How to spend a day Dubrovnik: The Pearl of the Adriatic

Mar 18, 2019 | 15 mins read

Dubrovnik was found in the 7th century under the name of Ragusa or Rausa. Back in the days, it was populated by Roman refugees trying to escape the advancing barbarians from the north.

Soon after the fall of the Roman Empire, Dubrovnik quickly came under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. Then, only couple of years later , Dubrovnik was under  the sovereignty of the Venetian Republic. In the end, Dubrovnik became a free city with its own laws, institutions and fleet.

It’s important to note that Dubrovnik was a city ruled entirely by aristocrats who highly valued liberty. Likewise, they were exceptionally knowledgeable sailors and merchants, and established strong trade connections with other countries in the Mediterranean. As a result, Dubrovnik became one of the wealthiest and most developed cities in the Middle Ages by the end of the 15th  century.

Fascinating facts about Dubrovnik

There are couple of not so well-known facts about the ancient city of Dubrovnik…

Can you guess where the first pharmacy was found?! Right in the beginning of the city in 1317 and for my and your surprise it still does operate. 

Have you heard of Dubrovnik’s  quarantine hospital?!  It was established to protect the common man from diseases coming abroad by keeping all merchants, sailors, and goods arriving into the city from “suspicious lands”  for one month. 

Simply because the republic of Dubrovnik was way ahead of its time it found its own orphanage and almshouse  in 1347 where money or services were donated to support the poor and indigent. I

Then, in 1418 slave trade was abolished in the Republic of Dubrovnik and it proved itself  to be a HEAVEN OF A MEDIEVAL REPUBLIC!

The notable walls of Dubrovnik

Build between the 14th & 17th century, the walls of Dubrovnik were a source of pride for the republic and the reason for calling Dubrovnik “The Pearl of the Adriatic”. The old city of Dubrovnik is almost entirely surrounded with walls. They are running for almost 2 kilometers in lenght and reaching a maximum height of 25 meters. 

The walls were built  with the sole purpose to protect the city from foreign invaders and attacks on the city. Today they remain one of the main attractions of the Old Town of Dubrovnik and are part of the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.

While touring the city walls you will notice that there are fortifications standing at each corner of the walls. The round Fort Minčeta was used to protect the north part of the city and has one of the best views over the old town. Fort Bokar and Fort Lawrence are set on the west part and look out to sea. Whilst Fort Revelin and Fort St John guard the eastern side, so you can take a look at the Old Harbour.

I found the walk of the city walls to be a quite memorable experience, especially when it is not too crowded or hot. I would suggest you to go and visit it early in the morning or in the afternoon. A walk of the city walls takes around 2 hours and is full of magnificent views.  So, go at your own pace and let yourself enjoy every bit of it

The Old Town of Dubrovnik

The Old town of Dubrovnik will most likely bring you back in time. It will make you feel like you are living in your very own GOT movie series. It is  a very well-preserved  town and hasn’t changed a lot since medieval times.

To visit the old town you have to enter through the Pile gate. It is the most used one by tourists and will bring you right into the old town. There is the Big Onofrio’s fountain, which was and is still used to supply the city with fresh water.

On the left side,  you can find the Franciscan Monastery. It is a monastery built in the 14th century and houses the oldest pharmacy in Europe. There you can find some valuable paintings, a music archive, an old library and various art works in gold and silver.

Then, you can continue walking straight through the Stradun street, which is also the main street in the city. It’s a beautifully limestone-paved street full with cafes, restaurants and all sorts of shops. If you decide to experience the true vibes of Dubrovnik turn left or right on any street that you find interesting. Only then, you will end up in a whole new world. Whether it  will be a street with infinite stairs or a street full of lively cafes, you will  for sure love it.

The Hearth of Dubrovnik

f you keep straight on the Stradun street, you will find yourself right into the city’s square. There you can visit the Church of St. Blaise, which is built in Baroque style and is also considered to be one of the main attractions in the city, besides the walls.

Right in front of St. Blaise’s Church is the Sponza Palace, a building built in Gothic and Renaissance style. a commercial center before, today it houses the archives of Dubrovnik (some of them dating back to the 10th century).     

Next to the Sponza Palace is the City’s Clock tower  an elegant thirty meters high tower built in the 15th century. If you would like to enjoy the tunes of the tower’s chiming bells, visit it any day at noon.

Going straight under the arch next to the city tower, you will find yourself immediately at the old port of the city. Frоm there you can catch a boat and go to the Island of Locrum. The ride takes around 15 minutes to the Natural Reserve of the island. Locrum is famous for its abundance of exotic plants, lush greenery and a little museum devoted to the filming of Game of Thrones in Croatia (you can find the Iron Throne there and sit on it).

Working hours and pricing of the main sights in Dubrovnik

Franciscan monastery (Old pharmacy museum)
City Walls
Boat trip + Nature Reserve ticket

Best time to visit Dubrovnik

I am pretty sure that most of you are planning their vacations during the summer months. But why don’t you reconsider this and pick another month that might offer you equally good weather, lower prices and less crowds? That is exactly the case of Dubrovnik – summer months in the city are overwhelmingly full of people and highly overpriced.

Thus, the best time to visit the city is in the months of April, May, June, September and October – prices are lower, crowds are less and it is not that hot during these months.

How to get to Dubrovnik?

Travelling to Dubrovnik can be done by almost all means of transportation, whether it be airplane, bus, car or cruise ship, there are plenty of options for you to pick from.

If you decide on going by plane, make sure to buy your tickets months ahead to avoid overpricing. Also, bear in mind that the airport of Dubrovnik is 20km away from the city. So you might consider catching a bus (40 kuna per person) or getting a taxi.

Catching a bus to Dubrovnik from anywhere in Croatia is also an option and might be a lot cheaper. You may consider bus companies like Croatia bus, Autotrans and even Flixbus (my personal favourite).

Driving through Croatia can be a lot of fun and not to mention the beautiful views that will come up. You can reach Dubrovnik by driving through the coastal road E65, which for sure promises you breathtaking views. 

Last but not least, you can visit Dubrovnik by a cruise ship. There are numerous of companies that offer a visit to the old time of Dubrovnik, but you will have to book ahead of time.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik?

When it comes to places to stay, Dubrovnik offers a good variety  like hotels, hostels, guesthouses, vacation rentals and even campsites.

Hotels in Dubrovnik can be quite expensive, especially during the high season. If you are a person that does not mind spending a little more on accommodation you can go by booking a hotel. One of the best hotels in town is the Boutique Hotel Stari Grad. It offers a magnificent view over the old town, which I think is a pretty good reason to book it.

Another option for your stay is by booking an apartment, which in most cases has a fully equipped kitchen that can save you some cash. I would suggest on booking with either Airbnb or Bear in mind that prices may vary, depending on your choice and preferences (in the summer prices are 20-30 euro higher).

Camping in Dubrovnik might sound quite unbelievable, but is also an option. In case that you are a nature lover you can go camping at Solitudo Camping in Dubrovnik. Only 15-20 minutes ride from the old town it offers the perfect mix of serenity for your vacation after a long day of walking in the city. 

Tips & Tricks

Buying souvenirs
Buying ice cream
Check the cruise ships

Buying souvenirs can be an expensive ritual of mine, but I just can not help myself not do it. What I found here is that you should avoid buying at the Stradun street. Instead, check for souvenirs in the little secluded streets. Prices  there may range around 2-4 euro per piece or even give you 5 for 10 euro, which is a good deal.

Who doesn’t love ice cream?! I don’t know such a person. In Dubrovnik you can find almost everywhere shops selling ice cream and sweets. The thing here is – always look close at the ice cream. They are selling gelato like ice cream, so it should not have ice pieces or crystals in it.The gelato looks more like cream, so check for that.

Yes, I would advise you to do that. When a cruise ship has just moored, the city can get quite crowded and overwhelming and especially in summer, that would not be nice. You can check this here.

"Those who are looking for paradise on Earth, should come and visit Dubrovnik."

George Bernard Shaw

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