Dubrovnik delivers. It is everything you want it to be: cobblestone streets, bright blue waters, and charm around every corner.
It is also insanely hot, ridiculously crowded, and fairly pricey. We will give you a few tips to avoid the searing heat, the hordes of tourists, and the wallet drain to fully enjoy this enchanting city.
The Old Town is fully encircled by a gorgeous wall built in the 15th century. According to some guide books, you haven’t visited Dubrovnik if you haven’t walked the walls. Initially we disagreed with this assertion and had no intention of doing the walls. Then, on our third day here, T woke up, saw the flags waving (a breeze!) and since it was a no-cruise ship day, decided we’d better check out the walls before advising our readers not to. It seemed only fair.
Verdict: The Walls Are Worth It!
What can we say? We were wrong! If you have the budget and don’t mind the sun and some stairs, we highly recommend walking the walls of Dubrovnik. Ideally, get in line for tickets at 7:50 inside Pile Gate.
Walking the Wall
With an ocean breeze and places to catch bits of shade here and there, the wall was not nearly as hot or strenuous as we thought it was going to be! That said, it did get quite hot as the sun rose higher in the sky. It took us an hour and a half to complete the entire wall. Not bad at all considering E was sick with a cold that made breathing a challenge. We also stopped for ice cream to soothe her sore throat (15 kuna per scoop or 2 scoops for 25). And T explored all the towers and took way too many photos.
By the end, we were sweaty and ready to enjoy our air conditioned hotel.
No Time or Money for the Wall? Get the Views… without Paying the Price
If the 200 kuna (~30 USD) admission price isn’t in your budget, there are alternatives.
While nothing beats the views from the wall, there are other ways to overlook the Old Town. We recommend two walks to avoid heat, crowds, and cost. You’ll not only avoid the lines and droves of tourists but also feel like you’re discovering this beautiful city for yourself.
Walk #1: View of the Old Town
Exit the Old Town from Pile Gate, turn right, and walk uphill (with the outside of the wall on your right) until you come to Buža Gate (the North City Entrance). Enter the gate and turn right. Continue walking along the inside of the wall until you come to a dead end. Instead of heading down the stairs, go into the small doorway leading to the basketball courts. This is one of the best free and uncrowded views in town. Head over to the edge and find the spot where the chain link fence has been cut for wire-free pictures of the roofs of the city.
Directions in Images
Walk #2: View of the Adriatic Sea and City Wall from Gradac Park
Exit Pile Gate and walk straight uphill keeping the Hilton Imperial Hotel on your right hand side.
In a minute or two you will see Restaurant Sesame. Turn left as if going to the restaurant and continue walking straight past it. Walk up until you reach the first viewpoint on the left for gorgeous views of the clear waters and the city wall. Afterwards, continue on in the direction of the Adriatic Sea. There are other paths off to the right if you want to explore a bit more.
Fort Lovrijenac Walk
This impressive fortress is included in the price of the city wall. You can even go a day or two after you walk the wall. If you are on a budget, you can simply walk up to the entrance in about 5 minutes and get decent views of Dubrovnik without paying a dime. Yes, the best views are from within the fortress, but there are still really good views from just outside the ticket area.
E’s cold got pretty bad, so I ventured off on my own to the fortress. I was shocked at how easy it was to get to! I expected more stairs and a more difficult climb up. From the Hilton Imperial, I was there in 5 minutes! It was a lovely walk with great views. Also, if you are in need of a bathroom, theirs is free!
Another great thing about visiting Fort Lovrijenac is that when you walk down, you can easily find access to a swimming area and cafe. Both can also be accessed just past Restaurant Sesame. Instead of walking up to Gradac Park, take the first left once you hit the road. Follow it down and around to the sea. If you walk up to the fort from this direction, you’ll pass this adorable house.
Wander and Enjoy!
Whenever we travel, our favorite thing to do is just wander. Dubrovnik is perfect for this because it’s compact but interesting. You really can’t get lost because you’re in an enclosed space! So go out early, turn this way or that, climb up and down, and soak in the charm from this centuries old city. Cats will greet you in unexpected places. (For the record, I’m terrified of cats, and I’m always sure they’re out to get me, but the cats here seem quite docile.) Doors will make you wonder who has come and gone. And the architecture will wow you. You will love Dubrovnik… especially if it’s before 7am or after 8pm.
Next: Dubrovnik: 5 Tips to Beat the Head and Crowds