Official Name

Dubrovnik. Until 1918, the town was known as Ragusa. Nowadays, Dubrovnik carries the beautiful nickname Pearl of the Adriatic Sea. "Dubrova" is a Slavic word and means 'grove' or 'thick forest' - however, there aren't any groves or forests nearby, so I'm not sure whether the name has something to do with 'dubrova'. Eversince, the word Dubrovnik referred to the Slav quarters of the city. The Italian name Ragusa probably refered to a settlement on an island near present-day Dubrovnik.

Location

Location of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

It's slightly less than 400 km between Dubrovnik and →Zagreb as the crow flies. However, there are many mountains and a large part of the territory of →Bosnia & Herzegovina between the two cities, and so it's more than 700 km when going by car. Dubrovnik is the southernmost large city of Croatia, sprawling along the Adriatic Sea. Close to the old town, there's a small island called Lokrum. Except for this one, there aren't many island near Dubrovnik. Bosnia starts only a few kilometers north of the mountains bordering the town. Less than 40 km southeast of Dubrovnik, →Montenegro starts. There's also a border crossing to the latter nearby.

Population

Dubrovnik has slightly less than 44,000 inhabitants, which makes it a rather small city. Most inhabitants live outside the old town. Due to its location - squeezed by the sea and the mountains - the town doesn't have much more growth potential.

Orientation

There are many old towns in Europe, but only very few offer such a clear separation between old town and the rest of town as Dubrovnik.

A bird's view of the entire old town of Dubrovnik
A bird's view of the entire old town of Dubrovnik

The most relevant part of Dubrovnik, the Stari Grad (old town) occupies some sort of peninsula in the east of the city. This peninsula features a small, natural harbour. Right behind the old town, a mountain with the beautiful (!?) name Srđ towers more than 400 m high above the city. The old town is surrounded by a tall and impressive city wall, big enough to walk upon it. Most of the buildings within the old town are surprisingly homogeneous. Since the lanes of the old town are extremely narrow, cars are not allowed to enter the area at all - which makes it even a more attractive place. The main road runs through the old town from the east to the west and is called Ulica od Placa (Placa st).

The new town is around 2 kilometres west of Stari Grad and concentrates around Lapad peninsula. Between the Lapad peninsula and the land there's the Luka Gruž (Port Grush) with a ferry pier. Adjacent is the central bus terminal of Dubrovnik. Countless buses run between the bus terminal in the new town and the entrance of the old town. However, the narrow strip between the old town and the new town, with many beautiful houses lining up along the street, is also worth a walk.The entire old town was declared World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 1979.

History

Refugees from Epidaurus in Greece already founded a first settlement during the 7th century AD. This settlement soon developed into a town known as Ragusa. At that time, the town consisted of two parts, with both of them being separated by a canal running along present-day Placa st. The town was protected by the Byzantine Empire, and so it could flourish. The Greek and Roman population settled in the southern part of the old town, at that time almost an island, the Slav population on the other hand settled north of the canal.

During the crusades, Ragusa fell into the hands of Venetia (=Venice). Until 1358, Ragusa played the role of a very important habour and trade town within mighty Venice. After that, it became part of the Hungaro-Croatian kingdom (see also →History of Croatia). However, Ragusa gained the status of an autonomous city, later on known as the City State of Ragusa, and experienced its heyday in the 15th and 16th century. Reminders of the glorious past are omnipresent in the old town. In 1667, a heavy earthquake almost leveled wide parts of the town. Nevertheless it remained as an independet city state until the year 1808. Two years after the capture of Dalmatia, Napoleon abrogated Ragusa's privileged status. After Napoleon's defeat, Ragusa was taken over by Austria's Habsburg monarchy and remained a part of Austria-Hungary until 1918. After that, the city was renamed Dubrovnik. Ever since, Dubrovnik was part of Croatia respectively Yugoslavia.

After the proclamation of independence by the Croatian parliament in 1991/2, the town soon found itself besieged by the JNA (Yugoslav National Army) for around 8 months. Serb and Montenegrin troops used the mountainous hinterland as well as the fact, that it's a short way from Montenegro to Dubrovnik. And so it doesn't come as a surprise, that many citizens of Dubrovnik are not particularly fond of the Montenegrins - as a matter of fact, very few Croatians cross the border to neighbouring Montenegro (which is of course subject to change). The JNA didn't hesitate to shell Dubrovnik incl the historic centre. There was a lot of damage, but after lifting the siege, the citizens soon managed to repair most of it. However, when looking over the old town, one will see new roofs here and there - scars left by the war. The town recovered within the next years, and so it became a very popular and frequented place again.

Getting there / transportation

Due to the location, the city is not connected with the railway network. Which means that one can only go by boat, airplane or bus/car. The international airport is around 25 km away west of the town near Cilipi. Ferries (operated by Jadrolinija) connect Dubrovnik with many other coastal towns in Dalamatia and some seaside resorts on the bigger islands. There are also ferries running to Bari and other places in Italy.

The fastest way to get there is by bus. There's a bus to the border with Montenegro. After crossing the border, another bus takes you to Igalo, Herceg-Novi, →Kotor and Bar. The fare from Dubrovnik to Kotor is 71.50 Kuna. Be aware that there are not many buses serving this route, so you may find yourself without a bus running back to Dubrovnik. All you can do then is to hitchhike or to stay overnight (most nationalities do not require a visa for Montenegro). There are also direct buses to →Mostar and →Sarajevo. This route is quite popular with locals and backpackers, and since it's not possible to by tickets in advance, it's a good idea to show up as early as possible at the bus station. The alternative is to catch a bus to Ploče at the sea coast. The fare is 56.20 Kuna. From there, a local train can take you to the border. Buses to →Split cost 94 Kuna, there's an extra fee for luggage.

Buses running in the city cost 7 Kuna per ride. It's better to buy tickets at the kiosk - it's more expensive when you buy it on the bus.

 

 

Before or after the sightseeing: Walking around the old town atop the city wall is simply a must-do in Dubrovnik. The wall is a few metres thick and at some places around 25 metres high. And it surrounds the entire old town - all in all, the wall is two kilometres long. It also features two round and a dozen square towers as well as small fortresses. The wall runs along the seashore as well as across a hill, so it's a permanent up and down. The highest point is marked by the northern corner of the wall, which offers a stunning view of the roofs of the old town and even of Lokrum island. The northern corner is called Tvrđava Minčeta (Mincheta fortress) and looks very impressive from above as well as from below. The fortress and the wall were erected from the 13th to the 16th century. Admission fee is 20 Kuna (2001).

Dubrovnik: The old town and Lokrum island in the background
Dubrovnik: The old town and Lokrum island in the back

Most visitors enter the old town through the large Gradska Vrata Pile (Pile city gate). Right behind the gate there's also the entrance to the trail atop the city wall. There are more gates around the old town, but Pile gate in the west is the main gate. What to do in the old town? Just walk in and let yourself float. When entering through Pile gate, you will first see the above-mentioned main axis called Ulica od Placa (Placa St). It's a straight and wide road, so you can see the eastern exit of the old town. Behind the gate to your left there's the Franjevački Samostan (Franciscan Monastery), built in the 14th/15th century, to your right there's the large Samostan sv. Klare (St Claire Monastery). But the first thing you will notice is the Onorfijeva Fontana - a large fountain built in the 15th century. It's still in use, and the mineral water gushing out of the fountain is a welcome refreshment in summer.

Dubrovnik: There's not much space between the houses...
There's not much space between the houses...

Conveniently located behind Onorfijev fountain there's the tourist information of Dubrovnik. Walking down the Placa is fun - the road, as well as almost every other road in Dubrovnik, is paved with white limestone, which has been smoothened during the centuries, so that it reflects the sunlight. Left of the Placa, numerous tiny lanes lead into the old Slav living quarters, which are definitely worth exploring them. This northern part of the old town is still densely populated. When you keep on walking along Placa st, you will get to Luza Trg (trg=square) with the distinctive Clock Tower facing the square. Right behind the tower, there's the western gate and the old harbour. From there, small ferries leave for the uninhabited Lokrum - the perfect place to go for a swim in the Sea. Right in the middle of Luza square stands the Orlando Column, which is a popular meeting point in Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik: St. Blaise's church with the large Cathedral in the back
St. Blaise's church with the large Cathedral in the back

The column is placed in front of the beautiful Crkva sv. Vlaha (St. Blaise's church), which is a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. From there, you can walk the wide street called Pred Dvorom southwards. After a few metres, you will find another attraction - the marvellous Knežev dvor (Rector's Palace), built during the 15th century. Today, the palace is home to a museum. The large Dominikanski Samostan (Dominican Monastery), which is also used as a museum, marks the north-east corner of the old town. In front of it, there's the famous Palača Spanza (Spanza Palace) from the 16th century. Spanza palace was first used as an administration building, then as the customs office and later on as a culture lounge. Nowadays, it houses the State Archives.

Dubrovnik: Rector's palace (on the right) and Mt Srđ
Rector's palace (on the right) and Mt Srđ

There's plenty more to see in Dubrovnik. More museums. More churches. More monasteries. Unfortunately, most of the time the weather is simply to good to justify extensive museum tours. Dubrovnik is permanently overcrowded and very touristy. Of course! It's a must-see in the area. Dubrovnik - that's pure culture and history without modern means of transport. This fact alone guarantees a pleasant stay.

 

 

Looking for a place to jump into the warm, clear sea water? You can do so at some beaches south of Dubrovnik or at one of the beaches on Lokrum island. There are also rather hidden beaches between the new town and the old town. However, the water in summer is to warm to call it a refreshment.

If you want to experience Dubrovnik (but much smaller) without all the tourists, you should consider going to →Kotor in Montenegro. It's a bit rough to do it as a day trip, but it's possible and a real highlight.

 

Most hotels concentrate on the large Lapad peninsula and along the road connecting the peninsula with the old town. When you arrive by bus, you will soon notice mostly older women offering private accommodation. This is how we made our way to Pension Ivana Đurič. This pension lies in Gruž and is only around 300 metres away from the bus terminal. Address: S.S.Kranjcevica 3. Tel.: (020)-356 803 (I'm not sure if it's the right number). It's a large and beautiful old villa with a nice garden, tables and chairs to relax outside, a dozen cats and one (!), poor dog. The family there is extremely friendly. Actually it's one of the most pleasant private rooms I've ever stayed in...we didn't want to leave after a couple of days. We paid 200 Kuna (around € 25) for a double.

Valamar Dubrovnik President Hotel

20000 Dubrovnik · Iva Dulcica 142


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors: 7
Number of rooms: 180
Rates from: US$145
Rating: 8.9/10

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The 4-star Valamar Dubrovnik President Hotel offers comfort and convenience whether you're on business or holiday in Dubrovnik. Featuring a complete list of amenities, guests will find their stay at the property a comfortable one. All the necessary facilities, including bar/pub, room service, car park, Wi-Fi in public areas, elevator, are at hand. The well-appointed guestrooms feature air conditioning, television LCD/plasma screen, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, balcony/terrace. The hotel's peaceful atmosphere extends to its recreational facilities which include massage, spa, indoor pool, tennis courts, steamroom. No matter what your reasons are for visiting Dubrovnik, Valamar Dubrovnik President Hotel will make you feel instantly at home.

Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik Hotel

20000 Dubrovnik · Marijana Blazica 2


Since: 2005
Location: Map
Number of floors: 5
Number of rooms: 147
Rates from: US$158
Rating: 8.9/10

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Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik Hotel is a popular choice amongst travelers in Dubrovnik, whether exploring or just passing through. The hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay. All the necessary facilities, including executive floor, restaurant, shops, business center, pets allowed, are at hand. Designed and decorated to make guests feel right at home, each room comes with ironing facilities, television, bathtub, non smoking rooms, mini bar. Access to the hotel's sauna, indoor pool, steamroom, spa, massage will further enhance your satisfying stay. Discover all Dubrovnik has to offer by making Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik Hotel your base.

Hotel Bozica Dubrovnik Islands

20223 Dubrovnik · SUÐURAÐ 13, 1d


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 26
Rates from: US$91
Rating: 8.8/10

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Stop at Hotel Bozica Dubrovnik Islands to discover the wonders of Dubrovnik. The property features a wide range of facilities to make your stay a pleasant experience. Bar/pub, Wi-Fi in public areas, bicycle rental, family room, tours are on the list of things guests can enjoy. Desk, internet access – LAN, coffee/tea maker, television LCD/plasma screen, hair dryer can be found in each guestroom. To enhance guests' stay, the hotel offers recreational facilities such as massage, water sports (motorized), private beach, garden, water sports (non-motorized). Hotel Bozica Dubrovnik Islands is an excellent choice from which to explore Dubrovnik or to simply relax and rejuvenate.

Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik

20000 Dubrovnik · Iva Dulcica 34


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors: 5
Number of rooms: 385
Rates from: US$97
Rating: 8.8/10

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Stop at Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik to discover the wonders of Dubrovnik. The hotel offers a high standard of service and amenities to suit the individual needs of all travelers. Service-minded staff will welcome and guide you at the Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik. Guestrooms are designed to provide an optimal level of comfort with welcoming decor and convenient amenities like hair dryer, air conditioning, mini bar, satellite/cable TV, internet access – wireless (charges apply). Entertain the hotel's recreational facilities, including fitness center, tennis courts, pool (kids), steamroom, indoor pool. Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik is an excellent choice from which to explore Dubrovnik or to simply relax and rejuvenate.

Argosy Hotel

20000 Dubrovnik · Iva Dulcica 41


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors: 4
Number of rooms: 308
Rates from: US$93
Rating: 8.0/10

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Set in a prime location of Dubrovnik, Argosy Hotel puts everything the city has to offer just outside your doorstep. The hotel offers a high standard of service and amenities to suit the individual needs of all travelers. Car park, restaurant, poolside bar, bar/pub, meeting facilities are just some of the facilities on offer. Each guestroom is elegantly furnished and equipped with handy amenities. To enhance guests' stay, the hotel offers recreational facilities such as pool (kids), tennis courts, kids club, outdoor pool, garden. For reliable service and professional staff, Argosy Hotel caters to your needs.

Hotel Sumratin

20 000 Dubrovnik · Setaliste Kralja Zvonimira 9


Since: 1918
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 41
Rates from: US$43
Rating: 7.1/10

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Hotel Sumratin is a popular choice amongst travelers in Dubrovnik, whether exploring or just passing through. Both business travelers and tourists can enjoy the hotel's facilities and services. All the necessary facilities, including restaurant, elevator, salon, room service, safety deposit boxes, are at hand. Designed and decorated to make guests feel right at home, each room comes with television LCD/plasma screen, satellite/cable TV, desk, non smoking rooms, air conditioning. Take a break from a long day and make use of garden. Hotel Sumratin combines warm hospitality with a lovely ambiance to make your stay in Dubrovnik unforgettable.

Valamar Club Dubrovnik

20000 Dubrovnik · Iva Dulicica 18


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors: 5
Number of rooms: 338
Rates from: US$123
Rating: 7.0/10

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Ideally located in the prime touristic area of Waterfront Area, Valamar Club Dubrovnik promises a relaxing and wonderful visit. The property features a wide range of facilities to make your stay a pleasant experience. All the necessary facilities, including elevator, restaurant, car park, Wi-Fi in public areas, family room, are at hand. Designed for comfort, guestrooms offer hair dryer, shower, air conditioning, satellite/cable TV, television to ensure a restful night. Take a break from a long day and make use of kids club, outdoor pool, tennis courts, pool (kids). Discover all Dubrovnik has to offer by making Valamar Club Dubrovnik your base.

Dubrovnik House with garden

20000 Dubrovnik · Obodska 10


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms:
Rates from: US$47
Rating: 6.7/10

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Dubrovnik House with garden is a popular choice amongst travelers in Dubrovnik, whether exploring or just passing through. The hotel offers a wide range of amenities and perks to ensure you have a great time. Laundry service/dry cleaning, babysitting, Wi-Fi in public areas, pets allowed are on the list of things guests can enjoy. Designed for comfort, guestrooms offer separate dining area, kitchenette, coffee/tea maker, shared bathroom, shower to ensure a restful night. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. A welcoming atmosphere and excellent service are what you can expect during your stay at Dubrovnik House with garden.

Tirena Hotel

20000 Dubrovnik · Iva Dulcica 22


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors: 4
Number of rooms: 208
Rates from: US$101
Rating: 6.1/10

More Information
Tirena Hotel is a popular choice amongst travelers in Dubrovnik, whether exploring or just passing through. The hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay. All the necessary facilities, including elevator, Wi-Fi in public areas, poolside bar, family room, are at hand. Relax in your comfortable guestroom, featuring satellite/cable TV, in room safe, air conditioning, mini bar, internet access – wireless (charges apply). Recuperate from a full day of sightseeing in the comfort of your room or take advantage of the hotel's recreational facilities, including pool (kids), tennis courts, water sports (motorized), outdoor pool. Tirena Hotel combines warm hospitality with a lovely ambiance to make your stay in Dubrovnik unforgettable.

 

  • www.dubrovnik.hr The official website of Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, the English version doesn't work (at least during the time of writing).
  • www.dubrovnikportal.com Internet gate to Dubrovnik. Very handy for looking for private accommodation. Croatian and English.

Do you have or do you know a good website about Dubrovnik? Don't hesitate, let me know! After checking it, I would love to add it to the link list. You can submit a link by using the →contact form. Note that commercial websites will be treated differently.

 

 

 

 

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