The medieval city of Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s top highlights. Lord Byron named Dubrovnik ‘The Pearl of Adriatic’ and George Bernard Shaw remarked, “Those that seek paradise on earth should seek it in Dubrovnik.” Surrounded by ramparts and fortresses, this ancient town is a treasure trove of cultural masterpieces with examples of Roman, Venetian, Gothic and Baroque architecture.
A mix of Christian monasteries and churches, mosques, palaces, synagogues and market squares are interwoven through the labyrinth of narrow marble streets. You’ll feel you’re in a fairy tale or like you just stepped off the Game of Thrones set.
From Pile Gate, cross the drawbridge. You’ll be speechless from sunlight reflecting off the city’s main artery commonly known as Stradun (aka the most expensive street in Croatia). Stop to gaze at Onoforio Fountain and head to the entrance of the City Walls adjacent to Pile Gate.
Head back down the stairs at Pile Gate and drop in at the Franciscan Monastery, with Europe’s third-oldest pharmacy. Grab a 14th century potion to heal your sore legs. A tourist office is located across from the monastery; pick up a city map to make this walk easier.
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Stroll down Stradun (stopping at the Kras confectionery store for the hazelnut and nougat treat Bajadera) until you get to Orlando’s Column in the center of Luza Square. Although cafes and bars on Stradun charge double what you’ll pay on a side street, if the urge overtakes you, grab a drink and enjoy people-watching.
At Luza Square duck into Sponza Palace and the Church of St Blaise and continue up Svetog Dominika until you get to the Dominican Monastery and Museum. Return the same way to the Clock Tower.
Before leaving Luza Square rub the nose of the bronze Marin Drzic — Dubrovnik’s famous priest and playwright of 16th century Croatian theater.
Stop in at the Rector’s Palace on Pred Dvorom (next to the statue of Drzic) or save this for later when taking in a nightly concert by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra. Buy tickets at the tourist office on Stradun across from Onofrio’s Fountain.
After dinner take in a concert at the Rector’s Palace or a candlelit concert at the St. Saviour Church.
Before the hoards debark from their cruise ships, explore the quieter south end of the Old Town and the Cathedral of the Assumption. Spend a couple of hours wandering through the labyrinth of narrow streets and city squares.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, get a King’s Landing fix with a Game of Thrones tour. If you’ve already visited the Fort of St Lawrence with your city walls ticket you will be backtracking here, but it’s worth seeing how the fort was altered for the series.
After lunch, walk up to Mount Srd for panoramic views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands. You might have noticed the cable car? Yes, you can go up and return by cable car or walk up the hill and take the cable car down. Gauge how your legs feel after the city walls.
If you’re after something more active, take a dip at one of the numerous city beaches or take the passenger ferry over to the nature reserve of Lokrum island. You can also rent a kayak at the little beach just outside Pile Gate for the excursion to Lokrum.