Is everything really so expensive in Dubrovnik? Here’s a list of my favourite 5 activities you can do in Dubrovnik for free. And have a time of your life.
- Meditate in the Gradac park
- Walk AROUND (not ON) the City walls
- Enjoy the sunset at Buža
- Visit the Jesuit church
- Take a swim at the “Šulić” beach
1. Meditate in the Gradac Park
This is certainly my favourite spot in Dubrovnik. It’s extremely beautiful. And surprisingly empty. A perfect combination. As a tourist guide, I really appreciate moments of solitude. I believe you know why.
It is only 10 minutes walking distance from the Old Town. No need to get a taxi or ride on a bus. Walk by the Hilton hotel, turn left at the Sesame bar, walk up the stairs and again turn left by the Dubrovnik Inter University Centre. Or just follow your intuition.
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular view over the City and the Lovrjenac fortress. And you are there.
Find a bench in the shade of ancient pine trees, sit back and… just sit there for a while. Gradually, you will start hearing the cicadas, the blackbirds, the swifts, the waves, the wind. You shall become the observer.
Observe the reflections on the Adriatic, the bark of ancient trees. Now concentrate on your breathing. Feel the scent of the Mediterranean getting deep into you. Let go of any tension.
Connect with your Inner Child.
Now it’s time to take out a sandwich. Chew with love, swallow with gratitude. Welcome some very polite pigeons as they join you for lunch.
Just look at this photo! And then I will count you back into the reality: One, two, three, four, five, six… and seven.
2. Walk AROUND (not ON) the City Walls
Let me be clear about it. Nothing can replace an actual tour of the City Walls. And paying for it. It’s certainly worth it.
However, some views of the Dubrovnik City walls can only be enjoyed AWAY from the Walls. And this is well worth the effort, too.
You can use your intuition. But let me help you organise your spontaneity!
Start at the eastern gate, the Ploče gate. Squat (no, I don’t mean like that! Shame on you!) at the bridge and take this picture:
Next, turn left and continue walking along the Walls. When you reach the northern gate (It says “1908”above the gate), get into a pedestrian passage opposite of it that will safely take you under the road. Take the winding stairs up. Continue walking up the hill until you reach the highest point, the chess-figure-like tower, Minčeta. Then walk down the stairs and reach a beautiful view point.
This is where you can make some (narcissistic) photos with a spectacular backdrop. And this will probably be the highlight of your free tour.
You may or may not want to know that you are standing on part of an ancient aqueduct system supplying the thirsty City with the precious liquid, built by Onofrio della Cava in 1438.
3. Watch the Sunset at Buža
I was born and raised in Dubrovnik. However, Irena, is from Split. Before moving to the Trogir area, we lived in Dubrovnik for five years. Irena did not particularly like the Dubrovnik Old City. She found it to be dirty and old. But there was one spot she did like: Buža.
There are several “Bužas” in Dubrovnik. How to find the right one? Well, find the church with the largest dome, the Dubrovnik Cathedral. Go to the square in front of the main, eastern entrance. Then take a street exactly parallel to the main facade of the church. Follow it to the end until you reach the southern city wall. Look for an inconspicuous passage.
Mind your head as you pass through the hole (this is what “Buža” means). Expect to be flabbergasted! Such a dramatic contrast between the sombre streets and the explosion of light.Gaze at the horizon, the outer part of the City Walls and the mysterious island of Lokrum.
Walk by the bar and go down by the sea. You can take a swim. Or again, take out that sandwich of yours and enjoy dining al fresco at sunset. Bon appetit!
4. Visit the Jesuit Church
There is something attractive about this church. It feels like you have seen it somewhere else before. And yes, it my well have been Rome.
The Jesuits never wanted to keep a law profile in Dubrovnik. In 1725, after The Earthquake, they removed an entire block of houses to make their church stand out.
Everything was supposed to impress the observer. The front facade, the trick-eye frescoes inside. You are meant to say “Wow!” and forget about Martin Luther. Because that was one of the assignments of the Jesuits: to fight against the Protestantism.
Nevertheless, there is something quite picturesque about the whole setting of the church, the gravel square in front of it, and the view.
Except for the apse frescoes, glorifying Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order, the interior is somewhat austere. But austerity is again what Jesuits were all about. St. Ignatius Loyola was a soldier before his conversion. Hence, the whole Order came to imitate his character.
Oh, I almost forgot. To make the access to the church even more spectacular, a copy-paste version of the Spanish Steps from Rome was implanted in-between the houses.
And this eye-catching staircase is where the famous scene form the Game of Thrones takes place: The Walk Of Shame. So expect the site to be invaded by the GOT enthusiasts.
5. Take a Swim at the “Šulić” Beach
Or just sit there by the sea. However, taking a swim in the Adriatic Sea is both safe and a delight. (Keep your senses, though. When the seas are rough, it can be dangerous). So don’t shy away from it.
Squeezed between the Gradac park and the Lovrjenac fortress, this beach is one of the most…I have to use this word again… DRAMATIC beaches in Dubrovnik.
The cliffs bearing the impressive fortress, ancient fisherman’s storage houses, a decent beach in the middle (many beaches in Dubrovnik are not really beaches. They denote places where you can get into the water without too much fear of stepping on a sea urchin) and the local people who do their ritual bathing here make this beach really special.
How to find it? Again, your intuition will lead you. First locate the Lovrjenac fortress. The beach is found just beneath it. Look for an entrance that seems to be leading to a private courtyard. It’s not. It’s a beach. And BTW, it’s FREE!
Some other ideas on what to do in Dubrovnik for free you can find in this article I wrote.