Best Activities in Dubrovnik: 1, 2 & 3 day itineraries for the Can’t-Miss sites
So, you know that we had the most amazing time sailing from Split to Dubrovnik with Med Sailing Holidays, well after we made our final port, we took some extra time to explore King’s Landing… I mean Dubrovnik. We had the run of weather in Dubrovnik, including the most booming thunder ever, but most of the time is was sunny. I mean it was hot. And this is just how we handled the hot days with the best activities in Dubrovnik.
Even though it is on the water, the Adriatic Sea specifically, Dubrovnik gets really hot and sometimes there’s not even a breeze, so when you’re planning out the best activities in Dubrovnik on a hot day, consider how the temperature rises throughout the day and how your crew will respond to hot, muggy conditions. It’s all totally beautiful, but just plan ahead and you’ll be able to do all of the can’t-miss things in Dubrovnik.
What you'll find...
- Budgeting for activities in Dubrovnik
- Best activities in Dubrovnik depending on time
- Can’t-miss Activities in Dubrovnik for just 1 day
- Best activities in Dubrovnik over 2 days…
- Three days of activities in Dubrovnik
Budgeting for activities in Dubrovnik
Most cities and towns in Europe are great just for strolling and enjoying the atmosphere of the area. Dubrovnik is no exception. When you’re trying to pick out the best activities in Dubrovnik it’s actually quite easy to to just want to visit everything, but that can get pricey, and if you’re theme is budget travel, you’ll need to be smart about it.
Our top tips for doing Dubrovnik on a budget are as follows:
- Enjoy the free stuff – sites and atmosphere are typically no charge
- Buy the Dubrovnik Card for a huge discount on many attractions – best deal ever
- Book a tour that includes multiple sites you want to visit
- Stay in a private “apartman” within Old Town Dubrovnik to be close to the action and be immersed in the experience
Seriously, being thoughtful about how you approach your time in Dubrovnik will both save you money and ensure you’re having the best experience possible.
Booking Tip: both us and others in our group all found our lodging through booking.com. Yes, we are an affiliate with them, but also they are the best for booking (over AirBNB) due to their long-term presence in Europe and the huge inventory they feed from in Dubrovnik, Split, and other towns around Croatia.
Best activities in Dubrovnik depending on time
Okay, so since you’re probably not going to spend a whole week in one town, even though you probably could, here’s how to experience Dubrovnik to the max based on the time you have available. For the number of days available, each day features the can’t-miss Dubrovnik sites that, well, that you can’t miss. If you’re also visiting Greece on your Euro trip, check out this great guide for 3 days in Athens!
Can’t-miss Activities in Dubrovnik for just 1 day
So you only have one day in Dubrovnik. How in the heck did that happen!?!? Maybe you’re in port on a cruise or maybe you’re also heading out on a sailing adventure and are short on time. It’s okay though, here are the must-do / must-see things for just a day wandering through King’s Landing.
Note: if you are in town as part of a cruise, this Dubrovnik tour is perfect for a very limited amount of time while still getting a great snapshot of the city. And for Game of Thrones fans, THIS TOUR hits the best of King’s Landing.
Walk the City Wall of Dubrovnik
Without a doubt our top pick for activities in Dubrovnik is walking the City Wall that encircles Old Town. You don’t have to walk the whole thing, but you need to walk at least half of it. Between going into lookout turrets and staring across all the red clay roofs of Dubrovnik, you’ll love every moment. You can enter near the Pile Gate (west gate) and start your counter-clockwise walk and continue around to your entry point or exit the wall at the southeastern corner. The photo ops are endless. Google Maps link for entry point / ticket sales for Dubrovnik City Wall here.
You’ll have chances to stop along the wall for souvenirs or ice cream (or wine), or you can just hoof it the whole way. Because it is in the sun the whole way around, we recommend walking the Old Town Dubrovnik City Wall first thing in the morning. Going early in the day will help with the heat and you’ll encounter fewer crowds. The other option is to go just before sunset to catch the golden hour. You can’t go wrong either way.
Note: entrance to the City Wall is included in the purchase of the Dubrovnik Card. Save your entrance ticket to gain access to Fort Lovrijenac (the Red Keep from GOT) if you’re hitting it up as well. Google Maps link for Fort Lovrijenac here.
Walking the Old Town City Wall is our top pick of all activities in Dubrovnik. Really, you can’t miss it! (we even recommend it on a rainy day in Dubrovnik)
Hang out in all the outdoor cafes
This is a no-brainer. Once you’re in Old Town Dubrovnik you’ll see that you can’t help but to visit an outdoor cafe. No doubt you’ll be dining at one anyways, but just in case you’re not or if you’re only in town for a half day, be sure to enjoy either an espresso or a Karlovacko in the shade of a cafe.
Our top pick for a people-watching cafe experience: Konoba Koloseum at the base of the Jesuit Steps, aka the Shame Steps. Between the town cats brushing by your legs and the countless tourist taking Shame Selfies, you will be constantly entertained. And whenever you can score good coffee or cold beer in Dubrovnik, you need to take that opportunity. Google Maps link for this cafe / Jesuit Steps here.
Note: Sundays in Dubrovnik you’ll find an awesome farmers market in the square at the base of the Jesuit Steps. Be sure to get some handmade local treats and talk to the really cool farmers who really do love their city and love to share it.
If you want something more chill but still all about the atmosphere, head towards the northern part of Old Town, head up the steps from the Stradun. You’ll find loads of cafes or restaurants to relax in for a half hour or more.
Watch the Sunset at Buza Bar (either location)
Totally a tourist spot, but two of the three Buza Bars are tricky to find, so thankfully an evening at Buza Bar is still a guaranteed good time and it is the best place to watch sunset in Dubrovnik. Like I said, there are three Buza Bars on the cliff / city wall of Dubrovnik, so pick one and enjoy. The bar doesn’t serve food and only offers beer or wine, but the sunset view and Adriatic breeze make up for it all. Google Maps link for the less crowded Buza Bar here.
If you’re doing an over-night in Dubrovnik, you have no excuse for NOT planning to catch sunset from Buza Bar. Even though it’s popular, there are lots of seats and there’s access to the lower cliffs from both, making it easy to grab your beverage and let the waves crash below you. Ugh, it’s just my favorite thing ever.
Tip: leverage Google Maps for places like Buza Bar when you’re in Dubrovnik. Everybody will give you directions but one wrong turn and you’re in somebody’s courtyard dropping in on their dinner.
Best activities in Dubrovnik over 2 days…
What we’ve covered so far is perfect for that random day you might score in Dubrovnik, but an itinerary for two days can create and even better impression of the city and help you appreciate the outdoors. You’ll see there are some recommendations similar to our 1 day itinerary, but since you’ve got the time, you can’t miss the bonus Dubrovnik sites!
City Wall AND Fort Lovrijenac
Like we said, the City Wall of Dubrovnik is a must, and if you’ve got two days in Dubrovnik you’ll be able to fully enjoy it. We recommend walking the city wall early in the day before the temperatures get too hot. Also, if you can catch the morning light, pictures from the City Wall will be epic with great depth.
Tip: when they first open the City Wall or just before sunset, you’ll get some of the best photos of Old Town Dubrovnik. The light is low and golden, the rooftops are glowing, and the moisture in the air creates great atmosphere.
Just outside the City Wall of Dubrovnik to the west you’ll find Fort Lovrijenac. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, this is the fort they show whenever the Red Keep is pictured. They use the Fort as the base of the castle (yep, the red portion is CGI). Walk a block beyond the Wall to get to the steps of the Fort and climb up. USE YOUR CITY WALL TICKET to enter and you won’t have to pay the fee to enter. The view is amazing and the old cells and passageways are pretty cool too.
Swim at the cove below the Red Keep
Swim? At this beautiful medieval city? Yes! Just below Fort Lovrijenac you’ll find a gorgeous cove. There’s one between the Fort and Old Town, but that’s just good for kayaking and filming GOT (think of Shae and Sansa having a heart to heart on the stone pier). On the other side you’ll find a small, secluded beach with high rocks for jumping, sea caves for swimming through, and a beach bar for refreshment. Google Maps link to cove & bar here.
Tip: do a Game of Thrones tour to get extra info and context for a lot of the filming locations in town, including Fort Lovrijenac.
Yes, the cove to the west of Fort Lovrijenac is our next must-do for two days in Dubrovnik. It’s refreshing amidst Dubrovnik’s hot, humid afternoons and is so easy… and free! No cab or anything is needed; just walk down through the alleyways to the water and enjoy!
Don’t miss the Rector’s Palace
We shared about the Rector’s Palace in our article about being stuck in Dubrovnik in the rain, but guess what: the Rector’s Palace is a great idea on a hot, sunny day in Dubrovnik as well. It’s one of the more interesting museums we’ve visited in Europe. It’s not cray intense like the Louvre or Uffizi, but it’s way more fascinating when it comes to the marriage of art and history.
The Rector’s Palace is just off the main Stradun and near the marina and primary cathedral in Old Town, the Church of St Blaise, so you’ll most likely happen by it. Inside, you’ll find loads of art, beautiful furniture and fixtures from the height of the Ragusa/Dalmatian empire, including when Dubrovnik and the surrounding areas were under Venetian rule. And the dungeon. So cool! Google Maps link to Rector’s Palace here.
Tip: the Dubrovnik Card is the best deal for playing tourist in Europe. Exponentially, it rivals the Paris Museum Pass. The Rector’s Palace, City Wall, Fort Lovrijenac and more are included. PS: if there was a commission on selling Dubrovnik Cards, we’d make a killing because it’s awesome and we tell everybody to get it.
Three days of activities in Dubrovnik
This is where you get to really just relax and enjoy the city. The best activities in Dubrovnik are only enhanced by sunshine, and our bonus plan is all about taking full advantage. So, do everything called out with the first two days’ plans and then add our third day plan. Who knows, after you follow our advice you might just say that we saved the actual best activities in Dubrovnik for last…
Boat trip to Lokrum Island
Yes, the actual city of Dubrovnik is amazing to explore and wander through, but Lokrum Island is wonderful for an escape, and with how magical Lokrum is, we’d say you can’t miss it when you visit Dubrovnik. If you find that Old Town is too crowded with tourists or if you just want a change of pace, head to the marina at the east end of Old Town and book a ticket out to Otok Lokrum, aka Lokrum Island.
Here are eight reasons to visit Lokrum Island:
- Change of pace from busy Old Town Dubrovnik
- Beautiful ruins of an old monastery to explore and photograph
- Fort Royale at the high point of Lokrum Island, also a Game of Thrones filming location (not a part of the GOT tour)
- Wandering through olive groves with peacocks and bunnies
- Sitting on the Iron Throne (again, so Game of Thrones oriented) underneath the monastery
- Swimming in Pigeon Cove or one of the other areas
- Enjoying a beverage or afternoon snack on a patio on Lokrum Island
- You can’t miss the bunnies and peacocks roaming the island: Dubrovnik’s best kept secret!
There are actually a whole bunch more activities you can enjoy on Otok Lokrum, but this should take up two or more hours of your day. Between the swimming, gingerly strolls and Karlovacjkos you can enjoy, you could actually spend a whole day on Lokrum. Maybe plan that for your next trip to Dubrovnik.
Tip: your Dubrovnik Card actually gives you either a discount or inclusive ticket to Lokrum Island. Read the fine print and additional offers if you purchase a Dubrovnik Card, as you’ll see what the current available discount is for getting to the island.
Take the Gondola up to Fort Imperial
When you first arrive in Dubrovnik, you’ll no doubt see the grand fortress on the hill high above the city. Fort Imperial on Mount Srđ was built in 1806 and today serves and the best view OF the city (check out this article for more info). True, we’re totally partial to Fort Lovrijenac for a great view and fun activities, but for the less active crowd, taking the gondola from just outside the City Wall up to Fort Imperial is a real treat. Google Maps link to Cable Car station outside of Old Town.
Not included with the Dubrovnik Card, admission to the gondola and fort is an additional cost, but worth it. The gondola ride takes approximately 10 minutes each way, so don’t think of this as an all day plan… but if you want to hike up to the fort that’s an option too and will take you several hours to get up to the top and back… and then there’s also a hiking trail that goes along the top of Mount Srđ.
Tip: if you’re able to do this for one of our sunset activities, you’ll be able to get a stunning view of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic from the fortress. And of course there’s wine up there to add to the experience.
Three days is truly ideal for exploring and enjoying your sunny days in Dubrovnik, but you can have an awesome time no matter how many days you actually have. If you think there are some additional can’t-miss spots around Kings Landing, please let us know; chances are we’ve checked them out already and maybe have a different thought, but we’re always happy to add and update!
And want to pin this plan for the best activities in Dubrovnik for your own trip to the Dalmatian Coast? Go for it! Unforgettable adventures to be had!
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”