If you’re planning a visit to Croatia, then chances are Dubrovnik has a spot on your travel itinerary. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Dubrovnik offers stunning views, picture-perfect beaches, fascinating medieval architecture and plenty of adventure activities.
Dubrovnik is also home to many locations used to film Game of Thrones, attracting quite a few travelers whose sole purpose of visiting is to see the real-life settings behind the hit T.V. show.
Given its fame, beauty and UNESCO World Heritage status, it’s hardly a surprise that Dubrovnik also gets tons of tourists, especially within the Old Town. To be honest, knowing very little about Croatia prior to our road trip, I was shocked by just how touristy the city felt. Dubrovnik is still well worth the visit, but try to avoid peak season and know you’ll likely be sharing the views with many other tour groups.
The Start To Our Croatia Road Trip
After picking up the rental car in Split, Dubrovnik was the first destination on our road trip itinerary. The drive from Split to Dubrovnik is gorgeous, much of it hugging the coastline. Keep your passport handy, because you’ll even get to pass through Bosnia for a few miles!
Our rental car was courtesy of Nova Rent A Car, and we could not have been happier. The car was brand new and super easy to drive throughout Croatia and Slovenia. If you’re visiting these two countries, you really want to have your own wheels. The most breathtaking spots were driving through the countryside (lots of photos coming soon!), which are only accessible if you have a car.
Within Dubrovnik you won’t need a car as it’s easy to walk and parking can be difficult. We found a basic AirBnb with free parking and great views of the Old Town, which worked perfectly for our short stay.
The Highlights Of Dubrovnik
Three nights in Dubrovnik is enough time for most people to hit the highlights. (If you have extra days, we recommend saving them for Istria, our favorite region in Croatia where we could easily have spent weeks!)
Our top recommended things to do in Dubrovnik:
Wander The City Walls
Start your trip to Dubrovnik with a visit to its most famed attraction, the medieval city walls. The best way to see them is with the two-kilometer loop that takes you along the walls, offering sweeping views of the sea and Old Town along the way.
Depending on how fast you go (and how many photos you take), you’ll likely want a full two hours to do the circuit. Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Entrance is 150 KN (about $23 USD). Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water; there are actually a handful of cafes on the walls along the walk.
To learn more about the history of the 13th-century walls, a guided tour is recommended.
Explore The Pedestrian Zone of Old Town
The heart of Old Dubrovnik, the pedestrian zone is where you’ll find most restaurants, bars and shops. It’s particularly romantic at night when with the lights and bustling outdoor restaurants. Grab a gelato and enjoy the views. Be sure to stop by the staggering Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, the Jesuit Stairs and Rector’s Palace.
Soak in the Sun At Sveti Jakor Beach
Dubrovnik boasts many beautiful beaches in its surrounding area. We fell in love with Sveti Jakor, a small beach about a thirty-minute walk outside of town. Because of the distance (and the many stairs to reach it), Sveti Jakor doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as some of Dubrovnik’s other beaches.
We loved that Sveti Jakor felt a bit more like a hidden gem and that you didn’t have to worry about sharing the beach with tons of other tourists. There are chairs for rent and a small beach restaurant next door to grab a snack or beverage.
Grab A Drink At Dubrovnik’s Famed Cafe Buža
Hugging Dubrovnik’s rocky cliffs, Cafe Buža might just be one of the coolest bars I’ve been to. While it’s no longer the hidden secret it once was, the beautiful views facing out to the Adriatic Sea and the island of Lokrum, coupled with its unique location nestled on the rocks, makes Cafe Buža a must-visit.
What’s even better is that you can swim straight from the bottom of the rocks, so it’s also the perfect spot to enjoy a hot summer day! We visited both at night and during the day, and preferred the views of the latter.
Go Island Hopping Around Dubrovnik Via Boat or Kayak
Not only is Dubrovnik’s coastline spectacular when viewed from the sea, but there are also many nearby islands that warrant a visit. You can join a boat or kayak tour, but if budget permits, we would highly recommend springing for a private boat tour.
We did a group boat tour of the Elaphiti Islands; the islands were gorgeous, but the boat tour itself left quite a bit to be desired… Try to avoid booking from the agents in Old Town as they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even if it’s nothing like the actual experience.
In addition to the Elaphiti Islands, there’s Lokrum (another Game of Thrones spot), Mljet and Korčula. I didn’t make it to these, but travelers who do go seem to love them.
And if you don’t have time for a full day of island hopping, there are sunset dinner cruises that still afford the opportunity to see the beauty of the coastline from the water. I would definitely add one of these to my bucket list for the next time we go.
Smell The Roses At Trsteno Arboretum
Located about 25 minutes outside of central Dubrovnik, the Trsteno Arboretum is well worth a stop on your way in or out of town. Dating back to the 15th century, you’ll find some lovely gardens, one of the tallest trees I’ve ever seen in my life, and some easy walking paths. Trsteno Arboretum is also a Game of Thrones filming spot for those tracing the show’s filming locations.
Dubrovnik might be touristy, but we think it’s still well worth the visit for its beautiful beaches, fascinating architecture and stunning scenery.
Now, over to you! Have you been to Dubrovnik? What did you think?