Dubrovnik, known as the Pearl of Adriatic, is one of the most popular destinations in Croatia, and there is no wonder why. Its well preserved old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, is a gorgeous place to explore. It might seem small, but it isn’t. So here’s the list of what to do in Dubrovnik old town.
Dubrovnik Old Town – 10 things to do
The Placa or Stradun
The inhabitants of old Dubrovnik used to enter the city through two main gates – Ploce and Pile with mobile wooden bridges. Thus, entering the city at night was prohibited. The eastern gate Pile takes you to the Stradun, the main street in old town. This 292-meter long lane brings you to the main square of the city to explore its landmarks:
- Onofrio Fountain. Located near the Pile Gate, the fountain is named after a 15th-century builder of the city’s water supply system.
- City Bell Tower. If you walk from the Pile Gate, the Bell Tower is at the end of the Stradun street. Erected in 1444, the tower is 31 meters high.
- Orlando’s Column stands in the center of the square portraying the image of the knight Orlando and is the symbol of statehood.
- The Sponza. A monumental Gothic Renaissance palace that used to be a customs office, the state mint, and treasury during the time of Dubrovnik Republic. Today, it shelters the most significant cultural organization – The Dubrovnik State Archives keeping many authentic documents about a thousand-year history of the Republic.
One of the places to visit in Dubrovnik is this little Friar’s Pharmacy. It’s considered to be one of the oldest in Europe in terms that it continues the service today.
Both the monastery and the pharmacy were founded in 1217 and houses one of the most valuable collections of literature on pharmacology and medicine. More than 2,000 prescriptions, furniture, and pharmacology equipment present here dates back to the 15th century. Besides, the museum also has precious manuscripts and chorales arts by unknown masters.
Fee: 60 Kuna = $9.45 = €7.95
This is the place where Dubrovnik’s Rector resided during his one month mandate. Besides, it was the administrative seat of the Dubrovnik Republic. Adorned with beautifully carved capitals, the exterior with round arches is quite fascinating to watch. Today, it houses a Cultural Historical Museum.
St. Blaise Church
This Baroque church dedicated to St. Blaise, the heavenly patron saint of the city. Built in 1715 on the place of an earlier Romanesque church devoted to the same saint, St. Blaise features the statue of the saint on top, while the interior is elaborately decorated with a gold-plated statue of him at the main altar.
St. Ignatius Church
The Cathedral existed in its present form since the beginning of the 18th century on the place of the earlier very imposing Romanesque cathedral. During the restoration work in 1981, the archeological research found traces of an even earlier Byzantine church dating back to the 6th century. The existence of such church was not documented in the archives.
Today, it exhibits a rich treasury of valuable silver and golden relics of saints. Additionally, the cathedral contains priceless paintings by old masters, such as Tizian’s Assumption of Our Lady.
Another thing to do in Dubrovnik is to visit its port where it’s trading ships sailed from different parts of the world. Today, authentic replicas of the galleon and karaka ships transport tourists to Elaphite islands and somewhat evoke the image of old glory.
Dominated by St. John’s fort, the port was defended from here against pirate and enemy attacks. At the eastern side of the entrance, there’s a quarantine building Lazaretto, built at the beginning of 17th century and is considered to be one of the best-kept buildings of its kind in the Mediterranean.
Anyone who wanted to enter the city was placed in the Lazaretto for several days to make sure they didn’t have any diseases to bring to the town.
Watch the Sunset
There are several spots to watch a sunset in Dubrovnik. If you plan on visiting the city walls, then make sure you are there during the sunset. However, do note that typically, those walls are very crowded with visitors.
However, if you are on a budget and don’t want to spend money on the city walls, go to the city port at Ploce Gate and sit near the bay. This might not be the best sunset viewpoint, but it still is a nice place to enjoy local wine, calm sea, and colorful sky!
City walls is an essential part of Dubrovnik sightseeing. 1940 meters long walls offer breathtaking views of the Old Town and the seaside.
Considered as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved fortification systems in Europe, the walls include three forts, 16 towers, six bastions, two corner fortifications, and two citadels.
From up here, you can admire the views of red rooftops with unique chimneys poping here and there, and most importantly, see the city center which looks like a big open oyster shell.
Fee: 150 Kuna = $23.55 = €19.86
Hidden pass to that iconic red rooftop view
However, if you don’t like to spend that amount to walk the city walls, I would a secret passway that gives you the glimpse of that iconic, red rooftop view. Once you step the Stradun street, each lane has a sign what you can find if you walk up there. Find a red textile sign that says Old Fountry 16th Century.
Walk all the way up until you see Gornji Ugao Tower. The place is now a basketball stadium with picturesque views over the city.
Even though there’s a fence and you can’t take proper pictures with your camera, you can still pop out your phone, snap it for your Instagram or simply enjoy the view!
Do note that it’s even more beautiful when you come up during the sunset.