The view of Dubrovnik that is probably most recognized is the city wall which encompasses the Stari Grad (old town). It is the most visited site in town and often during the hot summer months the crowds are massive. During high season the optimum time to begin the 2 kilometer walk is as soon as they open for the day, at 0800. Early morning is preferable rather than later in the day because the blistering heat has baked the aged stones much like a brick oven. It can be warm already at 0900 but by 1100 or 1400 it is so much worse.
The easiest entry is Sveti Ivan, adjacent to the Maritime Museum. You should visit the museum, either before you climb up to the wall or at the end if you walk the entire circuit. The museum provides a historical perspective of Dubrovnik’s nautical prowess that surpassed the Venetians. Don’t miss the small botanical garden created and maintained by one of the local residents. There is also a faux guillotine and you might want to put your head in for a photo op.
By beginning at Sveti Ivan, the first view is the old harbor where many local fishing and pleasure boats are moored. You can see a building with the 3 arches which is now a restaurant and during much earlier times was where wooden vessels were maintained. This half of the wall is the most strenuous with many sets of steps, both up and down, while gradually climbing to the highest point on the wall, Minceta Tower. You will find the views of the bell tower, the Dominican Monastery, Revelin Fort and an area of town which is named “Zlatni Potok” (Golden River). I think that it should be named the Golden Mile, a very exclusive area. The furthest point was the Belvedere Hotel, once the best located property in Dubrovnik, which was totally destroyed during the shelling of town during the 1991 Homeland War.
Minceta Tower is just a few more meters, the highest point on the wall, and the views are fantastic. On the right hand side is the Pile Brsalj and the magnificent Grand Imperial Hotel, which is now managed by Hilton. Built in 1897, the hotel was destroyed during the war and was rebuilt to exactly the same specifications of the original building. The interior is now modern and it’s the perfect location for those who wish to be within a few steps to the Vrata od Pile (Door of Pile) entrance to the old town.
The main entrance is often mistakenly called Pile by guests, however it is the Spas Entrance, named for the small church Sveti Spas (Saint Savior) located at the base inside the wall. One of three buildings which survived the 1667 earthquake, it is now a location for musical concerts during the evening hours.
The sea side of the wall has always been the easiest to walk. There are some steps and a bit of climbing, but not too demanding. Walking along the turquoise blue Adriatic on the right, the old town glistens with its red hued tiles under the golden sunshine. Just below on the rocky ledge are the two Buza Bars just a few meters above the sea where tourists flock every evening to watch phenomenal sunsets. On the left is the Sveti Marija the oldest part of town which was an island many years before the Stradun was filled in and the island of Laus and the town of Ragusa became Dubrovnik.
Last fall I walked the wall three consecutive days to explain to guests what they were seeing, after which I recuperated for about a week. It saddens me to see how many guests walk the wall without a guide and I often see many photos with captions of “city walls.” Dubrovnik ramparts is not just a walk on the wall, it’s a learning experience. Come join me for the ultimate event.
Update 2014: The city wall is now accepting credit card payment. Entrance fee is 100 Kuna per adult and 30 kuna per child. No Euros, Dollars or Pounds, only Croatian Kuna. The wall has a grand total of 1080 steps.