- Wander the streets of one of the world's best preserved walled towns.
- Kayak on the crystal blue waters surrounding Dubrovnik to the island of Lokrum.
- Watch the sun setting over Dubrovnik on top of Srd Hill (after taking the cable car to the top).
- Take a day trip to the wild and beautiful National Park on the Island of Mljet.
- Attend one of the many open air concerts during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic, mixes history with natural beauty and sunny beaches. This UNESCO World Heritage town is based on a history of maritime trade which once saw it rival Venice in the 15th and 16th centuries as the Mediterranean powerhouse. The wealth that Dubrovnik obtained during these times is evident in the walled old town which boasts some of the world's most impressive renaissance architecture including Recto'rs Palace, Sponza Palace and the many churches and cathedrals that line the limestone streets.
The Dubrovnik old town was damaged by shelling during the Yugoslavia War of 1991 and there is still much anger in Croatia that the Serbian Army targeted the old town. There are signs throughout the city that show the reconstruction process that took place from 1995 to 1999.
Dubrovnik has the classic Mediterranean weather with long, hot summer days. However, it will also have the odd tropical downpour in summer but these don't last long. Like majority of the Mediterranean, the Old Town becomes very quiet in winter but from May to October it is a hive of activity. This activity comes to a head during July/August when the Dubrovnik Summer Festival takes place for 45 days of concerts, dance performances, plays and games.
What to see and do
The Old Town (Stari Grad)
Step back in time and start your visit in Dubrovnik by slowly wandering the streets of the Old Town. The Stradun (the main street) is the wide road which leads from the main gates to the heart of the Old Town. The road is made from beautiful, smooth limestone which really glistens in the sun (you definitely need sunglasses). If you want to have a good laugh, set up at one of the cafes when it has been raining and watch the tourists slipping all over the place.
There are many sights to see in Dubrovnik, such as Rector's Palace, Church of St. Ignatius, the Dubrovnik Bell tower and the Church of Saint Blaise. However, you will find that just walking around and getting lost will be as enjoyable. You will stumble across hidden bars (some in the side of the wall), coffee shops hidden in tight alleyways or kittens play fighting on top of the wall.
Walk the wall
Walk the 2.5 km circuit on top of the 22m high wall surrounding the old town for some incredible panoramic views of the Old Town. The orange terracotta roofs of the Old Town contrast beautifully with the deep blue of the Adriatic.
The best time to do the walk is about 30 minutes before sunset when the temperature isn't too bad, the cruise ships have left and you have the wall (almost) to yourself. The shadows cast by the setting sun allows for some great photo opportunities. Getting up on to the wall will cost you 100 Kuna; not cheap by Croatian standards but well worth the cost.
Take the cable car to the top of Srd Hill for incredible panoramic views of the old town and the surrounding islands. Once at the top, sit and have a coffee and enjoy the view before slowly walking back down to the Old Town, enjoying the ever changing views (or take the cable car back down if you are feeling lazy).
For a unique experience catch the cable car up at dusk and watch the sunset before having dinner Panorama Restaurant (just make sure you book to get a table by the window).
Swim at Banje Beach
Banje Beach is located about 500m from the Old Town and is the perfect spot to set up for an afternoon of relaxation. The beach, like the majority of beaches in Europe, is a pebble beach however, the beach club offers sun lounges for about 100 kuna.
Banje Beach offers views of the Old Town and makes you feel as if you are in Game of Thrones. The water is warm in summer and is generally very calm - except for the odd day when Dubrovnik has one if its 'one hour' storms.
Another great beach option is Sveti Jakov Beach. This is on the North-West side of the Old Town.
Kayak to the Island of Lokrum
Sea kayaking in Dubrovnik has become all the rage (and you won't be able to avoid tourist operators begging you to join one of their tours). Kayaking is a great way to see Lokrum Island which is just off the coast of Dubrovnik's Old Town and was an important Military Island during WWII and the 1990's war with Serbia.
You can hire a kayak yourself or join one of the many tours. By kayaking you will be able to stop at any point and snorkel, swim or cliff jump. Kayaking to Lokrum will also give you some amazing views of the Old Town. Bring a GoPro!
Attend a concert or a play in the Dubrovnik Summer Festival
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival runs for 45 days between July and August and offers you the chance to go to concerts, plays and games. We were able to see the Croatian National Symphony Orchestra play in Rectors Palace. You are really spoiled for choice during summer!
Eating + drinking
Charcoal grilled meat and seafood platters...need we say more? For all carnivores Lady Pi Pi is a must! Set at the top of the Old Town in a peaceful pergola setting, Lady Pi-Pi has fresh seafood and meat done the Croatian way. The staff are friendly and, unfortunately, no reservations are taken. You can expect to wait from around 6:30 on-wards for about an 30-40mins in the height of summer. Get there as soon as it opens to avoid disappointment.
Where to stay?
We would definitely recommend to stay in the old town itself. There are plenty of options in regards to where to stay in apartments for less than $100 a night. Just remember, you may have some serious stairs to climb! We have stayed at the following two apartments and would definitely recommend them:
1. Rooms Lavandar & Ruzmarin - great location, comfortable rooms and a very friendly knowledgeable host.
Click here to see if there is any availability.
2. City Break Apartments - self sustaining apartment in the middle of the Old Town.
Click here to see if there is any availability.
Day trips from Dubrovnik
Mljet is a wild, relatively untouched island that is only 37 kilometers long and is separated from the Croatian mainland by the Mljet Channel. The majority of the island is a national park and is perfect for some quiet time away from the crowds of Dubrovnik as well as being a great fun place to explore.
Mljet is a 1-1.5 hour ferry ride from the port of Dubrovnik. The ferry is relatively inexpensive and takes you to the town of Polace. In Polace we would highly recommend that you hire a scooter to explore the island (or some bicycles if you feel like some fitness).
Make your way through the National Park to the two salt water lakes on the island; Veliko and Malo Jezero. There is a very good walking track around Malo Jezero which will take you to a beautiful old Benedictine Monetary (St Mary). If the hike gets too hot just jump into the lake for a swim.
Pomena, the western most town, is a great spot to stop for lunch. You can sit outside on the marina and have a drink in the sun followed by a delicious seafood meal.
2. Bay of Kotor
Another great day trip from Dubrovnik is to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. The fjord-like, UNESCO listed Bay of Kotor is as picturesque as any fjord you will come across in Norway (and is nowhere near the cost!). You will need either a car (recommended) or jump on one of the many tours that go to the Bay of Kotor. The drive from Dubrovnik will take just over an hour and as you get towards the Bay you will get some great views of the area.
First head to the Venetian style town of Perast. Perast is a beautiful little town despite there being a significant amount of buildings boarded up and is a perfect spot to hire a little dinghy and take a boat trip out into the bay. The two little islands in the Bay, St George and Our Lady of the Rocks, are worth visiting.
After the boat trip take the car back to the walled town of Kotor where you can wander through the beautiful, old cobbled streets and, similar to Dubrovnik, you can walk along the 5km stone wall for great views of the town and the bay. The town itself has a very Italian feel with many nice piazzas and Venetian style churches and is the perfect place for a good lunch or a coffee.
The Bay of Kotor can be quite busy if you are unfortunate enough to go on a day when there are multiple cruise ships in the area. However, even on the busiest of days you can always find a quiet street for a quality coffee or a quiet beer.
Korcula is an island less than two hours from Dubrovnik. The Old Town is a smaller version of the Dubrovnik Old Town and almost as impressive. There is so much to do in Korcula; you could enjoy a drink on top of the wall with great views of the town, hire bikes and explore the island, visit a winery on the island, take a fishing trip or simply wander through the old town which Marco Polo called his childhood home. Korcula is probably worth more than a day trip.