Bird’s Eye Views & Sapphire Blues: Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia’s gem on the glimmering Adriatic, is undeniably touristic. However, it is also indisputably alluring.

Thanks to its rich history, immaculately-groomed limestone buildings, commanding seaside position, and formidable, 7th-century fortifications, the city attracts tourists from around the world.

Having discovered the rewards of off-season travel, Shawn and I visited the so-called ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ one April. We were thrilled to discover that while Dubrovnik’s streets were still teeming with cruise ship passengers by day, we largely had the polished limestone lanes to ourselves by night.

Walking by the illuminated Rector’s Palace after darkness had fallen over Dubrovnik, we sifted through details from the city’s past, most notably that it was once the Republic of Ragusa, which existed for nearly five centuries.

The next day, we ascended the stairs near the Pile Gate and walked Dubrovnik’s walls, which wrap around the city for about 2 km. (1.2 miles). From this elevated perch, we watched as the city’s cable car ferried passengers to the top of Mount Srdj, as boats whisked visitors off to neighboring islands, and as locals hung pastel-toned laundry on rooftop lines, and untangled fishing nets. Gazing out into the open waters of the vast Adriatic, we felt torn, contemplating if we should return to the walled city below, or perhaps embark on an adventure via the sea.

We chose the former option, filling our remaining days with picnics on quiet back lanes, and attempts at balancing upon one of Dubrovnik’s famed maskerons.

Kotor, Montenegro; Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany; and Dubrovnik have set the stage for some of my most memorable wall walks. Which walls of the world do you find noteworthy?

Dubrovnik Stradun Cathedral
On the left, Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main street, and on the right, the Assumption Cathedral. Places of worship have existed there since the 6th Century. This cathedral was built after a strong earthquake in 1667 destroyed its predecessors.
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A bird’s eye view of the Great Onofrio Fountain, which is just inside Dubrovnik’s Pile Gate. The fountain was built in 1438 to commemorate the completion of the city’s waterworks project.
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Dubrovnik Walking Walls Laundry Lokum Island
The blue Adriatic Sea and Lokrum Island are visible in the background. An Austrian archduke once had a vacation home on the island, and today, day-trippers are ferried to Lokrum to swim, mingle with the island’s peacocks, and admire its flora.
Dubrovnik Walls Adriatic Sea
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Fort Lovrijenac. In a bid to maintain their independence from the Republic of Venice, the citizens of Ragusa rushed to build a fortification on this strategic spot before the Venetians could.
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Dubrovnik Adriatic Walls
Soaking up the sun at one of Dubrovnik’s cliff bars.
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A turret with an extraordinary view. According to a National Geographic piece, some astronauts have professed that the Adriatic Sea is the bluest place on earth, perhaps because of the limestone composition of its floor.
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Shawn, ever the ham.
Walking Dubrovnik's Walls
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Dubrovnik Canon Walls
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Homes on Mount Srđ (Srdj), behind Dubrovnik’s walled city.
Dubrovnik Cathedral Dome and View from Walls
The dome of the Dubrovnik Cathedral, and a precariously-placed ladder. On the right, walls along the seaside.
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A fisherman out for a late-afternoon catch.
Dubrovnik Church Bells
Dubrovnik Fishermen Nets
Dubrovnik’s bell tower. Inside is the bronze duo of Maro and Baro, who strike the bell. On the right, two fishermen untangle their nets.
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A bride and groom pass on the lane below.
Dubrovnik Church Architecture
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Dubrovnik Church and Boats
Dubrovnik Seagulls on Rooftop
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Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • The walk along the walls is about 2 km. (1.2 miles) long. We purchased our tickets just inside the Pile Gate, and that is the way we entered the walls too (from Stradun). There are two other entrances to the walls: by Fort St. Johns and by Fort St. Luke, Od sv. Dominika Street.
  • An adult’s ticket price is 100 kunas.
  • There isn’t any shade atop the walls, so be sure to plan and dress accordingly: bring water, wear a sunhat/sunscreen. On the walls, we did pass several small shops/restaurants with souvenirs, cold drinks and sweet treats. We also noticed at least one set of restrooms.
  • Hours vary, based upon the season. Check the Dubrovnik Card website for more details.
  • Need more inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Croatia.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

47 thoughts on “Bird’s Eye Views & Sapphire Blues: Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

    1. Lala, thank you. Indeed, Croatia has much manmade and natural beauty. We only devoted a few days to Dubrovnik as there are many worthwhile towns and villages along the Dalmatian Coast (without as many visitors) that held our attention too. Here’s hoping you’ll get a chance to visit someday soon.

      It looks like you’re now in Southeast Asia? We spent a few months there two years ago, and also visited the Philippines. Some of our fondest memories are of trekking the Batad Rice Terraces.

      1. I am currently in Singapore. I have seen your post on Batad and it is great! I hope to explore Batad sometime next year. Will be writing to you for some tips. Happy travels!

      2. Jhoana, I’m happy to share what worked for us, when you’re ready for the information. :) Thanks also for your kind words about the Batad post. It was a somewhat long journey to get there from Manila, but I’m so happy we did it. It’s also reassuring to read that conservation groups are working to preserve the terraces.

    1. Happy you could join us virtually, Gerard. This trip was actually in 2013, but I couldn’t resist sharing something about this historic and beautiful city.

      How is life in New York? We’re going to celebrate fall’s arrival and harvest time by making Apple Crisp tonight. Here’s hoping you are enjoying a wonderful weekend in the Big Apple. :)

      1. Gerard, I’ve heard that it’s been a good year for growing apples – even on this side of the Atlantic. Some European countries unfortunately have a surplus of apples, due to sanctions resulting from the conflict in the Ukraine. From Poland to Moldova, we’ve heard that some farmers aren’t even picking their apples because they have no buyers this year. As a result, the prices here in Moldova are quite low (about 45 cents for 1 kg).

        It’s beautiful being in NY State this time of year, with the changing leaves in the Hudson Valley. Are you going to do any special baking projects this season with all those apples? :)

    1. Naomi, Dubrovnik is certainly a worthwhile destination, but if you can, don’t miss some of the lesser-discovered towns on the Dalmatian Coast too. Do you have plans to go to Croatia, or like me, is your list of places you’d like to experience someday ever increasing? :)

      1. I am hoping to go there next summer, and Dubrovnik would just be one of the destinations along the coast. I generally prefer smaller and lesser traveled places, but to see the national museums and historic sites we often find ourselves in bigger cities.

      2. Naomi, it sounds as though we have similar traveling preferences. Like you, we appreciate the culture and people-watching that one can do in larger cities, but enjoy the authenticity of the lesser-visited towns. In Dalmatia, we really liked Trogir, Split, Krka National Park, Šibenik, Primošten and Skradin, plus Stari Grad (Hvar Island), but we’d like to explore more of the inland areas and quieter islands someday too.

      3. Thanks, Tricia. I am taking notes! Last summer when we visited Poland, we went to Warsaw, Krackow, and Gdansk, and we saw the museums and memorials and the sites where so many important events had occurred. But I loved biking through the national park and staying in the little villages, where the things we saw and did weren’t always in the guide books–like happening by a Jewish cemetery outside a tiny village. It had been forgotten for fifty years after the Jews were all killed, and there was a forest growing up all around it because there was no one left to tend it, until it was restored by a high school class from Israel.

      4. Naomi, it sounds like you had a full range of experiences in Poland. I’ve been to Kraków and Wrocław, but am curious what Warsaw is like, in particular. Your mention of happening upon an abandoned Jewish cemetery reminds me of our experience in the outskirts of Prague a decade ago. We’d gone to a village to trace the ancestry of our Czech friend’s family, but sadly most of the records had been destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. One can read about tragedies in school, but having such an experience makes the history all the more real.

    1. Dad, nice of you to drop by! :) Here’s hoping I’ve again tempted you and Mom to get here someday soon. I wish the Dalmatian Coast hadn’t been so far away that weekend when we road-tripped to Zagreb from Germany.

    1. Carol, here’s hoping you’ll get the chance to explore Croatia someday soon. Having spent two winters there, the country has become a sort of second home for us, and we’re looking forward to getting back again.

  1. Fantastic shots, Tricia. A true gem, Dobrovnik is – even in the recent downpour of rain and Stradun being knee-high in water it simply looked inviting and irresistible :)

    1. Ina, I’d recently heard that several countries in the region had been experiencing flooding, but didn’t know that Dubrovnik had been impacted. The region has really been hit hard this year with unusual weather. Here’s hoping it will get more calm in the months ahead.

      Hvala for your kind words. Dubrovnik is such a perfect beauty with a plethora of photo opportunities. Working with these pictures again naturally made me reminisce about our special visits to Croatia. I hope we can come back soon.

      Is it grape harvest season there now?

  2. Love the colour of these orange pantile roofs against the blues of sea and sky. Somewhere I have photographs taken years ago whilst walking round Dubrovnik’s walls. Seeing your photos makes me quite nostalgic.

    1. Lucy, by day and night, Dubrovnik possesses a magical kind of light. I loved seeing the reflection of the lights on the city’s polished lanes after sunset, and getting a chance to appreciate all the details that are harder to soak up when there’s so much activity on the streets.

      Here’s hoping you’ll get a chance to return soon to see Dubrovnik’s darker side. :) I remember that you also climbed nearby Kotor’s walls. Our afternoon there has to be one of our most memorable climbs!

  3. Being able to enjoy “polished limestone lanes…at night” alone is truly one of the priceless joys of traveling! This part of the world is recently becoming popular, but it’s nice that one can still get to know Croatia’s quieter side.

    1. Bespoke Traveler, you’re right about Croatia having become a hot spot in recent years. When I first visited in 2007, I recall that one of the actresses from the TV sitcom, Friends, was on my airplane. And now, it seems to be popular with everyone, from cruise-ship passengers to independent travelers. We’re hoping to get back soon so we can explore Istria, and some of the inland areas that are off-the-beaten-path. What a gorgeous country!

    1. Sam, a city that’s certainly deserving of its hype, isn’t it? Did you get a chance to walk the walls when you visited?

      On a side note, I see that you hail from one of my ancestral homelands – Yorkshire. That’s another corner of Europe I’d love to explore someday. Thank you for stopping by. :)

    1. Melinda, perhaps Croatia would make a good subject for one of your future “I Love Walking” books, or do you have another region in France in mind? :)

      Thank you for your kind words, and for joining along. Wish you a splendid weekend!

      1. I’m sure it would Tricia :) but I have a few more areas of France to cover still!

        The war in that area in the early 1980s was a good reminder for me to not put off travelling. You just never know when somewhere on your bucket list will become too dangerous to visit or be obliterated.

        Happy Travels!

      2. Melinda, that’s sadly a true statement. The world is indeed a fragile place and you never know when political problems or violence might arise. I’m happy to see that the Balkans are experiencing a chapter of peace after so much hardship!

  4. You have inspired me even more to visit Dubrovnik next year :D amazing photos! And it must have been very nice to have the streets only for you at night, I had something like this once, when I was in San Marino last April!

    1. Packing my Suitcase, glad to share a dose of travel inspiration, and thank you for your enthusiastic comment. Did you stay in San Marino overnight? I ask, because when we were there earlier this year, the streets were very crowded by day. We aimed to block out the souvenir shops, and sales pitches, yearning for some quiet moments, but it was challenging. I imagine that being there at night would offer a very different experience. :)

      1. Hi Tricia!! Thank you for the comment!! Yes I stayed there for 2 nights… and you are right, during the day its pretty crowded, but at night everyone leaves… most tourists are there for a day your so at night is pretty quiet! I was there for easter and it was veeeery nice at night, not so cold, great view from up there and very quiet streets!! I would say 1 to 2 nights is a great length to stay there :D

  5. I’m guessing you’re not afraid of heights! I love the red roof tiles and all the ocean colors in the background. Thank you for bringing me there.

    1. Hi Sheila, actually on the contrary, heights often get the best of me! Fortunately, the walls on Dubrovnik’s walls were high enough that I was able to set any phobia aside.

      And you’re right about the vibrant colors of Dubrovnik and Croatia’s coastal towns. Our Croatian friend once said that living there provided an “anti-depressant” effect because of all the sunshine and vibrant tones. I have to agree with him. :)

    1. Juliann, you’re absolutely right about that vibrant color combination. With so much sunshine too, the Old Town area is quite vivid. I haven’t been to Dubrovnik during the summer lately, but incredibly, the weather was this inviting in April.

  6. Such a picturesque place, the blues, colors and water is incredible ~ but the perspective you get from being up so high is something else… I think I could shoot there for a month and still not cover the place. I like the view of Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main street because I’m drawn to sitting back and seeing how a day progresses on a city’s main street ~ and to have the blues of the water so close, heaven!

    1. Dalo, you’re right about those magical blues! I remember one of our Croatian friends mentioning that his Adriatic view and almost constant dose of sunshine were the ultimate anti-depressant, and I agree. We’d love to return this winter.

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