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The historic charms within the old walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia are captivating. Exploring the steep alleys and the Dubrovnik sights along the famous Stradun are a must when visiting the city. We created a free Dubrovnik Walking Tour that highlights the top things to see from Pile Gate to the Bell Tower (and a few sights outside the walls, too) to help other travelers discover the best of the city.
Free Walking Tour Dubrovnik
Our free walking tour of Dubrovnik features 19 of the best places to see in the city! The Dubrovnik sights on our list are located inside (or just outside) of the Old Town city walls. We include a brief introduction to each sight, a link to the location on Google Maps and step-by-step walking directions. At the end of the post, we feature a Dubrovnik Map of all the sights on our walking tour so that visitors can easily route their way from one sight to the next. We think this is the best self-guided tour of Dubrovnik! And, this post contains everything you need to know to tour Dubrovnik on your own.
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Before you set off on your Dubrovnik city tour, it helps to understand the history of the city. The city of Dubrovnik evolved from a maritime past, with different theories as to when the area was first inhabited. It is certain, however, that it thrived in the 14th and 15th centuries due to its merchant trade and natural resources. In 1667, a massive earthquake – followed by fires – damaged much of the city, but it was reconstructed in the architectural style we see today.
Protectors of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has long had two great protectors: The fortified Dubrovnik City Walls and it’s patron St. Blaise.
Walls of Dubrovnik
The preserved city walls were built between the 12th and 17th centuries. A total of 1.2 miles of continuous stone walls surround the city, with some sections as high as 82 feet.
Although the surrounding city walls confine the city, they are actually a symbol of freedom. Because of their protection, the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik’s former name) operated as a free state from 1358 until 1808. The city’s motto was: Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro, which roughly translates to Liberty is not sold for gold.
Find out more about the Dubrovnik Wall Walk – the city’s top attraction – and buy your ticket in advance!
Patron Saint Blaise (St. Vlaho)
St. Blaise has been said to protect the city since the year 971, when he appeared and warned a priest of an impending Venetian attack. The priest alerted the authorities, which resulted in securing – and thus, saving – the city. Statues of St. Blaise, depicted with a long beard carrying a staff in one hand and the city of Dubrovnik in the other, can be spotted throughout the city.
The city was likely founded in the 7th century under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. In the year 1205, however, the Venetian Republic took control of the city and region. In 1358, Ragusa gained independence and created alliances with foreign countries, allowing Ragusa many maritime liberties…and the small free state flourished.
However, the 1667 earthquake (which devastated the city), coupled with the Age of Discovery (lessening the importance of Mediterranean ports) marked the beginning of the Republic’s decline. In 1806, Ragusa fell to French rule and the Ragusa Republic was formally abolished in 1808. Then, in 1814, control of Dubrovnik was handed to the Habsburgs (which eventually became the Austro-Hungarian Empire).
After World War I, Dubrovnik became a part of Croatia…which became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes…which, in 1929, became a part of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, which resulted in a 4-year war. The Homeland War, as it’s referred to in Croatia, lasted from 1991 until 1995.
The Siege of Dubrovnik
During the Homeland War, Dubrovnik – already a UNESCO Heritage Site – came under attack. The Yugoslav People’s Army advanced on Dubrovnik, heavily bombing the Old Town. Croatian Forces, using the fort on Mount Srd, were able to defend the city. The aggressive bombardment of the historic city gained attention worldwide and prompted international reaction. During the siege, 194 Croatian troops and 88 civilians were killed. More than half of the buildings of the Old Town were destroyed or damaged.
After the war, the city was quickly rebuilt. The only physical traces left from the war are the shrapnel marks on a few buildings and the comparatively-new, bright-orange rooftops (as those were the ones that had to be replaced). City maps now hang at the gated entrances to the Old Town marking all of the places that bombs were dropped on Dubrovnik.
Sightseeing Dubrovnik Walking Tour FREE
Despite the various rulers, numerous conflicts and the most recent siege of cruise ship passengers, the appealing charm of the historic city has been retained and it only takes stepping inside the gates to feel it. Whether seeking out specific sights with our Dubrovnik free walking tour or just wandering the many narrow alleys, you will find beauty at every turn. However, you may want to check the Dubrovnik cruise ship schedule for the days of your visit here.
Start your Dubrovnik Old Town Walking Tour at the western entrance to the city: Pile Gate (MAP)
#1 Pile Gate
Pile Gate (which means Door in Greek) is the main entrance into the walled city – and the natural starting place for Dubrovnik sightseeing tours. The gate has two doors – and a statue of St. Blaise is prominently placed over both of them. The stone bridge that spans the deep trench was once a drawbridge that would be raised each night to keep invaders out.
Enter the Old Town through the gates and step onto the town’s busiest – and Croatia’s most famous – street, the Stradun (MAP)
Prior to the 13th century, the Stradun (sometimes called Placa) was marshland that divided Ragusa from the mainland. After it was filled in with white limestone, the street became the main thoroughfare in the Old Town. Almost a quarter mile, the street runs from Pile Gate on the west side to the city’s clock tower on the east. Most of the sights on our Dubrovnik Old Town tour are found along the Stradun.
The 1667 earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed nearly the entire city – and the structures along Stradun were rebuilt uniformly. Each dwelling was constructed to have a street-level shop with a door and arched window. The living area was one level up and top-floor was reserved for the kitchen. Although the upper floors have, no doubt, been re-purposed as individual apartments, the ground-level shops, with their matching arched windows and doors, remain.
Just inside the gate, look to your right to the Big Onofrio’s Fountain (MAP)
#3 Big Onofrio’s Fountain
Just inside the Pile Gate is Big Onofrio’s Fountain. Named for the designer (Onofrio della Cava), the fountain was built in 1438 as a fresh water source to the Old Town, channeling water from the Dubrovnik River more than 7 miles away.
The large fountain has 16 spouts where water continuously flows from maskerons (like gargoyles, but faces). The water is clean, so step up to top off your refillable water bottle!
On the north side of the Stradun, across from the fountain, is the Church of Saint Savior (MAP)
#4 Church of Saint Savior
The small chapel opposite the fountain is St. Savior Church. After an earthquake in 1520, the church was built in gratitude for sparing the town from severe damage (although 20 people did die in the quake). Surprisingly, the Church of St. Savior survived the devastating 1667 earthquake – and now the church remains as one of the only original structures of Renaissance architecture.
Just east of St. Savior Church is the entrance to the Franciscan Monastery (MAP)
#5 Franciscan Monastery
Built inside the city walls in the 14th century, the Franciscan Monastery complex includes two cloisters, a historic pharmacy and a library. The lower cloister, built in the Romanesque-Gothic style, has 120 columns and 12 pilasters. Dating to 1317, the pharmacy is the 3rd-oldest, still-working pharmacy in the world. A collection of more than 20,000 books – including valuable manuscripts and other artifacts – is housed in the library.
Visitors enter the monastery via the narrow alleyway next to St. Savior Church. The monastery is open daily from 9:00am and stays open at least until 14:00 (later in the summer). There is an entrance fee to the cloisters and library, but the pharmacy is open to the public.
Top Tip: Stop into the pharmacy for lotions made from local herbs according to old Franciscan formulas.
On the Stradun, just east of the monastery entrance is the Franciscan Church (MAP)
#6 Franciscan Church
The original Franciscan Church was almost completely destroyed in the 1667 earthquake, with only the decorative Pieta on the side portal remaining (which was sculpted in 1498). When the church was rebuilt, they interior was adorned in the opulent Baroque style.
Make the leisurely stroll down the Stradun, perhaps with an ice cream cone in hand, to the east end of the city. Find Orlando’s Column (MAP) in Luza Square in front of the St. Blaise Church on the south side of the Stradun near the Clock Tower.
#7 Orlando’s Column
The statue of the armor-clad, sword-wielding Orlando on Luza Square has stood in Dubrovnik since 1418 – making it the oldest publicly displayed sculpture in the city. According to legend (which has been disputed, but still makes for a nice story), Orlando was a Medieval knight who saved Dubrovnik by defeating pirates – and his statue symbolizes freedom.
Historically accurate, however, is that Orlando’s forearm measures 51.2cm, which was the official length of an ‘elbow,’ the standard measurement (used for fabric and other goods). The steps in front of Orlando were also used for city proclamations and the punishments.
Just behind Orlando’s Column is the Church of St. Blaise (MAP)
#8 St. Blaise Church
The Baroque St. Blaise Church was built in 1715 (on the site of a previous church that was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake and, later, a fire) and is modeled after St. Maurizio Church in Venice, Italy. Dedicated to Dubrovnik’s patron saint, the steps to the church lead up from Luza Square, the main square in the Old Town. The church features stained glass windows and large statue of St. Blaise standing above the church entrance. Each year, February 3 marks St. Blaise Day, as well as the City of Dubrovnik Day.
On the north side of the Stradun, just opposite St. Blaise Church, is Sponza Palace (MAP)
#9 Sponza Palace
Built in the 16th century, the Sponza Palace was the cultural center of the city and one of the most beautiful buildings in the Old Town. The building housed government offices, including the Customs Office (which is why it is also referred to as the Divona building), mint, armory, treasury and warehouse.
It was the center of commercial trade and business in the city. An inscription in the courtyard loosely translates to: Our weights do not allow for cheating. When I measure the weight of goods, God measures me.
In the 17th century, the palace hall was used by intellectuals and poets, introducing literary culture to the city. Sponza Palace now houses the city’s archives, including ancient documents that date to the year 1022. The palace is one of the few buildings in Dubrovnik to withstand the 1667 earthquake – and it is thought that most of the Old Town was of the same design as the palace prior to the devastation.
Next to the Sponza Palace is the Bell Tower (MAP)
#10 Dubrovnik Bell Tower
The iconic City Bell Tower was built in the Dubrovnik Old Town in 1444 at the height of 100 feet. The 2-ton bell was cast in 1506 – and can be heard as far as Gruz Port. Two ‘Green Men’ – bronze turned green from sea air and lovingly named Maro and Baro by locals – strike the bell every half hour with hammers (with a special sequence at noon). The clock face not only tells the time, but also displays the phase of the moon – and below it is an old-school numerical clock as well.
Unfortunately, the only part of the bell tower that is original is the actual bell. Due to earthquakes causing the tower to lean, the entire clock tower had to be completely rebuilt in 1929. The Maro and Baro figures are also replicas; the originals reside in a museum.
Walk through the archway to the left of the Bell Tower and follow the passageway to the stairs of the Dominican Monastery (MAP)
#11 Dominican Monastery
Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Dominican Monastery is one of the largest Gothic buildings in the region. The large staircase leads into the church, where visitors can see a golden Crucifix that dates to the 14th century. In the cloister gardens there is a stone well, which still functions today and provided clean water to the city during the Siege of Dubrovnik.
Additionally, the Dominican Monastery complex has a library and museum, which houses a large collection of paintings, art and jewelry. There is a fee to enter the monastery complex.
From the Dominican Monastery staircase, continue walking to Ploce Gate (MAP)
#12 Ploce Gate
In a design similar to the Pile Gate, the eastern Ploce Gate has two archways and a bridge (that was originally a wooden drawbridge). At the far end of the bridge is the Revelin Fortress, which was built as a lookout point over the gate and harbor on the outside of the city walls in the 16th century. Today, the Revelin Tower is used as a popular nightclub.
Top Tip: Pass through the first archway connected to the Revelin Tower and walk onto the elevated square shaded by large evergreen trees. Here, you will find beautiful views of the Old Port.
Retrace your steps to the Stradun and walk south, past the Clock Tower to the Rector’s Palace (MAP). As you walk along the side of St. Blaise Church, you will pass the Small Onofrio’s Fountain and the seated statue of Marin Drzic, a famous Croatian writer (go ahead and rub his nose or knees for good luck). Next to the statue is the Rector’s Palace.
#13 Rector’s Palace
From the 14th century until the dissolution of the Republic of Ragusa in 1808, the Rector’s Palace served as the seat of the Rector of Ragusa. The state administration and council were also housed in the palace, as well as the armory and prison. Since 1872, the Museum of Dubrovnik has resided inside the palace.
The Gothic palace was designed in the 15th century by Onofrio della Cava (who also built the city’s two fountains). However, due to earthquakes and a gunpowder explosion, the palace endured several renovations, which added Renaissance and Baroque elements into the design. The arches along the porch are especially beautiful at night.
Continue walking to the end of the Rector’s Palace, then turn left (east) and walk through the small arched passageway to the Old Port (MAP)
#14 Old Port and Porporela Lighthouse
The Old Dubrovnik Port was once the Main Dubrovnik Port. Designed in the 15th century and further enhanced in the 16th century, the port provided safe harbor for ships and protection from enemies. The large building with the three arches (now a restaurant), was the Arsenal where ships were built.
Follow the walkway around Fort St. Ivana (which houses the city aquarium and maritime museum) to the breakwater and Porporela Lighthouse. From the lighthouse, take in the sweeping vistas of the Adriatic Sea and Lokrum Island. Continue walking along the outside of the walls, where you can dip your toes in the cool water.
Retrace your steps back to the Old Town through the arched passageway and veer slightly left to the Dubrovnik Cathedral (MAP)
#15 Dubrovnik Cathedral
Officially the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, several cathedrals have occupied the site since the 7th century. The cathedral prior to the current church (that stood in the 12th to 17th centuries) is said to have been funded by English King Richard the Lionheart. When the king was saved from shipwreck on Lokrum Island in 1192, he promised to build a grand church to thank God and the citizens for his survival. That cathedral, however, was demolished in the 1667 earthquake. It took 50 years – and many famous architects – to complete the new domed cathedral that it still stands today.
Although the interior is rather stark, there are numerous altars adorned with paintings and an unusual (and very modern) Stations of the Cross. The highlight of the church, however, is the treasury which houses an abundance of ornate holy relics (which requires a ticket).
From the church, walk west along the north side of the church into a small alley, which opens into a small square filled with restaurant and café tables. Stick to the path, veering slightly to the right. Continue walking through the alley into a larger square, Gundulic Square, and walk to the center of it (MAP)
#16 Gundulic Square and Market
The statue that stands at the center of Gundulic Square is of famous Croatia writer and Dubrovnik statesman, Ivan Gundulic. In the mornings, the square hosts a fruit and local product market where visitors can pick up souvenirs, buy local lavender, taste honey and pick up some fresh fruit. At noon, when the Bell Tower rings out scarring all the pigeons, they flock to Gundulic Square (where a local is certain to spread out some crumbs for them to eat!).
Walk to the north end of the Gundulic Square then turn left (west) on Ulica od Puca. Walk half a block (about 2 minutes) to the Church of the Holy Annunciation (MAP)
#17 Orthodox Church of the Holy Annunciation
Being that Croatia is a Catholic nation, there are few religious buildings other than Catholic churches in the Dubrovnik Old Town. (In fact, in the 13th century, Muslims and people who were Orthodox were not permitted to sleep in the city.) The Church of the Holy Annunciation was not built until the late 1800s – and the large church was snugly fit into a small space. Visitors are invited to step inside the colorful church. There is also an on-sight museum that displays Orthodox icons and art pieces.
To continue your walking tour of Old Town Dubrovnik, retrace your steps back to the market and turn right (south) on Ulica uz Jezuite. Walk to the end of the street and go up the grandiose staircase – known to Game of Thrones fans as the Walk of Shame Staircase – to St. Ignatius Church (MAP). Be sure to pause at the top…to catch your breath and take a photo!
#18 St. Ignatius Church
Baroque statues and colorful frescoes decorate St. Ignatius Church, which is – without a doubt – the most beautiful church in Old City Dubrovnik. The church was built in the early 1700s and completed in 1725. Inside the St. Ignatius, there is a cave dedicated to Our lady of Lourdes and the church bell dates to 1355. Standing next to the church is the Jesuit College, subtly designed to emphasize the beauty of the church façade.
Exit the church and walk to the opposite end of the square (glancing back to see the full view of the church). Now look for the sign that says, “Cold Drinks with the Most Beautiful View” – and follow the arrows to the small passage through the city wall to the Buza Bar (MAP)
#19 Buza Bar
“Buza” translates to “Hole in the Wall” – and the Buza Bar is literally a bar through a hole in the city walls. The small entrance (watch your head!) leads to a makeshift outdoor bar that clings to the outside of the city walls like a barnacle to a boat. Although the drinks are over-priced, the tables are crammed together and there is no running water, the views over the Adriatic Sea are absolutely amazing! Walking around Dubrovnik can be tiring, so sit down and order a refreshing drink – this is the last stop on our Free Dubrovnik Walking Tour!
Visiting Dubrovnik on a Budget? Check out our top tips for saving money in Croatia’s most expensive city!
Dubrovnik Walking Tour Map
Use this link to Google Maps for our Walking Tour Dubrovnik Sightseeing Map online. We also highly recommend picking up a Dubrovnik tourist map from the Information Office or – better yet – buying one in advance of your trip to better plot your route (like this one on Amazon!)
Dubrovnik City Walk: What You Will Need
In the peak summer season, it will be hot and crowded, so you’ll likely need some patience walking in Dubrovnik. Also make sure you are prepared for your Self-Guided Walking Tour of Dubrovnik with the following items!
I personally like walking in flip flops, but the slick stone streets and numerous steps can make wearing flip flops problematic. Instead, wear a pair of comfortable city walking shoes, like these by Columbia (for women) and these by Merrell (for men).
Dubrovnik scenic viewpoints are amazing! Upgrade from your phone camera to a real camera for the highest quality photos. We use a Canon Rebel, which takes amazing pictures! However, our Canon Powershot (which is lighter and less expensive) works great for city shots, too!
Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle – remember, you can fill up at the fountains! Collapsible water bottles are ideal for travelers.
Sunscreen, Hat and Umbrella
Slather on the sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat on your city walking tour of Dubrovnik (also while visiting the Best Dubrovnik Beaches!). The Croatia sun is intense all year long, but especially so in the summer months. It’s a good idea to carry a travel umbrella, too – for downpours or to provide a little bit of shade!
Travel Insurance is essential anytime you travel! Check rates and coverage on World Nomads for your trip to Dubrovnik.
More Walking Tours in Dubrovnik
Our Dubrovnik Self-Guided Walking Tour is a great introduction to the city. However, there are many Dubrovnik guided tours, too.
Dubrovnik Game of Thrones Locations Tour
Calling all GOT fans! Many of the iconic scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in Croatia. Join a walking tour that follows in the footsteps of the characters to King’s Landing in Dubrovnik and get the inside scoop and filming stories from your guide. Read the reviews on this highly rated GOT Dubrovnik tour!
Dubrovnik Private Tours
Want a guide to lead you on a private tour of the city? On this 2-hour city tour in Dubrovnik, a guide will share local info while showing you the top sights in the city. Get the Details!
Dubrovnik City Walls Tour
The historical Walls of Dubrovnik are a highlight of any visit to the city! Let a guide lead the way on an elevated tour of the city! Find out more!
Walking Dubrovnik Food Tour – with Wine!
Follow a local guide to family-run restaurants for a taste of local food and wine! Sample traditional Croatian cuisine and wines produced in the area. The price is all-inclusive – and the reviews are fabulous! Find out what’s included!
More Dubrovnik Tours
After acquainting yourself with Dubrovnik sights, consider joining one of the following popular Dubrovnik excursions.
Dubrovnik Kayak Tour
Set off in the Adriatic Sea in a kayak and get an interesting vantage point of the city then paddle to a secluded beach. This affordable tour gets rave reviews! Check the price!
Dubrovnik Bike Tour and Kayaking
Enjoy an active day trip from Dubrovnik that includes kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and kayaking in the Elaphite Islands. Get the specifics!
Dubrovnik Wine Tour: Ston and Peljesac
Visit the fishing village of Ston, where they once produced salt, then ride along the vine-covered coastline on the Peljesac Peninsula, stopping at family-run wineries to sample the wine. Reserve You Spot!
Dubrovnik Bus Tour
The Old Town is a car-free zone, so a Dubrovnik City Tour Bus is not possible! It’s a city you have to see on your own two feet! Our outlined Self-Guided Walking Tour of Dubrovnik covers just a little over a mile, so it’s not too far!
Where To Stay in Dubrovnik
When we visit Dubrovnik, we stay in Airbnb Apartments. We have found that the Airbnb apartments are often less expensive than hotels or hostels (for two or more travelers). The added bonus is that the apartments have kitchens where we can prepare simple meals – or at least breakfast – which saves us a lot of money on our trips. Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!
Hotels in Dubrovnik
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Dubrovnik hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Villa Dubrovnik, Hotel Kompas or Villa Orsula.
We want to know: What are your favorite Dubrovnik sights? What would you add to our Dubrovnik Walking Tour? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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