Dubrovnik is one of those places that you see photos of on Instagram and post cards regularly due to its unique fortified old town and picturesque views of the sea and city. We knew we had to visit and see it first hand and as we approached the old town we were completely blown away by the breath-taking architecture and surroundings.
Located south of Croatia, on the Adriatic coast, you will be blown away by the uniqueness of this town. As we approached the fortified town, we were mesmerised by the views and felt like we were going back in time as we got closer to the historic fortress. We knew we made the right choice and we couldn’t wait to share our guide of amazing things to do for your stay in Dubrovnik.
When to go
Due to Covid-19 restrictions we were grateful to be able to leave the UK and travel abroad this summer. Because of the restrictions for a lot of Europe, we were told many of times that we were lucky that it was so quiet during this time. In truth, we found it as busy as a normal city in the UK so we can only imagine how busy it must usually be in those peak summer months. We travelled at the end of July and loved that the weather was reliable and hot, we enjoyed being able to cool off at the nearby beaches around the fortified walls.
If it was as busy as usual, you may prefer to go when it is still warm but with less crowds, the dates to go would be May, June and September. However, restrictions to the virus don’t look like they’re ending any time soon. You may also find that the peak months next year will also be quieter than usual.
How to get there
Common with our other posts, always check Sky Scanner for the best deals on flights. Fortunately, Dubrovnik is not too far away from other cities. Its location is closer to Montenegro and Bosnia, in fact to travel North of Dubrovnik across land you have to enter and leave Bosnia to get to the rest of Croatia. Something we were quite shocked at. Due to these other nearby cities and countries, it makes Dubrovnik an awesome stop if you are planning to city/country hop along the coast.
You may want to check out these other areas to fly to and then get a Flix bus or use Omio to find a bus to take you to or from Dubrovnik. We used Dubrovnik as our first stop before travelling to Makarska (using Omio for travel), where you can find our post here.
You may find that you’re based on a nearby island and want to visit Dubrovnik or vice versa. Ferry travel is quite common and you can find information on that here. Finally, there are towns south of Dubrovnik, not too far away. One in particular, is Cavtat. In this case, you can find regular busses outside Ploče gate or just arrange an Uber.
How long to stay
This is a tough one because Dubrovnik has so many other nearby towns, parks and attractions that you’ll want to visit. Dubrovnik old town itself can probably be done in two days, but will you really enjoy it in that time? We hate having to rush about and enjoy having a relaxing pace to enjoy things. For that reason, we stayed 4 nights and still found that not enough time.
In that time we explored the old town and saw the sights you would want to and enjoyed a relaxing beach day. We saw the nearby Lokrum island and managed a half day trip to the Elafiti islands. As you can see, we still crammed everything in and we would have preferred an extra day or two. There are nearby beautiful towns to explore such as Cavtat, then there’s other amazing islands like Mijet to visit. Make sure you take this into consideration before booking your trip.
Where to stay
Just looking at the old town and seeing how magnificently beautiful it looked, we had to stay there. It was so atmospheric staying inside the walls in the beautiful town and leaving our apartment each morning to the town being quiet was amazing before the visitors arrived.
Most of the attractions we wanted to visit were around here too, so it was very convenient. Something to be wary of is the amount of steps in the old town. Thankfully, we were based right in the centre so we had no steps to climb but other apartments are located high up. We had lots of luggage for a 5 week travel so take this into account also when you’re looking to stay.
We found our accommodation off Booking.com after reading plenty of rave reviews. It was called Villa Sigurata II, reviews can be found here. It was very affordable and provided the perfect central location we required.
Another option, is to stay in the nearby picturesque town of Cavtat. Many people do this and travel to and from the old town by bus. It’s about 20-30 minutes away.
Things to do
The fun part! Dubrovnik offers plenty of attractions to visit, places to relax and nearby places to visit. Here, we’ll go through some of our faviourites.
Walk the city walls
Wow, the views here are absolutely incredible. You can still see marks left from bullets during the siege from the Balkan war. You get stunning scenery from Lovrijenac fort, Lokrum island and seeing all the old town from a birds-eye view. We highly recommend visiting the walls.
The price of an adult is 150kn and you get discount to visit Lovrijenac fort. Think carefully when you want to visit. There are a lot of steps and not much cover from the sun. We went before sunset and still found ourselves getting too hot, although it was totally worth seeing the old town from a birds-eye view during golden hour. The walk around the whole of old town will take around an hour.
Roam the streets of the old town
One of the best things to do and thankfully free, is to just wander inside the old town. It has many narrow and hidden streets and you’ll find a picture perfect moment all around them. The marble flooring adds to the beauty of the old town, the charming cats add to the atmosphere and you’ll enjoy every second of exploring.
Visit the Jesuit Stairs
During your wander around the old town, you’ll probably find yourself at some beautiful stairs. The Jesuit Stairs are one of the most representative examples of Baroque architecture in Dubrovnik Even more famous now thanks to the shame scene from Game of Thrones, these steps provide a great picture. They are very similar to the Spanish stairs in Rome.
Find the old clock tower
Another beautiful feature of the old town and something you will find whilst you explore the area is the old clock tower. This is one of the busier areas during the day and you’ll struggle for a picture without people around.
Cable car and a visit to Mount Srd
One of our highlights was watching the sunset from Mount Srd. Thankfully, we didn’t have to hike up the mountain, there’s a cable car which takes you up in around 5-10 minutes. There’s a restaurant and bar at the top, but we preferred finding a perfect spot nearby to try and watch the sunset without crowds. Try and get there an hour early to secure yourself a spot to watch the sunset on the beautiful old town and Lokrum island.
A picture at Ploče Gate
The entrance to the fortified old town is a brilliant place for a picture. Nearby, you’ll found pretty flowers and a view to the ocean.
A visit to Lovrijenac Fortress
Lovrijenac fort ,which was a set from King’s landing in Game of Thrones, provides stunning views of the old town and of the turquoise water by Šulići beach. There’s lots to explore and plenty of scenery to admire.
As with most of Croatia, the beaches here are pebbly. We enjoyed having a chill on the beach here with Lovrijenac fort to the side of us and cafe’s and bars next to us ready to keep us refreshed. The beach we went to was Šulići beach. It is located near Ploče Gate and the walk there itself provided us with some of our favourite photos from Dubrovnik.
It’s a little quieter round here, but worthhile with the gorgeous water. On the other side of the old town is another beach called Lapad Beach. This one is family friendly and looked a little busier, whilst we wanted a more secluded spot. You’ll find other beaches a bus ride away and around the beautiful Lokrum island.
Well this place could have deserved its own post. Lokrum is conveniently only a 10 minute ferry ride from the old town. Public ferry rides run regularly, details can be found here. Warning – As your approach the port to leave, you’ll notice lots of ticket sellers to Lokrum. These charge a lot more than the public ferry and it is a private taxi to the island, don’t fall for this and book at the boat not at a stand.
What to do there?
Lokrum is a nature reserve with many areas to explore. You’ll find that you can spend a few hours at the very least on this island. It can be quite exhausting in extreme heat so it’s best to take your time. You’ll find it has many things to visit, there’s beautiful peacocks strutting around freely, a ruined fort, beaches, a monastery, the Game Of Thrones iron throne and the ‘dead sea’.
The Elafiti islands are an archipelago close to Dubrovnik. To visit these islands, you’ll depart from Gruz Harbour. The three main ones to visit and stay on are Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. We booked our trip off airbnb, we really recommend booking with Dario who provided an amazing trip with his skipper Damir. The link to the trip is here.
We went to the island Koločep where we saw a bit of the mediterranean way of life.After that, we continued to the other side of the island where we visited a Blue cave.
Later on, we visited beautiful Sandy bay Šunj on the island of Lopud. We opted for a half day tour so we could still use our time in Dubrovnik wisely but would have happily visited more of the islands.
Dubrovnik is conveniently located near other islands, towns and even countries. You’ll have to opportunity to explore these if you plan wisely.
Cavtat is one of the best-kept secrets near Dubrovnik. We managed to visit this small town on our last day. It is much quieter but the same charm as Dubrovnik as well as some beautiful beaches. The buildings in the town of Cavtat are from the same era as the Dubrovnik old town. There is plenty of rich cultural and historical value here and a chance for a quieter relaxation.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit Mljet island on this trip which is why we mentioned to make sure you allow yourself enough time during your stay. We will make sure we visit next time because this island looks awesome. You can reach the island by booking through Jadrolinija. The Natural Park can be discovered quietly on foot or by bike. It is a protected park so can offer peace, where you can swim in turquoise lakes. You can rest in the shade under the pines, take a boat ride and have a good time almost on your own.
Korcula and Hvar
Korcula is another fortified town which some people prefer to Dubrovnik. It’s on the island next to Mljet and close to Hvar. If you have the time definitely try and include this in your itinerary. Check out our post on Hvar here.
Where to eat
We had lovely meals during our stay here. Ones that we can certainly recommend are:
- Kopun – A lovely fresh fish restaurant. The seafood risotto was delicious.
- Mex Cantina Bona Fide – If you’re fancying something a little different, try this place. We had some amazing burritos here.
Where to drink
If you’re into sports then the Irish Pub Karaka has plenty of that. However, if you’re after something different and breath-taking views then try Buza bar II. It is literally a hole in a wall which you walk through and from there you see the ocean and Lokrum island. Although it’s a little pricey, it really is a stunning place to have a drink on the edge of the cliffs of the old town.
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