If there is one destination I’ve visited where I feel like I had a chance to truly learn what life was like, it’s Dubrovnik, Croatia.
As part of our travels in 2016, Mr. Valise and I spent one month living in a small apartment in Dubrovnik. We woke each morning to the sunrise over Mount Srđ, swam in the Adriatic sea most afternoons, and ate at some of the many delicious restaurants each time we explored the city.
It was one of my favorite destinations on the trip – and one of my top destinations I’ve ever visited. We regularly “joke” about going back (we will), and recommend it to anyone interested in visiting Dubrovnik or Croatia. It is, in short, a place you should visit if you’re considering where to go in the Balkans.
Related: A Great 14-Days Balkan Road Trip Itinerary
After a month, I feel like I can recommend the best way to see the Old Town and explore a little bit of Dubrovnik – this is by no means a local’s guide. Instead, think of it as a guide to the perfect day in Dubrovnik, as discovered by a fellow traveler like you who took the time to make it perfect.
7:00 am – Sunrise
Rise early to enjoy the sunrise over the ‘mountains’ to the East of Dubrovnik. Though these don’t compare with the Alps on altitude, they help give Dubrovnik it’s dynamic hills and stairwells!
8:00 am – Time to Get Moving!
Once the sun is up, go for a walk toward the Old Town. Along the way, stop to enjoy the rocky shoreline in constant view.
As you arrive in the Old Town, stop to admire the Lovrijenac, a 16th Century fortress overlooking the Adriatic and thick walls of the city.
Once inside the walls of the Old Town, be sure to stop and see the statue of Orlando outside the Church of Saint Blaze. You’ll find many statues and churches within Old Town – a surprising number for such a small space!
Wander to the Church of Saint Ignatius and the Jesuit Steps. The steps were featured in Game of Thrones, as were many other parts of the city. Inside the church, you’ll find cool, dark beauty and calm.
Throughout Dubrovnik, you’ll also meet many cats and kittens who call the city home!
10:00 am – Exploring the Walls
Be sure to spend the money (120HRK/$17US) to explore the Walls of Old Town Dubrovnik. These are the primary site that people come to see in Dubrovnik as part of its UNESCO World Heritage Site status and give you an excellent view of the entire town.
Afterward, walk to the harbor and explore the city view from outside the imposing walls of Old Town. Here, you can appreciate how glad visiting sailors would have been to arrive in this safe port. You can also cool down as the sea breeze blows gently around the walls of the Harbor.
11:00 am – Lunch!
After a morning climbing the stairs and walking the walls of Dubrovnik, tuck into one of the small restaurants in the Old Town. I recommend Taj Mahal Bosnian Cuisine, a Bosnian restaurant that serves delicious homestyle food. It’s a taste of the local culture!
12:30 pm – Beach Time
After lunch, make your way to a nearby beach. There are lots, but I recommend Bellevue Beach, behind the Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik. You can take the stairs down through the hotel, or walk around to take the winding stairs on the west side of the harbor.
Croatian beaches are sandy… sort of! If you have beach shoes, I highly recommend using them to walk on the beach and into the water.
Take a swim in the refreshing Adriatic sea. Even through the months of September and October, the water is comfortable and cool enough to swim in.
At Bellevue Beach, there is also a small cave you can swim over and explore in the calm water. Because of the shape of this natural harbor, you switch between swimming and sunbathing until the late afternoon.
5:00 pm – Sunset in the Old Town
As the day winds down, wander back to the Old Town. There’s no ‘Golden Hour’ quite like the one you’ll see the city lights come on and the beautiful stone buildings and streets light up.
As the sun sets, wander to Beach Bar “Buža”, on the rocks outside the Old Town – you have to pass through the wall to reach this chill watering hole.
Watch boats pass by on their way back to harbor for the night as the sun sets beyond the Adriatic.
8:00pm – Dinner
For a customary late dinner, treat yourself to a delicious local meal, such as at Magellan, Restaurant & Caffe bar. Here, you can enjoy local dishes or creative offerings, like the deconstructed lemon meringue pie that I named my top dessert of 2016!
Other Tips for Visiting Dubrovnik:
- The best months to visit Dubrovnik are August through October. The weather is warm and mild during these months, and the sea is still warm enough to swim in. During our stay throughout the month of September, we enjoyed sunny days 90% of the time. We also saw beautiful storm clouds over the sea from time to time.
- If you are staying in Dubrovnik for more than a day, opt for an apartment rental outside the Old Town. There are plenty of locals who have proper licensing to rent their apartments, and many are listed on Airbnb. Mr. Valise and I stayed at SB Apartments. (Get a discount on your first Airbnb rental by clicking here!)
- The currency in Croatia is the Croatian Kuna (HRK). Right now, 1 Kuna is worth ~$0.14, so you can get 6 Kuna for a dollar. Croatia is generally affordable compared with other European countries, though Dubrovnik is one of the more expensive cities due to tourism.
- If you want to enjoy the sights of Dubrovnik with fewer crowds, get up early! Most of the tourism in Dubrovnik comes from cruise ships which dock in the morning. If you get up at 6 am, for example, you can arrive at the Old Town before any tourists, which was our tip for getting photos without other people in them.
Do you have other questions about Dubrovnik? Ask in the comments below!