The beautiful and historic seaside town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, is both charming and compelling. There’s plenty to see and do to fill four days in Dubrovnik. This itinerary can be done as a short vacation or combined with other cities in Croatia. I would suggest spending at least a week checking out all that Croatia has to offer — a few days in Zagreb, a day or two in Pula, three or four days in Dubrovnik and a couple days in Split. If you have even more time, spending an entire week in Dubrovnik wouldn’t be too much if you’re willing to slow down and enjoy some lazy days by the sea.
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There’s lots of exploring to do and no better place to start than the old city. Enter at the Pile Gate. You can easily spend the entire day walking around the old city — exploring Stradun, the main street and all the side streets that shoot out from there, and walking the perimeter of the city on the wall, which is an absolute must do.
To stroll the old city wall, plan ahead to avoid the rush, as it can get really packed up there. Crowds will be less early in the morning before cruise passengers arrive or later in the afternoon after the ship has left port. Plan to spend 1-2 hours, depending on how much meandering and picture taking you want to do. There are cafes along the wall where you can stop for a drink too, if you’re so inclined.
Once you’ve come down from the wall, there are some great cafes along the marina for a cold drink or to grab some lunch. Try Gil’s or one of the many you’ll pass on the way back to the main street. Then begin your exploration of Stradun. Visit the Onofrios fountain, the Franciscan monastery and the palaces of the city.
Since the cafe culture is so big in Croatia, you’ll want to stop for a coffee or beer every few hours. Try Buza Bar along the water. Its great for people watching.
The backstreets and alleys go on forever and you may feel like you’re getting lost, but you’ll eventually make it back to the main street, so have fun exploring. Just make sure you’re still around when it gets dark out and the well-buffed streets start to shine.
For dinner, check out Restaurant Natika, which is located just outside the walls and has a spectacular view of the sea. Or head back to Gil’s on the marina side.
The beach awaits, so pack your beach bag, swimming suit and sunscreen and head out to Banje Beach. It’s within the city limits and easily walkable from the old city. This isn’t a “sandy” beach, so make sure you bring water shoes to protect your feet against the rocks. There are chairs with umbrellas you can rent. The water is crystal clear and perfect for a swim. When you’re hungry, head to the beach club for some lunch or a cold drink.
Next, check out Buza beach — a perfect swimming and sunbathing spot just south of the city walls. It may be somewhat crowded but the view of the outer islands is worth the visit. Finally, stop by Danče beach, the oldest beach in Dubrovnik. It’s just 5 minutes west of town and has large rocks and jetties to sunbathe on and ladders to get into and out of the water. The water is also deep enough to jump off of for fun.
There are lots of excursions outside the city to consider, but my favorite is a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can sign up for the trip at any of the tourist information centers (there’s one near the Pile gate), or book online with tour companies like Viator. They have a day trip to Mostar lasting 11 hours that visits many locations along the way and allows plenty of time in Mostar.
The last day is reserved for a day trip to the surrounding islands. A great spot that’s easy to reach is the Elafiti archipelago. There are regular ferry crossings from the Dubrovnik main ferry terminal to three main islands of this archipelago — Šipan, Lopud and Kolocep. Šipan is the largest of the Elafiti islands. Check out the shopping, take a hike up the hill behind the town center, swim in the crystal clear water, then eat some of the freshest fish — right off the boat — at one of the seafood restaurants along the waterfront. If you want to see another island, take the ferry from Sipan to Lopud. There’s a lovely harbor area and a sandy beach across the island — Sunj Beach — where you can go for a dip or hang out in the sun.
While it’s easy to get around to the islands via ferry and do this day trip at your own pace, there are also plenty of tour companies that will take you around to all three islands on a schedule where you’ll have a couple hours in each location.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
There are hotels inside the old city that are a good option, but to take full advantage of the amazing view, choose a hotel along the waterfront just outside the gates. The Hilton Imperial is a good choice, as well as Hotel Bellevue and Rixos Libertas (the latter two being a slightly longer walk to the old city, but with great views of the castle and city walls). It’s easy to catch a taxi from the airport, or save a few Kunas by taking the bus that awaits every flight and will drop you off just outside the old city.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.