Falling for Dubrovnik was inevitable. Famously described as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, it’s hard not to be captivated by this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are so many things to do in this beautiful city that you can easily spend a week in Dubrovnik and still wish you had longer. We spent a week in Dubrovnik in May and enjoyed having time to slowly explore the city but many people like to spend 2 or 3 days in Dubrovnik before heading off to explore other areas of Croatia. Whether you’re visiting for a week or just a few days, here are 6 things that should definitely be on your Dubrovnik itinerary.
A week in Dubrovnik: The top things to see and do
1. EXPLORE THE OLD TOWN
A real sense of awe descends when you reach the gates to the Old City and lay your eyes on the marble streets and ancient city walls which protected the republic for centuries.
The Stradun is the main street which stretches between the two town gates, Pile and Ploce. Lined with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, there’s a real hustle and bustle as locals go about their daily business and tourists admire the immaculate white limestone streets and beautiful buildings. If you’re looking for good restaurants to try, I’ve written a blog post about where to eat in Dubrovnik.
At the end of the Stradun you’ll find some of Dubrovnik’s most well-known landmarks such as Sponza Palace, Orlando’s Column, St. Blaise Church and Rector’s Palace.
Head through the arch at the end of the Stradun and you’ll find yourself at the old port where there are plenty of places to enjoy a drink and marvel at the old city walls and the rugged hills.
If you want to escape the crowds, wander down some of the narrow side streets that lead off the Stradun and explore the quieter alleyways which lead through to Gundulic Square. Here you’ll be greeted by an impressive Baroque staircase that leads up to the Church of St Ignatius and Collegium Ragusinum.
Follow the sign for ‘cold drinks with the most beautiful view’ and you’ll find an unmarked doorway in the city walls that opens up to a stunning little bar perched on the rocks. Boasting unrivalled views over the Adriatic, it’s easy to see why Buža Bar (literally meaning ‘hole in the wall’) has become a tourist favourite over the years. If you can’t get a table then head back out and follow the southern wall until you reach a second doorway which leads to Buža 2.
2. WALK THE CITY WALLS
If you really want to appreciate the beauty of the old town during your week in Dubrovnik, a walk along the city walls is a must. These monumental white stone walls are one of Dubrovnik’s most iconic features and the main reason why the city is referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic. You can walk all the way around the walls (2km) which boast spectacular views over the old town on one side and out to the shimmering Adriatic on the other. Gazing over the rooftops, you can get a feel for the sheer extent of the damage caused from the shelling in the 1990. The bright new terracotta tiles stand out from the original orange rooftops, giving you a sense of the scale of the restoration programme. There are three entrances to the city walls; the one near Pile Gate is the main entrance and tends to be the busiest but you can also enter at Ploce Gate and at Sv Ivan (St John) fortress.
The walk can be quite strenuous, especially on a hot day as there are several steps to climb and very few places to buy a drink so take water with you and wear some good walking shoes. If you don’t want to walk the whole length of the walls then you can climb down at any of the entrance points.
The city walls are open all year round (except on 25th December) and tickets cost 200 kn for adults and 50 kn for children aged 5 to 18. You can only pay by credit card or Croatian Kuna so come prepared as Euros aren’t accepted here!
3. Take the cable car up MT SRD
To explore Dubrovnik from a completely different perspective, take the cable car up Mt Srd where you can see the city in all its glory. When you reach the top you’ll be tempted to go straight to the viewing platforms. But rather than try to fight your way to the front amongst the numerous selfie sticks, go down the stairs and turn left out of the building away from the restaurant. Head past the war history museum and turn the corner. Here you’ll find yourself behind the museum and at the top of the path that leads all the way down Mt Srd to the main road. If you follow the winding path down for a bit you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views of this enchanting walled city. And another bonus? Your photos will be free from the large cable car pole!
A round trip costs 150 kn for adults and 60kn for children aged 4 to 12. But if you’re in the mood for some exercise, get a single ticket up on the cable car (85kn/ 40kn) and walk back down to the old town, taking your time to admire the views over the old town and the surrounding islands.
4. GO KAYAKING IN THE ADRIATIC SEA
The crystal clear waters of the Adriatic are so inviting that it’s no surprise that kayaking and snorkelling have become so popular amongst travellers. There are plenty of tour groups offering half-day kayaking and snorkelling adventures where trained instructors will lead you out to the Island of Lokrum and along the Bettina coast line, stopping along the way to explore small caves and enjoy lunch at a private beach before dipping into the water.
You can find and book kayaking tours on Viator.com.
5. Visit LOKRUM ISLAND
This small, uninhabited island is a verdant oasis and is only a 10 minute ferry ride from the old port. Although it provides beautiful views looking back at the old town, there’s also plenty to see on Lokrum island. There is a charming Benedictine monastery as well as botanical gardens and an idyllic small lake called Mrtyo More (Dead Sea). If you have time then there are some mesmerising hikes along Lokrum’s cliffs and rocky shoreline where you can truly embrace the serenity of the Adriatic.
6. Relax on BANJE BEACH before doing a COASTAL WALK
Banje Beach is Dubrovnik’s main beach and lies just outside of Ploce gate. This pebble and sandy beach offers spectacular views of Lokrum Island and if you walk along the shoreline the views back to the old city really are heavenly. The Banje Beach Club is a lively bar and restaurant right on the beach which transforms into a night club once the sun sets.
Sitting there looking out to Lokrum Island and listening to the waves, I felt a true sense of calm that I hadn’t felt in months. There’s something quite hypnotic about the clear cerulean blue sea and rugged Dalmatian coastline. It’s tempting just to stay for the whole day but if you can drag yourself away there is a great walk that leads you along Dubrovnik’s dramatic coastline. Go up the steps at the end of the beach to the main road and head along the road, away from the old town.
The road will start to turn away from the coast and you’ll pass some of Dubrovnik’s popular hotels such as Hotel Excelsior and Grand Villa Argentina. Keep walking past a gated monastery until you come to some steps down. If you follow them down, you’ll find yourself on the coastal path which eventually leads to some steps which take you down to the rocks. It’s a perfect picnic spot to sit and enjoy the view looking back to the magnificent old city.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is not short of lovely hotels and guesthouses. If you are only in Dubrovnik for 2 or 3 days then you may want to stay in the old town to be close to all the main sites. As we had a week in Dubrovnik we decided to look for hotels along the waterfront just outside of the city to make the most of the stunning coastal views. There were lots of beautiful hotels to choose from but we finally settled on Rixos Libertas as we found a good deal on Last Minute. It is a bit further from the old city (20 minute walk) but it was a lovely hotel and waking up to the ocean each morning made our stay even more special. The Hilton Imperial and Hotel Bellevue are also very popular choices.
When is the best time to visit Dubrovnik?
A lot of cruise ships dock in Dubrovnik in the summer months and the old city can become overcrowded. I would highly recommend checking the cruise ship calendar before you book your trip. Avoid going in July and August if you can. We went in May and it was quite quiet in the old city which made exploring much more enjoyable. The weather was sunny and warm but did get cooler in the evenings so take a light coat and jumpers so you don’t get cold at night. Late September and early October are also good times to visit Dubrovnik.
I hope you found this blog post helpful! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.
Love from Steph
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