If you’re headed to the Dalmatian Coast, you don’t want to miss this incredible list of things to do in Dubrovnik. We’ve rounded up both quintessential and off beat things to experience while exploring the city, plus insider tips for your visit.
Quick Note: As of January 1, 2023, Croatia joined the Eurozone and adopted the Euro as their currency. Kuna (kn or HRK), the former currency of Croatia, will no longer be accepted as a form of payment. However, Kuna banknotes and coins can be exchanged until December 31, 2023. This also means Croatia is now part of the Schengen Area and adheres to those laws and visa requirements.
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik is a glittering city along the Dalmatian Coast that hardly needs an introduction.
It has been a popular tourist destination among Europeans for decades, largely due to the fact that the entire city is an acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site with endless chapters of history stored within its famous walls.
More recently though, this lively coastal hotspot hopped on the world travel radar after it was seen as the backdrop for King’s Landing in the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones.
Travelers flock to the walled city for a variety of reasons, which is why we’ve rounded up the absolute best things to do in Dubrovnik in this detailed article; whether you’re a history buff, adventure seeker, avid GOT fan, or sun worshiper.
Dubrovnik Travel Guide
For more tips and advice for planning your trip to Dubrovnik, jump to the following sections (or just keep scrolling to see it all!).
- How many days do you need
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
- How to get around
- Know Before You Go
- Tips for visiting
- Where to eat
- Where to stay
- What to pack
Planning a trip to Croatia? We’ve gathered everything you need to know in our ultimate Croatia travel guide.
Top things to do in Dubrovnik
If you’re looking for the very best things to do in Dubrovnik, here are our top recommendations:
- Walk Dubrovnik’s Old Town City Walls
- Take the cable car up Mount Srd
- Seek out a hidden cliffside bar
- Kayak your way to a hidden beach
- Day trip to Trsteno Arboretum
Keep reading for more detailed information on each of these things and more ideas of fun things to do in Dubrovnik.
1. Walk Dubrovnik’s Old Town City Wall
You cannot visit one of Europe’s famous walled cities without climbing the stairs to the top and walking the loop around the Dubrovnik city wall.
Besides finding all the best photo ops, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Old Town. This is a good way to help you get your bearings when you first arrive.
The Dubrovnik city wall is mostly unshaded, although there are a few restaurants and rest stops along the way. We recommend you go early or later in the evening to escape the midday heat and wear lots of sunscreen!
Insider tip: You will also beat some of the crowds if you show up as soon as they open at 8:00 a.m.
You can walk the city walls of Dubrovnik on your own, simply by showing up and paying the entrance fee. Alternatively you can book a guided tour to get more information on the history of the area.
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Entrance fee: 35€ (~$38 USD)
Bonus: Entrance to the Lovrijenac Fortress (aka Fort Lovrijenac) is also included in the Dubrovnik city wall entrance ticket. See #20 for more details!
2. Take the cable car up Mount Srd for sunset
For the most epic views of Dubrovnik, head to the top of Mount Srd. You’ll see the beautiful walled Old Town and the surrounding islands dotting a sea of electric blue.
There are 3 ways to get there. You can drive or hike to the top, but the most fun way to ascend is via cable car. The all glass enclosed cars showcase 360° views all the way up.
At the top, you’ll be greeted by multiple levels of viewing platforms in front of the famous Restaurant Panorama.
If you want to savor the views for longer while indulging in a unique dining experience, be sure to make a reservation well in advance. Ask for a table on the edge of the terrace with the best views for sunset.
The most convenient way to buy tickets for the Mount Srd cable car is directly at the Dubrovnik Cable Car station. You’ll want to get there with time to spare before the sunset as there can sometimes be long lines.
- Hours: opens at 9 a.m. year round
- January: closes at 4 p.m.
- February/March: 5 p.m.
- April: 8 p.m.
- May: 9 p.m.
- June/July/August: midnight
- September: 10 p.m.
- October: 8 p.m.
- November: 5 p.m.
- December: 4 p.m.
- Entrance fee: 27€ (~$29 USD)
3. Seek out a hidden cliffside bar
Dubrovnik has 2 famous cliff bars hidden within the Old Town city wall: Buza Bar and Bard Mala Buza (otherwise known as Buza Bar II).
Buža, meaning “hole,” takes the literal meaning from the hole-in-the-wall that you need to pass through to enter these “secret” bars.
The bars are not so secret anymore as they tend to get packed (standing room only) during sunset. The entrance can be found on Google Maps.
If you get there early enough to score a table—which are strewn across the cliffside—this is a great spot to have a cheap drink and enjoy the colors of the changing sky during sunset.
And if you’re brave, you can jump from the cliff into the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea below! There are ladders for reentry and a few platforms for swimmers and cliff-divers.
A few important things to note:
I can’t speak for Bard Mala Buža because it wasn’t open when I visited Dubrovnik in 2018. However, at the original Buža Bar, you cannot actually see the sunset. This part of the wall is Eastern facing, so you’ll have to settle for just ocean views—which are still pretty spectacular.
The bathroom situation, however, was non-existent, so if you’re putting back a few nature calls, you’ll have to make your way into the city and hope a nearby establishment will be nice enough to let you use their facilities.
Psst! Don’t leave before you check out our bucket list of absolute best things to do in Croatia.
4. Kayak your way to a private beach
Kayaking your way around Dubrovnik’s ancient city walls is a fun way to get out on the water and get your body moving.
While it may seem harmless from above, this is in fact sea kayaking. The seas, with plenty of boating traffic, can be a bit challenging to paddle, so you’ll definitely have your blood pumping.
As a bonus, you’ll be able to reach some pretty epic swimming spots and a private cave-beach that is only accessible by kayak.
There are plenty of kayaking tours that will take you around nearby islands and show you where the good swimming spots are. If you choose to go without a tour, you can make your way down to the Dubrovnik West Harbour where you’ll find plenty of kayaks for rent.
How to reach the secret cave beach
Follow the instructions of your rental company to kayak your way around the city walls and through the active port. Then follow the coast line past the Banje Beach and down a ways until you come across a small stretch of beach with what appears like a cave opening behind it.
The beach is called Betina Cave Beach in case you want to look it up on the map.
There are rocks to climb and jump off. You can explore the small cave or just relax on your own private beach for a bit (that is until a kayak tour comes along to spoil your solitude).
5. Day trip to Trsteno Arboretum
Trsteno Arboretum is located about a 30 minute drive outside Dubrovnik and makes for the perfect escape from the city. You can wander the grounds and peek at the 500-year-old monuments that have been swallowed by nature.
Take up shelter in the thick trees as you make your way through the forest. Be sure to check out the views from some of the lookout points and get a glimpse of that electric blue sea below.
We think this is one of the best places to visit to get away from the chaos of the city.
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Entrance fee: 7€ (~$7.50 USD)
How to get there: Trsteno Arboretum is accessible by one of the regular bus lines that runs up and down the coast. To get to Trsteno Arboretum from Dubrovnik, you can rent a car, which is usually very cheap in Croatia.
Insider Tip: Be sure to exit the Arboretum and walk down the path with steps leading to the coast. At the bottom you will find the Haven Trsteno Marina (which is also accessible by car from the other side) with beautiful views and even some old ruins you can climb around.
6. Wander around Dubrovnik’s Old Town
After circumventing the historic centerpiece of Dubrovnik along the formidable stone walls, venturing into the narrow alleyways and endless historic sites of Old Town is the next best thing to do in Dubrovnik.
You’ll be transported into another world as you enter through the Pile Gate, the main entrance that places the stories of the city in the palm of your hand.
Strolling the intimate passageways, don’t miss the 14th-century Franciscan and Dominican Monasteries, filled with museum-like artifacts and ornate architecture.
The Dubrovnik Cathedral is one of a long line of churches built on this site with noteworthy artwork on display. It stands as a prominent feature of the city.
Rector’s Palace serves as both the monarch’s residence and the city’s cultural history museum with more than 10,000 artifacts on display from the 15th to 20th centuries.
Other highlights to check out in Dubrovnik’s Old Town
- St. Blaise Church: built in 1715 featuring Venetian-baroque style architecture.
- Sponza Palace: gorgeous former residence that now holds documents dating back to 1022.
- Clock tower: a huge bronze bell and elegant dome are highlights of this landmark tower.
- Onofrio’s Fountain: ornate, carved stone masks decorate this 15th-century fountain.
7. Check out the views from Minceta Tower
This 14th-century fortress is located high above Dubrovnik where the city walls converge on the northwestern side.
Easily the largest of all the city’s fortresses, Minceta Tower stands proud as a symbol of the unconquerable city. It offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding seas below.
How to get there: This fortress is part of the city walls and can be entered via the wall walking route or on a guided tour.
Psst! If you have time to discover more of the country, don’t miss these other epic places to visit in Croatia.
8. Relax and unwind at Banje Beach
Just outside Dubrovnik Old Town you will find an expanse of beach that looks like it was plucked straight from a postcard. (I mean just look at that photo!)
The umbrella-dotted white sand (yes, a SANDY beach in Croatia!) colliding with aquamarine waters with the walled city as its backdrop is just perfection. Banje Beach is the perfect place to relax and cool off in the mid-day summer heat.
How to get there: You can’t miss this beach just west of the walled city. There is a road that passes by and a set of stairs that lead down to the public access beach. You can also access the beach through the beach club which has stairs on the other side.
9. Dance the night away in a fortress
Croatia has a reputation for putting on a good party and Dubrovnik is no exception. There are only a few nightclubs around the city, but what they lack in quantity, they make up for in excess. The DJs are sure to keep you dancing until the sun comes up.
Culture Club Revelin is probably the most well-known in the city. It’s situated on the eastern edge of Old Town inside the angular walls of a 16th-century fortress.
What Dubrovnik’s old military architects probably did not plan for was the makings of an ideal club venue with a large dance floor, stage and cage dancers and performers popping up all around.
Walking past after dinner, we were handed vouchers that granted us free admission to the club before midnight, but the party was just getting started by then.
- Hours: 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily
- Entrance fee: depends on the artist/DJ performing
10. Go for happy hour at Hotel Excelsior
This 5-star hotel just west of Dubrovnik Old Town has a dreamy terrace with views of the Adriatic Sea and the walled city.
While a room there can set you back more than 500€ a night, a happy hour cocktail won’t break the bank. It’s worth it to gain entrance to the lavish terrace where you can relax and take in the views during sunset.
11. Go on a food tour
Four cozy restaurants featuring local specialties and stellar wine dotted around Old Town await you on this 3-Hour Dubrovnik Gastronomy Tour.
Wander through the narrow alleyways of Dubrovnik, sampling the city’s unique gastronomy and culinary traditions between pieces of history.
You’ll conclude the tour at a small patierssie among the towering walls of Old Town to sample traditional Croatian cake.
What you need to know:
- Hours: 3 hours
- Price: 112.45€ ($122.73 USD)
What guests are saying:
“What an incredible tour!! Our guide was amazing, friendly, knowledgeable and so great with our group. The food selected at each place was out of this world good!! Great information was given about the area culture, locale, and food during the tour. A must if you’re visiting!” – GetYourGuide Traveler (September 2022)
12. Discover the gems of Vardia
At the foothills of Vardia, join Ivica and Dominika as they take you through tastings directly from their garden, vineyards, and olive groves.
Their Gems of Vardia Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you’ll learn about teachings and techniques of ingredients passed down for centuries, sampling freshly picked foods in the world’s largest classroom.
What you need to know:
- Hours: 2.5 hours
- Price: 58 € ($60 USD)
What guests are saying:
“Great morning in a stunning location learning about Ivica’s family land and their produce. Seeing first hand the figs, almonds, grapes, walnuts, herbs and fruits growing on the land, then tasting them freshly picked was great. Overlooking the beautiful view to the sea and tasting Ivica’s wines and liquors, with homemade candied orange or sugared almonds and delicious freshly baked bread with their pressed olive oil was a truly magical experience. I would thoroughly recommend this trip – a true highlight of our break in Dubrovnik. Thank you, Ivica!” – Caroline, United Kingdom (October 2022)
13. Explore Lokrum Island
Just a short 15-min ferry ride from Dubrovnik Old Town, trips to this lush island are quite popular among tourists and locals alike.
During the summer months, the dense vegetation offers a much needed reprieve from the hot sun. You can easily spend the day strolling the botanical gardens, exploring the ruins of the medieval Benedictine Monastery and swimming in the coastal waters of the Adriatic Sea.
How to get there: During the summer months, ferries leave for Lokrum Island from Dubrovnik’s Old Port every 30 minutes (and less often during low-season). The trip takes 15 minutes and costs 26.54€ (~$6 USD) for an adult ticket. You can also get to the island by sea kayak.
14. Check out the abandoned Hotel Belvedere
Sitting high atop a cliff just outside of Dubrovnik with panoramic views of the city is the Hotel Belvedere. Once a luxurious property when it opened in 1985, the hotel only operated for just 6 years before it was abandoned during the Croatian War of Independence.
There it sits neglected, except for a brief appearance in the Game of Thrones series.
You can visit the now derelict hotel and walk through the halls with shattered windows. Take in the scene of what was once the most luxurious hotel in Dubrovnik, before it fell victim to the war.
15. Do a self-guided Game of Thrones tour
Dubrovnik is perhaps best known outside of Europe as being the main location of King’s Landing in the HBO hit series, Game of Thrones. This has become a pretty big draw for tourism in the area and you will find Game of Thrones tours and merchandise around just about every corner.
If you’re a fan of the show and want to do a little touring of your own, it’s fairly easy to see a bunch of filming locations in a single day.
A quick Google search will provide you with all of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik. You will even find screengrabs and YouTube videos with the exact scenes from each location.
One of the highlights is that Dubrovnik is home to one of the original iron thrones used in filming the series. It was donated to the city of Dubrovnik by HBO and is currently housed in the Lokrum Island Visitors Center.
You too can conquer the iron throne and even have your picture taken upon it if that’s what you’re into.
Most popular Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik
- Dubrovnik Old Town itself was used as the backdrop of King’s Landing
- Fort Lovrijenac as the Red Keep
- Dubrovnik’s West Harbour as Blackwater Bay
- The city walls as, well, the city walls of King’s Landing
- Jesuit Staircase by St. Ignatius Church where Cersei took her infamous walk of shame
- Hotel Belvedere as the location of the fight between the Mountain and Prince Oberyn
- Trsteno Arboretum as the palace gardens in King’s Landing
16. Learn about oyster farming
At one of the last remaining oyster farms in Mali Ston, you can sample a protected species of oyster, that out of everywhere in the world, is only found in this tiny inlet.
Join a local host on his Ston Oyster Farm Tour as you splash around the waters of the Adriatic, learning about how oysters are grown, farmed, and brought to restaurant tables. Mario will even dive into the sea for the freshest oyster you’ll ever eat, just seconds after being caught.
After the farm, tour around the small town of Ston, stopping at a small, family-run restaurant for delicious Croatian food before returning to Dubrovnik.
What you need to know:
- Hours: 6 hours
- Price: 96 € ($105 USD)
What guests are saying:
“The highlight of our trip to Dubrovnik! Mario is a master at his craft – a superb storyteller, genuine, and personalized the experience to us and our group. Coming to Dubrovnik we wanted a feel of the local culture beyond the typical finds on Tripadvisor or similar websites. This experience was just that and more so – a glimpse into the life of a very content and happy oyster farmer not living in the rat race, an appreciation for how much effort goes into oysters getting on our plate, a feel for the culture of people living in Croatia, of course great Oysters! and so much more. Could not recommend enough.” – Kevin, United States (August 2022)
17. Day trip to Mostar
Just a 2 and a half hour drive across the border into Bosnia & Herzegovina is the city of Mostar. At the center of this Eastern European gem is the Stari Most bridge, an iconic symbol of unification, literally uniting two sides of the country.
This impressive architectural wonder was once destroyed in the war, but has since been rebuilt and restored to its former glory.
With so much to do in this town, which stars as both the historic and the administrative center of the country, you can easily spend a day or two exploring on a trip from Dubrovnik.
18. Take to the water for sunset
Viewing the sunset from the water is one of my favorite things to do when visiting a coastal city.
In Dubrovnik, you have a few options for taking to the sea. Whether you choose a sunset paddle in sea kayaks or a more traditional sunset cruise on a ship, (some of the tours even include dinner!), you’ll be sure to have some amazing views as the sun dips below the Adriatic.
19. Day trip to the Elaphiti Islands
The Elaphiti Islands is a small archipelago off the coast of Dubrovnik consisting of many islands, but three that are most prevalent: Šipan, Lopud, and Koločep.
Each one features stunning beaches, pristine nature, quaint villages, ruins, and untouched tradition. Koločep Island features stunning blue and green caves that are a must-see, only accessed on a tour.
How to get there: Connecting ferry lines run during the summer months that make island hopping super easy. Jadrolinija ferry lines run daily, stopping at each one. G&V Line also runs daily from Dubrovnik to Šipan.
Otherwise, this Elaphiti Islands Tour allows you to sit back and relax as your skipper takes you to each island, with a delicious midday lunch and unlimited drinks.
20. Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Towering on a 37 meter (121 feet) cliffside, Fort Lovrijenac is one of the most spectacular fortresses in Dubrovnik.
It served to protect the city beginning in the 11th-century and has been rebuilt and repaired numerous times to preserve it.
As you enter, notice the message etched in stone: Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro or “Freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world”.
Not only did Lovrijenac Fortress serve as a line of defense against the Venetians, it was also used as a filming location in Game of Thrones. (Do you recognize the Red Keep?) Nowadays the fort hosts theatrical performances during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Entrance fee: 26.50 € ($29 USD)
21. Take a cooking class
It’s no secret that cooking classes are a staple of ours when we travel, and this Traditional Dalmatian Cooking Class is easily one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik.
You’ll spend a full day in a local country house on the outskirts of the city, where you’ll create recipes that have been passed down through generations.
The dishes will vary with each season, but on any given day you can expect to whip up Dalmatian peka, menestra, meat skewers, traditional chicken stew, rustic bread, and desserts.
Pick fresh ingredients directly from the estate’s garden, have a cooking extravaganza, then enjoy your dishes over local wine.
What you need to know:
- Hours: 5 hours
- Price: 154 € $168.35 USD)
- Location (pick up at accommodation in Dubrovnik)
What guests are saying
“This cooking really immerses you into the lifestyle of growing and preparing your own food on a regular basis in Croatia. You gather the ingredients for everything they have you help cook, and learn you only need simple ingredients in order to make food you will enjoy. The hosts are extremely friendly and provide an excellent experience. Would recommend learning more about Croatian life and making your own fresh food.” – GetYourGuide Traveler, United States (April 2023)
22. Do some wine tasting
Wine in Croatia has been cultivated for nearly 4,000 years with its own unique signature that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
To fully immerse yourself in Croatian wines, we recommend a wine tasting with a local host that presents staple varieties that no wine menu in the country is complete without, alongside local pairings.
Ivica and Dominika have upheld the traditions of their family-owned 14th-century vineyard for nearly 10 years.
Their tour begins with a short jaunt up to a jaw-dropping sunset location within the vineyard. From there, you’ll sample their wine, olive oil, and small bites while sharing stories and diving deep into Croatian culture and history.
What you need to know:
- Hours: 2.5 hours
- Price: 59 € ($64 USD)
- Location (pick up at hotel or specified meeting point)
What guests are saying:
“[…] Ivica is a welcoming and passionate host who wants his guests to feel like they are at home. He has the perfect combination of having an informative yet casual environment, while paying attention to every detail and his guests’ wishes. The small treats (e.g. sugar coated orange rinds and almonds, freshly baked bread and olive oil) were fantastic and the wine was delicious. I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip to everyone, who wants to experience how wine and olive oil are locally and sustainably produced with good company and a breathtaking view. The transfer went also smoothly and easily, so there is no need to think about it.” – Lala, Germany (April 2023)
If you don’t want to take a tour, there are a few great wine bars in town with acclaimed tasting menus:
- D’Vino Wine Bar: This specialist bar features flights of Croatian wines alongside local meats and cheeses.
- Wine Bar Skar: Local wineries are highlighted on their tasting menus paired with generous cheese and charcuterie platters.
- Otto Wine Bar: Small and elegant wine bar with Dalmatian wines, weekly tastings, and top-notch service.
23. Visit Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park is a pristine nature area on the island of Mljet that holds raw Croatian beauty through crystalline lakes, vineyards, monasteries, beaches, ruins, and hiking trails.
How to get there: From the port in Dubrovnik, you can catch a 1.5 hour ferry to Mljet on TP Lines. They have a variety of departures ranging from €7.5 – 16 Euro ($8 – 17.50 USD) one way. The price depends on what ticket you purchase and which port you sail into.
Alternatively, this exciting Mljet & 3 Islands Tour takes you to the turquoise waters of three south Dalmatian islands and highlights of the National Park.
24. Go on an ATV adventure
Leave the bustle of the city behind you as you discover Dubrovnik’s picturesque countryside on this ATV Quad Safari Tour through the Konavle Region.
After pick-up from your hotel in Dubrovnik, you’ll set out to Kojan Koral to meet up with your safari quad instructor.
Once acquainted, you’ll head off buzzing past 4 different terrains with untouched nature and panoramic views of the Adriatic on your way to the quaint village of Cilipi.
Make an optional stop in town, then on your way back to Dubrovnik, enjoy local wine with fresh snacks before being dropped back off at your hotel.
What you need to know:
- Hours: 4 hours
- Price: 79.60 € ($86.87 USD)
- Location (pick up at your hotel in Dubrovnik)
What guests are saying
“By far the best experience I had during my 2.5 week honeymoon! What a thrill and adrenaline-rush! We got to explore off the beaten path beautiful areas of Dubrovnik with a range of terrains and nature. Our guide was the owner of the company and instilled confidence but was attentive. He answered questions when asked and always made sure to check on us. Would recommend it 10/10 times!” – GetYourGuide Traveler, United States (October 2022)
25. Check out a museum or two
Although Dubrovnik acts as a living and breathing museum all on its own, it has an interesting array of curated museums around the city that are worth visiting.
These are some of the most intriguing museums around Dubrovnik:
- Red History Museum: engaging and interactive museum showcasing the history of Yugoslavia.
- Maritime Museum: relics and exhibits about the history of local seafaring.
- Ethnographic Museum: peculiar museum focusing on local farming, lifestyle, and cultural traditions.
- MOMAD Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik: artwork inside an old palace highlighting local Croatian paintings and sculptures.
- Love Stories Museum: a curation of personal items holding love stories and local folklore.
- Natural History Museum: small museum with interesting exhibits of nature and animals.
- Museum of Selfies & Memories: curated rooms with Instagrammable backdrops for fun photos.
How many days do you need in Dubrovnik?
One mistake we made when visiting Dubrovnik was not giving it enough time.
While 1-2 is certainly doable to see the cities main sites around the Old Town, with 3-4 days, you can elevate your experience, get off the trodden path, and get a real feel for the city.
Also, with many surrounding countries and islands, Dubrovnik makes an excellent base camp for some exciting day trips, which is another thing to consider when planning your visit and how much time you want to spend in the city.
Best time to visit Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is best experienced in the shoulder seasons from late April to May and September to early October.
The most popular time to visit Dubrovnik is technically during the peak tourist season from June through August, but if you aren’t a fan of Disneyland level crowds, we highly recommend avoiding this season.
Winter has the perks of the fewest crowds, but note a good amount of restaurants, businesses, tours, and ferries to islands are all closed this season.
Still undecided? Check out our guide to the best time to visit Croatia, where we break it all down by season.
How to get to Old Town from the Dubrovnik airport
The Dubrovnik Airport is about 20 km (12.5 miles) south of Old Town in the village of Cilipi.
There are no public transport options from one to the other, so your only option is road travel using any of the following options: bus, airport transfer, shuttle, or taxi.
The drive is around 25-30 minutes and prices vary depending on which service you take.
Private transfers and taxis start at around 35 € ($38 USD), whereas the airport shuttles and buses are around 7 € ($8 USD) for a one-way ticket.
Transportation in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a compact city with no subways, trams, or railways, so walking is the most popular way to get around the inner city.
However, if you want to get off the beaten path, venture out of the city, or give your feet a break (we’ve been there!), there are a couple of options for getting around:
- Libertas Bus: There are 13 different bus lines that operate within Dubrovnik. Nearly all the bus lines start/finish at Pile Gate, the western entrance to Old Town. View timetables and tickets
- Taxi/Uber/Bolt: Taxis are easily found throughout the city, but concentrated at the Pile and Ploče Gates. At both gates there are official taxi rates posted on a sign. You can compare these prices with rideshare apps like Uber and Bolt to get the best price.
Things to know before you go
An excerpt written by Katie:
Ok, real talk here… Have you ever been disappointed by a place you thought you’d love?
More often than not, I fall in love with the cities and countries we travel through. And when I fall, I fall HARD. I’ve been surprised by towns I planned to only pass through, and it’s pretty common for me to extend my stay in places I like.
That said, with my Instagram feed clogging up with insanely beautiful pictures, it’s safe to assume that not everywhere I visit will be nearly as stunning as it appears on my iPhone’s screen.
For us, Dubrovnik was a bit of a disappointment.
Croatia was one of the countries I was looking forward to most in the Balkans. Its aquamarine waters and perfect waterfalls in lush forests are what travel dreams are made of, right!?
That and an imminent trip to Dubrovnik pushed me to start watching HBO’s Game of Thrones so I could fully appreciate the real-life King’s Landing on my visit.
I read up on the history, I ogled over pictures, looked up things to do in Dubrovnik and was so ready to get there.
When I arrived, there was no arguing: it was gorgeous. In fact, Dubrovnik has some seriously Instagram-worthy spots!
With my expectations set so high, some of what I did find in Dubrovnik left me disappointed. Let me explain…
1. Dubrovnik was incredibly crowded with tourists
Yes I know, we visited Croatia at the pinnacle of high season, and crowds are to be expected. But this was to the extreme. When Ben and I entered the narrow entrance to the old city, selfie sticks blocked our path and tour groups clogged the streets.
The July heat burned down on my shoulders and the only escape from the sun was to step into the souvenir shops lining the streets that sell magnets for €8 and Game of Thrones t-shirts for €30.
I wandered down a back street hoping to find a bar that we heard being described as “off-the-beaten-path.”
We ducked under a low arch to enter and discovered that it can no longer be called a “hidden gem” in any sense of the phrase. Every table was occupied and others lurked behind tables, hoping to grab the first seat available.
2. Dubrovnik is expensive
…So we wandered further and found a shaded little café that had an open table. I needed to get away from the crowds and out of the sun, so this seemed like the perfect escape.
I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu – a €3 americano. When the waitress asked if I wanted a little milk on the side I nodded, “Just a tiny bit,” without knowing she would charge me an extra €1 for a teensy pitcher.
I knew Dubrovnik would be expensive. Most of the tourism in Croatia is aimed at Europeans on week-long holidays, so it only makes sense. We’ve been to expensive places before, but there are usually some cheaper options if you know where to look: street food, free walking tours, dorm beds.
But in our experience traveling in Dubrovnik, we found tourist prices and slightly cheaper tourist prices. Meals seemed to be a minimum of €12, tours of the city started at €15 per person, and an average dorm bed would set you back €50.
Budget Tip: Hotel prices throughout Croatia were so much higher than the other Balkan countries. To save money we booked a few Airbnb apartments. It was typically cheaper than hotels or hostels, we would get an entire apartment, and it was more of a local experience.
Related: We have loads of info on how to book Airbnbs, including red flags to watch out for when booking and some of our favorite Airbnbs.
3. There are more tourists than locals
I’m a tourist, so this may sound a little hypocritical, but I don’t want to be surrounded only by tourists when I travel. In my mind, travel is meant for experiencing other places and cultures different from what you already know. That is how we grow and learn, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.
4. It felt “cheesy”
The Old City, to me, felt kind of “fake”. Historic buildings had been transformed into souvenir shops and pirate-themed candy stores. Tour guides dressed in chainmail led groups on Game of Thrones tours where they’d hold up an iPad and show scenes from the show.
To me, it kind of had a Disneyland feel. Which, in my opinion, is fine for a theme park, but not for a UNESCO World Heritage site city.
Would we go back to Dubrovnik?
I’ll admit, Dubrovnik is a beautiful city. Drop dead gorgeous, actually.
It’s clean. It has history. But it just didn’t feel like a real city.
It seemed that everything was preserved only for tourists, and the only jobs people seemed to have revolved around tourism, meaning many of the workers were clad in historic costumes.
A little cheesy, if you ask me.
I’m not one to discourage people from going to places. I’m glad I visited Dubrovnik because I would have always wondered what it is like.
And circumstances definitely affect how much I like a place. Maybe with the cooler temperatures and fewer crowds of low season, I would enjoy myself much more.
So to answer the question above, “Would we go back?” Absolutely. I’m all about second (and third!) chances. But I also wanted to share our honest opinions because I haven’t heard many others talk openly about this.
Tips for visiting Dubrovnik
If you plan to travel to Dubrovnik, but my little message in the section above has you worried, keep these tips in mind. They will help you have a better experience than we did.
- Avoid peak tourist season (if possible!). We traveled to Croatia in July, during the busiest time for tourism. If you don’t dig crowds, go earlier or later in the year.
- Be sure your budget is big enough. Our budget was too low to be able to fully enjoy Croatia. The prices in this country are more on par with Western Europe, and while our budget was just fine for the rest of the places we visited, we had to be super frugal in Croatia.
- Don’t compare. We LOVED Bosnia and Slovenia which we visited before and after Croatia. So we found ourselves comparing it to these countries where the crowds were fewer, the locals seemed friendlier and the landscapes were just as beautiful. I know it’s not fair to compare, but it’s a natural reaction.
- Venture out of the Old City. We stayed in an Airbnb at a family’s home a 30-minute walk from the center, so we saw a lot more than just the historic part of town.
- Allot enough time. We didn’t give it enough time. If we were to go back again, we would have gone to more small villages and budgeted time and money to get further off the beaten path.
- Manage your expectations. We had super high expectations, and that’s where this disappointment stems from. It’s not that we didn’t enjoy Dubrovnik or think it wasn’t beautiful. But sometimes not having expectations at all can help you enjoy travel experiences more.
- Explore places other than Dubrovnik too! The US isn’t only NYC. France isn’t only Paris. Japan isn’t only Tokyo. And Croatia isn’t only Dubrovnik. There is so much more to this country, and if you’re anything like us, you will find that the other places in Croatia have a more authentic feeling.
- Check out our Croatia Travel Guide for more ideas of places to visit in this country.
Is the Dubrovnik Card worth it?
The Dubrovnik Card is a money saving city pass that grants you access to 9-12 of the city’s significant cultural sights, free public transport, and discounts at various bars, restaurants, and excursions.
We think the Dubrovnik Card is definitely worth it since the Dubrovnik City Wall ticket alone is the same as the card price.
However, it largely depends on what you’re planning on seeing and how much time you have, so be sure to take that into account before you buy one.
You can purchase a Dubrovnik Card online and choose from a 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day pass. Each tier pass has a different list of discounts and benefits that you can compare.
Otherwise, there are endless places around Dubrovnik to purchase one when you arrive. View the list
Where to eat in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik’s gastronomy scene will not disappoint you from family-owned joints to some of the finest dishes in Croatia.
- Gradska Cafe: upscale Croatian food with intimate port views.
- Mea Culpa Pizzeria & Trattoria Dubrovnik: for generous portions of authentic and variety pizzas, pasta, and Italian plates.
- Azur: Thai and Croatian food come together to create delicious “CroAsian” cuisine.
- Restaurant Kopun: family-run restaurant with local ingredients and modern, authentic Croatian cuisine.
- Above 5 Rooftop Restaurant: a Michelin star rooftop restaurant with 360° views of the city.
- Nishta: for healthy and succulent vegan food.
- Holy Burek: a bakery serving up a staple Croatian street food item.
- Segreto Pasta & Grill: elevated Italian food in Old Town.
- La Bodega Dubrovnik: for high-quality sushi and cocktails.
- Restaurant 360: unparalleled views and legendary food are trademarks of this Michelin star restaurant.
- Gianni: unique and decadent gelato/dessert shop with vegan and GF options.
- Buza Bar: a famous cliffside bar with swimming and cliff-jumping.
- Bard Mala Buza: simple cliffside bar in a prime location for sunset, backed by city walls.
- Cave Bar More: mystical bar set inside a cave with million-dollar views of the Adriatic.
- D’Vino Wine Bar: sip on the largest selection of wines in Dubrovnik.
- Dubrovnik Beer Company: for excellent craft beer and a local atmosphere.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Given that most of the things to do in Dubrovnik are in and around the Old Town, finding accommodation close to the city center may be the most convenient. However, you will most certainly find that accommodation gets cheaper the further from the center you get.
You may also enjoy discovering the other non-touristy parts of Dubrovnik. Katie & Ben did when they packed a picnic and hiked up the hill near their Airbnb to find a quiet and secluded space to view the spectacular sunset.
Budget hostel: Hostel Angelina Old Town
Nestled among the city walls in Old Town, this hostel is in an idyllic location just a short walk away from all the best things to do in Dubrovnik. The hostel hosts fun events most nights of the week so it’s perfect for getting social. Plus, there is a shared kitchen, free Wifi, and spacious, clean rooms.
Mid-range budget Airbnb: Studio Andro
This newly renovated apartment is located between centuries-old cathedrals in the heart of Old Town. You’ll be steps away from all the action, yet still tucked away in a quiet area. All the best restaurants, bars, beaches, and shops are within a 5-10 minute walk which is a huge plus for getting out early to explore the city.
Mid-range budget option: LOCUS Dubrovnik
Stay in elegantly decorated apartments just a stone’s throw away from the city center. The highlights are a private terrace with views over Old Town, plus only being a few minutes walk from the most popular places in the city like Buza Beach and Orlando Column.
Splurge hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Stay in the epitome of luxury at this 5-star beachfront hotel. It’s so superb that it’s known as a local landmark, filled with top tier amenities: a luxurious spa, 3 onsite restaurants, seaside views, indoor pool, hot tubs, and the hotel’s own private beach. You’ll feel like Croatian royalty at this magical stay.
What to pack for traveling to Dubrovnik
Bring these items with you for a more comfortable experience traveling around Dubrovnik.
- Reusable water bottle
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Travel towel
- Sun hat
- Comfortable walking shoes
Round up of the best things to do in Dubrovnik
Here’s a recap of all the best things to do in Dubrovnik so you can see everything in one place.
- Dubrovnik’s City Walls
- Mt. Srd cable car
- Buza Bar cliffside cafe
- Kayak to a hidden beach
- Trsteno Arboretum
- Dubrovnik Old Town
- Minceta Tower
- Banje Beach
- Revelin Culture Club
- Happy hour at Hotel Excelsior
- Food tour
- Tour Vardia
- Lokrum Island
- Hotel Belvedere
- Game of Thrones tour
- Learn about oyster farming
- Sunset from the water
- Elaphiti Islands
- Lovrijenac Fortress
- Cooking class
- Wine tasting
- Mljet National Park
- ATV adventure
Are you planning a trip to Croatia?
We have lots of resources on travel in Croatia and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Croatia Travel Homepage for everything you need to know, or start by reading some of our favorite Croatia articles here:
- Croatia: A Completely Honest Travel Guide
- Plitvice National Park: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide
- Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Split, Croatia + Travel Guide
- Krka National Park: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide
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We want to hear from you!
Have you traveled to Dubrovnik? What did you think? Do you share Katie’s feelings or did you love it? Have any questions?
Let us know in the comments below!