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Dubrovnik

What's it really like?

Language: Croatian but English is widely used.

Currency: Kuna

Tipping: Many establishments automatically add 10% onto the bill

The fascinating walled city of Dubrovnik is a medieval maze of narrow streets and gothic buildings - the earliest dating back to the 10th century. Fountains and facades combine to create an enchanting scene.

The best way to soak up the sights of this world heritage site is by walking around the surrounding fortress wall which also offers superb views of the harbour and nearby countryside. The vantage-point is a photographer's paradise but can be difficult to reach because of the number of steps and steep sections along the high pathway.

Thousands of people visit the old town every day and many are day trippers straight off the cruise ships so be prepared for crowds. A few hours spent in Dubronik will barely scratch the surface so try to plan a longer visit or vow to come back. Returning in the evening for a meal and some late bargain hunting is also an option.


Old Dubrovnik is usually entered via a draw-bridge over the drained moat which leads onto the main street, called Placa. Much of the city is built on level ground, however there are lots of stepped alleyways (above) bursting with shops and cafes. It is a wonderful place to explore especially for history-buffs thanks to a raft of monuments and museums.

A monastery within the walled city houses one of Europe's oldest pharmacies and there are several other religious buildings and artifacts. The many eateries are best for pizza and pasta lovers thanks to the influence that Italy has had on Croatia. The selection of seafood dishes is also extensive.

The shops are stocked with the typical tourist in mind so expect lots of souvenirs and snow globes. Costume jewellery and embroidered goods are in plentiful supply, too. It is well worth exploring the tiny streets for more unusual items.

Cruise Ship Tip:

Old Dubrovnik is an ideal place for independent travellers to explore and is only a couple of miles from where most cruise ships anchor in Gruz harbour so you could save money by opting out of an official guided tour. Many ships offer shuttles into the old town but expect lots of crowds around the bus terminal for the pick up.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Cavtat (left) is a quaint yachting marina approximately 12 miles from Dubrovnik with a modest selection of shops and restaurants along the harbour. There are one or two hotels dotted around this peaceful retreat and a large hotel chain overlooking the bay and arguably spoiling the view across the bay. Boats act as small ferries to whisk people off to Dubrovnik town.

    Lokrum  is a tiny inhabited island visible from the main coastal road. Rumour has it Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked on this wooded retreat but there's no recorded proof. The island is accessible via a short boat journey and it home to the remains of an abandoned monastery. Naturists favour one of the secluded beaches.

Getting Around:

Buses or boats are the common mode of transport for short-stay visitors and they run regular services between Dubrovnik, Cavtat and the the main harbour at Gruz. 

Night Life:

The bars in Dubrovnik tend to be low-key and 'live' traditional music is what most visitors appreciate more as an accompaniment for a few drinks or a meal. There are a few pubs, Irish bars and local bars dotted throughout the streets of the old town.

Children:

Younger children may not appreciate the walking and the bustling streets of Old Dubrovnik but many will be fascinated by the fortress-style walkway and the fairytale feel to the walled city.

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