Post Overview: Roundup of the best things to do in Dubrovnik based on a 2-week stay | Visiting Dubrovnik
Our tour guide started the day with an obvious statement, “No one has ever gotten lost in Dubrovnik.” And after spending two weeks in the city, I understood why. You can easily walk the entire length of the Old Town in less than 10 minutes and with (only) five streets running east to west, you’ll always know where you are.
My husband and I had the opportunity to visit Dubrovnik at a slow pace because we booked our stay for 14-days. I take pride in being honest and I’ll admit that it took a few days for Dubrovnik to grow on me. However, after running through all the popular things to do in Dubrovnik (museums, walking the walls, etc.) we found ourselves enjoying the the city at a leisurely pace.
Lingering sunsets by the pier, visiting local breweries, long hikes on the island, we began to see why locals love calling this city home. All told, we learned so much about visiting Dubrovnik and I didn’t want that knowledge to go to waste. So without further ado, allow me to share the absolute best things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Who am I and why can you trust me?
Great question and don’t worry — I don’t offend easily. I’m a well-traveled American gal that hails from Portland, Oregon but currently calls The Big Apple home. As mentioned, I visited Dubrovnik for two weeks (in May 2022) with my husband in tow. We spent 14 days exploring the Old Town and surrounding areas in search of the best things to do in Dubrovnik.
The length of our visit gave us a unique opportunity to befriend locals (the barista knew our names by the end of the trip) and enjoy the city slowly. We’re huge advocates for slow travel and spend 6 months of the year exploring new countries. Travel is my passion and nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing the experience with you, dear reader.
Tips for Visiting Dubrovnik
Food options are limited
If you’re visiting Dubrovnik for the first time you might be confused by this statement because restaurants can be found on every corner. However, if you’re re-visiting Dubrovnik then you probably know what I mean. There’s plenty of restaurants but the food is average at best and the prices are typically very high (for Europe). As such, we found it challenging to find great food during our two weeks visiting Dubrovnik.
Visiting Dubrovnik is expensive
Dubrovnik has seen a massive spike in tourism largely thanks to Game of Thrones and the city knows how to capitalize on its success. Expect everyday things like coffee and lunch to cost up to three times more than normal (by European standards.
Is the Dubrovnik Card worthwhile?
You’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t always recommend getting a city card unless the deal is actually worthwhile. Getting the Dubrovnik City card is a no-brainer for one reason: the day pass is the same cost as admission to the Old City Walls (one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik). For the same cost as admission to this popular Dubrovnik attraction, you’ll get free access to a ton of other stuff.
When visiting Dubrovnik you can opt for a 1-day, 3-day or 7-day pass. We landed on the 3-day pass and got full use out of it. The 3-day and 7-day passes also cover transportation, which was an added bonus for us and inspired us to explore outside of Old Town.
Best Things to Do in Dubrovnik
1. Walk the City Walls
Of all the fun activities Dubrovnik offers, walking the City Walls turned out to be the best thing to do in Dubrovnik during our trip. The first walls date back to the 8th century and served as an impenetrable bastion for the citizens of the city. The walls we see today were constructed in the mid-15th century and were surprisingly undamaged during the earthquake of 1667.
A testament to their impressive and expert construction, the walls have never been breached and locals take great pride in that. Today Dubrovnik’s City Walls are considered one of the most grandiose fortifications in Europe.
Encircling the Old Town, you’ll get a unique perspective of the city below. Ancient monolithic buildings poke through a sea of red roofs that give way to the striking deep-blue hues of Adriatic Sea. The entire walk takes 2 hours to complete and there’s a handful of spots where you can grab a drink + bite (bring cash).
Note: Our AirBnB was located at the entrance of the walls and we were able to get a good gauge for crowds. I highly recommend starting your walk as soon as the walls open at 8am.
2. Explore the Old Town
Like most of Europe, Dubrovnik’s historic Old Town is a sight to behold. Age old structures serve are homes for happy locals and inquisitive travelers alike. Walking the Old Town feels like a privilege because it gives you sense of how this city looked hundreds of years ago (practically unchanged!).
We started every morning with a walk around the Old Town and found a few gems that are not to be missed when visiting Dubrovnik.
Best things to do in Dubrovnik’s Old Town
Drink from the Large Onofrio’s Fountain
Designed in 1438, the Fountain of Onofrio has been bringing fresh drinking water to the city for centuries (and is operational to this day). It’s not uncommon to see folks refilling their water bottles at this popular Dubrovnik attraction.
Walk the Stradun
The Stradun is Dubrovnik’s official main street. The promenade divides the Old Town into two roughly equal parts (the north and south). There’s absolutely no way you can miss it while visiting Dubrovnik. The entire street is used solely by pedestrians and is full of cafes, stores and restaurants.
Admire Orlando’s Column
Erected in 1418, Orlando’s Column is located in the heart of Old Town and serves as a symbol for freedom. Legend has it that the knight helped the people of Dubrovnik fend off invaders in the middle ages, effectively keeping the people free.
Grab (good) drinks and a bite at Gradska Cafe
Ending evenings with mixed drinks at Gradska Cafe became one of our favorite things to do in Dubrovnik. We came here more than six times while visiting Dubrovnik, which tells you everything you need to know -ha! We enjoyed the mixed drinks (martini for Will and a margarita for yours truly) and the burger was great too.
This was actually the restaurant we spent the most time in while visiting Dubrovnik. During our last night in the city we realized that they sell brews from Augustiner-Bräu, which we visited in Salzburg, Austria. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to order the brews again and they were just as delicious as we remembered!
Rub the nose of Croatia’s Shakespeare
As you stroll the charming Old Town while visiting Dubrovnik you’ll probably come across a statue of a man (Marin Držić) with a bright gold nose. The reason? Legend has it that if you rub Marin’s nose while making a wish the wish will come true. Folktales, sure, but a fun thing to do in Dubrovnik none the less. Give it a go!
3. Explore Lokrum Island
No list of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is complete without mention of Lokrum Island. I must admit, I was unsure if the island (a mere 15-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik) would be worthwhile but I found myself completely impressed.
The island is home to an abandoned monastery, beautiful gardens (with roaming peacocks!) and plenty of little umbrella-covered restaurants offering drinks. When we were done exploring the top sights on Lokrum Island, we parked ourselves at a charming restaurant and ordered brews as the hours slipped by.
We originally planned to spend two hours on the island but found ourselves occupied for five hours (making this the perfect half-day trip from Dubrovnik).
Further Reading: Getting to Lokrum Island (+Top 10 Things to Do)
4. Tour the oldest quarantine facility in the world
This one probably hits a little too close to home in the age of COVID, but something most people visiting Dubrovnik don’t realize is that the city is home to the oldest quarantine facility in the world.
Located a stone’s throw from the city walls, exploring Lazareti is one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik.
Construction started in 1533 and the facility was used to quarantine visitors from plague-infested countries. The port of Dubrovnik was crucial to trade and having to close it due to infection was a non-starter so the town’s leadership decided to invest in Lazareti.
5. Explore Fort Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence Fortress)
Referred to as Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar, Fort Lovrijenac shouldn’t be missed by anyone visiting Dubrovnik for the first time. Sitting high atop a hill, the fort was built in 1018 to protect the city from the Venetian fleet.
Today visitors can explore the fort by climbing a steep set of stairs to reach the entrance. From there, spend some time looking around the impressive fort before heading outside towards the epic sea views of the city. Indeed, the panoramic views make this one of the best activities in Dubrovnik.
Note: Admission to Fort Lovrijenac is included with the Dubrovnik Card.
Fun Fact: The inscription above the entrance of the fort reads: Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro (which translates to “Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world”).
6. Have drinks at a cliff side bar
We tried all the cliff-side bars in town while visiting Dubrovnik (easy, peanut gallery) and have determined them to be one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik!
It’s hard to go wrong with whichever one you choose but we especially liked Dodo Bar because the staff were kind and the vibe was super relaxed. Plus, the food was really good (we got burgers and fries) and the brews made for the perfect ending to a blissful day while visiting Dubrovnik.
7. Kayak to Betina Cove
My husband is the adventurous sort and never passes up an opportunity for something active to do (but I love him regardless). Upon noticing the kayaks by the bay I knew we’d be donning swimsuits in no time, and I was right. We swung by the apartment to change before making a beeline for the kayak stands.
There’s a handful of kayaking outfitters to choose from (around 5 or 6) and we settled on one randomly. We rented kayaks for an 1.5 hours and the attendant recommended we visit Betina Cove. We paddled for 30 minutes (we were moving at a quick clip) and found ourselves in front of Betina Cove beach.
The beach is perfectly secluded and can only be accessed via kayak or boat, making this one of the most adventurous things to do in Dubrovnik. We lounged on the beach for 20 minutes before hopping back in the kayak to paddle ashore.
The experience was a great way to get our hearts pumping while taking in the gorgeous sea views from a unique vantage point. Plus, the city walls make for the most interesting kayaking surroundings I’ve ever enjoyed, which is why I consider this a must-do while visiting Dubrovnik.
8. Take the cable car to Mount Srd
Mount Srd looms over the city of Dubrovnik and offers a unique perspective of the town below. The best way to reach the top of the mountain is via cable car (which takes less than 5 minutes). This is one of the most fun things to do in Dubrovnik, especially at sunset.
9. Then, have drinks at Panorama Restaurant
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Dubrovnik then you need not look further. Make a beeline for Panorama Restaurant (the cable car is the best way to reach it) for dinner and drinks.
10. Try the gelato from Gianni
I ate my weight in gelato while visiting Dubrovnik and lived to tell the tale. Heck, it feels wrong to walk the charming streets without a cone in hand, as such I made it a point to stop by all the gelato shops during my stay and Gianni’s was by far the best.
Gianni’s doesn’t offer a dizzying variety of flavors (a perk more than anything) as they choose to focus on knock-out flavors instead. Each flavor is expertly crafted using real ingredients void of food coloring. My favorite flavors where honey lavender and coconut basil but my husband loved the tart flavors best.
11. Tour Rector’s Palace
Rector’s Palace was the residence of Dubrovnik’s rectors but presently serves as a lavish atrium for performing arts (like the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra).
Rector’s Palace is arguably the best museum in Dubrovnik (admittedly competition isn’t steep). We popped in for a quick tour of the place and found ourselves impressed by the venerable structure and intricate detail. The building was striking and the fun museum was icing on the cake.
We toured a room full of firearms and defense mechanisms before making our way upstairs to the finely decorated rooms. All told, our entire visit lasted less than one pleasant hour.
12. Visit the Franciscan Church and Monastery
The Franciscan Church and Monastery is home to the oldest operating pharmacy in Europe. Founded in 1317, the pharmacy is still in use today (although most of the medicinal prescriptions look vastly different). But the pharmacy isn’t all you can see at the monastery.
Visitors can tour a library and church as well as the beautiful courtyard. The library in the museum contains more than 20,000 books.
13. Spend an afternoon at Banja Beach
Those in need of relaxing things to do while visiting Dubrovnik should consider and easy-going afternoon at Banja Beach. There’s two ways to go about it — bring a beach towel and lounge on the rocky shore, or rent a lounging chair and umbrella.
We opted to lounge on the shore with beach towels because the prices for the chairs seemed steep to us. However, we saw tons of folks opting for the chair, so up to you! Regardless of which way you do it, this is one of the most peaceful ways to spend an afternoon while visiting Dubrovnik.
14. Visit the Dubrovnik Brewing Company
It’s no secret that Europeans love their beers, and Croatians are no exception. However, one of the things that surprised me most while visiting Dubrovnik was a knock-out IPA at a local restaurant. Intrigued, I asked about the brewery and learned it was locally brewed by the Dubrovnik Brewing Company.
Located outside of the Old Town, we hopped on the bus for a quick 10-minute ride and found ourselves at a lively brewery full of locals and tourists alike. The brewery offers a handful of beers on drought (around 6, I believe) and we chose to order a flight.
The IPA and lager both stuck out, so we ordered two full sizes alongside some delicious pub food and called it a day. In my experience, this is one of the most casual and relaxing things to do in Dubrovnik, which is why I recommend it!
Helpful Tip: I later learned that the Dubrovnik Brewing Company has a satellite location within the Old Town called Beer Factory Dubrovnik. The outdoor patio is very cool (we visited when the jasmine was blooming and the smells were heavenly) and the drought beers hit the spot. Highly recommend swinging by when you’re visiting Dubrovnik.
15. Explore the Red History Museum (Communist Museum)
Alright, ready to get uncomfortable? Let’s talk communism.
One thing I didn’t realize before visiting Dubrovnik for the first time was the huge role communism played in the formation of Croatia. Croatia was part of Yugoslavia (along with 5 other countries) and had to fight for independence from the communist system through a bloody 4-year war that started in 1991.
The Red History Museum does a fantastic job of explaining the root of communism and how it applied to Croatia specifically. Highlighting pivotal moments and key players, visitors are able to interactive with museum in a fascinating way (opening shelves, walking into exhibits, etc.).
In many ways, visiting Dubrovnik’s Red History Museum feels like stepping into a time capsule.
My favorite part of the museum was the staged bedroom, living room and kitchen that reflected how people actually lived when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia. Indeed, learning about what life was like under communist rule is one of the most interesting things to do in Dubrovnik.
16. Visit the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik
As mentioned earlier, I take pride in being honest about my travels so I feel compelled to tell you that the artwork at the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik leaves much to be desired. We decided to swing by while visiting Dubrovnik because admission was included with the city card. However, I just couldn’t understand the art and there wasn’t too much to look at (no self-discovery here, folks), but the building and outdoor terrace is worth a visit.
17. Relax at the Dominican Monastery
Built in the 14th century, the Dominican Monastery is found on the eastern part of the city, next to Ploce Gate. The museum houses important cultural and historic pieces, such as paintings, artifacts and jewelry. We chose to visit the Dominican Monastery almost as an afterthought having passed it so many times.
We decided to pop in during a particularly sunny afternoon and quickly determined it one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik. The monastery’s courtyard garden steals the show. Perfectly peaceful, this sunny courtyard is the only place you want to be during a warm spring day.
18. Take a Game of Thrones Tour
Dubrovnik served as the main filming location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. As you can imagine, there’s a plethora of Game of Thrones tours offered every hour of the day. The tours range from 1.5 hour to 2 hours and are reasonably priced (less than 25 USD per person).
A local guide will take you to the top filming locations and share background information on what it was like to witness the production firsthand. The tours are a big hit with tourists visiting Dubrovnik and some of the guides were extras in the show!
Fun fact: The original Iron Throne used in the show is located on Lokrum Island (20-minute ferry from Dubrovnik). Visitors are welcome to sit on the actual throne and take photos for free!
You might enjoy reading (coming soon): 15 Must-See Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Dubrovnik
19. Try a traditional burek from Holy Burek
Burek is a delightful (typically savory) filo-stuffed pastry that can be found in bakeries throughout Croatia. We stumbled upon Holy Burek during our second day in Dubrovnik and popped in for a quick snack. We opted for the leek + cheese burek which hit the spot (it was served warm!).
I highly recommend swinging by for a snack (or light meal) while visiting Dubrovnik.
20. Enjoy a performance by the Dubrovnik Philharmonic Orchestra
Catching a performance Dubrovnik Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the most fun things to do while visiting Dubrovnik. The concerts are typically held at Rector’s Palace which only adds to the magical intrigue of this special activity.
Visiting Dubrovnik Longer?
Have more time in the city? Here’s a handful of mildly interesting things to do in Dubrovnik. I must admit, Dubrovnik leaves much to be desired when it comes to museums. I found most of the museums to be lackluster (but made a point to visit them all regardless). Alas, here goes.
Pop into the Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum isn’t very large but admission is free with the Dubrovnik Card so we decided to pay them a visit. The museum spans two floors and is home to marine relics, model ships and paintings, giving visitors a look into the important role maritime history played in the city.
The museum is comprised of items donated by the citizen of Dubrovnik in the first half of the 20th century.
Explore the Etnographic Museum
The Etnographic Museum is housed within a 16th century building that served as a granary bay in its heyday (no pun intended). The first floor of the museum displays farming tools used for the harvesting and storage of grain, and several replicas of homes from those days.
The second floor has an interesting display of traditional clothing worn by Croatians, which was cool to see. Admission to the Etnographic Museum is included with the Dubrovnik Card so it’s worth popping in if you’re looking for cultural things to do in Dubrovnik.
Enjoy the (peaceful) cat garden
One of our joys while visiting Dubrovnik was starting our morning with a coffee from Coginto and parking on a bench in the cat garden for half an hour while planning our day. The garden is managed by a lovely older local who takes great pride in providing for the feral cats.
We were introduced to her during our first day in Dubrovnik and she left a lasting impression on us. She even asked us to sign the travel journal she keeps out for visitors and gifted us a rose from her garden. Mingling with kind locals always adds a special element to a trip, which is why this was a highlight for us while visiting Dubrovnik.
Best Things to Do in Dubrovnik (Post Overview)
In sum, here’s a roundup of the best things to do in Dubrovnik:
- Walk the Old City Walls
- Explore the Old Town
- Explore Lokrum Island
- Visit the oldest quarantine facility in the world
- Explore Fort Lovrijenac
- Relax at the Dominican Monastery
- Kayak to Betina Cave Beach
- Take the cable car to Mount Srj
- Have drinks at Panorama Restaurant
- Try the gelato from Gianni’s
- Tour Rector’s Palace
- Visit the Franciscan Church and Monastery
- Spend an afternoon at Banja Beach
- Visit the Dubrovnik Brewing Company
- Explore the Red History Museum (Communist Museum)
- Visit the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik
- Have drinks at a cliff side bar
- Take a Game of Thrones Tour
- Order a burek from Holy Burek
- Enjoy a performance by the Dubrovnik Philharmonic Orchestra