A city of endless charm, history and quaint red rooftops, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of Dubrovnik for the million or so visitors each year. However, beyond the touristic hotspots, it’s easy to get lost in its enchanting streets and feel a world away from the bustle of Stradun. From cosy alleyway bars to elegant beachside eateries and culture around every corner, this Dubrovnik travel guide will help you uncover a different side to one of Croatia’s most-visited spots on the Adriatic Sea.
What to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik Card for free admission to a host of attractions dotted around the city centre.
For breathtaking views across Old Town and its terracotta rooftops, the city walls walk should be on every itinerary. Pick a day that isn’t too sunny or opt to go early in the morning to avoid the midday heat. Dubrovnik’s top tourist attraction is included in the city pass and will prove to be worth every penny, even if just by the evidence on your camera roll.
While making our way around the top of Dubrovnik, we popped into the petite-but-very-enjoyable Pulitika Studio, a welcome respite from the heat outside. This lovely former studio of the artist Đuro Pulitika has been converted into an exhibition space that can be accessed directly from the city walls. It features artwork paying homage to the city and covers centuries of beautiful paintings.
Housed in a cavelike setting, it forms part of the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik (MoMAD). The main exhibition space, on the other hand, can be found a short walk outside Old Town. Here a clean, bright scene of 3000 artworks awaits: you’ll find everything from sculpture, paintings and prints, to photography and video installations. Dress smartly and visit pre-sunset for a calm, sophisticated atmosphere, followed by cocktails at the nearby Hotel Excelsior.
Let the azure blue Adriatic Sea entice you with a dip and a sunbathe at the snug Šulić Beach, a favourite with locals. Located below the hidden cocktail bar with a quirky name, you’ll have a prime spot to soak in the sun and refresh with an icy-cold Piña Colada or iced tea. Another nearby sunbathing site is Banje Beach, though this one is often crowded in the summer months.
If you’re craving more sun, sand and sea, there are many Dubrovnik day trips that can be taken from the Old Town port or by local transport. Hop on a short ferry ride to the island of Lokrum and saunter around the luscious gardens, monastery and fort; you’ll discover a rocky beach and plenty of relaxation amongst the pine and olive trees covering the island. Alternatively, Babin Kuk can be reached by bus and has several beaches with a laid-back ambience. Bring a book, hire a deck chair and escape for the afternoon.
Where to eat in Dubrovnik
Prora Restaurant, a sun-soaked terrace perched on the edge of the water at the elegant Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik. The setting here is especially pretty at sunset, with a golden glow lighting up the honey-coloured stone interiors, the gentle sound of lapping waves within reach. Feast on delicious seafood and take in the magical scenery.
A glass of rosé is best enjoyed tucked away in the charming alleyway of Prijeko ul., a lively street that runs parallel with Stradun. Lined with eateries and cosy bars, it’s easily one of the most delightful corners in the heart of Old Town. Here you’ll come across Stara Loza, its delicate tables nestled in enchanting surroundings, a succinct wine list awaiting.
Sushi lovers will rejoice in the tempting selection at Bota Sare, a slick oyster and sushi bar squeezed between a cobbled passage. We stumbled upon it by chance and to our delight, remembered that we had dined at its mini sibling in Split a few years back. Start with a glass of blush rosé from the Galić winery before moving on to the mango roll: a melt-in-the-mouth delicacy.
If Dubrovnik’s dining scene has run your budget dry, Buzz Bar on Prijeko ul. is a welcome option. The cocktails are tasty, the beer is ice-cold and there’s plenty of people-watching potential. Perch on a seat outside and take in the atmosphere of the bustling narrow street. Extra points if you make it for happy hour.
No trip in the midst of July could be considered a success without a scoop or two of mouthwatering gelato. You’ll uncover oodles of gelaterias dotted around Old Town but on our last night, we opted for the stall by Poklisar restaurant. Tucking into our cones as the sun began to set across the harbour made for a memorable end to our wonderful four nights in Dubrovnik.
Other recommendations include Storia for appetising pizza and seafood spaghetti, Azur for Asian fusion dishes, and Forty Four Restaurant for fresh seafood. Gradska Kavana Arsenal is a beautiful spot to indulge in a glass of champagne in the centre of Old Town; the tasteful table settings and striking scenery create a sophisticated mood for absorbing your surroundings.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Part of the allure of visiting Dubrovnik is staying within the city walls, and luckily, Old Town is scattered with a myriad of hotels, guesthouses and apartments to accommodate any budget. From the best hotels in Dubrovnik to homely quarters hidden away in cosy corners of Old Town, there’s something to be discovered for every taste.
Hotels in Old Town Dubrovnik include the pretty Boutique Hotel Stari Grad with its own rooftop restaurant, The Pucic Palace filled with Old World charm, and 16th-century St Joseph’s, a chic cluster of deluxe suites and apartments south of Stradun. Outside of Old Town, the Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik delivers understated luxury in a seaside setting, while the 5-star Villa Orsula will make for a particularly atmospheric base – both mere steps from the city walls.
For those on a mid-range budget, Room Renata is one of the loveliest places to stay in Dubrovnik Old Town and is where we called home for our four-night stay. Tucked away down a cobbled alley, it feels miles away from the crowds of Stradun while being less than a minute’s stroll away. Fun fact: you’ll glimpse the day’s tourists trekking the City Walls Walk from the window in the corridor outside the room. Inside, it’s stacked with antique furniture and oozes with character, a stone wall and high ceilings adding to its appeal.
Consider also the luxuriously renovated Dominus Little Palace, a touch of contemporary at Fresh Sheets Cathedral, or one of the light and airy rooms at The Byron for a romantic setting. Places to stay in Dubrovnik are in abundance so you’ll definitely come by your idyllic dwelling to hit the hay for the night.