“The best time to enjoy the Dubrovnik wall walk is just before the sun sets,” they say.
And one time – as the setting sun bathed everything in a vivid golden glow – we did stroll atop the massive Dubrovnik city walls that surround the Old City.
And it was lovely…
But on a couple of other visits to Croatia, we’ve also enjoyed walking the walls of Dubrovnik in the morning, especially when we were able to beat the crowds!
So really, any time is a great time for walking the Dubrovnik city walls,
Here, then, are tips for walking these epic walls – including what to expect and how to have the best experience possible. Read on!
Dubrovnik wall walk: What you see
“Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik,” raved playwright George Bernard Shaw upon visiting the city in 1929.
Shaw was right on.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Dubrovnik is known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
When you walk on top of the walls, strolling from tower to tower, you get breathtaking views of both the entire Old Town below and the Adriatic Sea.
Gazing down at the fortified city, you see a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance churches, monasteries, Venetian palaces and ornately carved fountains – all crammed together with shuttered apartments, hole-in-the-wall boutiques, and outdoor restaurants and cafés.
It’s a kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes – and a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people who reside within the famous walls.
Schoolboys kick soccer balls along narrow cobbled streets. Women hang their laundry in tiny courtyard gardens.
And the jumble of red-tiled roofs is mesmerizing.
On the other side of the medieval stone wall (the sea-facing side), you’ll likely see laughing youths dive off the rocks at the wall’s base into the cobalt-blue sea.
Take a peek at the Croatian city of Split: It’s a gem too, and you’ll love exploring Diocletian’s Palace – a walled wonder!
About the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik
The stone walls you see today were built mainly during the 12th to the 17th centuries to protect the city from attack.
The whole length is about 1¼ miles (encircling most of the Old City). Some parts are as high as 83 feet above the ground!
These high walls are super thick too. In some places on the landward side, the walls are almost 20 feet thick. On the seaward side, they’re about 5 to 10 feet thick.
Located along the north side of the walls, the circular Minceta Tower is the highest point of the walls.
Climb the narrow winding staircase to the top of the tower for the absolute best views in the town.
You can see everything from here – all of the town, Lokrum island in the distance, the 1,000-year-old Lovrijenac Fortress (or Fort Lawrence) beyond the walls and the shimmering sea.
On the western corner of the Dubrovnik Old Town walls is the Bokar Fortress. Cylindrical in shape, it was built in 1461 by an Italian architect to defend the Pile Gate (the western main entrance into the city).
Another fort built into the ancient walls is St. John’s Fortress (in the southeast corner). Often called Mulo Tower, its purpose was to prevent pirates and enemy ships from accessing the city’s harbor.
As you walk on top of the wall, you’ll note it isn’t flat – it’s a bit of “up and down.”
In fact, the city walls have a total of 1,080 steps (including those at three entrances). We didn’t count them, but a team of young international students apparently has!
Pile Gate, Dubrovnik: Main entrance
There are three different entrances to the Dubrovnik walls – one at Pile Gate, one at Ploce Gate (near the Dominican Monastery) and one close to the Maritime Museum at Fort St. John.
Most visitors enter the fortified Old City through the drawbridge over the 15th-century Pile Gate (or Vrata od Pila).
The Pile Gate entrance to the walls is thus a convenient one. (We’ve always started at this entrance.)
You have to climb a steep flight of stairs to reach the top of the wall to start your walk.
When you’ve finished your walk, you can exit the walls and enter Dubrovnik Old Town through this same gate – so you can explore the town itself (discussed below).
How long does it take to walk the city walls in Dubrovnik?
Allow two hours to walk the wall if it’s your first time.
While you can do it in an hour, you’ll likely be so blown away by the views that you’ll be stopping to take photos every few feet – and you really want time to soak it all up.
If it’s not too busy (and you’re not too pokey), you may find it will only take you 1½ hours to walk around.
Dubrovnik city walls tickets
Dubrovnik walls price:
Entrance tickets aren’t cheap. The cost just went up again in 2022.
Tickets for the Dubrovnik city walls walk are now 250 Croatian kunas or 33.02 Euros (about $36.50 USD) per adult.
You can only pay cash (in kuna) or use a credit card.
If you’d like to buy tickets online in advance, here’s the official City Walls Dubrovnik website.
Entry to Fort Lovrijenac:
Your single use wall ticket also includes the entrance fee for Fort Lovrijenac (the Fort of St. Lawrence).
It’s valid for 72 hours, so you can visit the fortress, for example, the following day.
Alternatively, you can buy the Dubrovnik Card from the City of Dubrovnik.
You can purchase a 1-day card, 3-day card or 7-day card.
The 1-day card costs 250 kunas (the same as a single ticket for the walls). But the beauty of this card is that it also includes admission to several other Dubrovnik attractions, museums and public transportation – as well as entry to the walls.
Dubrovnik city walls opening hours:
The opening hours vary, depending on the time of year:
- January and February – 10.00 am to 3.00 pm
- March – 9.00 am to 3.00 pm
- April and May – 9.00 am to 6.30 pm
- June and July – 8.00 am to 7.30 pm
- August to September 15 – 8.00 am to 7.00 pm
- September 15 to October 31 – 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
- November and December – 9.00 am to 3.00 pm
Pro tips for your Dubrovnik wall walk
One way only!
To walk the medieval walls of Dubrovnik, you must walk in one direction, anti-clockwise.
No going against the flow!
Get there early (or late):
Our top tip is to start your walk early to avoid the crowds.
If you’re visiting any time from June to September 15 (peak season), the walls open at 8:00 am. Be there by 8:00 am for the most enjoyable experience.
If you go later in the morning or mid-day, you run the risk of being stuck in a slow-shuffling conga line of visitors, with no way of passing anyone.
Also, there’s very little shade on the walls, and the sun is hot in the summer months. Going first thing in the morning means you beat the heat, and your walk will be more comfortable.
Another good time to walk the walls is late afternoon, as the crowds usually thin out by then.
Avoid cruise ship days:
Try to time your visit for a day when there are no cruise ships in port.
Walking the Dubrovnik walls is a top excursion. If you can help it, you don’t really want to be doing your wall walk at the same time as hundreds of cruise passengers.
Check this CruiseDig website for Dubrovnik – it’s one site that shows the Dubrovnik cruise ship schedule. You can also ask your hotel, as they will likely know too.
If you can’t arrange your visit for when there are no cruise ships in port, going early or at the end of the day should still mean you’ll avoid bumping elbows with cruise passengers. Most cruise excursions don’t get going until 9:00 am or later, and they usually take passengers back to the ship by 4:30 or 5:00 pm.
Take a break:
Several cafés along the way offer the opportunity to sit in the shade with a coffee or cold drink. (But if you can wait until you finish your walk, so much the better, as you’ll have more choice of pretty cafés in the town, and the costs are less.)
There are also toilets along the walls.
What to bring:
If visiting in summer, take a bottle of water with you – it can get hot up there on the wall! Wear a hat too.
And your feet will thank you if you wear comfy shoes or travel sandals.
Dubrovnik Old Town
Okay, so you’ve finished your walk on top of the walls – and you’re keen to get an up-close look at some of the attractions in the town itself.
Dubrovnik Old Town is compact enough that you won’t get lost.
It’s easy to simply stroll about on your own. And because vehicles aren’t allowed inside, you can walk the marble-paved streets and alleyways without fear of being mowed down by a scooter or car.
Among the many historic buildings you can tour is the Franciscan Monastery.
In the gardened cloister, a pharmacy dating back to 1317 – the third oldest in Europe – still operates.
It’s also a museum. On display are the ceramic bowls, metal instruments, and mortar and pestle sets that the monks used to prepare medicines.
Another beautiful sight is the present-day cathedral from the 18th century. (An earlier one, destroyed by an earthquake, was said to have been financed by King Richard the Lionheart.)
Inside the cathedral, you can see gold and silver reliquaries, along with a priceless 16th-century painting (“Assumption of the Virgin”) by the Venetian artist, Titian.
War Photo Limited:
Throughout the city, occasional pockmarks on houses and patched roofs remind you of the bombing the city received in the early 1990’s by the Yugoslavian army.
The Croatian war ended in 1995, and today the city has been virtually restored.
If you’re interested in Croatia’s complex relationships with its neighbors, visit the museum of war photos called War Photo Limited (open April to October).
We found it a very moving experience.
Dubrovnik city walls tours
All three times that we’ve walked the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik, we’ve gone without a tour guide.
But to learn some of the rich history of Dubrovnik, there are several top-rated Old Town and city walls tours (all very reasonably priced). You may like one of these:
- City Walls Tour for Early Birds (or Sunset Chasers): Go on a 2-hour private guided tour as soon as the gates open!
- Epic “Game of Thrones” Walking Tour: Visit the Red Keep, Cersei’s Walk of Shame, Blackwater Bay and more on this 5-star 2-hour tour.
- Old Town Walking Tour: Visit the most important things to see in Dubrovnik Old Town on this 90-minute small group tour.
- Old Town and City Walls (2 Walk) Combo Tour: Enjoy the best of both on this combo 1½-hour Old Town and 2-hour city walls walking tour.
If you love Dubrovnik, you’ll love Trogir too: Trogir is the tiny Croatian town nicknamed “Little Venice” (but it has no canals!)
Walking the wall in Dubrovnik: Let’s do it again!
When deciding what to do in Dubrovnik, you won’t lack for options.
As for the best day trips from Dubrovnik, you can swim and kayak in the beautiful Elaphiti Islands or take the ferry to Korcula.
Whatever your plans, just be sure you put the Dubrovnik city walls walk high on your list of things to do in Dubrovnik!
The next time we visit the medieval town, no doubt we’ll stroll the marble-paved Stradun (main thoroughfare) again.
And we’ll probably check out more shops.
For sure, we’ll plonk ourselves down at an outdoor café for more cappuccinos (maybe more cake too!).
But we’ll also walk the walls of Dubrovnik again.
For more Dubrovnik tourist information:
See the Dubrovnik Tourist Office website.
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Photo credits: 2, 4, 6, 8, 11 to 13, 15 to 17, 19 to 22 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase