Welcome to Dubrovnik cruise port, Croatia! (Post updated: January 2024)
Nestled in the south of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular and prestigious destinations in the Mediterranean. This ancient port city is known for its medieval old town celebrated in the legendary Game of Thrones series, its stunning coast, delicious cuisine and a variety of things to offer. In this article, read about:
- Port of Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik cruise terminal, getting around, helpful info)
- 10 best things to do in Dubrovnik port and the best Dubrovnik shore excursions
Dubrovnik Cruise Port
Dubrovnik is one of the most visited cruise destinations in Europe and the 10th largest Mediterranean cruise port. Cruise ships dock at the port of Gruž (“Luka Gruž” in Croatian), located in a stunning bay formed by the Lapad peninsula and the mainland. The port is located 3 km/1.9 miles (less than a 10-minute drive, or a 40-minute walk) from Dubrovnik’s old town where the majority of attractions are located.
Dubrovnik cruise terminal can accommodate up to 5 cruise vessels at a time, however, if it gets too busy, a ship may anchor in the bay south of the Old Town. In that case, the cruise passengers will be transferred to the Old Port via tender boats, from where they can start exploring the old town.
The port of Gruž features a modern terminal with facilities that include a visitor information office (make sure to pick up free city maps, brochures and info leaflets), luggage storage, tour operators and car rentals, a currency exchange office, ATMs and a bank, a pharmacy, supermarkets (“Konzum”), restaurants and bars.
The pier is very long and has two exits – the main gate, which is the largest and the closest to most amenities and services, and a smaller one which is dedicated to smaller ships and normally used for embarkation/disembarkation. Taxis and shore excursion buses are available on the pier, although some independent cruise excursions may meet outside the terminal (check your tour ticket/booking confirmation form for the exact meeting point).
The shuttle buses to Dubrovnik Old Town are normally provided free of charge or for an additional fee of approximately $15 round-trip (depending on the cruise line). The shuttle bus drop-off/pick-up point is at Brsalje square close to Pile Gate (Porta Pile), which marks the entrance to the old town. The ride takes about 15 minutes one way. At Pile Gate, you’ll find a tourist information office.
The port of Gruž also serves ferries to the Elaphiti Islands in Croatia (Lopud, Šipan and Koločep) and the Italian port of Bari.
Helpful info & links:
- The port area is flat and wheelchair accessible, however, the old town is mostly hilly and comfortable shoes are highly recommended. Dubrovnik Old Town is easy to navigate and you can visit all the attractions on foot.
- The currency in Croatia used to be the “kuna” (HRK), but as of the 1st of January 2023, the currency is officially the EURO (€). Local currency and credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s recommended to bring some cash on you as some places may not accept the cards. ATMs and currency exchange offices are available at the cruise terminal and in the city.
- Public buses in Dubrovnik are available and Dubrovnik Central Bus Station (“Autobusni Kolodvor”) is located right outside the cruise terminal. Buses 1a, 1b, 3, and 3a will take you to Brsalje Square which is located right next to Pile Gate. The single ticket costs around 2€ and you can buy it at the bus station, kiosks or directly from the bus driver. The ticket is valid in all directions for 60 minutes from the moment of validation. It is cheaper when you purchase tickets at kiosks than from the drivers. In Libertas kiosks, you can also buy a 24-hour pass for about 5.30€ per ticket. Public buses in Dubrovnik are operated by Libertas company, and you can find the timetables at https://www.libertasdubrovnik.hr/
- Taxis are available at the cruise terminal and they offer rides to the Old Town for about 14€ per vehicle one way. However, if you exit the terminal and reach a Taxi Stand Gruž, you’ll find taxis for a fixed price of 10€ per vehicle, which I definitely recommend you do. A regular starting price for a taxi ride is 3.60€, and every additional km is 1.20€. Taxis also offer 1-hour panoramic city tours for 50€ per vehicle.
- Dubrovnik Pass is a 1-day city pass that costs 35€ and allows access to attractions including the City Walls, Cultural History Museum, Rector’s Palace, Marin Držić House, Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Bukovac House, Friars Minor Franciscan Monastery Museum, Maritime Museum, Dubrovnik Natural History Museum, Ethnographic Museum, The Pulitika Studio, Dulčić Masle Pulitika Gallery, and Archaeological exhibitions. It also includes unlimited rides on public transport and discounts on tours, activities, food and drinks, and other services. Dubrovnik Pass will save you a lot of money as the entrance to the City Walls only will cost you the same money. Dubrovnik Pass can be bought at tourist information offices, kiosks, hotels, museums and generally all the attractions. A 3-day pass is also available for 45€, as well as a 7-day pass which costs 55€.
- There are two main tourist information offices, one is located at the cruise terminal, while the other one is at Brsalje Square next to Pile Gate.
- Public car parks are available in the port of Dubrovnik and the Old Town (Best-in-Parking) on Zagrebačka Street. Check out Dubrovnik rent-a-car deals
- The climate in Dubrovnik is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The best time to visit is between June and August, however, be ready for large crowds and high prices as these are the peak months. For helpful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 55 Cruise Essentials
- Explore Dubrovnik tours and activities
- Book a private transfer to/from Dubrovnik cruise port
- Search the best hotel deals in Dubrovnik
10 Best Things to Do in Dubrovnik Cruise Port
Before I share the best things to do in Dubrovnik, I invite you to grab your copy of the “Mediterranean Cruise Port Guide”, the most comprehensive guide to 45 Mediterranean cruise ports (including Dubrovnik), packed with practical information, expert tips & unforgettable experiences! (PDF format/200 pages)
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1. Dubrovnik Old Town
Dotted with traditional restaurants, shops, souvenir stores and historic landmarks, Old Town Dubrovnik is the first and foremost place to visit in the city. Enclosed by medieval walls overlooking the Old Port, with its marble-paved squares and narrow, cobbled streets, the remarkably preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the beating heart of Dubrovnik. The best way to explore it is on a guided walking tour that will take you to the most prominent landmarks:
- Old Town Walls with its towers, fortresses and breathtaking views of the coast.
- Rector’s Palace – an elegant 14th-century Renaissance palace museum showcasing the artifacts from the city’s history.
- Stradun – the main marble-paved street that runs through the heart of the old town, filled with eateries, cafes, shops, small businesses, and historic landmarks including squares, palaces and churches (Church of St. Salvation, Franciscan Church and Monastery, St. Blaise’s Church). Stradun connects the eastern and western entrances to the city. At the western end, Pile Gate (Porta Pile) and the Franciscan Monastery with its bell tower mark the entrance to the old town, while at the other end, the 15th-century Clocktower dominates the skyline.
- Ploče Gate (Vrata od Ploča) is the 14th-century eastern gate to the Old Town and features a statue of Saint Blaise, the patron of the city.
- Franciscan Church and Monastery – this 1300s monastery is known for its historic pharmacy dating from 1317, which has been operating ever since (it’s never been closed). Over 2,000 recipes, bottles and other pharmaceutical items from the 15th and 16th centuries are still being kept and are truly fascinating to see!
- Dubrovnik Cathedral – also known as The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, this marvelous 18th-century baroque cathedral features a triptych by Titian and artworks by Italian masters.
- Sponza Palace – This elegant 16th-century palace features Gothic and Renaissance architecture and is home to the Dubrovnik State Archives and the Museum to the Dubrovnik Defenders.
- Onofrio’s Fountain – a circular fountain from the 15th century decorated with ornate, carved-stone masks. It is located at the beginning of Stradun, next to Pile Gate.
- St. Blaise’s Church – a Baroque church designed by the Venetian architect and sculptor Marino Gropelli in 1715. The church is dedicated to Saint Blaise, the patron saint of the city.
- Church of St. Ignatius – The Baroque staircase of this 18th-century church was featured in the “Game of Thrones” series in the scene known as the “Walk of Shame”.
- Dominican Monastery and Church of St. Dominic – a religious complex dating from the 13th century that includes a Gothic-style church and a museum.
- Dubrovnik Synagogue – founded in the 14th century, the synagogue houses a small museum of local Jewish history.
- Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Annunciation – this 400-year-old church nowadays houses a museum where you can see religious relics from the 15th to 19th centuries.
- Ethnographic Museum Rupe – this museum displays local farming, everyday life and cultural traditions.
- Luža Square – a vast square surrounded by Sponza Palace, Clocktower and St.Blaise’s Church.
- Dubrovnik Old Port – a centuries-old harbour surrounded by city walls with great waterfront restaurants and stunning views of St. John’s Fortress.
- St John’s Fortress – the 16th-century fortress offers outstanding views of the Old Port and Lokrum Island. The fort houses the Maritime Museum and an aquarium.
- Maritime Museum – located within St. John’s Fortress, this museum displays nautical artifacts and exhibitions on the local maritime history.
- Revelin Fortress – the 15th-century fortress located next to Ploče Gate, which nowadays houses a nightclub.
2. City Walls
The iconic Old Town walls were built between the 12th and 17th centuries to protect the town from pirates and foreign attacks. The walls are about 2 km/1.2 miles long and they include 16 smaller and larger towers. The largest tower is St John’s Fortress (aka Sveti Ivan Tower), which was constructed in the 16th century at the entrance to the Old Port, and nowadays houses the Maritime Museum and an aquarium. The UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik City Walls are about 25 m (82 ft) high and 3 to 6 meters thick, and they consist of four main corners/fortresses/towers.
- Minčeta Tower is at the northwest corner at the highest point of the city, offering magnificent panoramic views.
- Revelin Fortress sits at the eastern corner next to Ploče Gate.
- St. John’s Fortress is located on the southeast corner and overlooks the old harbour.
- Fort Bokar is a large 15th-century fortress at the southwest of the city that protects the Pile Gate and the entrance to the city.
It takes about 1 to 2 hours to make the whole circuit along the thick battlements, and there are hundreds of steps to handle on the way. You can start from one of the three entrances, and the ticket costs 33€. The more convenient and cheaper option here would be to purchase Dubrovnik Pass which allows you to access many more landmarks for the same price.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and a hat and keep hydrated, as there is no shade. Take time to explore the forts, towers, hidden corners and courtyards, and enjoy beautiful views of the city, Adriatic Sea and Lokrum Island.
3. Rector’s Palace
Knežev Dvor, or Rector’s Palace, sits south of Luža Square on Ulica Pred Dvorom street. This iconic palace originally dates from the 13th century and was later rebuilt in a Venetian-Gothic style designed by Michelozzo Michelozzi. Rector’s Palace was a seat of government and state offices as well as the Rector’s headquarters and living area when Dubrovnik was a self-governing Republic. Today, it houses the Town History Museum (Gradski Muzej) as well as a music concert hall. It’s not allowed to take videos inside the museum.
The visit takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and you’ll get the chance to explore the palace’s exhibition halls filled with historic artifacts, furniture, paintings, and lavish courtyards featured on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series. The entrance to Rector’s Palace is included in Dubrovnik Pass.
4. Fort Lovrijenac
Perched on a 37-meter high cliff overlooking Dubrovnik Old Town and the Adriatic Sea, Tower Lovrijenac is also known as St. Lawrence Fortress and dates from the 11th century. The fort has a triangular shape and includes three terraces with stunning panoramic views. Constructed at the beginning of the 11th century, Lovrijenac played a major role in resisting Venetian rule and is nowadays a venue for concerts and theatre performances during Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The fort was also featured in the iconic “Game of Thrones” series.
You can access Lovrijenac Fort via paths that lead to two drawbridges and the gate to the fortress. It is open from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm and the entrance to the fort is included in the City Walls ticket and Dubrovnik Pass. The visit to the fortress only costs around 7€.
5. Game of Thrones Movie Tour
Dubrovnik served as a filming location for the legendary HBO series Game of Thrones, and that’s probably the most popular tour in Dubrovnik! These tours normally last for 2-3 hours and include stops at the most popular Game of Thrones filming locations. Below is a list of the most famous Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik:
- Pile Gate – the most famous scene is from Season 2, Episode 6 when Joffrey was attacked on his way back to the Red Keep after Myrcella gets shipped off to Dorne. He orders everyone in the crowd to be murdered and a riot starts.
- Pile Harbour – the beach in the bay close to Old Town walls between Bokar Fortress and Fort Lovrijenac has been used as King’s Landing’s harbour, more precisely in the scenes when Myrcella leaves for Dorne in Seasons 2, Episode 6 and then when Cersei waits for her to return in Season 6.
- Lovrijenac Fort – a lot of scenes taking place in the Red Keep were filmed inside Fort Lovrijenac.
- Dubrovnik West Harbour – right next to Fort Lovrijenac, this little pier was a filming location for the epic battle of Blackwater Bay.
- Fort Bokar and City Walls – this fortress and Dubrovnik City Walls were often featured in the scenes of everyday life of people living in King’s Landing.
- The Rector’s Palace – the stairway of the palace was featured in Season 2, Episode 6 when Daenerys visits the Spice King’s mansion to request ships to carry her army across the Narrow Sea, but the Thirteen rulers of Qarth reject her.
- The Jesuit Staircase of Saint Ignatius Church and Stradun – one of the most popular scenes from Season 5, Episode 10 is the “Walk of Shame” of Queen Cersei. As punishment for her crimes which include adultery with her twin brother Jaime Lannister, Cersei is forced to walk naked in the streets of King’s Landing from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep.
- Minčeta Tower – the famous tower offering stunning panoramic views was featured in Season 2 Episode 10 when Danaerys gets back from a walk and finds out that her dragons have been stolen.
- St Dominic Street – Dubrovnik’s narrow streets were used in several market scenes in King’s Landing.
- Dominican Monastery – it’s located on St Dominic Street; the scene where the protest speech against the Lannisters was delivered was filmed on the circular steps in front of the monastery.
- Ploče Gate – the eastern entrance to the Old Town is most famous for the scene when Cersei returns to the Red Keep after her walk of shame.
- Gradac Park – the historic park with scenic views of Lovrijenac Fort and City Walls is located near the entrance to the Old Town. It was a filming location for the Purple Wedding feast where King Joffrey was poisoned.
- Ethnographic Museum – a filming location for Littlefinger’s brothel in King’s Landing.
- Lokrum Island – located just off the coast of Dubrovnik, the island served as a set for some of the scenes in the city of Qarth.
6. Dubrovnik Cable Car
Take in the most spectacular views of Dubrovnik from Mount Srđ, a low mountain perched over the walled city of Dubrovnik. The mountain has a height of 412 meters (1,352 ft) and is part of the wider Dinaric Alps. On top of it, you will find a large white stone cross and an old defense structure called Fort Imperial, built by the French in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars.
To climb to Mount Srđ, you can take a taxi, hike, or take a cable car, which is definitely the most scenic and memorable way. The cable car ride takes about 4 minutes one-way and it will take you to a plateau offering stunning views of Dubrovnik, Lokrum Island and the Adriatic Sea. At the upper cable car station, you can enjoy food and drinks at Panorama restaurant.
The cable car’s lower station is located approximately 8-12 minutes’ walk via pedestrian sidewalks from Ploče or Pile gates. The third and quickest way (6-9 minutes walk) to access it is by walking up the stairs from Stradun towards Buža gate, and then across the parking towards stairs below the cable car. However, this road is a bit more strenuous because it involves lots of steep stairs. From the Dubrovnik cruise port, you can reach the cable car station by bus #8 or taxi.
The cable car is closed in January, February and March, and reopens on April 1st. You can check the opening times and updated prices at https://www.dubrovnikcablecar.com/
7. Hike Mount Srđ
If you prefer more adventurous activities, hiking is a great way to burn calories after a delicious local meal! Several trails can get you to the top – one of them starts next to the highway and will take you to the viewpoint and back for about 2 hours. Two trails start from the Old Town, just outside of the main Pile Gate. It takes about 3,5-4 km one-way to the elevation point of about 400 meters/1,300 feet, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and keep hydrated.
Finally, if you don’t want to climb to the top, Mount Srđ has many other viewpoints on lower levels, mostly on the eastern side of the city from where you can admire the panorama of Old Port and the City Walls. The views are just incredible and offer spectacular views of Dubrovnik from different angles.
8. Lokrum Island
Nestled just off the coast of Dubrovnik, the car-free island of Lokrum is a perfect oasis to escape the bustling Dubrovnik old town. In this beautiful nature reserve, you can visit a medieval Benedictine monastery complex surrounded by botanical gardens planted with exotic trees, flowers, and bushes. Not far from there, the historic Fort Royal offers magnificent scenic vistas of the island and the sea. On the island, within the monastery complex, you can also find a couple of restaurants and snack bars, shops, public toilets and public showers.
Lokrum Island is a popular destination for swimming, kayaking and snorkeling due to its rocky coves and picturesque rocky beaches. Lokrum Main Beach, Dead Sea, and Galija are popular swimming spots. Lokrum Island is open from April to November. The ferry boats to/from Lokrum Island are organized from the Old Port, where you can check out the sailing timetables. They usually sail every 15-30 minutes depending on the season, the ride takes about 15 minutes and the cost is about 5€ per ticket.
9. Beaches and Water Activities
Besides all the incredible history and historic landmarks, the city of Dubrovnik is also known for a few nice beaches where you can spend a relaxing day soaking in the Mediterranean Sun. One of the popular Dubrovnik beaches is Banje beach, located east of the Old Town, a 15-minute drive from the cruise port. It is a lovely, relatively small pebble beach offering views of Lokrum Island and the Old Port. From the Old Port and Ploče Gate, you can reach the beach on foot in less than 10 minutes.
Other popular beaches in the area include a secluded Danče Beach, Bellevue Beach, Lokrum Beaches, Betina Cave Beach, Plaža Sveti Jakov, Uvala Lapad Beach, Copacabana Beach, and a few others, all located within a 10-15 minute drive from Dubrovnik cruise port. Keep in mind that the majority of these beaches are small coves with pebbles and rocks, so don’t expect wide sandy beaches. These scenic beaches offer great swimming and snorkeling opportunities, while the popular activities are also sailing and sea kayaking.
Time permitting, you can also book a day trip to the Elafiti archipelago (Elaphites), which consists of 14 islands along the Dalmatian Coast northwest of Dubrovnik. Three of them – Lopud, Šipan and Koločep, are the largest ones and make a popular day trip from Dubrovnik.
- Explore Dubrovnik beaches and water activities tours
- Check out the Elafiti Islands tours and activities
10. Food and Wine Tasting
When in Dubrovnik, you should definitely taste the delicious local food and a great selection of wines as the whole region is known for the production of premium quality wines. Make sure you try fresh seafood, cheese, prosciutto and meat dishes, or go for vegetarian and vegan options.
You can check out one of the countless eateries in the Old Town, or head outside the city to Konavle Valley, known for its award-winning wineries surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation and scenic vineyards. Top off your day with a sweet Rožata dessert, a Dalmatian version of crème brûlée!
Whether you decide to explore the beautiful Dubrovnik Old Town, spend an adventurous day or check out the beaches, make sure to plan your day ahead to get the most out of this Dalmatian jewel! In case you’re staying longer in Dubrovnik, you can book a day trip to the cities of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kotor in Montenegro – another popular Adriatic port of call.
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