Croatia’s best-known and most glamorous destination, Dubrovnik is an absolute gem. The old town, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected by magnificent medieval fortifications, is a tangle of cobbled squares, cobbled streets and noble stone buildings, which will take you on a journey through the centuries. Beyond the walls, pebble beaches backed by fragrant pine forests overlook the turquoise Adriatic.
If your schedule is tight, we’ll show you how to make the most of the time available. As well as exploring the museums, galleries, churches and monasteries of the Old Town, you can swim and sunbathe, buy quirky gifts to take home and maybe even join a trip to a nearby island ( or two). Here’s how to get the most out of Dubrovnik on a two-, three-, or four-day tour.
First day, morning: walk around the magnificent city walls of Dubrovnik
Spend your first day exploring Dubrovnik’s Old Town—bring sunscreen and swimwear. Begin with a full circuit walk around the city walls, which have protected Dubrovnik from land and sea attack since the 13th century. Next, head to the Rector’s Palace to learn about how Dubrovnik was governed when it was the small but wealthy and progressive independent Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808). For lunch, it’s hard to beat the informal Buffet Škola, an age-old sandwich bar, filling slices of freshly baked bread with local cheese and pršut (prosciutto).
Day 1, Afternoon: Explore Dubrovnik Old Town then head to the beach
The majority of Croats identify as Roman Catholic (86% in 2011). Peek into the Baroque cathedral (you can spot it from afar thanks to its green copper dome), and don’t miss seeing the extraordinary treasury, displaying gold reliquaries. Nearby, visit the Franciscan monastery with its pretty cloister garden and buy a natural face cream from the adjoining pharmacy, still made by the monks. Then, take a break from cultural sightseeing and head to Banje Beach for swimming and sunbathing.
First day, evening: Dalmatian dinner
For dinner, book a table at the old-fashioned Proto and feast on fresh Adriatic fish accompanied by a bottle of Dalmatian wine. End the evening with a drink under the stars, high on the rocks above the sea at Bard Mala Buža.
Day two, morning: Learn about Dubrovnik’s relationship with the sea
This morning you are back in the old town. You are probably wondering where Dubrovnik’s rich history comes from – the answer lies in the Maritime Museum. Here, an exhibition of model ships and marine equipment highlights the importance of shipbuilding and the merchant navy through the centuries. At its peak, tiny Dubrovnik (then Ragusa) had a fleet of over a hundred ships and consulates in dozens of countries, so vast was its international reach. Then, in the same building but on the lower level, discover the underwater world of the Adriatic at the Aquarium. For lunch, try delicious homemade octopus burgers at Barba.
Day 2, afternoon: escape to a mysterious island
Take a shuttle boat from the old harbor to the small uninhabited islet of Lokrum. Intertwined with pine forests, it reveals a ruined monastery, a botanical garden with peacocks and a hilltop fort – you can happily explore its winding paths and swim from its rocky shores for a few hours. (You can also book a guided sea kayak tour and paddle to Lokrum). Back at the Old Port, head to the cable car for a ride to the top of Mount Srđ. If it’s your last day in Dubrovnik, this is the perfect spot for a photo op, with spectacular views of Dubrovnik, Lokrum and the sparkling Adriatic. You can also head to KAWA, just outside the Ploče Gate, to buy some fun Croatian designer gifts to take home.
Day two, evening: enjoy top-notch contemporary Croatian cuisine
Before dinner, visit the permanent exhibition dedicated to Dubrovnik in the 1990s at War Photo Ltd, a gallery dedicated to war zone photojournalism. Dine on contemporary Michelin-starred Mediterranean cuisine at Restaurant 360. Then, head to Revelin for cocktails and dance music.
Day 3, morning: sail along the coast to the culture of Cavtat
As you’ve already seen most of Dubrovnik’s top attractions, it’s time to venture along the coast to the ancient seaside town of Cavtat. In summer, regular shuttle boats run between Dubrovnik and Cavtat, departing from the old port – the boat trip takes about an hour and is a pleasure in itself. Once disembarked, explore the charming old town of Cavtat, a group of stone houses built on a small peninsula – see the Bukovac House, birthplace of the painter Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922), and the elegant family mausoleum Secessionist Račić from the 1920s by Ivan Meštrović, in the cemetery.
Day 3, afternoon: learn more about modern Croatian art
Have lunch in Bugenvila overlooking the bay on the palm-lined waterfront promenade of Cavtat, then take the shuttle boat to Dubrovnik. Upon arrival in the Old Port, inspired by what you saw in Cavtat, head to the Museum of Modern Art, just outside the Ploče Gate, to learn more about 20th-century Croatian artists century.
Third day, evening: taste famous Ston oysters
You probably ate well in Cavtat, so tonight make it a light but very special supper. Reserve at the table at Bota Šare Oyster & Sushi Bar. Then, if you want even more, have a late night drink at Fratello’s Prosecco Bar.
Day four, morning: learn about life and design in the former Yugoslavia
If you are lucky enough to spend a fourth day in Dubrovnik, you will have time to visit Lopud, one of the tiny Elafiti islets. First, collect your carefully packed picnic lunch from Piknik Dubrovnik (order a day in advance), then head to Dubrovnik’s Gruž Port. Before taking the ferry, visit the fascinating Red History Museum to learn more about how people lived when Croatia was part of socialist Yugoslavia (1945-1991). Then hop on a car-free Jadrolinija ferry to Lopud and enjoy the hour-long boat ride.
Day Four, Afternoon: Swim and Sunbathe on a Lush Car-Free Island
Arriving on Lopud, follow the palm-shaded waterfront promenade around the bay, then take a 20-minute hike across the islet to Šunj, one of Croatia’s few sandy beaches, for sunbathing , swimming and napping. It’s a wonderful place and you might lose track of time, so be careful not to miss your return ferry. Before leaving Lopud, take a look at Your Black Horizon, a contemporary art installation in a small pavilion in a garden above the waterfront. Back at the port of Gruž, enjoy a craft beer at the Dubrovnik Beer Company .
Day 4, Evening: Feast on Dalmatian fusion cuisine
Dinner tonight will be a little different. Head to the Old Town and grab a table at Azur, a superb restaurant serving unique fusion dishes – Dalmatian ingredients prepared with an Asian twist (Dalmasian, if you like). End your final evening tasting some of Dalmatia’s finest wines at D’Vino (guided wine tasting flights available).