10 Free Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
The sun beats down on Dubrovnik, Croatia’s most photographed city, all summer, sending temperatures sky-high, and bringing in warm breezes from the sea that surrounds it. It’s honestly one of the most culture and history-rich cities we’ve ever visited, and a paradise for anyone who loves to roam around old cities with stories seeping out of every marbled floor tile. But it is known for being pricey, especially within the old city walls. Don’t let that put you off visiting this stunning city though, because we’ve got 10 free things to do in Dubrovnik right here.
Appreciate Dubrovnik’s Architecture
…which isn’t hard to do given that it’s everywhere. Dubrovnik is a medieval city with Baroque-esque buildings and medieval infrastructures that wind through every city street you stumble across. You can almost transport yourself back in time walking along the flat tiled floors, with their ridges and grooves from hundreds of years of use. The buildings built so close to each other help give Dubrovnik an air of coziness that you don’t often feel in other cities. Walk through the old city walls early morning before the crowds descend, or wait until after dark and wander the streets guided by the the warm lights that eminate from every window for a romantic, relaxed feeling.
Visit the Game of Thrones Sets
Dubrovnik served as one big set for Game of Thrones, as many avid fans will already know.
Famous scenes, including Cersei’s walk of shame, Daenerys’s visit to Quarth, and Joffrey Lannister’s tournament were filmed in this fortress city, and it’s not hard to see why it was chosen.
If you want to get in touch with the filming locations (and perhaps shoot your own version of the scenes? Each to their own!), make sure you head to the Ethnographic Museum, the Spanish Steps, Fort Lovrijenac, and Minčeta Tower, which will all have you crying out in awe at their beauty.
Swim in the Agean Sea
If the weather gets a little too much, there’s always time to take a dip in the cool waters of the Agean Sea, which surrounds Dubrovnik. The water is the most intense aquamarine, and completely transparent, so you can simply dip your toes in as you sit on the edge of the harbour, head to one of the beaches that line the coast, or jump into one of the rocky pools that can be found if you walk the outer walls of the city. Make sure you’ve packed a towel, plenty of water, and some snacks to keep you full and hydrated as you spend some down time by the water, and take in the calmness rolling in from the sea.
Take a Day Trip to the Islands
Okay, so there’s a bit of a catch to this one, seeing as usually it costs a few Kuna to head out to the islands surrounding Dubrovnik. Green Sea Safari Tours are an NGO tour group that clean up some of the quieter areas of the city. You can volunteer your services for an houor or two, and in return, you’ll get to island hop on their boat and discover the glorious nature that surrounds Dubrovnik. Green Sea Safari rely on donations to keep their tours going, but they’re not obligatory, so you don’t have to pay anything. You do get to feel good about the positive impact you’ve had on the area, and enjoy the benefits of a private boating trip, without all the other tourists in the city getting in your way though. That seems like a win-win to us.
Head to Gradac Park
If swimming isn’t your thing, but you fancy stepping out of the beating sun for an hour or two, head to Gradac Park, which sits 200 meters above Dubrovnik city walls. That makes it the perfect place to take stock of the city from above, and admire its beauty from afar. You’ll be able to take in the blue of the sea, the orange of the roof tiles, and the white of the walls that make Dubrovnik such a stand out city. Wander through the park, take a picnic and some drinks, and sit in the shade of the looming pines that give solace to birds, animals and tourists who fancy ducking out of the sun. Enjoy the peace of the breeze and quiet between the trees, and wander the park to discover its serene water feature that’s hidden within it.
Wander Through the Old City Walls
Dubrovnik’s old town is one of the most expensive spots in the city, so a little bit of window shopping might be preferable here, but walking through the old city walls is a must-do on your trip to this medieval city. Not only will you discover alleyways and passageways that lead through neighbourhoods built within the city walls, but you’ll be able to spot hidden things strewn around the city. Even when the main streets inside the walls are brimming with tourists (which is often – Dubrovnik is a haven for tourists, especially those arriving on cruise ship!), the back streets are calm, quiet, and peaceful, with all of the architecture and plenty of locals going about their day-to-day lives. You may even find a quaint restaurant with a picturesque view – who knows the secrets these back streets hold?
Hike up Mount Srđ
Looking for a thigh burning climb that’ll keep you in shape and give you panoramic views of Dubrovnik from above? It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but climbing Mount Srđ is a fantastic way to take in the Croatian landscape and get your daily steps in. You can take a cable car to the top if the climb isn’t your thing, but that’ll cost you between 60 and 100 Kuna, and the queues can be lengthy. The climb itself takes around 90 minutes, with breathtaking views from the top that’ll make it alll worth it. Pack yourself plenty of water to keep hydrated on the climb, and sun protection is a must: you won’t find many trees to shade you from the burning sun.
Check out the City’s Churches
If there’s one thing Dubrovnik has, it’s a lot of churches. 13 in fact, and they’re all stunning in their own way. Whether you stumble across the hidden churches that look more like ruins (the Church of St Stephen), or popular churches that are still going strong today and take precedent in the center of the street (Saint Ignatius, the Church of Saint Blaise, and The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to name just a few) you’ll have plenty to photograph and stare at in awe. These buildings are beautiful. They’re all created in the old medieval style, and you can enter almost all of them and take a peek at what they have hidden inside. If you’re a fan of lofty ceilings, and that eerily beautiful air, you’ll have to check them out.
Head to the Market like a Local
There are two local markets that you should check out if you want to feel like less of a tourist and more like a Dubrovnik resident: Grad market, and Gruž market. You’ll find all the locals shopping for fresh, local produce that you can smell wafting through the streets before you even arrive. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, fish and meat, and even flowers are sold at both markets. Most stalls offer a try before you buy system, so if you fancy a taste of real Croatia, make sure you get your hands on some samples. Do make sure you arrive early enough to take in the scenes fully though – many market vendors shut up shop around 1pm, and you don’t want to miss out.
Take a Guided Tour Around the City
If you visit Dubrovnik during the winter months, the tourism board puts on free guided tours of the city. It’s a great way to keep moving and keep warm if you ask us! The tours are only available on a Saturday morning, so booking a spot is paramount, but we don’t expect you’ll have to worry about missing out on a ticket given that their main tourism season is of course summer. Take your tour around the old city, and be treated to a folklore dance performance when you wander through Luža Square, where you can see Croation folklore and traditions come to life before your very eyes with a stunning backdrop.