrovnik! The city offers significant attractions for an unforgettable traveling experience. These attractions are mainly centered on Dubrovnik Old Town.
To make your stay worthwhile, go for a walk on the City Walls first thing in the morning. Discover the surroundings and the sights overlooking the walls. Witness the beauty of the blue Adriatic Sea as it stretches to the horizon.
There are many hidden gems in the city, take your time to discover St. Vlaho Baroque church (known as the church St. Blaise), Rector’s palace and the gothic-style Dominican monastery which houses a museum of arts.
Walk the City Walls
To walk on the Walls of the city, get a ticket with a small entrance fee at the Pile gate. There you find the main entryway of the walls. Go up the stone steps all the way to the top, and witness the most amazing panoramic view of the city.
These walls overlook the Adriatic Sea, Old Town, terracotta rooftops, and many other sights. Take your time to view everything and go for a stroll on the walls which surround the whole city.
These walls are very huge! You will fall in love with the architecture and every remarkable effort that has been done to build these fortifications, making them a popular tourist attraction!
Available tour guides are there to feed your hunger for knowledge and to provide you with the very best piece of information about the history of the walls.
Discover Dubrovnik’s Cathedral
King of England, Richard the Lionheart, was behind the amazing Dubrovnik’s Cathedral we know today. The Cathedral was once a church that King Richard funded in 1190. It was a sort of a gift for the humble hospitality he got in Croatia after he suffered a shipwreck.
After the earthquake of 1667, the church was utterly destroyed and was replaced by this wonderful Baroque Cathedral welcoming all visitors today.
Rumors and local tales state that the Cathedral contains the remaining body parts of St. Blaise, his skull, and even remaining pieces of Jesus’ clothes. Holy moly!
Explore Sponza palace
One of the few buildings to survive the 1667 earthquake, this elegant former customs house, currently contains state archive documents and historical papers.
Sponza palace has a Memorial room for the city defenders. This room exhibits many monochrome photographs of Dubrovnik’s brave defenders who passed away fighting in the Croatian war of independence, dating from October 1991.
This place is very emotional for all visitors. You can understand what precisely happened by visiting the Sponza Palace. There’s also a visitors’ book where you can write down whatever comes to your mind and express your feelings.
The remains of a torn Croatian flag can be found in the memorial room. The flag was once raised on top of Mount Srd
Dive Into History at the Rector’s Palace
The Rector’s Palace is a popular tourist attraction in Dubrovnik Old Town. It served as the seat of the Rector of the Ragusa Republic between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. Its courtyard is bounded by an old prison dating from the Ragusan era and many courtrooms.
If you’re interested in medieval carving designs, you can get a ticket and explore an exciting collection of archeological gems. You can also go upstairs and explore the beautiful decor embellishing the rooms from carved bookcases, portraits of nobles, wigs, and much more!
The palace also features an art display of the medieval church.
View art at the Dominican Monastery
This majestic gothic monastery is loaded with mesmerizing artworks. For all art lovers, you have to check ‘Our Lady with the Saints’! This fancy piece of work was painted by Croatian painter Nikola Božidarević. Other artworks by this painter also stand out in the monastery.
A wooden crucifix hangs on one of the monastery’s walls. Paolo Veneziano made it. As you can tell from his full name, he was the most popular Venetian medieval painter in the 14th century.
The monastery is famous for its cloisters and its doors built right into the stone.
Check it out! You can easily find this gem between the pile gate and Sponza Palace.
Take a Day Trip to Copacabana Beach
For the best summer vibes, you can go to Copacabana beach.
This beach is family-friendly: It offers watersports, seaside therapies, and many fun activities for swimmers.
You can sunbathe and enjoy the summer breeze.
There’s a restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you want to take a full day trip. You can even ask for a delivery service right at your lounger!
Other beach facilities include beach bars where you can enjoy the best wines of Croatia along with a massage.
Shop Your Way Through Dubrovnik Old Town
In the center of Old Town, you can find a lovely marketplace on Gundulić square. This square is marked with an Ivan Gundulić statue standing right in the middle, where you can have a seat on its base.
The open-air market sells fresh vegetables and fruits; it’s also a fish market where you can find the best fresh fish of the Adriatic Sea.
The market sells tasty Mediterranean delights like olive oil, dried figs, fresh herbs, and nuts. It also features liquor stalls, souvenir stalls, beach contents for your Copacabana beach trip, and much more!
We recommend you taste traditional sweets like sugar-coated almonds to boost your energy for the day! Get here early, though, because the market operates only in the mornings.
You can even travel in style and shop for some high fashion brands at Maria Store. This fancy designer fashion store is very close to the market, just head north of the market and walk for a couple of minutes to find it.
See the City Patron’s Church
This Baroque church is a must-see! The attractive Saint Blaise church was built in the 18th century in honor of the patron saint of Dubrovnik. The main altar showcases a glorious gothic statue of St. Blaise. No wonder visitors come from all over the world to witness the meticulous architecture of this church.
If you’re lucky enough, you might as well go to an organized event in the Luža square near the church.
Visit One of Europe’s Oldest Pharmacies
Get inside the Franciscan monastery, situated at the Placa, the main street of Dubrovnik, and let the cloisters there show you the way to probably the oldest pharmacy in Europe ever.
The pharmacy is located next to the Baroque church. There you can find a museum displaying many grinders and other tools that were once used to create medicinal remedies from the times of old Ragusa.
You can even buy some amazing skin products made with traditional recipes and local herbs!
Enjoy the House of Marin Držić
The house of Marin Držić is a theatrical and memorial museum built in the 90s in honor of Marin Držić, a Croatian writer from the Ragusan times. He is considered to be an exceptional Renaissance playwright in Croatia.
The museum showcases the works and the biography of this playwright by different audio guides and models.
The museum exhibits a collection of art, digital media, and design. It features artworks, photographs, documents regarding the theatrical life in Croatia from the Renaissance era till today.
Discover another side of Dubrovnik by kayaking. If your feet are swollen from the long walks in Old Town, you can rent a kayak and take a tour around the city. Witness the beauty of the city walls from its exterior sides facing the Adriatic Sea. Just paddle at your own pace around Old Town and check the old harbor.
Pay a visit to Lokrum island! It’s very close to the old harbor and features a beautiful resort for visitors where they can enjoy sunbathing, swim, visit the local museum, and much more!
Try the Cable Car
If you thought you could only see Dubrovnik Old Town from the top by climbing up the walls, then you’re definitely mistaken. Try the cable car! You can look over the city with its terracotta rooftops, the cobbled streets of Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. Get your ticket just outside the Old Town and experience an aerial view of Dubrovnik!
For your information, the place is crowded at sunset because it’s such a pleasing experience to watch the stretching blue sea touch the golden and orange sky, which will make your trip worthwhile.
Dubrovnik Old Town Attractions
The large walls were originally built between the 12th and 17th centuries, around the Old Town in Dubrovnik, to protect it from intruders and pirates. They served as useful defensive buildings to the city, especially in wars.
They are a prominent tourist attraction and probably the most famous sight of Dubrovnik!
Many fortresses of these walls overlook the Adriatic Sea, where you can climb all the way to the top and witness the city from above. They appeared in ‘Game of Thrones’ on many occasions. Basically, all of King’s Landing scenes were filmed around the walls and Old Town.
The 2-kilometer walls are enormous! They are about 25 meters high. You need to stand under the walls to get the scale because they are really that big! The walls facing the Adriatic Sea are about 3 meters thick, and the ones facing the mainland are nearly double of thickness.
They feature many towers with different proportions. The largest one is the Sveti Ivan tower, also known as St. John fortress. You can find the tower on the southeastern side of the Old Town’s harbor right at its entrance.
The walls offer the best views of Dubrovnik from the top. You can take a stroll on the walls around the whole city, which is the main highlight of any trip to Dubrovnik! You can take pictures there or simply admire the beauty of the Adriatic Sea and the terracotta rooftops at your own pace.
Fort Lovrijenac, also called St. Lawrence fortress, is a giant tower perching on a cliff just outside the western wall of Dubrovnik.
It’s often called ‘Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar’ since it’s almost 40m above sea level.
There are ten cannons on the wall of the three-level fortress. They were once used to defend the city from intruders.
The fortress was built purposely in different proportions. The walls facing the Adriatic Sea are very thick. Can you believe they are 12 meters thick! However, the walls facing the city are only 60cm thick.
The fortress is a sea-access tower. You can visit it by renting a kayak, and you can reach it within minutes through the Pile Bay. It’s possible to see the Old Town and the Bay from inside Fort Lovrijenac.
Did you know that there’s an engraved description just above the entry, translating to: ‘Freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world’?
It’s even possible to rent the fortress for small events and weddings.
Another historical sight to survive the famous 1667 earthquake, Sponza palace, was formerly the customs house and treasury of Dubrovnik, built in the 1500s.
Any fan of both Renaissance and gothic architecture would love the cloisters of Sponza Palace. This 16th-century palace was designed and built by Pasij Milicevic. The different sculptures there, the arches, and the covered exterior corridor were designed by Korcula’s brothers Andrijic, who also built Korcula Cathedral.
The palace features inner courtyards, gothic windows, and many lovely carvings. The atrium served as a business meeting location. An engraved inscription in Sponza Palace translates to: “We are forbidden to cheat and use false measures, and when I measure goods, God measures with me.” It showcases the public function of the palace.
Nowadays, Sponza palace houses Dubrovnik’s state archives and historical manuscripts dating from the 12th century. There’s also a memorial museum of Dubrovnik defenders.
During summer, Sponza Palace is used as a performance venue for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Don’t miss the opportunity of attending the opening ceremony there!
Between Sponza palace and the Pile gate is located an incredible gothic monastery dating from the 14th century. The Dominican monastery features medieval cloisters dating from the 15th century, carvings, and arches.
You can go up the stairs, which will lead you to St. Dominic Church. It’s a gothic church with a richly decorated interior design. Above St. Dominic’s church main altar, there’s a large golden crucifix dating from the 14th century.
Within the monastery’s big complex, there’s a museum for religious artworks of Dubrovnik city mainly, and other places. If you want to take a closer look at the paintings, visit the museum.
Entry tickets are available for a small fee. This museum welcomes visitors daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
St. Saviour Church
St. Saviour Church or Crkva Svetog Spasa is a major attraction in Dubrovnik. Originally, the church was built around 1520 by Korcula’s master builders Brothers Andrijic.
The church has both gothic and Renaissance architecture styles, showcasing the transition of architecture and design between two different times.
Nowadays, the building serves as Dubrovnik’s classical music venue, and as a display area for some organized events.
Following the earthquake of 1667, the former Cathedral was completely destroyed and was replaced by this Baroque Cathedral: The Dubrovnik Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The Cathedral is free to enter. So, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Dubrovnik Cathedral and check its embellished interiors with incredible artworks.
Jesuit Stairs are a must-see! If you watched ‘Game of Thrones’, they are the original filming location of Cersei’s walk of shame!
The Baroque staircase is located just by St. Ignatius Church and the Jesuit College, which was built in the 17th century.
These are the most popular locations you need to visit when you come to Dubrovnik. However, there are many other hidden gems that you can attend!
Getting Around Dubrovnik Old Town
Get your way around Old Town by walking. You need to know that there’s no traffic in Old Town. The city basically features cobbled streets and steep steps, so driving there can be tough. Even cycling is challenging. That’s why we recommend you walk inside the city walls.
If you ever feel tired, other options include kayaking or taking the cable car to discover new sides and views of the city.
If you want all of that off your mind when you’re visiting the city, just join one of our tours, and we’ll take care of everything for you!
Are you ready to truly experience the magic of Dubrovnik Old Town? Well, join one of our tours today!