Dubrovnik is a beautiful city in Croatia sprawled along the Adriatic coast. Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, the city is famous for its medieval Old Town packed with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style churches, towers, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Many of these top attractions are free to visit, ideal for travelers on a budget.
Though a vacation in Dubrovnik can be a little hard on your wallet, getting the Dubrovnik card can save you up to 50% of many top attractions in the city. This includes entries to landmarks like the Dubrovnik City Walls and a dozen of museums. And don't forget the beaches. Being the Pearl of the Adriatic, you can hop from one island to another, or enjoy the local beaches without having to spend a dime.
But before you set yourself on a journey of a lifetime, don't forget to drop off your belongings first. Find a safe luggage storage facility in Dubrovnik, and make your stay more pleasant. Without further ado, here are the top free things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik Old Town
Dubrovnik's Old Town is the highlight of the city. Luckily, the entire Old Town is free to explore unless you book a guided tour. Many travelers on a budget choose to take their time exploring on their own. In the Old Town, you will find most top attractions like the Franciscan Monastery, Luža Square, Gundulic Square, Onofrio's Fountain, Orlando's Column, Rector's Palace and many others.
Take a stroll down Stradun, the main street in the Old Town. Paved with limestone, Stradun street is lined with shops, coffee bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors and ice cream shops on both sides. It runs 300 meters through the Old Town, so there is plenty to see, day and night. Though the street was built in 1468, the surrounding houses were built in the 17th century, and all boast a beautiful baroque style. But if you are an adventurer, wander around the narrow side streets and alleys, you'll be surprised by their charm.
Walls of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik's old city walls are the top landmark of the city and a must-do on your stay in the Dubrovnik. Although not free, it is definitely worth visiting the city walls as it is an excellent opportunity to view the Old Town from above and enjoy spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea. The city walls were being built from the 7th to the 17the century to defend the city from naval attacks.
Walking the old city walls is unlike any other experience. From charming stone houses to breathtaking views, this 2 km long walk will fill your lungs and lift your spirits for the rest of the day.
Museums in Dubrovnik are plenty, just enough to keep everyone entertained, however, most charge an entry fee. This is where the Dubrovnik card comes in handy. Depending on the length of your stay in Dubrovnik, you can buy 3 types of cards: 1-Day, 3-Day, or a 7-Day pass.
The Dubrovnik Card allows you to see most museums in Dubrovnik and save up to 50 percent. Once you get the Dubrovnik Card you get free entry to 10 cultural-historical monuments, 9 top attractions of Dubrovnik, and 1 gallery in Cavtat. Some of them museums worth the visit are: Maritime museum, the Homeland War Museum, the Cultural Historical Museum housed in Rector's Palace, Natural History Museum and the Franciscan Monastery Museum, along with many others.
Dubrovnik Cathedral and Treasury
The Dubrovnik Cathedral or The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is free to enter any day of the week except during the mass. Located in the Old Town, this old basilica has been a place of worship for three centuries. It is highly recommended for anyone who likes art, architecture and history. Though small, it is the biggest church in the Old Town.
The Dubrovnik cathedral is built in Baroque style and features a grand Baroque dome on the inside. You will also find many beautiful paintings adorning the inside walls. Explore the 16th-century polyptych of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, displayed above the main altar. On the outside of the cathedral, there are four Corinthian columns and the statues of Dubrovnik's patron Saint Blaise, and Joseph with Child. If you have the time, the Cathedral Treasury is just right there and features over 200 priceless holy relics centuries old.
Dubrovnik offers a number of centuries-old churches. A lot of these historical churches can be found in the Old Town, and most have free admission. So whether you're religious, spiritually inclined or a history and architecture buff, you will love church hopping in Dubrovnik. There is a self-guided walking tour you can download on the GPSmyCity App which covers most of the churches.
Start with the gothic building built in 1500s that is known as the St. Saviour Church, then head down to the Franciscan Monastery dating back from 1317. Keep walking towards St. Ignatius church where Cersei from Game of Thrones did the infamous "Walk of Shame". Then stop by the 15th-century church of St Sebastian, home to a modern art gallery. Last but not least is the St. Blaise church of the city's patron saint, considered one of the most beautiful churches in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik Cable Car
Dubrovnik offers stunning views from almost everywhere, but nothing beats the beautiful panoramic views from Mount Srd, especially at sunset. On Mount Srd you will find the Homeland War Museum housed in an old Napoleonic fortress, souvenir shops, buggy tours, and a restaurant near the cable car station. You can get there by using the cable car, located a 10-minutes walk from Pile Gate.
The ride with the cable car is about 2 minutes long and a round-trip ticket costs about $25 for adults and about $9 for children aged 4 to 12. However, there is a trailhead to the summit if you prefer to walk up the hill which will take you about an hour.
A Day at The Beach
One of the best free things to do in Dubrovnik is exploring the picturesque bay boasting beautiful beaches. Besides its ancient history and stunning architecture, it is the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea that attract tourists each summer. Though it's hard to find sandy stretches, there are plenty of rugged beaches which are fun and family-friendly.
The closest beach to the Old Town is Banje Beach, and one of the most popular too. While admission is free, renting price of sunloungers and umbrellas is pretty high. However, the food prices are much less than the restaurants in the Old Town. Other free and popular beaches to check out include Bellevue Beach, Cava Beach, and Copacabana Beach.
This 14-century old fortress is the highest point of the medieval walls defending the city. It is part of the city walls and you can only enter for free if you are walking the walls of the Old Town. Being the highest point of Dubrovnik, it gives you a 360-degree vista, offering breathtaking views of the sea and the city.
The tower was built in 1319 and was named after the Menčetić family who owned the ground the tower was built. Game of Thrones fans may recognize it as the scene where Danaerys tried to enter the House of the Undying. Nonetheless, it makes for a great photo op spot, you should definitely try.
The historic Fort Lovrijenac was not only the set of the famous Red Keep from Game of Thrones but it is often referred to as "Dubrovnik's Gibraltar" due to its location. Overlooking the Adriatic Sea from a clifftop perch, the thousand years old fortress defended the city from sea-based attacks for centuries. It is free to admire this majestic fortification from the outside.
But you can also walk up and explore the inside and take beautiful panoramic photos. The walk up the fort is challenging but quite enjoyable. It is best to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Entry is included in the price of the city walls tour.
Dubrovnik has numerous islands that are becoming popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. One of the most beautiful islands is Lokrum, located just a 10-min ferry ride from Dubrovnik. Some ferries include entry to the island, but you may have to pay separately. A boat ride to Lokrum island will cost you around $6.
Take a day trip to Lokrum island to sit on the Iron Throne or explore the beautiful nature soaking in the sun. Cars are not permitted on the island, but there are plenty of hiking trails, beaches, museum exhibitions and Botanical Gardens that will keep you entertained. When you get hungry, sit in one of the few restaurants for Croatian specialties. You could easily spend half the day here.
Game of Thrones Filming Locations
Since 2012, Dubrovnik has seen a rise in tourists visits, the culprit being the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones. If you are a big Game of Thrones fan, then you know that the show's most pivotal scenes were shot in Dubrovnik. Though you can explore and find the filming locations on your own, it's best to get a guided tour.
Highlights of the tour include the Jesuit's Staircase where the infamous "walk of shame" scene was shot, the historic Fort Lovrijenac or the Red Keep, Old City Walls defending King's Landing, the Pile Gate or Blackwater Bay and the Minceta Tower known as the House of the Undying.
Located on Luza Square, at the entrance of the Old Town, is Onofrio’s fountain, one of Dubrovnik’s most popular landmarks. The circular fountain was built in 1438 and was originally adorned with sculptures that were damaged in the earthquake of 1667. The fountain was further damaged during the Homeland War when two grenades hit, leaving the fountain with only 16 carved masks out of which the water runs.
The large Onofrio fountain used to be the main source of water for many locals until the end of the 19th century. Today, the water of the fountain is still drinkable and makes for a great resting spot.
The 16th century Sponza Palace is one of the few buildings in the Old Town to survive the 1667 earthquake. It was once the trading hub of Dubrovnik, but in the 17th century became the literary Academia dei Concordi. Throughout the centuries the Palace has also served as a mint, an arsenal, customs house and a bank. Today the Sponza Palace is a cultural center and home to the Dubrovnik Archives, which hold thousands of documents.
Built in Gothic-Renaissance style, the palace is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs. While the palace is not free to enter, the memorial room is. It is located inside the entrance and displays a collection of photographs of all Dubrovnik defenders in the Croatian War of Independence.
Visting Dubrovnik for Free
Making your way to the city via the Dubrovnik Port or airport? Dubrovnik is fun for everyone, whether you are traveling alone or with the whole family. From beautiful beaches, museums, and impressive architecture to enchanting islands and medieval city walls, visiting Dubrovnik doesn't have to be hard on your wallet. There are so many things you can do and see for free.