The old town of Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean. Amidst the historic city walls, one beautiful building follows the next and numerous beaches invite you to take a swim.
The city of Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea in the very south of Croatia. The old town of Dubrovnik was built from the 7th century onwards and is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire Mediterranean region. Since 1979, the historic old town of Dubrovnik has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have also put Dubrovnik on our list of the 10 most beautiful cities in Croatia.
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PICTURES: Old Town of Dubrovnik
Photo Gallery: 20 Top Shots of Dubrovnik
World Cultural Heritage Dubrovnik - "Athens of Croatia
The city of 50,000 inhabitants has always had a remarkable density of artists, natural scientists, philosophers, poets and scholars. After the Croatian War of Independence in 1991, Dubrovnik increasingly developed into a tourist centre and popular holiday destination for high society.
The damage done to the historic buildings during the war has largely been repaired, and the culture that has grown over the centuries is still celebrated today with various music and theatre festivals. The historic city walls, the picturesque harbour, medieval churches and interesting museums combine with Renaissance and Baroque architecture to form an ensemble worth seeing. This is how Dubrovnik got the nickname "Athens of Croatia".
What is the best way to get to Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik has its own airport in Cilipi and can be easily reached by plane. A motorway leads from Zagreb to the "Pearl of the Adriatic". Dubrovnik is also a popular yacht harbour where ships up to 3m draft can moor. Smaller ships can drop anchor in the bay of Gornja Bocina.
Sights of Dubrovnik
The buildings and squares in Dubrovnik were built over many centuries and have Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque features. The charming little town is a veritable open-air museum, because in the evening, when the tourists have left, it becomes surprisingly quiet in Dubrovnik's winding alleyways.
Dubrovnik City Wall
Dubrovnik's historic city walls have defended the Croatian coastal city since the 7th century, and with complete success - Dubrovnik has not been invaded once in its entire history. Another reason why the picturesque old town of Dubrovnik is still so well preserved today and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The 2-kilometre-long and up to 25-metre-high city wall can be walked along in its entirety. An ideal tour around the historic centre of Dubrovnik! Within the time-honoured walls, gates, fortresses and towers, including the oldest defence tower in Europe, tell of past battles and guarantee wonderful panoramic views of the city!
Article: City walls of Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: City walls of Dubrovnik
Old Port of Dubrovnik
The port facilities of Dubrovnik were fortified just as well as the city centre. The Old Port on the Adriatic Sea is bursting with defensive fortifications from the 14th and 15th centuries.
The secluded pier invites you to take a walk in front of the unique flair of the old town, especially at sunset. Bars, restaurants, bobbing fishing boats and elegant sailing yachts offer the typical relaxed and cosy backdrop of a small Croatian harbour town.
Article: Old port of Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: Old Port of Dubrovnik
The southern end of the Old Port is marked by the Rector's Palace. This once housed the government of the Republic of Ragusa and is an impressive example of old town architecture. The Rector's Palace owes its mix of Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo styles to numerous restoration works.
The interior of the Rector's Palace is also worth seeing. Its historically valuable walls now house the Dubrovnik Museum of Cultural History.
Article: Rector's Palace in Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: Rector's Palace in Dubrovnik
Right next to the Rector' s Palace sits the magnificent Dubrovnik Cathedral. The original construction of the cathedral allegedly goes back to a generous donation by the English King Richard the Lionheart, who was able to save himself on the island of Lokrum after a shipwreck in the 13th century, thus showing his gratitude to Dubrovnik.
Recommended accommodation in Dubrovnik
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The monumental church is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and houses the most valuable church treasure in the Adriatic. The precious paintings, including an altarpiece by the famous Venetian painter Titian, and the gem-studded relics, which date back to the 11th century, are of unimaginable value. Among other things, the hand, foot and skull of St. Blasius, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, rest here.
Article: Dubrovnik Cathedral
Photo gallery: Dubrovnik Cathedral
Sveti Vlaho Church
The patron saint of the city naturally also has his own church in Dubrovnik. The Church of St. Blasius is located one alley behind the Old Port and north of the cathedral. Needless to say, the Venetian-Baroque church is one of the largest churches in the city. Above the entrance portal and over the main altar, a statue of the patron saint looks down on visitors.
The baroque Sveti Vlaho church is the centre of the festivities in honour of St. Blasius every year on 3 February. The processions and parades, centred on Dubrovnik's patron saint, all start and end in front of the simple main portal with its sweeping flight of steps.
Article: Church of Sveti Vlaho (St. Blasius) in Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: Baroque Church of Sveti Vlaho in Dubrovnik
If you continue along the road, you will reach the Sponza Palace, which can also be reached from the Old Port via the East Gate. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the old town of Dubrovnik and once served as a customs office. Today it houses the municipal archives with documents that are up to a thousand years old.
In front of the Sponza Palace sits the old bell tower that used to call for the Ragusa Republic Council meeting and ring the alarm in case of fire or other danger.
One of the few buildings in historic Dubrovnik to survive the devastating earthquake of 1667, the richly decorated palace still impresses with its architecture typical of the time. Also worth seeing is the charming inner courtyard, which is accessible with free admission.
Article: Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik
At the corner between St. Blasius Church and Sponza Palace, Stradun stretches westwards. The 300-metre-long pedestrian zone between the Ploče Gate to the east and the Pile Gate to the west is fondly referred to as the main street of Dubrovnik's Old Town. It was laid out in the 11th century and was secured by two drawbridges at that time.
The promenade is the widest and most beautiful street in Dubrovnik and worth a visit, especially in the evening. In addition to the numerous shops and restaurants, the 31m high Onofrio Fountain on Stradun is worth seeing. It was built in 1444 and named after the architect of the Dubrovnik aqueduct.
West of Dubrovnik's old town, the Lovrijenac Fortress, from which the Pile Gate in the west was defended, is enthroned. From its 37-metre-high rock, there is a fantastic view over the red sea of Dubrovnik's roofs and the deep blue Adriatic Sea. In front of the magnificent backdrop, summer festivals are now held with Shakespeare as the focus.
The fortress dates back to the 14th century and is still considered a symbol of freedom today, because - thanks also to the monumental city wall - Dubrovnik never fell into enemy hands. The inscription above the entrance gate proclaims: "Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro" - "Freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world!
Brdo Srg (Sergius Mountain)
The picturesque old town from above can be seen from Sergius Hill. The magnificent panorama from Dubrovnik's local mountain is simply not to be missed! The houses within the city walls are grouped like toys against the royal blue background of the sea.
The ascent to Brdo Srg is not even strenuous: the comfortable cable car ride takes about three minutes. Alternatively, the viewpoint can be reached by car or by a one-and-a-half-hour hike from the old town.
Besides the unforgettable view, the war museum on Brdo Srd is also worth seeing. Located in a ruined fortress, it tells the story of the Yugoslav war in the early 1990s.
Article: Brdo Srg (Sergius Mountain) in Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: Brdo Srg (Sergius Mountain) in Dubrovnik
From Sergius Hill, it is not only the Old Town island that stands out - diagonally to the left is another one: the island of Lokrum. It is said that Richard the Lionheart was particularly pleased to see it in the 13th century. He was stranded here after his ship sank.
The Habsburgs also felt at home here. Archduke Maximilian Ferdinand, later King of Mexico, liked it so much on Lokrum that he bought the entire island without further ado.
Those who beach themselves on the island of Lokrum today will find a small green paradise. Rocky bathing beaches lie at the edge of dense pine forests, hiking trails scented with magnolias lead through palm and olive groves, and historical sights are hidden under laurel trees and cypresses, such as the Benedictine monastery with restaurant, the Archduke's Botanical Garden or the star-shaped Fort Royal.
PICTURES: The Top 10 Sights of Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: The top 10 sights of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik age records
Within the city walls of Dubrovnik lies a mix of historical buildings from all periods of the city's history that is well worth seeing. The oldest pharmacy in Europe dates back to 1317. It can still be visited today in the Franciscan monastery. Dubrovnik's theatre is also one of the oldest in Europe and is still used for performances.
The hospitals on the offshore island of Lopud and in the suburb of Ploče date back to the 14th century. Back then, from 1377, travellers had to spend 40 days in quarantine there for the first time in Europe, so that they did not bring the plague into the city.
Last but not least is the world's oldest arboretum in Dubrovnik, which was established in 1492 and contains trees from all over the world.
Beaches in Dubrovnik
If you've had enough of architecture and culture, take the time to enjoy a relaxing day by the sea on Dubrovnik's picturesque beaches! The rich and beautiful meet to sunbathe and sip cocktails on Bonje beach, while young families are recommended to visit the fine-sand Lapad beach with its playground and snack bars.
Buza beach is located directly on the city walls of Dubrovnik and is ideal for business people who want to enjoy a quick dip in the cool water or a cup of coffee by the sea after work.
Dubrovnik's Copacabana is blessed with lots of sun and numerous sports opportunities. However, one area of the beach is only accessible to guests of the Hotel Babin Kuk.
On the beach Sv. Jakov, the local population of Dubrovnik can be found. Sun loungers and parasols can be used for a fee, the fantastic view of the old town is free. If you are lucky, you will be taken on a small tour of the bay in a private boat.
Tip for bathing holidaymakers in Croatia: More information about Croatia's most beautiful beaches here!