Trsteno Arboretum is a large Mediterranean botanical garden – covering an area of 63 acres – located in the small settlement of Trsteno, just under 20km north along the coast from Dubrovnik. The oldest botanical garden in Croatia, the Arboretum is a magical place to spend a few hours in and a great day trip out of Dubrovnik. (Especially so if the weather is very hot and sunny as much of the gardens are wonderfully shaded!)
The gardens emerged in the late 15th/early part of the 16th century around the summer residence of the Gucetic (or Gozze) family, a noble family of the Republic of Ragusa as Dubrovnik was known then. The gardens were established from seeds and plants from the Mediterranean and further afield in the world, planted for decoration but also to have a use as in the case of some of the medicinal plants. Adjacent to a summer villa, a Renaissance park was constructed in 1502 containing beautiful flowers and herbs such as bougainvillea, cyclamen, lavender and rosemary, laid down in a geometrical pattern.
A 70m-long aqueduct with 14 arches was also constructed in the late 15th century to bring water to the gardens; this aqueduct is still in use today.
The residence itself was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1667 and subsequently rebuilt to what is standing today. However, a portion of this building was burned down (after being shelled) during the Homeland War.
The Arboretum was founded in 1948 and was also placed under the management of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts that same year. The site is protected by law as an item of cultural heritage and also under nature protection.
Small screen viewers may “recognise” the site as starring as the gardens in King’s Landing in Game of Thrones – King’s Landing, of course, being played very well by Dubrovnik.
Getting to Trsteno Arboretum
Most visitors will likely visit using their own car, and the site is a short 20-minute drive up from Dubrovnik, just off the coastal D8 road.
Local buses can be used to reach Trsteno from the main bus station in Dubrovnik. The best and most frequent buses for you to utilise are number 12 (which goes to Slano) and number 35 (to Orasac). It is roughly a half-hour journey to Trsteno. Take a look at the Libertas Dubrovnik website for more details (navigate to “Suburban Timetable West”).
There is now a boat service which combines visiting Trsteno Arboretum with the stunning island of Lokrum. Operating on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the boat Lacroma sails from Gruz port in Dubrovnik at 9.30am arriving at Trsteno 45 minutes later. This gives you roughly one and a half hours to explore the gardens on a self-guided tour. The same boat then sails for Lokrum at 12pm, arriving at 1pm, giving you two hours on the island.
What is there to See and Do in Trsteno Arboretum
What you first can’t escape but notice before you enter the Arboretum are two massive plane trees that are thought to be more than 500 years old. Standing around 50m tall, the trees have trunks a massive 11m in circumference.
The gardens themselves are the perfect place to “get away from it all” in beautiful nature setting – as was the intention when they were first constructed. Walk along the many walkways and paths to explore the beautiful botanical elements; the smell is heavenly too and forms a large part of the experience.
The summer villa and its Renaissance Park can be imagined as glorious summer holiday lodging. Near to the villa is a disused building that contains an old olive press. Be sure to head up to the clifftop Pavillion to see amazing views over the Adriatic and out to the nearby islands, particularly Lopud.
The 18th-century grotto features a somewhat glorious statue of Neptune standing alongside nymphs, overlooking a lily-filled pond. This pond is supplied by water from the above-mentioned, centuries-old aqueduct.
Further into the gardens is a more wooded section with cypress and pine trees. Head down the stone steps beyond this to an adorable little harbour.
Opening Hours and Ticket Prices
The Arboretum is open year-round – from May to October, it is open from 7am to 7pm, whilst from November to April, it is open 8am to 4pm.
Tickets cost €10 for adults and €7 for children and students.
Accommodation in Trsteno
You are unlikely to be staying in Trsteno to visit the Arboretum; however, there are a few accommodation options locally should you need them.
The Auto Camp Trsteno has space to pitch tents as well as limited space for camping vehicles.
There are no hotels here but there is a small choice of private apartments for rent. Check out Accommodation in Trsteno on Booking.com.
You can learn more on the official www.facebook.com/trstenoarboretum, on the Historical Gardens on the Dubrovnik Area website and on the website of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and on the Dubrovnik Tourist Board website.