Dubrovnik is famous for its Game of Thrones Tours, but there is much more to the cruise port of Dubrovnik, Croatia, than King’s Landing. I have all of the Dubrovnik cruise port information in this guide.
I will show you what you can do when you dock at the Dubrovnik cruise ship terminal, how to get to the old town, and Dubrovnik tur suggestions.
When your cruise stops at Dubrovnik, Croatia, you’ll find yourself in one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the Mediterranean. The Dubrovnik port itself is located on the other side of the City from the old part of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We visited Dubrovnik in August 2022 on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas as part of a Greece and Croatia itinerary, and we instantly fell in love with the City.
When deciding what to do on a port day, I know it’s very easy to pick one of the many shore excursions available from your cruise ship.
We really didn’t know what to expect; as Game of Thrones fans, we were focused on the filming locations that turned Dubrovnik’s old City into Kings Landing. However, it turns out that the Dubrovnik cruise terminal has so much more to offer than a couple of Dragons and the Red Keep.
It’s fair to say we had our priorities all wrong and instantly changed our plans as soon as we very quickly saw what the City had to offer.
On any cruise port visit, time is always limited, so if you really want to get a good flavor of a City, it’s important to plan ahead, so based on our experience, we’ve compiled a list of what we think were the five must-do things to consider if you want to see more than just Game of Thrones locations in Dubrovnik.
Visiting Dubrovnik On A Cruise Day
When your cruise ship docks at Dubrovnik cruise port, you’ll usually be docked in Gruz, about 3km from the Old Town. Occasionally some cruise ships will drop anchor close to the Old Town and will tender guests into the Old Port.
Getting To The Old Town – Dubrovnik Cruise Port To Old Town
When you get off a cruise ship, it is so easy to start walking and take things as it comes. But in Dubrovnik, you really owe it to yourself to head to the Old Town.
Getting there on your own is very easy and will save you a fortune on cruise ships’ prices for their organized shuttles or excursions.
The bus station is directly outside Dubrovnik cruise port, and you can hop on the local No 1 Bus, which will take you to the Old Town. Alternatively, if the queues are long, grab a Taxi, as we did. The taxi fare is usually around 10 euros.
We got off the ship at 9 am, and the traffic heading towards the Old Town was pretty solid. There is a one-way system, and the streets narrow as you enter the Old Town. What should have been a 15-minute trip turned into a 40-minute ride. Be prepared for some holdups if traffic is busy.
So plan your return trip to the ship very carefully.
Explore The Old Town
Your Bus or Taxi will drop you off near the Pile Gate, which is the main entrance to the Old Town. Looking out to sea, the Old Town and Pile Gate will be on your left, and the majestic Fort Lovrijenac will be on your right.
The Old Town is a walled city built in the 16th century and is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. As you walk through the Pile Gate, you will be taken back in time. The Old Town is just absolutely stunning. It is easy to see why this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The first sight you will see in the Old Town is the Stradun, which is the wide main street that runs East from the Pile Gate to the Ploče Gate. The Stradun is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes and is a great place to people-watch and soak up the city’s atmosphere.
My advice would be to make the best use of your time and visit some of the key sites within the Old Town first, before exploring the many shops and Restaurants.
Some must-see sights are the Franciscan Monastery, the Cathedral, and the Rector’s Palace.
The Franciscan Monastery
You’ll notice the Franciscan Monastery immediately on your left before you head properly down the Stradun. As you head in, a nice courtyard area with an old well is in the middle. The beautiful old building houses a library and a museum and is also home to one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe. The pharmacy is a must-see. It’s like stepping into something out of Harry Potter, except this is real!
The Rector’s Palace
Once you have explored the monastery, continue down the Stradum to the bottom, where the Bell Tower and Orlando’s column are located. Then turn right and head up towards the Cathedral.
Before you reach the Cathedral, you’ll see the Rector’s Palace on the left. The Rector’s Palace is a Gothic-Renaissance building that was once the seat of power in Dubrovnik and is now a museum.
When you first set eyes on Dubrovnik Cathedral, you will be amazed. But wait until you head inside. The place is like a museum, with stunning artwork, and the ceiling is just unbelievable. It’s just incredible.
There are many other things to see within the walls of the Old Town. Try and explore some of the smaller alleyways as you head back from the Cathedral. But remember to keep your eye on the time. Getting back through the Pile Gate can get very congested, and that’s before you get back into traffic.
Walk The Old Town Walls
If you are a bit more energetic and want to get your steps in, you should consider walking around the City Walls. If you are careful with your time, you can easily do this alongside visiting the Old Town itself.
The Dubrovnik City Walls were constructed over a 500-year period, mainly during the 12th and 17th centuries, and they are amongst the most extensive and well-preserved fortifications in Europe. Sadly you can’t help but notice some new scars on the wall from the much more recent war between Croatia and Serbia in the 1990s.
Walking the Dubrovnik City Walls is a unique experience that allows you to see the city from a different perspective. There are stunning views over the Adriatic Sea, the Old Town, and the surrounding islands. The walk is not too strenuous, but it does involve a LOT of steps, so wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
The best way to walk the old town is to start at the Pile Gate. From there, the walk takes approximately 2 hours, and there are several places where you can stop and take a break.
Take The Dubrovnik Cable Car
If you really want to see the stunning views of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea, you need to schedule a trip on the Dubrovnik Cable Car.
The cable car has been operating since 1969 and takes you up to the top of Mount Srd in just four minutes, offering breathtaking views of Dubrovnik, the Adriatic Sea, and beyond.
To get to the Cable Car station, you can head out of the Buza Gate from the Old Town or jump on a number 1a, 1b, or 1c bus from Pile Gate. You can also walk it if you prefer.
Ticket prices for the cable car are 27 euros for an adult round trip, and Kids are 7 euros.
Once you reach the top of Mount Srd, you can explore Fortress Imperial, where you can find many details on the 1990s Croatian Wars of Independence.
If you have time, you can also enjoy a meal with an incredible view at the Panorama Restaurant. The restaurant offers a very varied menu, including traditional Croatian cuisine. There was lots of outdoor seating, but it was at a premium when we were there.
Visit Fort Lovrijenac
This medieval fortress is often referred to as “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar” and is perched atop a sheer rock overlooking the sea.
To get to the Fort, head down to the Old Port from Pile Gate. It’s pretty steep, so wear comfortable shoes and take your time.
Once you reach the very picturesque port, be prepared for another steep climb up to the Fort. There are around 200 steps to reach the fortress. My wife had sprained her knee a few weeks earlier and found the climb quite challenging. She agreed that the breathtaking views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town made it all worth it.
The fortress was built in the 11th century, and it has played a significant role in the city’s defense throughout history and has never been conquered. You can understand why when you look over the edge of the Fort’s walls!
One quick thing and we got this advice from a local. Don’t be tempted to take a swim in the old port harbor. You will see kids and other tourists in there, but apparently, some wastewater is piped into the water. Also, many small boats come in and out of the harbor there, which can be quite dangerous for swimmers!
Relaxing on Dubrovnik’s Beaches
Now if history, stunning buildings, and amazing views are not your thing, then you can ignore the previous four recommendations and just hit the beach!
We spoke to several fellow cruise passengers who preferred a more relaxing day in port, and these were the beaches that kept being mentioned.
Banje Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Dubrovnik and for a good reason. It’s located about 15 minutes walk from Pile Gate at Old Town. The beach offers stunning views of the city walls and the harbor below Fort Lovrijenac.
Sveti Jakov Beach
Sveti Jakov Beach is a great option if you’re looking for a quieter beach experience. It’s a bit further out from the Old Town area, so it tends to be less crowded. It’s still easily accessible from the Cruise port if you want to head to the Beach for the day. The water is calm and perfect for swimming, and there are plenty of loungers and umbrellas available for rent.
Lapad Beach is located in the Lapad Bay area, which is much closer to Dubrovnik cruise port. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby. It is quite “pebbly,” though, so bear that in mind. Lapad Beach is about a 10-minute taxi drive from the cruise port.
Map Of Dubrovnik
Book Dubrovnik Tours
Booking Dubrovnik tours for a port day at the Dubrovnik cruise port can be a fantastic idea, as it allows you to make the most of your limited time in the city and experience its highlights. Dubrovnik is a beautiful and historic city with a wealth of cultural and historical sites to explore, so joining a tour can help you navigate the city efficiently and ensure that you don’t miss out on any must-see attractions.
Joining a tour allows you to maximize your time in Dubrovnik. The tour guides are knowledgeable about the city’s landmarks and can help you navigate through the popular tourist spots efficiently. They are often experienced in managing Dubrovnik cruise schedules, ensuring that you return to the port on time.
By booking a tour, you won’t have to worry about planning an itinerary or navigating the city on your own. The tour operator will take care of the logistics, including transportation, entrance tickets, and any necessary reservations. This allows you to relax and enjoy your day without the stress of organizing everything yourself.
Who Needs Kings Landing?
While Game of Thrones tours are popular in Dubrovnik cruise port, there is much more to see and do in this beautiful city.
With the beaches, the Old Town, and the stunning view from Mount Srd, there are plenty of things to see and do that don’t involve Game of Thrones.
So, when your cruise stops in Dubrovnik, take some time to explore all this amazing city has to offer and leave your Dragon at home.