With its ancient old town, romantic atmosphere and breathtaking coastal views, what’s not to like about Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik marked the beginning of my first ever island hopping trip and I was full of excitement to arrive.
Narrow roads wrap around the mountainside on the approach to the Old City, nestled within a lush green bay.
Travelling in August, I was prepared to expect the crowds and avid Game of Thrones fans that flock to “King’s Landing” during peak season.
But despite its popularity, Dubrovnik still blew me away with its charm and totally exceeded my expectations.
When to visit Dubrovnik
The most popular time to visit Dubrovnik is in July and August, when the old town is soaked in sunshine and the sea is the perfect temperature.
The only down side is that everybody has the same idea and with a destination as popular as Croatia, you might want to avoid the rush.
If you aren’t fussed about warmer climates, Dubrovnik is also great as a festive winter city break in December.
Tip: Beat the crowds and visit either side of the summer in May or September
How many days to spend in Dubrovnik
If you are looking to incorporate Dubrovnik into your Croatian tour, set aside two full days to explore the city and soak in its charm.
While if Dubrovnik is your main show stopper, five days is ample time to visit its islands and discover neighbouring countries. See below for more info.
How to get to Dubrovnik
Many European international airports offer flights into Dubrovnik and other cities such as Zagreb and SplitAir travel can be expensive.
So if Dubrovnik is just one stop off on your Croatian holiday, compare flight prices and consider doing your trip in reverse.
There are two main bus companies which run into the city, stopping off at the cable car, Pile Gate for the old town, Dubrovnik bus station and the port – which is handy for all you island hoppers out there.
The Atlas shuttle bus cost 40 kuna one way or 70 kuna return. Uber also operates in the city and is cheaper than local cabs.
Travelling by ferry? Alight at Dubrovnik Gruz port and catch a direct bus to Pile Gate, which costs just 15 kuna. Catch bus 1a or 1b which take around ten minutes.
Ferries run to and from Split, Hvar, Brac and Korcula.
Tip: If you are travelling during July and August, book your ferry a few days in advance as tickets often sell out on the day
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
If you don’t mind being a short walk or bus ride away from the old town, there are plenty of hotels and Airbnbs outside of the city walls, where prices tend to be cheaper and you are more likely to get an uninterrupted coastal view.
Personally, I wanted to be in the heart of the old quarter and did not mind paying a bit extra for the privilege.
I was blown away by our stay at Dominus Rooms. With its beautiful stone walls, quiet location and stylish interiors, the boutique hotel provided the perfect stay.
Top things to do in Dubrovnik
Albeit small in size, Dubrovnik is packed with things to do and is an ultra Instagrammable place.
Get lost in Dubrovnik old town, go cliff jumping and hop over to the beautiful Lokrum Island and monastery.
The city was founded in the 7th century, as the city of Ragusa, with the majority of its defensive walls built around 800 years later.
Check out my list of top things to do in Dubrovnik…
Walk the city walls
Climb the ancient city walls and unlock the door to the best views of Dubrovnik.
Enjoy breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea lapping against craggy cliffs and look across the terracotta roof tops of the old town.
With its six fortresses, the old city wall is almost 2,000m long and takes around an hour and a half to walk.
Tickets cost 200 kuna and can be bought at the entrance by the Pile Gate.
The wall is open from 8am until between 18.00 and 19.00 in the summer, depending on when you visit.
I recommend setting off in the morning or late afternoon to beat the midday sun as there is little shade up there.
TIP: Bring a bottle of water with you. While there are a few cafes and pop up water shops along the way, they come with a hefty price tag – triple the price you may pay elsewhere
Catch the cable car and watch the sunset from Mount Srd
Watch the city fall beneath your feet as you take Dubrovnik’s bright orange cable car to the top of Mount Srd.
If you are traveling between June and August, make sure to leave a good 90 minutes to work your way through the queues and catch the sunset in time.
At the top, you’ll find panoramic views of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea.
There is also a restaurant and plenty of good selfie spots by the main viewing platform.
Chill at the Old Port
As well as working your way through your list of must sees, I recommend a lazy lunch at the harbour.
Tuck into a delicious seafood pot or signature squid ink risotto and take in the view with a cold, Croatian beer. It’s a beautiful life!
The Buza bar is a favourite among adventurers, tourists and locals alike.
It is the only bar situated on the sea side of the city wall and is built into the rocky cliffs – awesome, hey.
There is no running water or toilets but let’s face it – the main draw is to sip on a beer facing out to sea at this novelty hole-in-the-wall type bar.
In the daytime, you’ll find lots of people jumping in and out of the water and feel-good music.
After sunset, the bar quietens down, the view turns to darkness and the music stops, leaving the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs.
Find directions to Buza bar here.
Go cliff diving
Not for the faint hearted but this was my absolute favourite thing about Dubrovnik – cliff diving.
Buza bar is popular among adventure seekers for its well-known cliff diving spots.
For those without cliff diving experience, don’t do it! Head further west along the wall to Buza II where you can climb into the sea. Relax on the rocks and go for a swim with a cocktail in hand.
Enjoy coffee and ice-cream on the Stradun
Stradun is the main street in Dubrovnik old town and the perfect place for people watching.
The promenade is spotlessly clean and stretches from the main Pile Gate to the Old Port.
Stock up on your souvenirs, pick up a coffee and nab a delicious ice-cream from Sladoledarna Dubrovnik. Dreamy.
It is also good to use as a base as you work your way through the labyrinth which is the old town.
Take a boat tour or go kayaking
There are lots of water tours to chose from at the Old Port at the eastern part of the city.
Private and group kayaking tours are great to explore Dubrovnik’s many hidden beaches and coves.
For a more relaxing experience, take a day trip and wander the neighbouring islands.
I opted for a one-hour pirate ship cruise along the shoreline while Game of Thrones tours and glass bottomed submarine rides are also available.
Take advantage of Dubrovnik’s location and explore more of the Balkans.
Hop over to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the day and visit the famous Stari Most bridge in Mostar.
Or take a scenic coastal drive to Montenegro and climb up to the San Giovanni Castle for incredible views of Kotor.
There are plenty of coach trips that take you across the border and back within the day, or hire a car and explore off the beaten track.
If you prefer to stick around Dubrovnik, spend the day touring the Elaphiti Islands.
Stop off for a swim at the Kolocep Blue Caves which are illuminated with an electric aqua light.
Relax on the best sandy beach in the region on Lopud Island where you can also venture out on forest walks and visit its tiny chapels.
Places to eat in Dubrovnik
Like many things in Dubrovnik old town, eating out is not cheap – unless you know where to find them.
But there are plenty good quality restaurants that are beautiful both inside and out!
Lady Pipi: Romantic restaurants / Restaurants with a view
If you are looking for an intimate, romantic setting – Lady Pipi is the place.
The restaurant came highly recommended by everybody we met in the old town and had a healthy looking queue outside.
The stone terrace has a vineyard-like feel with beautiful views across the old town and the Mediterranean menu is fresh and tasty.
LAJK: Reasonable priced restaurants / Lunchtime haunts
After my final night in Dubrovnik, I was on a mission to find a reasonably priced set menu that would set me up for the ferry trip… which proved quite a struggle!
As a huge brunch fan, I was quite surprised to find that the touristy old town had not yet caught onto the trend and it was hard to find a simple lunchtime stop off.
Yet half way up one of the old city’s many steep stairways, I stumbled upon LAJK.
The menu offers a range of delicious and healthy lunchtime favourites with a Medi twist for between £10 and £15. Perfect for a lazy late morning breakfast.
Lokanda Peskarija: Seafood restaurants / Waterfront dining
The Old Port has a number of fantastic seafood restaurants with a beautiful view of the harbour.
Whether you stop off for a seafood lunch or prefer to dine of an evening when the marina is lit up with fairy lights, Lokanda Peskarija is the perfect spot.
Research where to eat before you rock up to Dubrovnik old town. There is an abundance of choice and the area is a maze
Thanks for checking out my guide on “How to do Dubrovnik.”
Have you visited Dubrovnik and what did you make of it? What extra travel tips do you have to share?
Until next time,