6 Top Things to Do in Dubrovnik: The Ultimate Day Guide

Last updated on May 4, 2024

To be perfectly honest, I was in two minds about visiting Dubrovnik for a very long time. On the one hand, I’d seen pictures of this stunning walled city and spoken with people who’d been before, and I knew I had to see it for myself. But on the other hand, I’d heard stories of it being overrun by tourists, with its narrow streets and historic buildings packed to the brim, as well as it being ridiculously expensive to take advantage of the cruise ship travellers arriving daily in the port.

It was a classic case of beauty vs. tourism. So, during our recent 3-week Balkan trip, we decided to add a day in Dubrovnik to our itinerary to see if this was a place I wanted to explore further on another occasion. If you’re also contemplating a visit, let me share the 6 top things we did in Dubrovnik before presenting my final verdict – will I be returning to Dubrovnik in the future, or was it a one-off thing…? Let’s dive in!

Bellevue Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik City Walls seen from the Lovrijenac Fortress

1. See the Dubrovnik city walls

At €35 per person, Dubrovnik’s main attraction is definitely on the pricier side, but climbing the city walls is an absolute must. As these defensive stone walls surround the entire Old Town area, it’s a great way to see panoramic views of the city and the sea beyond if you’re short on time. It also offers a glimpse into Dubrovnik’s past, when these exact walls protected the city from invaders.

Dubrovnik City Walls seen from the Lovrijenac Fortress
Dubrovnik City Walls

For those still apprehensive about the price, the good thing is that each ticket includes entry to the Lovrijenac Fortress too. However, you need to make sure you’re buying them from the official Dubrovnik City Walls website. When you type it into Google, there’s another well-positioned website claiming to be the official one, but it’s actually not.

Or, if you want to do even more sightseeing, it works out better to get a Dubrovnik Pass instead. A daily pass costs €35 too, but you get entry to several other museums and free public transport as well!

The walls themselves stretch for almost 2 km, so you should plan to walk for at least 1-2 hours. I say “at least”, as you need to allow yourself time to take plenty of breaks and soak in the views. Seeing the red roofs of Dubrovnik’s buildings stretching out to the horizon, while the azure waters of the Adriatic shimmer in the distance, genuinely feels like walking through a postcard.

Dubrovnik Old Town seen from the top of the city walls
Dubrovnik Old Town seen from the top of the city walls
Dubrovnik Old Town and Lokrum Island seen from the top of the city walls
Dubrovnik Old Town seen from the top of the city walls
Smiling brunette leaning against the Dubrovnik City Walls with Dubrovnik Old Town in the background
Dubrovnik Old Town seen from the top of the city walls

Also, we started our walk early in the morning, but the heat was already unbearable that day. If you want to cool off, there’s a little café on the city walls. As you might expect, it’s not exactly the cheapest, but I’d highly recommend their refreshing fresh juices!

People walking along the Dubrovnik City Walls
The old port of Dubrovnik - old city harbour in Dubrovnik, Croatia

2. Do the walk of shame on the Jesuit Staircase

Another thing that the city of Dubrovnik is famous for is being the filming location for Game of Thrones. As for me, well, not much has changed since my trip to Malta 6 years ago. I still haven’t seen a single episode, but I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos for my GoT-loving friends where the famous “Walk of shame” scene was filmed.

After a few failed attempts at trying to get a shot without people photobombing me, I gave up and decided to embrace the reality of visiting Dubrovnik. We went in the shoulder season, so I can only imagine how busy Dubrovnik actually gets in the summer, with numerous cruise ships docking in the city on a daily basis. The good thing about Dubrovnik, though, is that unlike Kotor, the port is located further away from the centre.

If you’re looking for souvenirs for your loved ones, yet another reason to come here is the amazing shop I came across right under the Jesuit Stairs. The lady who runs it hand paints everything herself. As I like to buy unique postcards from around the world, this was the perfect addition to my collection!

And, if you’re a GoT fan yourself, there’s one touristy pitfall to avoid. You can find the original throne, which was a gift from HBO to the City of Dubrovnik, on Lokrum Island. However, we saw a place in the Old Town area that claimed to have it and charged €10 or €15 for a single photo – absolute madness!

3. Up your caffeine dose at Cogito Coffee

In touristy places like Dubrovnik, finding genuinely good coffee spots can sometimes be a struggle. But don’t worry – that’s why I did all the hard work for you 😉 Cogito Coffee is a sister branch of the Zagreb-based specialty coffee roastery. Tucked away in an arched passageway in a quieter part of the Old Town, it’s the perfect place to escape the heat, as well as the hustle and bustle of the city.

The only problem is that there aren’t many places to sit down, so you might have to take your coffee to go. They have another location close to the Ploče Gate, which looks much bigger judging by the photos, but it closed around 1 pm on the day we were in Dubrovnik.

Thankfully, we lucked out and found a cosy spot by the window to sit and enjoy your espresso tonics. The only thing that could (literally) make our experience even sweeter would be if they had a wider variety of desserts to choose from, but you can’t have everything 😉

Donation box for cats in Dubrovnik Old Town
The donation box right outside Cogito Coffee. Of course we had to contribute to the cause that’s so close to our hearts!

4. Play the Curious Card game

When we were on the Dubrovnik city walls, we noticed a small box that said “Play the game!”. We weren’t sure whether if it was legitimate or yet another touristy scam, so we walked right past it. However, when we saw it again on the windowsill at Cogito Coffee, we decided to give it a try this time.

How it works is you make a donation of your choice, pick one card from the box, and get ready to discover some of Dubrovnik’s gems. Each card contains a small challenge. If you complete it and post photographic proof to your Instagram story, tagging the company, you’ll get a fun fact about the place and a prize sent to your inbox.

Mine was to find a staircase in one of Dubrovnik’s side streets. As a reward, I won a ticket to Dubrovnik’s Love Stories Museum. It’s a shame we didn’t have enough time to go, but I personally thought it was a brilliant initiative, especially for those who don’t have a specific plan in place for their trip to Dubrovnik!

Woman in a black and white dress sitting on the stairs on Božidarevićeva street in Dubrovnik Old Town

5. See the city from the Lovrijenac Fortress

In the afternoon, we decided to take advantage of our free entry to the St. Lawrence (Lovrijenac) Fortress. Often called “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”, it’s a symbol of the city’s resistance. In the early 11th century, Venetians wanted to build their own fortress in this exact spot, but the citizens of Dubrovnik beat them to it, asserting their dominance.

Lovrijenac Fortress seen from the top of the Dubrovnik City Walls

Aside from being a military fortress, It’s been the site of many cultural events over the years, including performances within the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. If you’re a GoT fan, you may also recognise Lovrijenac as the filming location for the Red Keep in King’s Landing.

When we visited, they were in the middle of setting up for a wedding, so we didn’t stay very long. A reception right at the top of the fortress must be absolutely spectacular, especially at sunset, with the stunning views of the sea and the city below!

Brunette in a black and white high-low dress sitting on the ledge of the Lovrijenac Fortress in Dubrovnik, Croatia

And, as we came 4 months before Croatia officially joined the Eurozone, it was our last chance to have this little photoshoot on our way down:

Woman holding up a 50 kuna banknote with Dubrovnik Old Town on it against a backdrop of Dubrovnik Old Town

6. Have dinner at Marangun Food & Bar Room

From the moment we knew we’d be visiting Croatia again, I’d been reminiscing about the amazing black risotto I had in Bol the year before. So, the natural course of action was to try and find a nice restaurant in Dubrovnik and hope it’d be just as good.

We were considering Moby Dick or Mama’s Pot Tavern before eventually deciding to make a booking at Marangun Food & Bar Room. As we walked past it, what caught our eye was the outdoor terrace overlooking the sea. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get a table there, but it didn’t take away from our dining experience at all.

It turned out they had a live music performance that evening, and we ended up sitting right across from the musicians. As for the food, we chose their tuna tartare for the starter, and black cuttlefish risotto for the main. Everything was absolutely exquisite and we were pleasantly surprised with the portion sizes. A lot of fine dining restaurants serve really tiny portions, so we definitely did not expect to get a massive plate or risotto each.

What also intrigued me as I flicked through the menu was a cocktail mysteriously named Elephant-friendly Gin & Tonic. I thought it may have been just word play on the Elephant Gin… so imagine my amusement when my drink came with a cinnamon stick placed to look like an elephant trunk! I absolutely love little touches like this, and I genuinely could not have enjoyed that experience more.

The restaurant is slightly further away from the centre, but you won’t regret making a detour. If we hadn’t been so full, we would’ve also gone to the nearby Fratellos Prosecco Bar for a nightcap, as the views from it looked absolutely incredible!

So… What’s the verdict?

Will I be returning to Dubrovnik? I think so. But can it be done on a tight budget? Probably not. Even though we stayed 30 minutes away from the centre and got breakfast from a nearby bakery instead of going out to eat, all the expenses still add up and can hit your bank account hard if you’re not careful. So, if I wanted to have a relaxing holiday without worrying about the expenses, I’d probably choose one of the Croatian islands instead. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my Bol travel guide!

Traditional stone house with wooden window shutters in Dubrovnik, Croatia

That said, I’d love to explore more of Croatia in the coming years and don’t rule out coming back to Dubrovnik for a couple of days, as there are a few more places in the city I’d love to see. Watch this space! 🙂

Would you consider coming to Dubrovnik, or would you prefer to visit other Croatian cities? Did your opinion change after reading this guide?

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