Aerial view of Dubrovnik city next to the water during daytime

Your Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a stunning coastal city located in the southern part of Croatia, and it’s no wonder that it’s become so popular with tourists. While the prospect of exploring an unfamiliar destination can seem intimidating, planning a trip to Dubrovnik doesn’t need to be stressful.

In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to plan an unforgettable visit, whether you’re a die-hard Game of Thrones fan, a mediaeval (or more recent) history enthusiast, or a fan of the open seas.

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Key Facts about Dubrovnik

Before you begin planning a trip to Dubrovnik, it’s helpful to know the following:

  • Dubrovnik is the southernmost city in Croatia, which is part of the Balkan region in Eastern Europe.
  • The local language in Dubrovnik is Croatian. Croatian is, to varying degrees, mutually intelligible with Bosnian and Serbian, so if you speak these languages you’ll be fine in Dubrovnik.
  • Many people in Dubrovnik speak or understand some level of English due to the city’s booming tourism industry. However, it’s helpful (and polite) to learn a few words and phrases in Croatian.
  • Croatia is part of the European Union and uses the euro. You can exchange your currency when you arrive; most tourism offices in Dubrovnik offer currency exchange services. However, you’ll probably get a more favourable exchange rate if you get your euros before you travel.
  • Most places in Dubrovnik accept card, but it’s good to carry a small amount of cash in euros. This way, you can support small businesses and leave tips in restaurants and cafes (ten to fifteen percent is customary).
  • Despite Dubrovnik’s position on the coast, it’s considered inappropriate to walk around in states of undress. Swimwear is fine on the beach or around swimming pools, but you should wear clothes (shorts and t-shirts are fine) when walking around the city. You should also dress modestly when visiting religious sites out of respect.

Best Time to Visit Dubrovnik

When planning a trip to Dubrovnik, it’s essential to consider the best time to visit. The city experiences a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters.

The peak tourist season is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, this is also when the city is most crowded, and prices tend to be higher.

For a more relaxed and budget-friendly experience, consider visiting Dubrovnik during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the city is less crowded, allowing you to explore at your own pace.

We especially recommend May and September. During these months, the weather is warm enough to take full advantage of Dubrovnik’s outdoor offerings, such as boat tours and water sports.

However, if you don’t mind cooler temperatures, winter can be a peaceful time to visit Dubrovnik. There are fewer tourists, as well as the opportunity to experience the city’s festive atmosphere.

How to Get to Dubrovnik

Getting to Dubrovnik is relatively straightforward, with several options available. The city is served by Dubrovnik Airport, which offers both domestic and international flights. Many major European airlines operate direct flights to Dubrovnik, making it easily accessible from various destinations.

If coming from outside Europe, stopovers in cities such as Paris and Berlin are a great option for further exploring the region. Check out Kiwi for flight deals.

If you prefer to travel by land, Dubrovnik is well-connected to other cities in Croatia and neighbouring countries by bus. The bus station is conveniently located near the Old Town, making it a convenient option for travellers. You can use Trainline for booking connections between Dubrovnik and cities like Split and Zagreb, as well as if you’re coming from other European countries.

Additionally, if you’re already exploring Croatia, you can also consider taking a scenic ferry ride to Dubrovnik, allowing you to take in the breathtaking coastal views along the way. You can travel to Dubrovnik by ferry from coastal cities such as Pula, Zadar, Split and Makarska. Dubrovnik is also reachable by ferry from Italy and Montenegro.

You might also consider reaching Dubrovnik as part of an organised tour or via cruise. Providers such as G Adventures, tourhub and Tours4fun all offer organised group tours of Croatia and the wider Balkan region. Popular stops include coastal cities such as Split and Zadar, as well as the islands on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast. Many tours also explore neighbouring countries such as HungarySerbia and Montenegro.

You can also book cruises of the Adriatic with CruiseDirect, with stops including coastal towns and cities in Italy and Albania as well as the Greek islands.

Finding the Perfect Accommodation in Dubrovnik

When it comes to finding accommodation in Dubrovnik, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses and private apartments, there are options to suit every traveller’s preferences and budget. The most popular areas to stay in Dubrovnik are within the historic Old Town or near the coastline, which offers stunning sea views.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the city’s charm, staying within the Old Town walls is a fantastic option. You’ll have easy access to the city’s main attractions, restaurants, and nightlife.

However, keep in mind that accommodation in the Old Town can be pricier, and availability may be limited, especially during the peak season. Hostels are a good option for staying within a budget, and are particularly popular with the young backpacking crowd.

Alternatively, if you prefer a more peaceful setting with beautiful coastal views, consider staying in a hotel or apartment in one of the beachfront areas outside the city centre. These areas offer a more relaxed atmosphere while still providing easy access to Dubrovnik’s main attractions.

Whichever accommodation option you choose, make sure to book in advance to secure your preferred choice and take advantage of any early booking discounts.

All-inclusive accommodation

If you’re considering booking all-inclusive accommodation (all meals included) we advise you to think carefully about factors such as what time of year you’re planning your trip and what kind of activities you’re interested in booking.

All-inclusive accommodation is great during high-season, as you won’t have to worry about not being able to get a table at a restaurant, and you’ll probably save money. It’s also great if you’re travelling with kids or fussy eaters, as there’ll usually be ‘safe’ options such as a selection of toast, fruit and cereal (as well as hot options) for breakfast and things like chicken, fries and ice cream for lunch and dinner.

However, you’ll need to check that all-inclusive hotels and guesthouses can accommodate dietary requirements. You should also keep in mind that if you’re planning lots of full-day excursions, you won’t be able to take advantage of lunch and you may miss dinner. Therefore, savings that you would’ve made by not having to pay for restaurants and cafes will be lost.

Planning Your Itinerary in Dubrovnik

One of the key factors in planning a trip to Dubrovnik is planning your itinerary in advance. The city offers a wide range of activities and attractions, and having a well-thought-out plan will ensure you don’t miss out on anything.

We recommend starting in Dubrovnik’s historic centre, the Old Town. Starting with a guided tour (more on that in a bit) gives you a great foundation from which to explore the city.

It’s important to consider your interests when planning an itinerary. If you’re interested in outdoor activities, plan excursions to Dubrovnik’s surrounding areas. If you prefer history, you’ll find plenty to do within the walls of the Old Town.

Given that Dubrovnik offers so many things to do, it’s important to prioritise and book things in advance. You should also consider things like jet lag if coming from outside Europe. If you plan full day excursions, it’s a good idea to get a good night’s sleep before and to book light activities for the following morning. This way, you won’t be too tired to fully enjoy yourself.

The Benefits of Booking Guided Tours in Dubrovnik

While exploring Dubrovnik on your own is undoubtedly enjoyable, booking guided tours can enhance your experience in several ways. Guided tours provide valuable insight into the city’s history, culture, and hidden gems that you might otherwise miss.

We recommend when planning a trip to Dubrovnik that you book a guided tour for the beginning of your trip. That way, you’ll have a great starting point from which to explore. Guides can usually offer great recommendations for the rest of your trip, and you may meet other like-minded travellers.

Another benefit of booking guided tours is the convenience and time-saving aspect. With a pre-planned itinerary, you won’t have to worry about navigating the city or figuring out transportation. Guided tours often include transportation, entrance fees, and skip-the-line access to popular attractions, allowing you to make the most of your time in Dubrovnik.

To find out more about walking tours in Dubrovnik, check out our article Dubrovnik Walking Tours: Types and Tips. We include information about types of tours on offer, such as history, sunset and Game of Thrones themed tours, as well as things to consider when booking.

The Top Activities and Attractions in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik offers a wide range of activities and attractions to suit every interest.

For history buffs, a visit to the Dubrovnik City Walls is a must. These ancient fortifications offer a unique perspective on the city’s past and provide stunning views over the Adriatic and the Old Town. You can also explore the maritime history of Dubrovnik at the Maritime Museum, located within the walls.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’re in for a treat, as Dubrovnik served as the filming location for King’s Landing. Take a guided tour to discover the real-life locations of your favourite scenes, such as the Red Keep and Blackwater Bay.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, a visit to Lokrum Island is highly recommended. Just a short boat ride from Dubrovnik, this nature reserve offers lush botanical gardens, walking trails, and pristine beaches. You can also take the cable car or hike to the top of Mount Srđ for breathtaking panoramic views. Mount Srđ is also home to the Imperial Fort, which houses the Homeland War Museum.

Additionally, Dubrovnik’s position on the coast makes it a fantastic destination for water activities. Take a kayak tour around the city walls to explore hidden caves and secluded beaches, or book a boat excursion. Popular excursions take you to the Blue Cave as well as nearby islands, and many offer use of snorkelling and paddle-boarding equipment.

Get Your Guide is one of the best options for booking activities and excursions in Dubrovnik. You can also check out our article Dubrovnik Uncovered: Exploring the Pearl of the Adriatic for more ideas on things to do.

Getting Around Dubrovnik – Transportation Options

Dubrovnik is a compact city that can easily be explored on foot. The Old Town itself is car-free, making it a pedestrian-friendly zone.

In terms of public transportation, Dubrovnik has an efficient bus network that connects the city centre with the surrounding areas. The buses are clean, comfortable, and relatively inexpensive, making them a convenient option for getting around.

If you’d rather explore independently, check out Discover Cars and Qeeq for car rental options. Bear in mind that in Croatia, you’ll have to drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Taxis are also readily available in Dubrovnik, and you can easily hail one on the street or find them at designated taxi ranks. However, taxi fares can be higher during peak tourist season, so it’s advisable to agree on a price before starting your journey.

We advise using Uber and Bolt, both of which are available in Dubrovnik. This way, you won’t have to negotiate on prices, which can be difficult if the driver doesn’t speak English. Remember that the Old Town is a car-free zone, so you’ll have to meet your driver at one of the entrances.

You can also use Get Transfer to book a private driver. This is great for exploring the areas surrounding Dubrovnik, as you’ll have more freedom with a private driver than on an organised tour.

Given Dubrovnik’s position on the coast, you can also reach surrounding areas by boat. You can book excursions on Get Your Guide or at the local tourist office. Alternatively, you can charter your own yacht- check out SEARADAR for their selection.

Day Trips from Dubrovnik – Exploring the Surrounding Areas

When planning a trip to Dubrovnik, it’s crucial to factor in time to explore the surrounding areas. One popular day trip is to the nearby city of Cavtat, located just a short drive or boat ride away. This charming coastal town offers a laid-back atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and a picturesque harbour. Stroll along the waterfront promenade, visit the Cavtat City Museum, or simply relax on one of the pebble beaches.

One of the most recommended day trips by boat is to the stunning Elaphiti Islands. This small archipelago is located northwest of Dubrovnik, and offers idyllic beaches, crystal-clear waters, and untouched nature. Take a boat tour to explore the islands, go snorkelling in hidden coves, or enjoy a delicious seafood lunch at one of the local restaurants.

Another popular day trip by boat is to Mljet Island, home to Mljet National Park. Mljet is the closest of Croatia’s eight National Parks to Dubrovnik, and therefore the most accessible. Enjoy hiking, biking and water activities such as swimming, diving and paddle-boarding; the island also hosts a Half Ironman Triathlon every October. For more information on Mljet, check out our article From Plitvice to Krka: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Croatia’s Breathtaking National Parks.

While Croatia itself offers plenty to see and do, it’s an excellent base if you’re interested in seeing parts of neighbouring countries. The town of Mostar in Bosnia as well as the nearby Kravice Falls are a popular option, as is Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor, Europe’s southernmost fjord.

Safety Tips for Travelling to Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is generally considered a safe destination for travellers. However, it’s always a good idea to take some precautions to ensure a smooth and worry-free trip.

Firstly, make sure to keep your belongings secure at all times, especially in crowded areas. Keep an eye on your personal belongings, such as wallets, passports, and cameras, to avoid any potential thefts.

It’s also advisable to carry a copy of your passport and important documents with you, while leaving the originals in a safe place at your accommodation. This way, you’ll have a backup in case of loss or theft.

When exploring the city, be cautious of your surroundings and avoid walking alone in poorly lit areas, especially at night. Stick to well-populated and well-lit streets, and trust your instincts.

Lastly, it’s essential to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and trip cancellations. This will provide you with peace of mind in case of any unforeseen events or emergencies.

If you require emergency assistance in Dubrovnik, dial 112 to contact emergency services.

Final thoughts on Planning a Trip to Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik truly is a destination that has it all, and by following the tips in this guide you’ll be well-equipped to plan an unforgettable trip. Whether you’re exploring the ancient city walls, relaxing on the pristine beaches, or immersing yourself in Game of Thrones filming locations, Dubrovnik will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

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