Dubrovnik’s history stretches all the way back to the 7th century, and the city’s famous Walls of Dubrovnik have remained standing throughout it all. Today they’re one of Croatia’s most popular attractions, due to the breathtaking views of the city they offer, and their prominent role in such TV dramas as Game of Thrones. But the city walls mean a great deal to the local people of the region, representing the skilled engineering of their ancestors and the care with which generations of residents have taken to preserve the walls. Join us today for our guide to walking the Walls of Dubrovnik. And if we leave you inspired to begin planning your trip to Dubrovnik, why not check out our very own Panorama Cruise Dubrovnik, which allows you to take in the city’s majesty while sailing in her waters.
The Story of Dubrovnik’s Walls
The most recent research into the history of Dubrovnik’s defensive walls suggests that the earliest stone walls were probably built in the 8th century, though a castle had existed on the site from well before this and the city is likely to have had wooden walls before the later limestone constructions. What is known for sure is that the city has been completely surrounded by its fortifications since the 13th century. The survival of the walls in their present state is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the builders, but also to the lengths to which generations of city residents have gone to preserve their historical environment. The walls also give us insight into the diplomatic skill of the people of Dubrovnik (known as Ragusa through much of history) — the city avoided catastrophic attacks, despite its strategic position, because the city authorities expertly maintained positive relations with the powers of the East and West.
When you visit the walls, you will be impressed by the scale of the fortifications. At times the walls are as thick as 6 metres (20 ft) and in certain sections reach heights of up to 25 metres (80 ft). The mere fact that the walls were constructed with the basic technology available to the builders at the time is reason enough to marvel at this great historical site! The strength of the walls is well illustrated if you read a list of the attempted sieges made on the city over the centuries: attacks from Saracens, Venetians, Russians, and Austrians were either completely repelled by the city’s defences, or the walls at least saved the city from suffering damage. Even during the Yugoslav army siege of 1991–1992, in which millions of dollars worth of damage was inflicted on the city, reports found that the ancient city walls did a better job of withstanding bombardment than any of the city’s modern structures!
How Much Does it Cost to Walk the Wall in Dubrovnik?
We’re often asked about the pricing of visiting the walls, with there being some confusion around whether or not the site can be visited for free — walking the Walls of Dubrovnik is not free, a visit will cost you around 200 Croatian Kuna, which is about £23, or $31. The main reason for this reasonably priced ticket is to ensure the upkeep of the walls. The entire Old Town of Dubrovnik has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status and by visiting these sites and exploring their history, you help do your bit to preserve their legacy. The ticketing service was also introduced as a way of monitoring the numbers of people walking the walls on a daily basis, in order to ensure that the walls are not damaged through unstainable crowds. Tickets can be bought online before your visit, though it is simple to acquire them on the day of your visit. You may want to buy a Dubrovnik Card, a service run through the tourist board that will give you access to the walls among many other attractions.
Getting the Most Out of Your Visit to the Walls of Dubrovnik
Finally, we offer you some tips for getting the most from your own walk of Dubrovnik’s ancient walls. The walk is going to take you around 1.5 to 2 hours, allow yourself plenty of time, so you can enjoy the views at your own pace. The walls are accessible through three entrances, with the main entrance being at Pile Gate; your entry point will make little difference as you will complete a circuit of the walls, but the most dramatic first views of the city will perhaps be enjoyed by starting at the Pile Gate.
Arriving early will help you avoid the biggest crowds, the walls open at 8 am, so planning your arrival for just before this time would be good. The busiest point is around midday at which time the walls can be crowded. If you are travelling in the height of summer, you will want to walk early or late in the day to avoid the sun when at its hottest; summer travellers should pack sunscreen and ensure they carry some drinks with them to stay hydrated. Along the route you will find cafes where you can stop to relax with a coffee and enjoy the atmosphere of the place; here you will also have access to toilets. Finally, we recommend you dress for comfort: you will be walking for around 2 km on an undulating route, wear clothes suitable for the day’s forecast and ensure your shoes have good grip.
There are many tour options for you to consider when visiting the walls, and taking a guided route can give you a deeper insight into the history of the walls and the entire city. Fans of the TV show Game of Thrones may even wish to consider a tour dedicated to showing you the extraordinary locations used in the series. And if stunning scenery is what you are looking for, we recommend you consider our Dubrovnik Sunset Cruise, where you’ll enjoy the sunset from out on the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.
This brings to a close our guide to walking the walls of Dubrovnik. If you have any questions regarding this blog or our tours, please contact us.