Tip: Visit in the shoulder season to avoid some of the crowds

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If visiting the famous ‘King’s Landing’ is on your bucket list, then a trip to Dubrovnik is the perfect next European getaway for you. This UNESCO World Heritage city is brimming with history, while also being a top beach destination in Europe – the perfect mix of culture and relaxation. 

I have what can be described as a love/hate relationship with Dubrovnik. When I first visited this magical city in the fall of 2011, I visited spontaneously, arriving from Italy on an overnight ferry, and spent a week getting to know the city. I immediately fell in love with the cobblestone streets, the secluded swimming holes, and lively music playing the streets at night. 

a view of dubrovnik old town
Dubrovnik, Croatia

I was more than eager to return to this captivating place, however one major event took place between my first and second visit to Croatia’s capital – the release of Game of Thrones. Any fan of the show will immediately recognize Dubrovnik by its presence on the show as the famous ‘King’s Landing’, and locals definitely capitalized on the show’s fame, hoarding fans in by the boatload.

So while Dubrovnik is no longer the hidden gem it used to be, it is still a magical city with so much to offer visitors. 

dubrovnik croatia view from old town walls
I recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons: late April to early June and mid September to October

Best time to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia 

The best time to visit Dubrovnik is during the months of September and October, when the weather is still beautiful, but less cruise ships are docking. Not only do I recommend taking advantage of the shoulder seasons, but also the evenings when the cruise ship passengers have set sail.

Where to stay 

If it’s within your budget, I recommend booking a hotel within the Old City walls in order to be close to all of Dubrovnik’s main attractions. Here are a few top-rated options:

Otherwise, a more budget-friendly option would be to stay a short walk outside of the center. We stayed at Guesthouse Raguz! Guesthouse Raguz is located only a 15 minute walk outside of the Old Town, making it the perfect place to base yourself on a budget. 

guest house raguz in croatia
Guesthouse Raguz

Things to know before visiting Dubrovnik

  • The city is expensive. This is largely due to the tourism boom that followed the Game of Throne series. But throughout Dubrovnik you can expect to find higher average costs, when compared to the rest of Europe.
  • The Dubrovnik City Pass is absolutely worth it. This is because the cost of the pass is practically the same as the cost of the single ticket to walk the Old Town walls, which is one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik. Passes are available for 1, 3, or 7 days.
  • Stay outside of the Old Town walls for better deals and less crowds.
  • Take a day trip to Montenegro.

Best things to do in Dubrovnik

Take the Cable Car to Mount Srd

views of dubrovnik from above
View from the top of the Dubrovnik Cable Car

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is to take the cable car to Mount Srd. Perched 1,200 feet above the city, you’ll have panoramic views of the city and Adriatic Sea below.

Get lost in the Old Town 

Okay, lost might not be quite the right word to use. The reality is that as charming at Dubrovnik’s Old Town is, it is all really small. You can walk the length of the area in under 15 minutes, with the main road, Placa, always being easy to find.

However, the Old Town has so many hidden alleys and secret paths, just be prepared for a workout with all of the stairs!

hanging laundry and cobblestone streets in dubrovnik, croatia
No cars are allowed within the Old Town of Dubrovnik
picture perfect streets of old town dubrovnik
Picture perfect streets of Dubrovnik

 Have a seafood lunch at Barba 

Ready for lunch? Try to snag a table at one of Dubrovnik’s best seafood restaurants, Barba. There is usually a line at this spot, however the crowds tend to be smaller for lunch. You’ll find some of the best seafood dishes here, so it is well worth the wait!

the best swimming spots in dubrovnik
Turquoise waters in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Visit one of Dubrovnik’s ‘beaches’ 

Most of the “beaches” in Dubrovnik are small rocky areas, with ladders leading right down into the water. The rocks can be sharp to recommend bringing beach shoes. I love traveling with either my Tevas or waterproof Birkenstocks. 

A couple of good beach options are:

1. Mala Buza Bar – perfect for tanning out and sipping cocktails on the rocks

2. Exit the walls by the Old Port and head towards the lighthouse. Turn right around the exterior of the walls and you will come to a lovely little local swimming hole

3. If you don’t fancy the overpriced cocktails of Banje Beach Club, turn right directly before the club entrance for a public swimming spot

Dubrovnik 'beaches'
Dubrovnik ‘beaches’

Walk the Old City Walls 

One of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is too take a stroll around the Old City Walls. The height of the walls will give you a perfect viewpoint of the red terra-cotta roofs, the beautiful blue seas, and the surrounding mountains. 

It was these supposedly imperious walls that help to qualify the city for UNESCO listing. The construction of these walls date back to the 15th century, but the history goes back even further.

I recommend either visiting the walls first thing in the morning or in the evening. This is the perfect time of day to come because the hoards of cruise ship tourists will have already flocked back to their ships, or haven’t arrived yet, leaving the walls a bit less crowded.

It is also the best time of the day to be up on the walls because not only will the setting sun provide you with some excellent lighting, but the day should have cooled down a bit at this point.

View from the walls
View from the walls

The walls have two entrances: Ploce Gate and Pile Gate. A loop between the two entrances should take about 90 minutes. 

Ticket prices for the walls have gone up a lot in recent years. A ticket to enter the walls costs 35 EUR (as of 2023), however it is included in the Dubrovnik Pass. 

Lovrijenac Fort

Lovrijenac Fort is a historic fortress located just outside the western walls of the city of Dubrovnik.

The fortress is perched on a 37-meter-high cliff overlooking the Adriatic, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the sea and the surrounding area.

Although the fort never saw significant military action, it played an essential symbolic role in the history of Dubrovnik. It served as a symbol of the city’s strength and resolve to defend its independence and freedom.

the sun setting over dubrovnik
Lovrijenac Fort

Grab a drink at Buza Bar

After dinner it is time to head up to Buza Bar for some cocktails or beers. The drinks here are going to be a bit pricier, but it is well worth it for the views! If you’re lucky, try to catch the tail end of the sunset!

views of dubrovnik from above
The popular Buza Bar

Explore Lokrum Island

If you’re looking for a more adventurous beach day, or have a second day to spare, a trip to definitely take the ferry over to Lokrum Island! The ferry currently runs every 15 minutes from the Old Port and the journey takes under 10 minutes. On the island you will find plenty of secluded swim spots – make sure to pack a picnic though as food options are scarce!

The beautiful island of Lokrum is full of wild peacocks, so don’t be surprised to see them wandering about!

old town square dubrovnik croatia at sunset
Getting lost in the Old Town, Dubrovnik
picture perfect streets of old town dubrovnik
Golden hour in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Take a day trip to Montenegro 

If you’re planning a trip to Dubrovnik, then I highly recommend planning a day trip (or few day trip) to Montenegro. Montenegro is easily one of my favorite countries in Europe, perfect for boating on the bay, hiking, or simply getting lost in the beautiful Old Towns.

You can visit on your own, either by bus or with a rented car, or you can join a tour.

How to get to there

There are a number of ways to reach Dubrovnik, depending on where you are originating from.

By airplane

The main gateway to Dubrovnik is the Dubrovnik Airport, also known as Čilipi Airport (DBV). Although there are currently no direct flights to Dubrovnik from the US, you’ll find direct flight from all over Europe on a number of major and low-cost carriers.

The airport is located about a 30 minute drive from the city center.

To find the cheapest flight options from your city, you can use this search form below: 

By bus

If you’re arriving from other cities in Croatia like Split or Zagreb, or nearby cities in Montenegro such as Budva or Kotor, you’ll find a number of direct buses through BusBud and Flixbus.

By train

Unfortunately Dubrovnik does not have a train station.

By private car

I love renting my own car and planning a road trip through Europe. This is a great option if you’re not only planning to visit Dubrovnik, but also visit nearby cities through Croatia or even Montenegro.

Rent your car here

Getting around 

The old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is a car-free zone, so no cars are allowed to enter within the walls.

For visiting outside of the walls, there is a great public bus system. 

If you’re traveling in Croatia, here are some other useful posts:

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