With more than 250 days of sunshine a year and the painful years of war now behind it, modern Dubrovnik can rightly smile.
Reborn from one of the bloodiest conflicts on European soil in the last hundred years, it is an enchanting city to visit, where the white of the stone and the soft colours of the rooftops create a striking contrast to the blue of the sea.
Its imposing walls form a pleasant walking route from which you can peer down on the old town, with its beautiful churches, palaces, squares and streets. Afterwards, visit the city’s interesting museums, take a relaxing break on one of its beautiful beaches and if you have time left, set off on an exciting excursion in the surrounding area.
With mild temperatures that allow swimming from April to October and an active tourist board that organises events even in winter to attract visitors outside the peak summer months, Dubrovnik is an ideal destination in all seasons.
The writer George Bernard Shaw said: “Those who seek paradise on earth should come and see Dubrovnik.” Today, it can finally be said to be true.
Placa or Stradun is the main street in the centre of Dubrovnik, which divides the old town into two parts, south and north, and is accessed by the drawbridge at Porta Pile. A commercial artery, a meeting and socialising place, a venue for events and processions, this pedestrian street is the beating heart of the city.
At the eastern end of the Stradun – the name ‘Stradun’ derives from Venetian and means ‘stradone, wide street’ – you can admire Onofrio’s fountain, built in 1438 as part of an aqueduct that brought water to the city from a spring 12 km away. Part of this same water supply system is a smaller fountain that you can see on Luža Square.
One of the great attractions of Dubrovnik are its imposing walls, one of the best preserved fortification systems in Europe. Almost two kilometres long, they include five forts and sixteen towers and bastions.
You cannot leave Dubrovnik without walking along these historic walls. Built between the 13th and 16th centuries, they have enjoyed renewed fame in recent years as they were used for the filming of some episodes of the very popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones‘.
Of the gates still preserved, the most famous is the 16th century Pile Gate, which is the best starting point for a walk through the old town.
Not part of the city walls, however, is Lovrjenac Fort, a symbol of Dubrovnik’s salvation and freedom, which stands in a panoramic position on a promontory overlooking the sea in the western part of the city. The origins of this defensive construction date back to 1301, or perhaps even earlier.
Today, the Lovrjenac fort is the enchanting setting for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, whose programme includes plays by William Shakespeare, which are always very popular with audiences.
Despite the destruction of the war, the streets of Dubrovnik are lined with elegant Renaissance and Baroque palaces. The two most beautiful are the Rector’s Palace and Sponza Palace.
The Sponza Palace is a magnificent 16th century Renaissance building with an inner courtyard and an elegant loggia resting on six columns. Originally a customs house and later a mint, it is now the luxurious seat of the State Archives. The inner palace cannot be visited, but the inner courtyard is used for official events and presentations.
The Rector’s Palace is one of the most important examples of civil architecture along the Croatian coast.
Built in the 15th century as the administrative centre of the Dubrovnik Republic, it is essentially a Gothic building, with additions and alterations in the Renaissance and Baroque styles. Within its walls lived the Rector of Dubrovnik during his term of office… that is, for one month!
During a stay in Dubrovnik, a visit to the War Photo Limited is almost a must. This photo gallery recounts the dramatic collapse of the former Yugoslavia through the shots of leading international photojournalists who covered the events of the civil wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
The contrast with the black background makes the images of bodies, rubble, artillery fires and gestures of solidarity in torn cities even more incisive. With these sometimes violent, sometimes absurd images, the exhibition is a necessary and emotionally powerful representation of conflict in the modern age.
To learn more about the war, or at least how the Croats experienced it, visit the permanent exhibition ‘Dubrovnik during the Civil War‘.
Other museums of note include:
Strolling through the centre of Dubrovnik you will come across beautiful churches from different eras.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin was built in the 7th century and later enlarged in the 12th century thanks to the contribution (so it is said) of King Richard the Lionheart, who survived a shipwreck on the nearby island of Lokrum. Its current Baroque appearance is due to the reconstruction of the cathedral after the 1667 earthquake.
Founded in 1352, the Dubrovnik synagogue is one of the oldest in the world. It houses a museum of Jewish art, with documents and artefacts on the life of the local Jewish population and the persecution suffered during World War II.
The austere exterior of the Dominican Monastery makes it look more like a fortress than a church, but its interior houses an interesting museum and a lovely cloister.
The Church of St Blaise, the patron saint of the town, preserves a model of Dubrovnik before it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century; the marble altars and the 15th-century silver statue of the saint are also very beautiful.
For a beautiful view of the entire city and its surroundings take the funicular railway to the top of Srđ Mountain, Dubrovnik’s highest point, where you can dine in the lovely restaurant with a panoramic terrace, buy souvenirs or simply enjoy the view.
A must-see excursion from Dubrovnik is to the nearby island of Lokrum, an oasis of greenery where, in addition to beautiful rocky beaches, you will find the ruins of a Benedictine monastery dating back to the Middle Ages and a botanical garden.
Due to the beauty of the landscape and the richness of the vegetation, the uninhabited island has been declared a nature park. It can be reached by boat with a short crossing.
Come to Cavtat (Old Dubrovnik) to discover the origins of Dubrovnik. Less touristy and more authentic than its larger ‘sister’, it is a pretty seaside town surrounded by hills that still retains its old-world charm.
The streets of the centre are adorned with the works of modernist painter Vlaho Bukovac, who was born in Cavtat.
There are numerous walking tours of the city that are organised by local tour operators and that will let you discover the wonders of Dubrovnik in the company of an experienced guide.
From Dubrovnik, there are several organised one-day and multi-day tours to Montenegro or to the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It may not immediately spring to mind as a seaside resort, but Dubrovnik boasts some beautiful city beaches and a good number of beaches and coves in the surrounding area. There are also diving centres where you can rent diving equipment.
Here is a selection of the most beautiful beaches in and around Dubrovnik:
We have selected a number of Dubrovnik accommodation options for those who want to take their time visiting the city or are just passing through on a tour of Croatia. You will find them all on the Dubrovnik accommodation page. Alternatively, use the search form below to find all the accommodation available on the dates you enter.
Dubrovnik can be reached by sea by ferry from the Italian city of Bari or by direct flight from several European cities.
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Dubrovnik, one of Croatia's most popular destinations, is located in the far south of the country, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, a short distance from the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.