UNESCO World Heritage Site Dubrovnik is a fascinating town and has many unique charms. While I would argue you cannot see the best of Dubrovnik without spending anything at all in the old town, where the architecture is both historic and intricately detailed, buildings can be works of art, window displays are a source of pride, and life is colourful. There are certainly still lots of opportunities to enjoy Dubrovnik when your budget is a bit tight. Here are the best free things to do in Dubrovnik.
Climb Mount Srd
Standing proud behind Dubrovnik’s city walls, 413m tall Mount Srd is a 90 mins climb, and rewards the energetic with spectacular views over the old town and beyond to Lokrum Island and over the sea. A memorial to the soldiers that fell defending Dubrovnik during the siege in 1991 stands at the top. (If you’re not up to the climb the cable car will take you to the top for 8 euros).
|View over Dubrovnik from Mount Srd, Croatia|
Have a swim at Banje Beach
A great little beach, and very close to Dubrovnik’s old town, Banje Beach is not only a convenient beach, it also offers a great view back to the walled city. The beach offers a café and restaurant facilities. Beach access is free, unless you go to the beach club area with loungers and DJs, which charges an entry fee.
|Stradun, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
Stroll on Stradun
Stradun is Dubrovnik old town’s main street, and it is an impressive one. Its 300 metre length of white limestone paving has been walked for centuries; it dates back to 1468. Tall buildings on either side house shops, galleries and cafes. It is a great spot for a bit of window-shopping.
|Shop window display, Stradun, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
People watch at Luza Square
Several impressive structures surround Luza Square. Sponza Palace is worth a close look to take in all the detail on the building face. St Blaise Church is dedicated to the patron saint of Dubrovnik and opens up onto the square. The steps are a great place to sit and take in all the action. The city belltower also stands over the square, and makes a great feature on the skyline. Events and festivals often take place on the square.
|Luza Square, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
Get lost in the old town
Dubrovnik is a unique destination that is a great place to walk around and take in the architecture, atmosphere and the spirit of the place. The old town is a labyrinth of narrow streets surrounded by tall buildings. As you walk around you’ll see buildings that are hundreds of years old, impressive churches, massive fountains, private gardens, and all the sights and sounds of life in Dubrovnik. What’s not to enjoy?
|Old Town streets, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
Admire fresh produce at Gundulic Square
Most days, Gundulic Square is a small square strewn with a few casual alfresco restaurant tables, but on weekend mornings it comes alive with a small market. You can buy ripe and juicy fresh fruit and vegetables, beautiful fresh flowers and unique local crafts, or you can just take a look. Traders hawk their wares under the watchful eye of the square’s namesake, 14th century statue of poet Ivan Gundulic.
|Fresh fruits at Gundulic Sqaure Market, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
Look for siege damage
On one of the city walls to the side of Ploce Gate there is a large plaque indicating which areas of Dubrovnik suffered damage during the 1991 siege. You won’t be able to see roof damage from street level, but you can see other indications of damage on walls and nearby streets, an uncomfortable reminder of what happened here (and more recent than is really comfortable to remember).
|Siege damage map, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
Visit cathedrals and churches
Dubrovnik features a lot of grand churches for its size. It even has a cathedral, a synagogue and two convents. The most impressive architecturally is the cathedral lurking beneath a glorious dome, and dating back to the 1600s, although the inside is fairly plain and only features paintings. The original was built in the 12th century but destroyed in the 1667 earthquake. The church of Saint Blaise, on Luzo Square, was built in the 1500s. The wrought iron gates surrounding the Serbian Orthodox Church seem a bit far-fetched until you see what is inside. Built in the 1800s, the church contains several impressive Byzantine and Cretan icons.
|Serbian Orthodox Church, Dubrovnik, Croatia|
Enjoy a sunset drink by the sea
There are a few access points through the city walls and onto the rocks on the seaside of the old town. Many people swim from the rocks during the day, but if you take a few drinks and nibbles later in the day, it’s a wonderful spot from which to watch the sun set over the Adriatic. There is also a bar on the outside of the city walls called Buza Bar if you prefer to sit at a table but, of course, you’ll have to purchase some drinks for the privilege.
|The swimming rocks on the seaside of Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia|
Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is a charming destination and, as you can see, one that can be enjoyed without breaking the bank.
If you're interested in what else Dubrovnik has to offer, check out my post Ten Best Things to do in Dubrovnik.
Are there any other free or inexpensive activities that you enjoy in Dubrovnik? If so, feel free to share them in the comments below.