10 minutes from the bustling city of Dubrovnik lies an unspoilt paradise of pine trees and beaches: Lokrum Island.
I have nothing against Dubrovnik – in fact, it’s my favourite beach destination in the world. But sometimes you need a break from the crowded city walls and tourists flocking to Game of Thrones sites around the city.
After volunteering across Europe for 8 months with Workaway and coming off a particularly strenuous placement at a ranch, I needed some TLC.
The ancient city of Split offered gorgeous views and Hvar’s fortress offered a chance to stretch my newly healed knee (thanks to a cantering mishap with a draught horse), but I didn’t find the true rest and relaxation I was looking for until I ventured off the beaten track.
Until I took a day trip to Lokrum Island.
- 1 What is Lokrum Island?
- 2 What to Do on Lokrum Island
- 2.1 1. Kayak from Dubrovnik
- 2.2 2. Hike through the Pines
- 2.3 3. Adventure to Fort Royal
- 2.4 4. Visit the Ruins of a Benedictine Monastery
- 2.5 5. Walk the Path of Paradise
- 2.6 6. Spot Wildlife on Lokrum Island
- 2.7 7. Enjoy the Untouched Rock Shore
- 2.8 8. Lounge Beneath Olive Trees
- 2.9 9. Get Scenic Views of Dubrovnik
- 2.10 10. Float in the Croatian Dead Sea
- 2.11 11. Visit the Site of King Richard the Lion Heart’s Shipwreck
- 3 The Curse of Lokrum
- 4 Ferry to Lokrum Island
- 5 Why You Should Visit Lokrum Island
What is Lokrum Island?
Lokrum Island is located 10 minutes off the shore of Dubrovnik. A scenic ferry ride is all that stands between you and your island oasis.
I’ll admit I only discovered Lokrum because it’s a site from Game of Thrones – yes, I’m addicted, I know. On my Game of Thrones city tour, our guide pointed out the splash of green on the horizon and I knew I had to visit.
It started out as an attempt to visit every Game of Thrones site in Dubrovnik, but quickly turned into something else.
Lokrum is an ancient island with records dating back to 1000 AD. It was the site of a Benedictine abbey and monastery that you can now visit the ruins of. Its history has ties to Napoleon, Richard the Lion Heart, and even a more modern history with Game of Thrones.
Now, it’s a nature reserve and blissful haven from the buzz of tourism in Dubrovnik in spring.
Tourists are just starting to discover this secret island, although many still skip it since it lacks the party reputation of Hvar or Korchula.
What to Do on Lokrum Island
This small island is a solo travel paradise. The lack of tourists offers so much free space to enjoy some time with yourself. If you’re an adventure traveller, history buff, or a fan of empty beaches: this is the island for you!
I’ve gathered the top 11 things to do on Lokrum Island for you to explore.
1. Kayak from Dubrovnik
If you have a kayak or rent one, you can turn a visit to Lokrum into an adventurous day trip.
Head across the Adriatic, paddling through the rich blue waters, to get some exercise and see the area from a different perspective. Challenge yourself by kayaking around the island and hunt for the best beach to stop at for a dip.
2. Hike through the Pines
Lokrum Island is a nature reserve with well maintained walking trails for visitors. Pack your sneakers and hike through the forest to see the black ash, pine and olive trees that cover the island. The paths take you through the Aleppo Pine Forest and the Forest of Holm Oak and Manna Ash.
The trails are well maintained with only a few hills. They get more difficult after you pass the fort and head towards lookouts over the Adriatic Sea.
Be sure to pack water as the well cleared paths leave lots of room for the sun to beat down. If you visit in summer, try to hike early in the morning to avoid the strong Croatian sun.
3. Adventure to Fort Royal
Most hiking paths on Lokrum lead to the historic Fort Royal, the highest point on the island. When I visited I actually mistook it for the Monastery (which was odd since I passed the monastery on my way to the fort) and kept trying to figure out how it could have been a popular city in Game of Thrones.
In fact, the Fort was a military base on Lokrum Island that has since fallen into ruin. It was created by Napoleon during the French occupation of Croatia in the 19th century.
You can explore the fort, even climbing to its highest point for views above the pines into the old town.
4. Visit the Ruins of a Benedictine Monastery
History buffs and Game of Thrones lovers should head to the ruins of the Benedictine Monastery on Lokrum Island.
Scenes from the famous series were filmed at the monastery. When you wander the cloisters you’ll find yourself in the city of Qarth. If you’re looking for more Game of Thrones information, check out the museum that now resides in the former basilica.
The monastery was abandoned in the 18th century until Maximilian Habsburg purchased the island to use as a summer residence in the 19th century. You can see the evidence of his neo-Gothic remodel when you visit.
5. Walk the Path of Paradise
When I call Lokrum paradise, I’m not joking!
The island is home to the “Path of Paradise”, the centre-most of three tree-lined paths through the island. They were created during Maximilian’s time on the island.
Looking for even more greenery? Check out Maximilian’s gardens.
When Maximilian purchased Lokrum, he built up the botanic gardens to surround his summer home with exotic plants. Stroll through the botanic gardens to spot foreign greenery and beautiful flowers.
The path through the gardens is almost as long as the hiking trails on the north end of the island. You can easily spend an hour or two admiring the gorgeous plants that have flourished on Lokrum Island.
6. Spot Wildlife on Lokrum Island
Gardens and neo-Gothic architecture aren’t all that Maximilian brought to Lokrum. He also brought peacocks!
The brightly coloured birds are widely considered the pride of Lokrum and take up most people’s camera rolls when they visit the island.
The peacocks are gorgeous with their spectacular blue necks and brightly coloured plumage. Be careful though: they’re wild birds.
And if you’re showering in one of the outdoor stalls, you may just get an unexpected guest like I did. It’s definitely a surprise when a giant bird decides to wander into your stall. But at least I can say I’ve now showered with a peacock! That’s pretty cool, right?
Aside from peacocks, Lokrum Island is home to a lot of wildlife. You can spot fluffy bunnies, turtles, geckos, and all manner of lizards roaming the island freely.
Try to spot a few of the island’s inhabitants while you explore. (But maybe don’t shower with a peacock. They’re not great about sharing conditioner.
7. Enjoy the Untouched Rock Shore
My favourite part of Lokrum was the beach. Lokrum’s coast is a dappled array of sand and rock beaches that circle the island. I never knew this until I visited, but I much prefer a boulder beach to a sand one.
The sand beaches are spectacular. They feature the rich white sand that Croatia is known for. Because they’re so gorgeous, they draw more of a crowd. Lokrum isn’t nearly as crowded as Dubrovnik’s beaches, but they do get more people – and more screaming children.
If you’re looking for a natural experience, head to one of the island’s nudist beaches. I’m still dealing with far too much Catholic body shaming from my schooling to be open enough to try them, but they’re supposed to be quite freeing!
I prefer the large rock boulders with ladders into the Adriatic Sea. You can easily fit two adults per rock and they’re really comfortable when you have a towel. The large pines offer shade from the sun and the crash of the waves against the shore is the perfect soundtrack for a good book.
People often snorkel off these less populated shores. Locals prefer these areas, especially older people who want to avoid the tourists at the sand beaches.
If you’re looking for a relaxing place to spend a day, be sure to visit the rock beaches of Lokrum. Bring a good book, some snacks, and a bathing suit. You’ll never want to leave!
8. Lounge Beneath Olive Trees
Lokrum Island is one of the greenest places I visited in Croatia, and I working on a ranch in the countryside for over a month.
The nature reserve means a lot of untouched grassy areas that have become popular places for people to spend their days.
Pack a picnic or bring a notebook and spend your day lounging on the grass. If you’re still and quiet, you may even have a bunny hop close to you.
9. Get Scenic Views of Dubrovnik
Some of the best views of Dubrovnik come from Lokrum Island.
The shores of Lokrum offer perfect views of the historic city walls, and the orange roofs of the city’s old town. Be sure to bring your camera to get amazing photos that aren’t full of tour groups.
The Lokrum ferry or kayaking from Dubrovnik offer even more opportunities for stunning photos of the deep blue Adriatic against the orange terra cotta of the city.
10. Float in the Croatian Dead Sea
Yes, you’re right. The main Dead Sea isn’t in Croatia.
But they do have their own.
Lokrum Island is home to a small inlet the gets rich, salty water from caves fed by the Adriatic. Bring your bathing suit and float to the surface of this salty pool near the monastery.
Don’t spend your day at the Dead Sea – it’s pretty, but gets crowded by midday. Take your dip then head to the unique boulder beaches for a more relaxing day trip.
11. Visit the Site of King Richard the Lion Heart’s Shipwreck
Allegedly, King Richard the Lion Heart was shipwrecked at Skalica, the oldest port on Lokrum.
To thank the locals for their assistance during his time of need, he offered to build a church on the island. The locals convinced him to instead build it on the mainland so more could use it.
There aren’t any monuments to the event on the shores of Skalica Port, but you can view the northernmost point of Lokrum Island and get vast views of the Adriatic Sea.
The Curse of Lokrum
You’ll notice I don’t mention anything about staying overnight in this post. That’s because of the curse on Lokrum Island.
It is believed that the Benedictine monks placed a curse on the island when they were forced to leave. Anyone who tries to claim the island for themselves will be damned!
To this day, there are no houses on the island. No one is permitted to live on Lokrum or stay the night. If you do, the curse shall befall you.
So be sure to catch the last ferry or you’ll have the wrath of 18th century monks to deal with!
Ferry to Lokrum Island
It’s extremely easy to get to Lokrum from Dubrovnik. Head to the docks in Dubrovnik to catch the ferry for a 15 minute (with docking) ride to Lokrum.
The Lokrum ferry leaves every 30 minutes, but it only runs from April to November – when Lokrum is open.
You’ll arrive in Lokrum at Portoc Bay, where many people choose to stay for the duration of their day trip to Lokrum. I recommend heading into the island to see more of its history and to enjoy more secluded beaches.
The ferry costs 150 Kn. This is round trip and covers your entrance to the nature reserve.
Plan your visit around the ferry times. You can buy tickets at the dock, but there is usually a short line up.
Ferries leave at 9 am and return by 7:15 pm in the high season or 5:15 pm in the low season.
Remember to make the ferry or you’ll be cursed!
Why You Should Visit Lokrum Island
Lokrum is the cheapest day trip you’ll find in Croatia. Once you pay for the ferry ticket, you won’t have to pay for anything else (unless you decide to visit one of the small cafes or the museums) on the island. I recommend packing a picnic to avoid overpriced, not amazing food at the few places on the island.
Lokrum Island is worth visiting. It’s full of lush greenery, gorgeous peacocks, amazing history, and the best beaches in Croatia.
I very nearly wrote this whole post waxing poetic about the gorgeous boulder-rock beaches of Lokrum. They were the highly of my nearly two months in Croatia and to this day are what I dream of when I picture a beach vacation.
Seriously, I spent most of my day happily lounging on these giant rocks by the sea. I saw maybe four other people the entire time I was there, three of whom were locals.
I’m not a huge fan of water, but I was constantly getting up from my podcasts and my book to dive (well, cannonball gracelessly) into the Adriatic to cool off, body surf the waves and detox from a month of farm dirt. If it weren’t for the curse, I would have happily spent weeks on the island and abandoned by Airbnb in Dubrovnik entirely.
Lokrum is the most relaxing place in Dubrovnik, and technically it’s not even in the city. The day trip I took to lounge, hike, and read was the best decision I made in Croatia. It totally recharges you after the busyness of the Dubrovnik city walls and hunting for a restaurant in the old town.
Take a trip off the beaten path to visit Dubrovnik’s secret island paradise.
Do you prefer tourist hot spots or off the beaten track destinations?