October 20, 2017
By Mary Novakovich
Timeless Dubrovnik never fails to enchant, despite becoming more and more popular every year – its walled Old Town of marble streets and terracotta-roofed houses is really quite magical.
To get the most out of the city – without spending a fortune – check out the top ten things to do in Dubrovnik.
OK, it’s not the cheapest thing to do, but you really shouldn’t miss the chance to walk along these extraordinary medieval fortifications.
As you follow the winding path of the walls, take in the compelling views of town life below, the Adriatic coast beyond and the massive 16th-century Fort Lovrijenac (included in the ticket). To avoid the cruise-ship crowds, come after 4pm when most will have returned to their ships.
The Old Town’s pedestrianised thoroughfare is a marvel of polished marble and pretty green-shuttered houses. If you’re there first thing in the morning, stop for a coffee and a bit of people-watching at the Festival Café.
You might have to give Stradun a miss during the day when the cruise crowds descend. But once they’re gone, join the Dubrovnik locals as they do the Croatian version of the Italian passeggiata, a leisurely early-evening stroll.
Hop on a boat at the Old Port and, 15 minutes later, you’ll have entered a different world on the tranquil island of Lokrum.
Pack a picnic and some swimming gear for a day exploring the rocky coves, forested trails, a ruined monastery and a shallow little saltwater lagoon.
Boats go regularly to this alluring village on a little peninsula just south of Dubrovnik. Buses are cheaper, though, and carry on throughout the evening after the boats stop running.
That leaves more time to check out the inviting cafés along the palm-lined waterfront as well as pebbly beaches tucked into the bays.
You can take the slightly pricey cable car up to Mount Srd (pronounced Surge), the rugged hill looming over the Old Town.
Alternatively, hike for about an hour up the zigzagging path to the summit, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the Adriatic as far as the Elaphite islands – there’s no shelter from the sun, so bring a hat and plenty of water.
Follow the quiet, mostly shaded path on the northern side of the Babin Kuk peninsula north of the Old Town, then stop for a swim in the pebbly Copacabana Beach before carrying on eastwards towards the harbour.
The unpretentious waterside terrace at the Orsan yacht club’s bar is a lovely spot for a cold beer.
You get one of the most spectacular views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town and city walls from this hillside amphitheatre south of the city.
Time your half-hour walk through a forested trail to arrive just before the sun goes down and prepare to be wowed. If you’re there in July and August, you’ll catch live music during the Orsuladanja music festival.
While there’s a small daily market in Gundulic Square in Dubrovnik’s Old Town, you’ll find a larger and less touristy one in Gruz by the ferry port.
It’s an excellent place to pick up provisions if you’re travelling to one of the other islands.
Unless you walk into the middle of a Game of Thrones tour, Gradac Park is a wonderfully relaxing place to wander among shady landscaped gardens and catch views of the sea.
Like Fort Lovrijenac and Lokrum, the park has become a place of pilgrimage for GoT fans, so it’s not quite as quiet as it used to be, but still worth exploring.
While most visitors to Dubrovnik make a beeline for the Buza Bar – the Old Town bar that hugs the cliffs and is accessed through a hole in the wall – there’s another bar that’s equally as dramatic.
Head up to the Cave Bar at the Hotel More overlooking Lapad Bay, where there’s a fantastic natural cave that was discovered during the building of the hotel. If you’re there before dusk, grab a seat on the terrace for a fabulous sunset – of all the things to do in Dubrovnik, it’s one of the most iconic and relaxing.
Croatia uses the kuna – approximately 8.5 kuna for £1 as of May 20, 2019.
Fly to Dubrovnik airport (DBV) with British Airways all year round or with easyJet, Jet2 and TUI from April/May to October. The flight time is two hours 40 minutes from London, and airport buses to Dubrovnik’s Old Town cost 40 kuna.
Flights to Dubrovnik from London start at about £100 return from London in June, but fares rise to about £300 in high season.
There’s a wide range of accommodation in Dubrovnik, featuring everything from studio apartments in the Old Town to luxurious five-star resorts with private beaches.
Two-star hotels cost from £32 per room per night
Three-star hotels cost from £35 per room per night
Four-star hotels cost from £53 per room per night
Five-star hotels cost from £152 per room per night
Prices taken from TravelSupermarket for stays in June 2019 and are based on a two-night stay for two people on a room-only basis.
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is pedestrianised and easy to explore. If you’re staying in one of the resort hotels in Lapad or Babin Kuk, it’s easy to get around by bus. If you’re planning to do some island-hopping, the main ferry port is at Gruz.
There’s an enormous choice of places to eat, from cheerful pizzerias to fine-dining restaurants. Typical prices for eating out are:
Coffee – 12 kuna
Bottle of beer – 18 kuna
Three-course meal for two – 500 kuna
Mary Novakovich is the author of Explore Dubrovnik and Explore Croatia, both published by Insight Guides.