A guide to Dubrovnik! Dubrovnik is an amazing city. It is one of the most unique cities I have ever visited and I believe there probably isn’t another city like it. As soon as you top the hill and drive down the winding road along the coast into Dubrovnik it is like you are taken back in time. The castle walls that surround the city are so unique and beautifully laid against the gorgeous coast of the Adriatic Sea! Read on for information on:
- Top things to do
- Best time to visit
- Where to stay
- How to get around
- Food and tipping
- King’s Landing
- The truth about Dubrovnik
What to Do
Aside from just taking the view of the city, inside and outside the walls, here are some fun things to do while in Dubrovnik!
1. Walking tour
As mentioned in most of my posts involving things to do in cities, I recommend a walking tour. Our tour was lead by a local gentleman who provided great history of the city.
- He told of the times when the city housed a majority of locals and how, now, many of the locals have left and spaces have been turned into AirBNBs or other rentals for tourists.
- He delved into the pros of having in the income form tourism, but the cons from losing the local feeling in Dubrovnik. Remember when you are traveling to be respectful of the locals; you are enjoying their home, so be mindful of your actions and try to have more of a positive influence than negative influence as you travel.
2. Walk around Old Town
The walking tour is a great way to get oriented with the town. However, you won’t see all of the town with it. One of the best things to do is get lost in the streets of Dubrovnik. It is a STUNNING town and truly feels like a step back in time.
You can also walk along the walls of Dubrovnik. We chose not due to budgetary reasons, however, there were many people who were walking the walls.
- It is about $30 to access the walls and know that once you start your tour you can’t return if you leave.
3. Ferry to Lokrum Island and explore the island
If you are looking at a panoramic view of Dubrovnik, you’ll notice the little island just of the coast. This is Lokrum Island, home to a monastery and botanical garden. You can take a boat to the island to tour the monastery; admission and the boat ride are 120 kunas
The monastery and botanical gardens were also used as a filming location for Game of Thrones as a stand-in for the city of Qarth.
P.S. Stay outside the city walls, up the hill north of Old Town if you want these views from your accommodation!
4. Sunset Kayak around Lokrum Island
Another way to get views of the sland is to take a kayaking tour around the island. The kayaks are tandem and the tour is around 4 hours, ending with a sunset view along the walls towering over the coastline. The island is home to several caves that have some of the bluest water I have ever seen with coral that makes the water almost purple looking. It is mesmerizing!
However, be prepared to work quite hard. You take one parked stop at a cave and zip into another along the way, but most of the time you are paddling against ocean waves. It isn’t for the faint of heart! But, that being said, there were families on the tour that made it all the way through the tour.
We booked through viator.com for about $32 per person. We really enjoyed our particular tour guide!
5. Ride the Cable Car
There is nothing like seeing a city from above! A great way to do this in Dubrovnik is to take the cable car.
- The cost is about 200 kn (~$28 USD) which you can purchase here.
You will notice while in Dubrovnik that most activities cost money, and the cost can add up! I recommend taking in the beauty of the Old Town and then prioritize a few of the best things to do in order to save money while in Dubrovnik!
Best time to visit
Croatia is growing in popularity. Already a popular summer vacation spot for Europeans, it is now gaining popularity in other parts of the world. This is largely due to the filming of Game of Thrones, and, how I came to decide to go to Croatia, by word of mouth because it is just such a beautiful and unique country! It is also a frequently visited spot on cruise ship routes. With the increase in popularity comes an increase in overcrowding, especially in the Old Town and especially when cruise ships dock.
Cruises typically slow down at the beginning of October and pick back up toward the end of May. I highly recommend visiting Dubrovnik during off-season to avoid crowds. The best times to visit are likely the end of April/beginning of May or the end of September/beginning of October to catch mild weather and less crowds! We even visited at the end of October and had 70 degree F (21 degree C) weather and swam in the Adriatic Sea.
Where to stay
Guide to Dubrovnik accommodations! Stay as close to the Old Town as possible. The roads are tiny and there is quite a bit of traffic, so I suggest staying in walking distance of the Old Town.
With that being said, there are minimal hotels close to Old Town; most are further down the coast. Therefore, we opted to go with an Airbnb. Our AirBNB was outside of the walls of the city, up the hill, making for a convenient location and great views from the kitchen area!
- However, if you get an AirBnB, double check the parking. As I mentioned, parking is LIMITED in Dubrovnik.
If you are driving to Dubrovnik, prepare for poor parking and small streets. I recommend finding housing that has free parking. However, know that the parking may be a ways away! Our AirBNB had free parking but it was about a 30 minute walk from the house!!
Once you arrive in Dubrovnik, you really won’t have to drive while there. All the attractions and activities we saw and did were in the Old City. Therefore, we didn’t move our car until we left two days later. If you aren’t already driving like we were, taking a bus may be a better option for you!
Guide to Food and Tipping in Dubrovnik
Expect a vast selection of fresh seafood at most restaurants you choose to eat at! There is an abundance of restaurants within the city walls, but know that these are going to be pricier. Be prepared. There are a few outside the city walls that will likely be a bit cheaper!
To note, if you are traveling with a picky eater, have had a lot of seafood and want something more American OR if you are wanting something quick, I recommend Stay or Take Away in the Old Town.
For tipping you will need cash. The local currency in Croatia is the Kuna (kn or sometimes HRK). You can rarely leave a tip using your credit card! Tipping is common at restaurants or if you stay at a bar for a while. Also, tipping is common during tour guides. I recommend having cash if only for the tipping!
I hate to keep harping on the Game of Thrones. However, Dubrovnik is a big deal in the list of GOT filming sights. It is none other than King’s Landing and for a good reason. As soon as you see the city you will understand why they chose this location! Therefore, you will see many filming locations around Dubrovnik and if you really are a fan, there are several GOT walking guides to show you which scenes were filmed where! If you don’t want to pay for a GOT-specific tour, our free walking tour also covered several filming locations.
Do you recognize the places below?
The Truth About Dubrovnik
I feel like a guide to Dubrovnik should touch on the subject of, if not over-tourism, then a significant increase in tourism.
For background knowledge, I had been told from a patient who had visited Croatia in the 90’s that it was a beautiful country and SO affordable. I expected to get so much bang for my buck! However, with fame comes hardship (or something like that). With the filming of Game of Thrones came a HUGE influx of tourism. With this came an increase in prices, naturally. So, while I was expecting to get some awesome seafood at low costs, it didn’t really happen.
Also, even visiting in October, which is considered off-season, the crowds were very large. No chance of getting pictures without tons of people unless you ventured around at night (which we did). In the summer, when cruise ships show up and dock, I was told that foot traffic has to be directed to prevent congestion.
Despite all of this, Dubrovnik is definitely worth it! We visited in October of 2019 and, if you are a fan of GOT, you know the big finale was in May of 2019. Hopefully this was the cause of the busyness during off-season and maybe the hype has died down enough to provide normal crowds and better conditions for exploring!
Guide to Dubrovnik recap!
Get excited about visiting Dubrovnik! It really is an amazing place. Take this guide to Dubrovnik and expand on it as you need and enjoy your time! Just know, that even if there isn’t a huge list of must-do activities, Dubrovnik is such an amazing city that you truly don’t HAVE to do much more than walk around in awe. It is simply beautiful.