The beautiful and historic seaside town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, is both charming and compelling, standing as a medieval fortress town on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. There’s so much to see and do, you can easily spend a magical 4 days in Dubrovnik.
I guarantee – even if you’ve been all over Europe – you’ve never seen anything quite like Dubrovnik. It’s one of the world’s most magnificent walled cities, overlooking the calm blue sea. Expect stunning views at every turn.
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 isn’t too much if you’re willing to slow down and enjoy some lazy days by the sea and take a few day trips around the area. You can also book this private 7-day tour of Dubrovnik and Montenegro and let the experts take care of everything.
PRO TIP: Due to over-touristing in Dubrovnik, we recommend checking the cruise ship calendar before planning your trip. Avoid Thursday-Saturday visits if possible. And avoid going in July and August when tourism levels peak.
You might also want to read: How NOT to Do Dubrovnik
Your 4-Day Dubrovnik Itinerary
Day 1: Explore Old Town Dubrovnik
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 — 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 and book tickets in advance to avoid the rush, as it can get really packed up there. Crowds will be smaller early in the morning before cruise passengers arrive or later in the afternoon after the ships have 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.
You can stroll down the Stradun and walk the wall on your own, but it’s much more meaningful if you know what you’re looking at. Which is why we like this informative and fun walking tour where you’ll learn about the architecture and the history behind the palaces, fountains, monasteries and churches.
Once you’ve come down from the wall, there are some great cafes along the marina for a cold drink. Just sit down where ever looks good.
If you’re ready for lunch, try Preša or Barba for a delicious casual meal or Restaurant 360 for an upscale Michelin starred experience.
After lunch, be sure to visit the Onofrios fountain, the Franciscan monastery, Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, get tickets for a Game of Thrones walking tour.
You can also go up on the cable car for a panoramic view of the city. Just check that it’s open, and book tickets before you go.
Since the cafe culture is so big in Croatia, you’ll want to stop for a coffee or beer every few hours. I really love Buza Bar, which is precariously perched on the backside of the wall, facing the water. I guarantee you won’t find a more unique experience. Don’t expect great service, and the prices are high, but it’s worth it for the view.
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 Nautika, which is located just outside the walls and has a spectacular view of the sea. It might be touristy, but it’s one of the best locations in the city. Or head back to Gil’s on the marina side. We also like Restaurant Dubrovnik and the Above 5 Rooftop Restaurant.
For wine, there’s a great little wine bar with some outdoor seating on one of the side streets near the main gate, Malvasija Wine Bar, at Dropčeva ul. 4.
Day 2: Head to the Beach / Water Sports
The beach awaits, so pack your beach bag, swimming suit and sunscreen and head out to one of the spectacular beaches in Dubrovnik.
Banje Beach is the closest, 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.
Copacabana is one of Dubrovnik’s best beaches. It’s a half-moon of pebbles and gravel in Seka Bay, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. It may be somewhat crowded but there’s a long stretch of beach to enjoy with loungers and deckchairs, plus you can get in on some water sports while you’re there.
There’s also 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.
When you’re done with the sun worshiping, there’s plenty of time for water sports and activities, like a sea kayaking adventure or a half-day Blue Cave and snorkeling tour. Blue Cave is located on the south side of the island of Koločep and is exactly as it sounds, with brilliant blue water.
Day 3: Go On a Day Trip
There are lots of excursions outside the city to enjoy. Choose the one that fits your interests.
Option 1: My favorite is a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The tour I recommend for this is the all-day Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls Tour because it also stops at the Kravice falls. These are two major highlights of the Balkans region.
Option 2: Drive to the Peljesac Peninsula for wine tasting
This is another of our favorite options for a day out around Dubrovnik, because we love visiting the local wineries. The peninsula has many that you can visit for tastings, tours, and lunch. We recommend driving out to the end of the peninsula and working your way back, stopping at Korta Katarina (great place for lunch!), Saints Hills, and Winery Marlais. Also make a stop on the way back at Dubrovnik Beer Company.
Option 3: Kolocep Island Hiking and Swimming Full Day Trip
Escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland on a full day trip to Kolocep Island. Hike through the island’s rural terrain, admiring its cliffs, hills, and flora, and be led by your professional guide to secluded spots ideal for swimming and cliff diving. Book the tour here
Option 4: Montenegro Day Trip
Montenegro, off-the-beaten-path for many tourists, boasts some beautiful seaside towns. Explore Budva, Kotor, and Perast, learning about their history and what’s happening in present-day Montenegro from your knowledgeable guide. And come with your bathing suit because there is plenty of time to take a dip in the sea. Book this private tour here
Day Four: Explore the Islands
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. You can see all of these islands on this day-long island cruise.
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.
How to Get Around in Dubrovnik
Your feet will take you to many spots that tourists want to see in the city. For things further afield, it’s best to book a tour or work out public transportation. The bus system is good.
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. There are also numerous buses that go from just outside the Pile Gate to the airport, and many other spots in the city, so it’s a convenient way to get around without a car.
Spending 4 days in Dubrovnik is just the right amount of time to see the main tourists spots, enjoy the beach, see the islands, and even try some wine. Have you been? Tell us about your favorites.
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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.