Located along the Adriatic coast in the southernmost of Croatia, Dubrovnik is one of the most preserved medieval towns until now. The small city with an area of only 21.35 km2 and a population of more than 25.000 has a long history and was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site since 1979. Dubrovnik is considered a jewel of the Adriatic Sea with its unique cultural, a long-standing history, spectacular scensery, ancient works, Dubrovnik is considered to be an attractive destination for the passionate fans of the Game of Thrones series and Northern tourists (especially Nordic countries like Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway) who lived for 9 months in white, cold snow and cherished every rare golden sunshine. So, what to do and how to plan a budget perfect trip to Dubrovnik for the first-time? Let’s check out our Dubrovnik travel blog (Dubrovnik blog) with the fullest Dubrovnik travel guide (Dubrovnik guide, Dubrovnik tourist guide) from how to get, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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Dubrovnik has a dazzling beauty with its orange red tiled roofs and solid ancient castles, walls built of stone. To explore Dubrovnik, visitors can walk down Stradun Street, or anywhere else through the narrow alleys and small roads. The rows of souvenir shops are brilliant and always light up until late at night. Admiring the ancient architecture with the view from above is a maze of dodging through the streets, squares, houses, harbors … All these are great experiences for travelers.
Dubrovnik travel blog: Overview of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a beautiful coastal city located in the south of Croatia by Adriatic Sea of Mediterranean. This coastline is also the convergence of the most beautiful coastal cities in the world. From the island of Santorini – the tourist paradise island of Greece, or the island of Cyprus – home of the goddess of love, Venus and the ancient Dubrovnik city.
The 16th century was the glorius and golden age of Dubrovnik with more than 50 busy harbours. However, through many historical events, today people come here to relaxing, resting, vacationing and contemplating historical values instead of trading. In February, on the occasion of the festivity of Saint Blaise, the city offers complete ticket-free access to most attractions including its famous defensive walls.
Dubrovnik travel blog: When to go?
Croatia is a country with a mixed climate. The climate in the North and East is temperate continental climate, but along the coast, it is a semi-plateau climate. Winter in Croatia is very cold, especially in the north and in the central country with snow, the temperature always stays below -5 degrees Celsius. Most of the rivers are frozen. Summer here is quite hot and relatively high temperature. But the coastal lands have a milder climate thanks to the sea breeze. Autumn and spring are a beautiful time, the weather is warm and windy.
Luckily, the time of October when I arrived in Croatia was the most reasonable time of the year. Avoiding the peak tourist season of July-August with super-crowded tourists and the prices of hotels and restaurants are also 1.5 times more expensive. Avoiding the scorching summer sun when it leaving traces on the trees withered by the sunlight along the road from the airport to the city. Early October in this beautiful coastal city with cool sea breeze, the temperature is about 20-26 degrees Celsius which very suitable for families traveling with their children. Tourists are mainly come from the US, North Europe, Korea, Japan, but not overwhelmed by Thai and Chinese tourists like other popular European tourist destinations (such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam).
In Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival is the largest and most famous annual festival in the city. It is held between July and August with performances of dance, music, drama and opera. The performances are extremely unique and attractive. As it is the most popular festival in the city, you should try to book tickets in advance if you plan to attend.
The Dubrovnik Carnival is also worth a visit if you plan a trip to come here in winter. Carnival is an extremely spectacular parade festival, visitors will always be surprised with all kinds of fancy and unique costumes.
Dubrovnik travel guide: How to get to Dubrovnik?
You can getting to Dubrovnik from Zagreb capital in two ways:
- Bus: Buy tickets at Zagreb Bus Station, the travel time takes about 12 hours, price 355 Kuna.
- Plane: Croatia Airlines, the flight time takes about 55 minutes, ticket price depends on the time of flight.
At first we planned to take a bus for cheap, but fortunately discovered that Croatia Airlines has a special fare for people under 25 years old, with the fare is only 80% of the regular fare. It also offered a night or early morning flight, priced at only 405 Kuna, it was not expensive, so we decided to fly to Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik travel blog: Getting around Dubrovnik
From the airport to city center
Dubrovnik airport is 15 km away from the city center, near Čilipi village. Dubrovnik Airline is headquartered at this airport. There are 3 ways to get from the airport to the city center.
Airport shuttle bus: You can take this bus to Pile Gate (if you stay in the Old Town) or to the Dubrovnik Main Bus Station (Terminal) (if you stay in Downtown), the bus runs 24/24, and the ride time is about 30 minutes, you can buy one-way ticket for 40 Kuna or round-trip ticket for 70 Kuna. For more information about the bus timetables, fares, routes, plz click HERE.
Note: The drop off and the pick up point of the bus to the airport is different. The bus will drop you off at Pile Gate – right at the entrance to the Old Town – home to many restaurants, cafes with crowded traffic – taxis, bus stops and travel agents. The bus stop to the airport is located near the cable car station to Mount Sđ. If you take the bus early in the morning to the airport, you can buy a cake at the bakery opposite the bus stop instead of breakfast is also quite convenient. Tickets can be bought on the bus or via a ticket machine at the airport.
Local bus: Take the bus No. 11 or 27, buy tickets on the bus with price of 15 Kuna or buy from a newsstand near the bus station, priced at 12 Kuna.
Taxi: The price is about 170-200 Kuna/way.
Exchange rate for October 2019: 1 EUR = 7.5 Kuna
To travel around in the city you can take the bus or most conveniently use Uber. Uber prices in Croatia in general and Dubrovnik in particular are very cheap compared to other European countries, sometimes only slightly higher a little than in Vietnam. I used Uber mostly when I was in Dubrovnik because my family was crowded with bulky luggage.
Note: All motor vehicles are banned in Dubrovnik’s Old Town and the roads are only steps, so you only travel on foot.
Dubrovnik travel blog: Where to go and what to do?
Although not as famous as Venice, Santorini or Amalfi, Dubrovnik is a destination not to be missed when coming to the Mediterranean Region. If you’ve ever been to Santorini and love the unique architecture with two colors of white and blue on Greece’s flag then in Dubrovnik you can find a dazzling beauty of the white walls, the houses with red and orange tiled roofs lying close together. Writer George Bernard Shaw has used beautiful words to describe the beauty here ”Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik”.
Dubrovnik Old Town
Dubrovnik’s famous old town with the steps and alleys like mazes. Entering each small alley here as stepping in each different scene of life. Sometimes are cafes with rows of chairs along the steps, sometimes are outdoor clothes drying lines hanging from house to house.
Going through the Pile Gate you will enter a completely different world. Located right next to the deep blue sea, this neighborhood is a great place to walk, watch the old red tile houses, the small, winding streets like mazes… This place has also been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
One more interesting thing about this place is that there is a whole system of stone staircases was built to directly connected with the residential areas with the Old Quarter. Please choose to walk because both protect the environment and save money and because the scenery is so beautiful. Stairway up (down) to paradise is here. Blue ocean, sky with white clouds, houses along the steps filled with with paper flower plants (Bougainvillea glabra) which are typical plant of the Mediterranean Sea and the final highlight is the majestic castles with red-orange tiled roofs which only can be seen in Dubrovnik.
The Walls of Dubrovnik
The 2km defensives tone walls surrounding the city which has protected Dubrovnik from raids for centuries. Today, the walls are still standing tall and is a famous tourist attraction of the city.
Surrounding the city of Dubrovnik is a system of solid walls built in the 10th century and were repaired in the 13th-14th century, nearly 6m thick and nearly 2km long and 25m high. The walls constitute an extremely solid defense barrier that prevents enemy hostile forces from entering.
The ticket price to visit these walls is 150 Kuna, this is the only attraction in Dubrovnik that does not offer student discounts. There are several ticket check gates along the way, so keep your tickets carefully.
Seeing the city of Dubrovnik from above
Another very interesting experience that you should try when coming to Dubrovnik is to take cable car. The cable car here officially operated in 2010. Sitting in these cable cars you will have the opportunity to see the entire landscape of the beautiful city of Dubrovnik from above at a height of up to 778m.
Sveti Jakov Beach
Although stayed in Europe for a long time but we have never seen Mediterranean beaches look like, so when we travel to a coastal city like Dubrovnik, we decided to go to beach to swim.
In Dubrovnik there are many beaches but I recommend this gorgeous little beach. Because it is located far from the center, it is very deserted and quiet. Especially, it must be said that the sea water is very clear, we can see the seabed, I have never seen any clear sea water like that. The most convenient way to go to this beach is to take a boat tour around Dubrovnik and then deal with the tour seller to drop you off at Sveti Jakov. The tour price is quite cheap, only 75 Kuna.
Fort Minceta and Bokar along with Fort Lovrjenac and Revelin are some of the outstanding architecture that you cannot miss while visiting Dubrovnik.
Minceta is considered the most beautiful fortress in the world, the symbol of Dubrovnik. From there you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Bokar fortress in the south is a coastal defense structure, today it is the center of the Dubrovnik summer festival.
While Lovrijenac fortress was built in the 11th century with a height of 37m above sea level. With its unique location and architecture, the fortress is a tourist attraction and also hosts many programs during the summer festival. There are two movable bridges leading to a door to access the fortress. The walls of the fortress are very solid, with many spots up to 12m thick.
The fortress is located on a 37m high rock overlooking the old town of Dubrovnik. With its strategic location, the fortress served as an important role to proctect the city. And today, this is a spot for you to capture the panorama of Dubrovnik Old Town. The building has a triangular structure with 12m thick walls and large gates inscribed with the ancient words “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro”, which means “Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world”. Admission to Fort Lovrijenac Fort included the ticket to The Walls of Dubrovnik.
The Church of St. Blaise
The church is Dubrovnik’s most important historic structure, built in the 12th century. By the 17th century, a major earthquake destroyed this building and it was rebuilt about 2 decades later. Dubrovnik church bearing Baroque architecture and is also known as a treasury which holds many precious jewels such as 138 relic chests made of gold and silver.
Address: Luža ul. 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik’s Clock Tower
Another very admirable architecture is the Clock Tower that was built in 1444. The bronze bell weighing more than 2 tons is made by sculptor Ivan Rabljanin placed on a 31m high tower. The wooden statue of the two men is placed next to the bell to hit the bell, then replaced by two bronze statue. The statues turn blue over time and are called Zelenci (Blue Man). After a earthquake, the bell tower gradually tilted towards Stradun street and was completely destroyed in 1928. The bell tower was later rebuilt in renaissance architecture style.
Address: 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
There is a ghost hotel next to Sveti Jakov beach, in fact it is an abandoned hotel when under construction. Here you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Adriatic Sea, and far away is the old town of Dubrovnik. So, a lot of tourists as well as locals come here to play and enjoy the scenery.
Address: Ul. Vlaha Bukovca 27, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
The mountain behind Dubrovnik Old Town is the best place for a panoramic view of Dubrovnik. You can hike or take the cable car to reach here.
The round-trip cable car ticket price is 130 Kuna, we also did not have to queue for long. We came here at sunset, so we saw a very memorable scene. The whole city of Dubrovnik now looks like a picture with all the colors.
Dubrovnik travel blog: Day trips from Dubrovnik
Lokrum Island – The sunlit garden in the Mediterranean Sea
Lokrum is a resort island in Dubrovnik where there are botanical gardens, fortress, monastery and especially a nude beach. You’ll amaze when knowing that it’s just a 15-minute boat ride from Dubrovnik’s Old Town port to reach Lokrum. During peak times such as the summer festival, this is the perfect itinerary for a day out of the noisy crowd that visitors bring to Dubrovnik.
The enchanting small island (just over 2 hectares) is surrounded by pine trees, so the air is extremely fresh, a great place to relax in the warm Mediterranean sun or swim or take a walk through the surrounding trails. Walking is a particularly attractive activity here because you can pass a lovely green botanical garden in the middle of the island.
Getting there: Getting from Dubrovnik to Lokrum is very simple, you just walk to the Old Town Port and buy tickets from 2 official boat companies that is Zrinski or Skala, the price is about 150 Kuna (20 Euros) for the round-trip ticket. The advice is that you should take the first trip at 9am, then every 1 hour with a trip and the last trip will leave the port at 5pm.
Cavtat – The peaceful town
From Dubrovnik, you can take bus No. 10 with every 10 minutes has a trip to get to Cavtat to enjoy the peace of the coastal town with its wharf, quiet cafes.
This is also where you can visit the two famous medieval architectures of Dubrovnik, the Rector’s Palace and the Racic Mausoleum which was designed by the famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Ivo Racic was an eminent captain who died in Zagreb in March 1918, shortly after his son and daughter also died. The last will of his wife who also passed away a year later, was for the whole family to be buried together. The mausoleum was completed by Ivan Mestrovic after 2 years of construction and is the resting place of the Racic family from then until now. There is a bell in the tomb that is said to be when you make a wish while the bell rings, your wishes will come true.
Elafiti Islands – Three destinations in one journey
Elafiti is a small group of islands of three main islands, Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep located in northern Dubrovnik with small villages, beaches, cafes, restaurants and several buildings.
If you want to visit all three islands in a day, let book a cruise tour through Klook. The 9 hours trip will take you through all three islands, giving you suitable resting time in each destination for sightseeing, swimming and sunbathing. The tour included lunch with grilled fresh fish and wine and live music performed by local bands.
If you want to explore these islands by yourself, you can also take the Jadrolinija ferry, the daily ferry will take you to Kolocep islands, then Lopud and finally to Sudurad fishing village on Sipan Island. At the end of the day, the ferry takes you back to the city.
Mljet island – The crystal of Dubrovnik
The beautiful and unspoiled island is a must-visit destination in the itinerary of visitors when they come to the historic city of Dubrovnik because it possesses a pure, untouch and pristine beauty with beaches, sanctuaries, old forests.
You can rent a bicycle to explore the island which is largely covered in jungle, to the west is a National Park where Lake Veliko (large lake) and Lake Malo (small lake) and rich wildlife for guests freely to explore.
To get to Soba, Mljet, the best way is to take the Catamaran Ferry ‘Nona Ana’, which running daily ferries to the island. Every day, early in the morning, Nona Ana will depart from Dubrovnik to take visitors to Soba and return late in the afternoon, each trip within 1 hour. Thus, visitors can spend a day visiting, enjoying the fresh and peaceful natural scenery of Mljet.
You can also take the Jadrolinija ferry but it may take more than a day.
Peljesac peninsula – The villages hanging on cliffs
The peaceful small towns on the beautiful Mediterranean coast will make you fall in love with the Peljesac peninsula, which is just a bus trip or self-drive from Dubrovnik. With a distance of more than 100km you will take about 2 hours to travel.
The bus stop at Orebic is where the world-famous stone wall dating back hundreds of years and is like the Great Wall of Europe. With a length of more than 5 km, this work is considered the longest complete fortress system in Europe. The fortress wall surrounding the town of Ston is located on the Peljesac peninsula.
Not only admire the beautiful landscapes, you can also explore the most famous wine producing regions of Croatia right on this peninsula and have the oppotunity to taste two famous Croatian wines, Postup and Dingac.
Dubrovnik travel blog: What and where to eat
Croatian cuisine is a fusion of long traditional flavors with Italian, Turkish, and Hungarian cuisine. Thanks to the long coastline, Croatian cuisine is famous and varied with dishes from seafood. The culinary feature of this Mediterranean country is BBQ and delicious hot stewed dishes.
Personally for me, I find the food in Croatia very fresh, not as industrial food as in other European countries. In addition, the dishes are processed and seasoned very well, not bland as I’ve ever eaten in Hungary or Austria before.
After visiting three Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina), I realized one dish on the menu of all Balkan-style restaurants (saying that to distinguish it from Korean and Japanese restaurants, which are also quite popular in Croatia due to the large number of visitors come from Korea and Japan) is Ćevapi – a combination dish of grilled foods, including grilled veal sausage (so tasty), grilled chicken fillet, french fries (optional) served with toast, diced onion, sour cream, slightly spicy tomato sauce. If you want to try this dish, you should go to Presa restaurant, both cheap and delicious (can be considered as one of the restaurants with the best veal sausage I tried on this trip). Because its cheap and delicious food, so the restaurant is always crowded – you should avoid the peak time, otherwise have to wait for a long time.
OMG, that reminds me, the French fries in Dubrovnik were delicious, so delicious, very tasty. Much more delicious than French fries in Belgium and the Netherlands I’ve ever eaten, you should definitely try it.
If you want to tighten your purse a bit, in Old Town there is a pretty good fast food restaurant called “Tutto Bene” with Pizza, BBQ chicken wings (pretty good if eaten right on the spot), french fries. Read more review shop here.
One more restaurant with a little Italian-style food, small and lovely, good service. The best part is that if you come early, take a table that close to the kitchen, you will see firsthand how the beautiful chefs preparing, cooking, presenting the dishes. The restaurant called Lucin Kantun. I tried mashed potatoes with grilled pork and onion with honey sauce, shrimp risotto and Garlic-Parm Zucchini Sauté, dessert with Chocolate Soufflé with vanilla ice cream and sauce. The grilled pork dish is a bit sweet for my taste, but the risotto is quite delicious, the souffle is beyond expectations.
One of the most luxurious restaurants I want to introduce and also my most impressive restaurant in Dubrovnik is Dubravka in the Pile area. This is a restaurant built on a cliff, right next to the wall, close to the sea and overlooking the Lovrijenac fortress.
The food here is mainly seafood. This is a fine dining restaurant, so the food is high-end and delicious. Of course, the price is not cheap at all, I ordered 2 appetizers (seafood soup and salad), 2 main courses (one scallop dish and one shrimp dish), 1 dessert with 2 cocktails, the total cost is about 250 Euros.
Tip: If you intend to this restaurant, remember to dress warmly because although the day is sunny, the evening in Dubrovnik is quite cold, sitting on the cliff next to the sea is very cold because of sea breeze. Luckily the high-end restaurant, so there was heat and a blanket, so it was less cold.
Some other delicious foods you should try:
- Peka: Baked dish with meat (usually lamb) and vegetables made in a pot or a tray
- Risotto of Skradin: Mixed rice with stewed meat.
- Brodet: Stewed seafood with vegetables
- Pašticada: Stewed beef
- Soparnik: Vegetarian pancake
- Crni Rizot: Black Risotto
- Bakalar: Salted cod and mashed potatoes
- Grilled fish
Dubrovnik travel blog: Where to stay?
After much researching, we decided to stay in Old Town instead of Downtown because most of the main tourist spots are located in the Old Town, convenient for traveling and eating. If you need to go to Downtown (about 5 km away), just call Uber. Because I book a hotel close to my departure date, I didn’t have many options, I prefer to rent an entire apartment or a small studio instead of a normal hotel room. My requirements are: The room rates under €70 / night, within a radius of 800m from Pile Gate, with a kitchen and an elevator or on the first floor (because Dubrovnik is an old city, mostly old houses or located on steep hillsides, so it will be difficult to carry if you bring a lot of luggage or stroller). After searching, I chose Jadranka studio apartments (Agoda.com or Booking.com) and found quite satisfied with its equipment, location and price.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Grand Villa Argentina, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $109/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hotel Lapad, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $211/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Villa Dubrovnik, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $389/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $217/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $149/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Dubrovnik blog: Trip cost
In Croatia, mainly Kuna currency is accepted (1 Kuna ≈ 0.13 Euro). Some tourist places in Dubrovnik still accept € currency.
In general, travel costs in Croatia are cheaper than some other European countries. Only in Dubrovnik the cost is a bit more expensive. You can refer to my Dubrovnik trip costs for 2 days as follows (the price apply for 1 person and Kuna currency unit).
Dubrovnik (2 nights): 428 Kuna
- Zagreb – Dubrovnik flight (one way): 395 Kuna
- Dubrovnik Airport – Dubrovnik Old Town (round-trip) bus: 70 Kuna
- Dubrovnik Walls: 150 Kuna
- Cable car tickets to Mt Srđ: 130 Kuna
- Dubrovnik boat tour: 75 Kuna
Eating and drinking
Depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose the foods and restaurants that suit for you. A meal cost ranging from 75 to 175 Kuna.
=> Total cost: 1,300-1,500 Kuna ≈ 172-200 Euro
Dubrovnik travel blog: 2-day itinerary in Dubrovnik
- 9am – 12am: Walking around Dubrovnik Old Town
- 1:30pm: Lunch + return to the apartment to rest
- 3:30pm – 6pm: Go to Dubrovnik Walls
- 6:45pm – 9pm: Night walk in Dubrovnik Old Town
- 9:30: Dinner
- 8:30am: Check out and send luggage at the apartment
- 9:30am – 11pm: Visiting Fort Lovrijenac
- 11:30am: Lunch
- 12pm – 2pm: Walking around Dubrovnik Old Town
- 2:30pm: Take a boat tour
- 3:30pm: Visit the abandoned Hotel Belvedere
- 4pm: Bathing at Sveti Jakov beach
- 5:pm: Return to Dubrovnik Old Town
- 5:45: Dinner
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Dubrovnik you can refer to
- Sunset Kayaking Experience in Dubrovnik with Snack
- Game of Thrones Filming Locations Tour in Dubrovnik
- Elaphiti Islands Day Tour from Dubrovnik
- Ancient Town of Ston and Korčula Island Day Tour with Wine Tasting from Dubrovnik
- Dubrovnik Guided Walking Tour
- Mostar Day Tour from Dubrovnik
- Montenegro Day Tour from Dubrovnik
- Bay of Kotor Whole Day Tour in Montenegro from Dubrovnik
- Game of Thrones Walking Tour in Dubrovnik
- Game of Thrones Tour in Dubrovnik
Are you looking for more top things to do in Dubrovnik: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here.