A visit to Dubrovnik is definitely easy around the eyes – but could be hard in your wallet.
Yet knowing how, you may enjoy this Croatian town of unparalleled architectural grace, lush nature, azure waters and relaxed living without spending any money. Here are the best free things to complete in Dubrovnik.
Wander the open-air museum of Dubrovnik's old town
With the feel of an open-air museum and gated by two drawbridges, Dubrovnik's old town could be easily susceptible to an entrance fee. But it is not: despite its fairy-tale appearance, this can be a real neighborhood, with real residents. As everyday life unfolds against a backdrop of medieval, Renaissance and baroque architecture, every square becomes a stage and every notice a postcard.
Hours slide by as you roam around the maze of picturesque stone alleyways and steep staircases, admiring chapels, churches and occasional gardens. People-watch in the stairs of St Blaise's Church, take a seat on a bench within the breezy harbor, watch swimmers at Porporela – and permit yourself time for you to experience Dubrovnik's beating heart.
Explore King's Landing at Game of Thrones filming locations
Despite Cersei's tyranny and Drogon's fire, Dubrovnik's old town – the set for the capital of the Six Kingdoms – is still standing. Walking on the main street, turn right right before the elegant clocktower to reach the Jesuit stairs and Od Margarite street, or go straight on for Od Dominika street, all sites from the infamous “walk of shame” scene. (Resist the temptation to re-enact each frame faithfully, though, as public nudity does not fly in present-day Croatia.)
Down through the water in Pile, marvel in the show's Blackwater Bay and stand it the same spot where Jon Snow bid his histrionic farewell to the Starks. Far beyond, the Red Keep (in reality Fort Lawrence) charges an entry fee, climax free if you buy a ticket for the City Walls. Minutes away, the website of the bloody Purple Wedding is the serene Gradac Park, an awesome, quiet destination to escape from that old town's hustle and bustle.
Read more: Here be dragons: touring Croatia's Game of Thrones locations
Follow the Way of the Cross path and take in the view in the Petka hills
Green hills dot the outer rim of Dubrovnik, providing a lovely opportunity to enjoy nature without leaving town. For the best views, hike in the Method of the Cross path to the top Srd hill, and from the 413m (1355ft) standpoint enjoy the old town's terracotta roofs spread beneath you want the palm of the hand. Across town, the trails on the Petka hills lead with the cool shade of Mediterranean forests as much as stunning views from the tiny Grebeni rocks and the mystical Elafiti Islands. Timing is everything, though, so avoid the high sun and come prepared with water, sunscreen, snacks, hat and (naturally) a camera.
Admire masterpieces at the Cathedral from the Assumption along with other churches
Churches in Dubrovnik display art by both local artists and international masters. Within the Cathedral, pause and admire the Assumption of Mary, a 16th-century polyptych by Titian displayed over the main altar. At St Ignatius of Loyola Church, stunning baroque frescoes fill the main apse. Within the church of Dubrovnik's patron saint Blaise, look up at colorful stained glass windows by Ivo Dulci'c, a beloved native son.
Read more: 10 spectacular sunset spots in Dubrovnik
Enjoy some free nibbles at Grad Market
Adding a a little vibrant color towards the old town stone, the Grad Market pulses with life. Many stalls stock such traditional local sweets as dried figs, arancini (Croatian candied orange peel) and brostulani mjenduli (candied almonds), and provide a totally free taste before you buy. Foodies should also venture to the city's main market in Gruz, that has its own fish market.
Learn about the former Yugoslavia's painful dissolution through art
The 1991 -92 conflict that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia left Dubrovnik shattered into pieces. You'll realize the extent from the damage suffered by studying the photographs displayed at Ivo Grbi'c Art, as you eat the story of the family whose home was considered ashes by repeated hits from incendiary bombs. Sponza Palace's Memorial Room, meanwhile, showcases the portraits of 139 men who died defending Dubrovnik as a reminder from the war's greatest loss.
Read more: How you can live just like a Local in Dubrovnik
Lie out on a towel around the beach
The beaches are extremely difficult to privatize around Dubrovnik, so even the most widely used ones, like Banje or Sveti Jakov, have sufficient room for beachgoers preferring to place down a towel instead of renting a lounger. For sunbathing the way locals get it done, head to rugged Dance or scenic Suli'c; for adrenaline, dive off the rocks on Buza. To see relatives time, venture anywhere to Lapad Bay, with offers pebbly shores and dramatic sunsets.
Fall in love with red Adriatic coral at Clara Stones Jewellery
Visiting the exclusive Clara Stones Jewellery will teach you all about sumptuous red Adriatic coral. The region's only semiprecious material is known for its shiny scarlet color – yet before craftsmen get their way using the material, it's neither shiny nor red. In the Clara Stones workshop, you can witness the magical transformation first-hand.
Read more: How you can spend the perfect long weekend in Dubrovnik
Volunteer on a water excursion with Green Sea Safari tours
It's difficult to believe you can take a day trip towards the islands around Dubrovnik free of charge – yet with local NGO Green Sea Safari, you'll purchase the knowledge in kind, by enhancing the group cleanup remote items of the coast. After a good hour's work, it's break time, while you swim in crystal-clear waters, island-hop, explore watery caves and much more. While the NGO depends on donations, these aren't obligatory.
Enjoy a free guided walking tour in the off season
Between November and March every year, the Dubrovnik Tourism Board throws inside a freebie for that town's low-season visitors. Each Saturday morning, guided walking around the old town are followed by a folklore dance performance on Luza Square, providing understanding of the town's long-lasting traditions, past and present.