Dubrovnik, Croatia's most photographed city, welcomes armies of tourists every day. It follows that entrance fees have a habit of cropping up and emptying your pockets when you least expect it - you won't be able to walk the famous city walls without spending 120 kuna, and most attractions will have you parting with a handful of coins. While you'll probably conclude that these inimitable sights are worth every penny, you can easily give the spending a break - Dubrovnik's free attractions are some of its finest. Here are some wonderful free things to do.
RECOMMENDED: more great things to do in Dubrovnik.
Climb mount Srd
Mount Srd looms behind Dubrovnik, lending the cityscape a touch of the sublime. Walk up its sinuous paths to escape the throb of the streets for a few hours; it's a 90-minute thigh-burner of a walk, but its summit offers panoramic views to please the most curmudgeonly climber. Once you're done gazing, you can stop by the mountain top cafe.
Trees give some shade, but for much of the way you’ll be crossing bare and arid patches under the glare of the sun – so bring plenty of water.
(There are also cable cars which whisk you up to the summit for 60 – 100 kuna each way).
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival has been the city's summer centrepiece for 67 years . Performances crop up all over, including classical concerts by revered orchestras, plays by domestic and foreign theatre companies and award-winning films screened under the open, star-scattered sky. While some of the events require paid tickets, many are free of charge - check out the full schedule here.
Hit the beach
Dubrovnik beaches have a quiet kind of beauty - most attract a local crowd of sunbathers, who tend to stay loyal to their favourite. Some are defined by their lively arcades of cafes and bars, while others are hushed half-moon bays which you'll feel lucky to have discovered. Either way, sun and sea are Dubrovnik's most plentiful resources, so they come free of charge.
Admire the architecture
The best way to grasp why Dubrovnik's old town is UNESCO-listed is to wander around and admire the architecture. Placa Stradun, the central street, has a smattering of gems - enter through the imposing Pila Gate, and get lost in the tangle of alleys and backstreets. If you stroll by in the evening, look out for the ceremonious changing of the guards that happens at 9.30pm every day on Stradun.
Streets hum with litanies in Dubrovnik, so numerous are its churches. While the Cathedral's baroque facade has visitors rightly gawping, serious church enthusiasts will want to search a little further: St Ignatius's church is haughty and ornate; the Serbian Orthodox church is dripping with Byzantine icons; and passsing through the Franciscan Monastry's cloister, one of Dubrovnik's most transcendent spots, is a holy experience.
Make time, too, to see the oldest Sephardic synagogue in Europe. Nestled in a side alley, it's easy to miss - but when you enter its elegant interior, you'll be glad you didn't.
Window-shop at the market
A bustling fruit and veg market wakes up the Gundulić Square each morning. Stalls sell fresh food and flowers and traditional craftwork. Soak up the calamity, and then admire the statue of the square's namesake, 17th century poet Ivan Gundulić.
Luza Square's impressive cast of highlights includes Sponza Palace, St Blaise and the city Bell Tower. If you're there at the right moment, you might catch a passing procession or public event at this lively focal point.
A 19th-century collector bequeathed his wealth of taxidermy birds and mammals to a local museum, and after ten years of being stuffed away in storage, the fascinatingly creepy things are on display.
Once you're done perusing glassy-eyed ferrets, you can play with multi-media displays devoted to local flora and fauna.
At 200 metres above the Old Town, Gradac Park is an elevated escape. It's lined with verdant pines, with a quiet water feature at its middle. From here, you can gaze over the ancient walls and ramshackle rooftops of Dubrovnik. Get there by going uphill on Dr. Ante Starčevića.
The Old Port
Dubrovnik's sometime gateway to the world, the Old Port still sees hundreds of ships dock and depart each day. Sit at the edge of the quay and let yourself be hypnotised by the rhythms of the bay - watch excited crowds dismount and disperse, as fisherman's boats sail in and away.