One look at Dubrovnik’s enchanting Old Town and it is easy to see why this Croatian city is so popular. With mighty walls and shimmering blue water surrounding, the city is sure to win over any tourist who visits while completing their Croatia itinerary.
So where to start on a trip to Dubrovnik? Let’s get right into how you can go about making the most of your time there. To do that you’ll want a detailed Dubrovnik itinerary, like this one, which will show you all the best places to visit in Dubrovnik and how you can fit them into just a few days. Read on for our guide to what to do in Dubrovnik in 3 days to ensure you have a truly memorable experience there.
Best Time to Visit Dubrovnik
To get the most from any trip, it’s important to take into account when you plan on visiting. That’s especially true with an extremely popular tourist destination like Dubrovnik. This means that finding the best time to visit Dubrovnik not only depends on the weather but also how busy with tourists the city is going to be.
Dubrovnik, like the rest of Croatia, is most popular during the summer when the city actually struggles with overtourism. High season in Dubrovnik means accommodation is limited and at its most expensive, lines are at their longest, and tours or activities may well be sold out.
To avoid these problems associated with overtourism, consider traveling to Dubrovnik either side of summer in months like May, September, or October instead. During these months the weather is still good for sightseeing, going to the beach, and island hopping, but you won’t be hit with the high season rates.
If you’re looking to save money, consider timing your Dubrovnik trip with the low season during winter. December through March is when Dubrovnik is at its quietest and you can expect accommodation to be at its cheapest. However, many of the best things to do in Dubrovnik are seasonal, so there may be some attractions that are closed and activities like swimming or visiting islands that won’t be possible.
How to Get Around Dubrovnik
You shouldn’t find it difficult to get around while visiting Dubrovnik. When sightseeing in and around the Old Town you won’t have much choice other than to walk everywhere as the Old Town is a car-free zone. That being said, the Old Town isn’t huge so you won’t be covering huge distances. Keep in mind though, there are a lot of stairs.
But when you are heading to places outside the Old Town, you may find using public transport a helpful and worthwhile alternative. Buses are the only public transport in Dubrovnik, but they’ll get you where you need to go. Tickets, valid for an hour, start at 12HRK when bought from a newspaper kiosk or Libertas stall and 15HRK when bought from the driver.
Chances are you’ll arrive in Dubrovnik either by plane or ferry. To get from the ferry terminal at Port Gruz, take the 1A, 1B, or 3 buses and get off at the Pile Gate, the last stop. To get from the airport to the city, it’s best to take a dedicated airport bus which costs 50HRK one-way or 80HRK return and takes about 30 minutes to reach the Old Town.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
Given its popularity, there’s no shortage of accommodation to choose from in Dubrovnik. The challenge is finding somewhere that suits your budget, your travel style, and still has rooms available. It’s for this reason that we highly recommend booking your accommodation in Dubrovnik well in advance.
As for where to stay in Dubrovnik, that’s where things get interesting. While the Old Town is obviously one of the best places to stay in Dubrovnik, you’ll pay for the convenience. Travelers on a budget will likely need to look beyond the Old Town walls, to nearby neighborhoods like Pile, Ploce, or Lapad. One thing to keep in mind is that the higher up the hill you stay, the more steps you have to climb every time you return to your accommodation.
You won’t come across a grander place to stay in Dubrovnik than the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik. This five-star hotel sits just outside the Old Town walls and treats guests to classically elegant rooms and suites, as well as an indoor pool and wellness center.
There’s plenty of mid-range accommodation and apartments, with Villa Four Winds II a great example of the value for money you can find in Dubrovnik. This welcoming guesthouse, located in the Old Town, will make you feel right at home. The apartments have useful facilities like a fridge, kettle, and air conditioning.
Those on a budget won’t believe the incredible value they can get at Hostel Angelina. This hostel has both dorms and private rooms and is centrally located in the Old Town. It also benefits from helpful staff and a shared kitchen. If you want to see other hostel options, check out our guide to the best hostels in Dubrovnik.
For more accommodation options in Dubrovnik check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 3-Day Dubrovnik Itinerary
Visitors may be surprised by how much they can do with 72 hours in Dubrovnik. You’ll likely be able to see the city’s sights and even fit in a day trip to one of the many islands along the Croatian coast. While you’re in Dubrovnik, you’ll spend most of your time in and around the city’s UNESCO world heritage-listed Old Town.
However, before we get to our Dubrovnik itinerary we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
We personally use and recommend SafetyWing. For only around $40 a month, it’s really a no-brainer. You can get a quick quote below:
Now that we’ve covered that essential topic, back to our Dubrovnik travel itinerary. Let us show you what to do with 3 days in Dubrovnik so that you don’t miss out on any of the city’s highlights.
Day 1 in Dubrovnik
To start your visit, let’s head straight for Dubrovnik’s famous Old Town where you’ll see why this city is so popular.
Upon entering Dubrovnik’s Old Town through the main Pile Gate, the city’s main street – Stradun stands before you. Since the 13th century this limestone street that crosses the width of the Old Town has been Dubrovnik’s main thoroughfare. Along it you’ll spot countless elegant Venetian buildings which make walking here feel like you’ve traveled back in time. So scenic is the street that it has been used as a filming location not only for Game of Thrones, but also Star Wars. Before making your way down the street though, be sure to take a moment to admire the Large Onofrio Fountain just inside the Pile Gate which dates back to 1438.
At the far end of Stradun you’ll arrive in Luza Square which is surrounded by some of Dubrovnik’s most prized landmarks. One such landmark is the Dubrovnik Clock Tower which has watched over the square since 1444. Up by the clock tower’s bell are two green bronze figures with mallets that make the bell ring at noon each day. Interestingly, to go with its traditional clock, the tower also features an old digital clock which looks quite odd in an old stone tower.
Elsewhere on the square you’ll find other magnificent landmarks, including the beautiful Sponza Palace from the 16th century which was one of the few buildings to survive the brutal 1667 earthquake.
Moving on we come to one of the most important buildings in the city, Rector’s Palace. This was where the head of state, known as a rector, ruled from the 14th century to 1808. Nowadays this major 15th century landmark is home to the Cultural History Museum, but it used to serve not only as the rector’s office, but also as an armory and prison. On a visit to the grand Gothic building you’ll have the chance to see its chambers and halls, as well as learn about the history of Dubrovnik and the Republic of Ragusa of which it was once the capital.
Just up from the Rector’s Palace stands the most important place of worship in town, the Dubrovnik Cathedral. This baroque behemoth was built in 1713 to replace the city’s original cathedral which was destroyed in the earthquake. While the cathedral’s exterior blends in with the rest of Dubrovnik’s stone buildings, inside you’ll find one thing that does make it stand out. The cathedral has a triptych on its altar featuring artwork by the acclaimed Venetian artist Titian. There is also more artwork from celebrated Croatian and Italian artists in many of the side chapels.
There’s really no way of missing the huge city walls that surround Dubrovnik’s Old Town. These high walls stand high above the town’s rooftops and join together the impenetrable giant stone towers. Dubrovnik’s Old Town was widely regarded as having some of the best defences of anywhere in the Middle Ages. Now, as impressive as the walls look from the outside, they are nothing compared to the views you get walking along the top of these intact city walls.
The uninterrupted route along the walls is just under 2km in length and has breathtaking views of the Old Town the whole way round. From up there you can look across Dubrovnik’s orange rooftops, spot the tops of landmarks like the cathedral, and look out over the city’s sparkling coast.
Old Town Stairs
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is quite flat while the northern end of town actually runs up the side of quite a steep incline. There you’re more likely to find great, long staircases running between houses rather than streets. While exploring this part of Dubrovnik is likely to take it out of you, these narrow staircases are exceptionally photographic and well worth the effort.
Finish your long day of walking around the Old Town by treating yourself to a drink at Cafe Buža, a bar with a perfect view. Wedged between the town walls and the Adriatic Sea, this bar is a great place to grab a glass of wine or beer and chill as the sun falls below the horizon. You can even go cliff jumping here and go for a swim to cool off.
Day 2 in Dubrovnik
Now it’s time to explore beyond the walls of Dubrovnik’s Old Town and see what else the city has to offer.
The walls and towers that encircle the Old Town aren’t the only defences that once protected Dubrovnik. The imposing fortress of Fort Lovrijenac sits on rocky cliffs across Dubrovnik West Harbour from the walls of Dubrovnik. This makes it both incredibly scenic, but also a place that offers superb views of the Old Town poking up over its formidable walls.
Head on down to Dubrovnik West Harbour and you’ll regularly see a string of kayakers heading out from the small stone pier there. Going for a kayak from here is not only a fun way to get out on the water and get some exercise, it also allows you a chance to see the city from a whole new perspective. The city walls look even more daunting when you’re paddling down below them. There are all sorts of kayak tours provided here, from a tour around the edge of the walls to tours that take you all the way out to Lokrum Island off the city’s coast. We recommend the following Kayak tour.
Game of Thrones Walking Tour
Dubrovnik has to be one of the most famous of the many filming locations for Game of Thrones. The Old Town was used to portray King’s Landing throughout all the seasons of the show. There are a number of spots you might recognize around town. Sure, you can try and hunt them down yourself, but a quicker option is to take a Game of Thrones-themed walking tour and have someone show you spots like the Jesuit Stairs where Cersei’s walk of shame was filmed. You can book a GoT tour here.
War Photo Limited
Although visitors often think of medieval history when they think of Dubrovnik, the city was also involved in more recent history – the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. This dark chapter in the region’s history inspired the creation of the War Photo Limited exhibition in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. In it you can see a permanent exhibition on the break-up of the former Yugoslavia through photos and video, as well as temporary exhibits on other conflicts and events like the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
As interesting as sightseeing can be, it’s okay to spend some of your trip simply relaxing, and where better to unwind in Croatia than on the beach. Dubrovnik boasts a handful of different beaches but Banje and Lapad Beach are two of the most popular. Banje Beach is found just east of the Old Town which means you can be sure you’ll find plenty of tourists there. Lapad Beach on the other hand is a few kilometers away, but it’s also quite a busy sand beach. Another option you might want to consider is Bellevue Beach as it’s closer to Lapad Beach, but is a smaller pebble beach.
It’s finally time for the ultimate view of Dubrovnik, which you can only get by taking the Dubrovnik Cable Car to the top of Mount Srdj. This 412-meter-high mountain looks directly over Dubrovnik, providing a perfect view down onto the city’s Old Town. But you don’t just get sublime views of Dubrovnik, you also get to see right along the coast in either direction to the many islands that sit just off the coast. Standing up by the giant cross and the remains of Fort Imperial you also have a fantastic spot to watch the sunset, making it the ideal way to finish your second day in Dubrovnik.
Day 3 in Dubrovnik
Having experienced the very best of Dubrovnik in your first two days there, it’s time to look to all the great places that surround the city. There are a whole load of day trips from Dubrovnik that you can choose from, but the following are some of the most popular that people tend to start with.
The easiest place to go if you’re looking for a day away from Dubrovnik is the island of Lokrum which is a short trip from the city. Lokrum sits just off the coast from Dubrovnik and is home to beaches and forests, not to mention a few interesting landmarks. The main swimming spots on Lokrum are the main beach on the southwest coast and the dead sea salt lake.
With walking trails through it, the forest is nice if you want to go on a nature walk. As for landmarks on Lokrum, there’s the Benedictine Monastery of St. Mary and its lovely botanical gardens, and also Fort Royal from where you can enjoy views back across the water to the Dubrovnik Old Town.
One of the most beautiful islands along Croatia’s coast is the island of Korcula, which explains why it’s such a popular day trip destination. When you arrive on the island, start by exploring Korcula Town and its endearing historical character. There you’ll be able to visit major sights like St. Mark’s Cathedral with its Venitian architecture, or the House of Marco Polo where the renowned traveler was born.
But the island of Korcula is just as well known for its natural attractions, including several wonderful beaches. Pržina beach in Lumbarda is perhaps the easiest to reach, but there are many around the island suited to sunbathing and swimming. Winemaking is another of Korcula’s dominant industries, so you could spend your day there tasting some of the local creations.
3. Elafiti Islands
If you’re interested in seeing several islands in a single day, then island hopping in the Elafiti Islands is the way to go. There are 14 islands in this archipelago northwest of Dubrovnik and tours through there typically stop at the larger islands like Koločep, Sipan, and Lopud.
Each island has something different to offer visitors, meaning you can see a few different sides to island life by island hopping. The island of Koločep is known for its orange orchards, lemon groves, and a secluded medieval chapel hidden away among them. As for Sipan, there you’ll find a classic example of a historic Croatian marina, the kind you might often see photos of. Lastly is Lopud, the perfect stop for a swim and sunbathe thanks to the white sands of Sunj beach.
There is a lot you can experience around Dubrovnik in 3 days. After visiting you should have no problem seeing why this Adriatic city is so popular.