If you want to avoid the crowds, but still see the magical city of Dubrovnik, I’ve got just the travel itinerary for you. Here are 10 can’t miss things to do in one day in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Cue the Game of Thrones theme song…that’s what people associate with Dubrovnik. With the season finale of Game of Thrones coming to an end this year, Croatia’s tourism has been booming more than ever. More specifically, Dubrovnik’s tourism has been booming leading to over tourism. But Dubrovnik was not the reason why I put Croatia on my bucket list. It was actually pictures of its neighboring Dalmatian islands and local, down-to-earth setting that had me hooked. Of course, a trip to Croatia isn’t complete without stopping at this highly sought after destination, so Pat and I decided to dedicate one day in Dubrovnik out of our 10-day Croatia travel itinerary, and to be honest you don’t need more than 1-2 days unless you plan on exploring the nearby towns of Cavtat or Pasjaca beach! Here were the 10 must-see things in one day in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Quick Navigation: One Day in Dubrovnik, Croatia Itinerary
Where to Stay: Hotel Bellevue
- Šulić Beach
- Fort Lovrijenac
- Kolorina Bay
- Pile Gate
- Wander the streets of Old Town
- The Jesuit Stair and St. Ignatius Church
- Cliff Bar – Buza Bar I and II
- Stradun Main Street
- Old Town Harbor
- Crkva sv. Dominic, St. Dominic Street and Ploče Gate
One Day in Dubrovnik, Croatia Itinerary Map
How to Get Around Dubrovnik
Important Things to Know
WHERE TO STAY: HOTEL BELLEVUE
The Best Beach Hotel in Dubrovnik: Hotel Bellevue
My recommendation if you plan on staying more than one day in Dubrovnik, Croatia is to stay in a hotel away from Old Town Dubrovnik and away from the crowds, which is why we chose Hotel Bellevue. Hotel Bellevue is the best beach hotel in Dubrovnik. Perched 30m above sea level into a cliff above Miramare Bay, it’s no wonder it’s called bellevue, which literally means beautiful view in French. Pat and I stayed in the luxurious Executive Suite with a large balcony overlooking Miramare bay and the beach below. The hotel had a number of wellness options, private access to the public beach below, multiple restaurants (my favorite being the beach bar Nevera), and best of all, it may look far on a map, but it was only a 10 minute walk from the more lively and loud Old Town of Dubrovnik.
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1. Šulić Beach
After spending a few hours unwinding at Hotel Bellevue, Pat and I made our way towards Old Town Dubrovnik, but not without stopping by a few hidden spots along the way. The first was Šulić Beach (pronounced “shoo-lich“), a beach hidden in between 2 cliffs. The beach is named after a local family and is considered one of the oldest swimming spots in Dubrovnik. Given that it’s located between 2 cliffs, it offers ample shade in the mornings on a hot summers day and is very popular among young people for cliff jumping. Šulić Beach features 2 beach bar restaurants, including a cocktail bar called Beach Bar Dodo. The bar is perched at the corner of the cove with fun swings hanging by the bar (very millennial), expansive views of Fort Lovrijenac up above, a ladder for those who want to jump in and out of the Mediterranean Sea, and kayaks for those who want to go out a bit farther.
Game of Thrones Sighting: This beach was used for several sea battle scenes.
Leaving Šulić Beach and wandering its neighboring streets was eerily quiet compared to the rest of Dubrovnik. This area is the last place of silence before heading into the madness that is the center of Dubrovnik. The architecture here is interesting. It reminded me a bit of i trulli from Puglia mixed with some medieval and sometimes baroque embellishments that we would later see in Old Town Dubrovnik. Definitely take the time to wander around here if you get the chance, there are also some very cute bed and breakfasts worth checking out in this area!
2. Fort Lovrijenac
Fort Lovrijenac is famous for a lot of things…being a medieval fortress that’s stood its ground since the 11th century, being the Red Keep in Game of Thrones, but what I liked about it the most was it’s stunning views from up above. From here you could see Šulić Beach on one side and the City Walls containing Dubronik on the other. Watching the sunset and turn the rocks from white to red and golden yellow from up here is a sight to behold. Grab a couple of beers and a bottle of wine and you won’t regret it. Reaching the top is not for the faint of heart though, it takes about 200 steps to get there so pace yourselves.
Because Fort Lovrijenac was made famous by Game of Thrones, there is a small price to pay to get in. If you paid to walk the City Walls it’s already included in your ticket, if not, it’ll cost you about $5-$10 to get in. The structure of Fort Lovrijenac is self-destructive in nature and built purposefully like this. The walls on one side are 12 meters thick, while on the other they are only 60 centimeters thick! This was done purposefully so that if the Fort was ever conquered by enemies, the Croatians could destroy their own Fort and all their enemies along with it.
Game of Thrones Sighting: Fort Lovrijenac is home to the Red Keep in Kings Landing and is the scene were King Joffrey throws a tournament in honor to celebrate his name day.
3. Kolorina Bay
After descending the over 200 steps, we made our way down to Kolorina Bay, also known as Pile Bay. Kolorina Bay literally means “calm harbor.” Today, I wouldn’t call it super calm given it’s fame with Game of Thrones, but its layout does have a certain tranquility to it. I tried to do my due diligence and figure out why those doors were there, but any info I could find was overshadowed by GOT shots. All I can assume is that it was a means for people to escape from the Fort back to land if need be.
Game of Thrones Sighting: This bay has been used a number of times in Game of Thrones from the final scene at the end of GOT to the bloody Battle of Blackwater.
4. Pile Gate
From Pile Bay we moved onto Pile Gate, the main entrance to the city of Old Town Dubrovnik. Now the tourists began to pile up, but it didn’t deter us from taking it all in. Back in the day, Dubrovnik used to close up the wooden drawbridge every night to keep out unwanted visitors. Today, the gates remain open all day to welcome visitors from around the world. Although, I think they should still close it up at times to ward away one too many tourists…!
Game of Thrones Sighting: This is where the King’s Landing riot was filmed.
5. Wander Around Old Town Dubrovnik
Now you’ll immediately find yourself on Stradun, the main street, once you walk through Pile Gate. Pat and I were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of tourists, it almost felt like we were on Fifth Avenue, so decided to wander in the smaller less crowded streets before diving into Stradun. There are a ton of wonderful restaurants lining the streets, hidden stores selling homemade jam or Croatian trinkets, and more. The key is just to follow the cute streets and lose yourself in the Old Town Dubrovnik maze.
One thing to note about Dubrovnik is that there are a LOT of stairs and they are never ending. The more you head towards the sea, the more stairs you’ll need to walk up so prepare to give yourself at least one day in Dubrovnik so you can pace yourself when moving around.
6. The Jesuit Stairs and St. Ignatius Church
The Jesuit Stairs are almost as famous as the Piazza di Spagna Spanish steps in Rome. There baroque architecture are magnificent to behold and connect Gundulic Square, which has a fresh farmers market every day, to St. Ignatius baroque Church and Dubrovnik’s reputable Jesuit college.
Game of Thrones Sighting: Just one word here: Shame, shame, shame! Fun fact, this scene almost didn’t take place since the church of Dubrovnik said that there as absolutely no nudity that can be displayed near its sacred chambers.
At this point keep wandering the streets of Dubrovnik and move yourself closer towards the sea. This is where you’ll get a better sense of everyday life in Dubrovnik. Away from the crowds, you can find locals in their courtyards enjoying a drink before dinner, laying their laundry out to hang from one side of the street to the other, and a number of children playing in the street.
7. Cliff Bar: Buza Bar I and Buza Bar II
While walking on the edge of the City Walls and see, Pat and I came across a very straight forward and funny wooden sign that caught our attention. The sign read: Cold drinks with the most beautiful view. The sign peaked our interest so we walked in the direction of these cold drinks with the most beautiful view. We were led to a small hole in the wall of the Dubrovnik City Walls. As we walked through and walked down a small spiral staircase we found ourselves at a Cliff Bar on the outskirts of the Dubrovnik City Wall. The views were just as stunning as they had marketed, if you have one day in Dubrovnik, make sure to make Buza Bar II the one cocktail bar you can’t leave without visiting. It’s as unique as Croatia can get.
Unfortunately, Buza Bar I was packed with people, we had come a bit too late. But if you know me, I immediately started googling to see if there was an alternate or similar bar nearby. Lo and behold, I was right! There was a second cliff bar called Buza Bar II located just a few minutes from this one and it seemed that no one else knew about it. When we arrived at Buza Bar II, it was significantly less crowded then the first. While Buza Bar I offered direct views of the sunset, Buza Bar II had the city walls blocking the sun, but that didn’t deter from it’s beauty. Kids were cliff jumping from the Old City Walls in front of us, and the light of the sun reflecting off the water and Lokrum island, made for just as a pretty a view. We ordered 2 mojitos, which unfortunately were not cheap so beware of prices here, and watched as kayaks road by us on their sunset tour of Dubrovnik.
8. Stradun Main Street
Stradun, also known as Placa, is the main street in Dubrovnik Old Town. It was flooded with people throughout the day, but as soon as it hit dinner time it was a lot more walkable. By law all the buildings on Stradun have to have a similar format, structure, and decor, which is easily noticeable when walking down the street. The street used to be a channel that split Dubrovnik into two separate villages. Eventually they filled the channel with earth to join the two villages and create what is today Stradun.
9. Old Town Harbor
This is one of the most fascinating and interesting stories I think from Dubrovnik’s past. If you see my picture above of the Old Town Harbor and see the three arches in the distance, those used to be the old arsenal, where ships were built in the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. When ships were built, the vaults would be sealed by bricks in order to avoid foreign spires noting their shipbuilding secrets (Croatians were renowned for their shipbuilding technique!). After the ships were built, the brick walls would be demolished and the ships would go to sea. Today Arsenal is a restaurant that still retains the roots and theme of it’s original history i.e. all tables and seats are made of carved wood, several tables are enclosed in ship skeletons, ropes are fitted through pulleys as if heaving in the ship builds…it’s quite a spectacle and a unique dining experience. I didn’t eat at Arsenal but now regret not trying the place, maybe next time!
10. Crkva sv. Dominic, St. Dominic Street and Ploče Gate
After dinner, Pat and I ended the night walking back through the town and back to Hotel Bellevue, but not without seeing 2 more sights. The first is the second entrance to Old Town Dubrovnik, Ploče Gate. And the second is St. Dominic Street which is home to Crkva sv. Dominic, a church with beautiful cylinder cascading steps that spill outside the doors of the church.
Game of Thrones Sighting: Dominic Church is where the Gold Cloaks kill one of King Robert’s illegitimate sons and this is where Cersei ends up walking naked following the scene on the Jesuit Staircase-shame, shame, shame!
ONE DAY IN DUBROVNIK, CROATIA ITINERARY MAP
HOW TO GET AROUND DUBROVNIK
Dubrovnik is a walkable city, so if you plan on staying local you can get by on your own two feet.
If you’re hotel is a 10 walk outside the city and you don’t feel like walking, there are public buses and taxis on the outskirts of the city on both ends of Ploce Gate and Pile Gate. There is no shortage of transportation here!
If you’re looking to visit neighboring seaside villages, I would only recommend you rent a car IF you’re hotel has parking for it. If it does not, finding parking will cost you a lot of money and take you a lot of time in the pedestrian city of Dubrovnik. Otherwise, rely on public transportation its reliable and frequent during peak seasons.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
- Prices are HIGH, and not only for food, but also for hotels. To stay in a nice hotel you’ll need to spend at least $300 per night and that’s in October..!
- Croatians are very honest people. You can actually trust a lot of the personal taxi drivers or people looking to help you, they are just genuinely kind. Must be something about that Mediterranean air!
- Many people speak English, so there will be no language barrier.
- There are a lot of stairs and cobblestone streets so come prepared with sneakers, you don’t want to slip when walking up the slippery streets.
- Carry your bathing suit with you everywhere you go, you never know when you’ll find yourself at a cliff bar with people dressed to the nines and others jumping in for a swim or come across one of the many natural pools hidden among the cliffs in the Mediterranean.
- Book during shoulder season. The weather will still be warm enough to swim in the sea, but the crowds will be cut and half.
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