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Dubrovnik city guide

The Pearl of the Adriatic’s many treasures

Located in Croatia’s deep south, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik combines photogenic cliffs and isolated coves—making it a highly popular seaside vacation spot. It is also, though, a city rich in history, dotted with glorious old residences, churches and fortifications—it’s medieval Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and the source of several locations on Game of Thrones). Add in great food, lively bars and plentiful sunshine, and it’s no wonder that Dubrovnikhas emerged as one of the most popular destinations in the Adriatic. Here, just some of the city’s highlights.

Words by Alexandra Schmidt


Old Town

At the heart of Dubrovnik is the Old Town, a neighborhood packed with old-world charm and picture-perfect views. Wandering the cobblestoned streets is like stepping back to the heady days of the Dubrovnik Republic, which flourished in the medieval and renaissance eras. Within the walls you will find a wealth of restaurants, shops, bars and—yes—historic landmarks.

Pile and Ploce

Directly outside either entrance to the Old Town you’ll find the seaside districts of Ploce and Pile. Though these areas are notoriously known for having a lot of stairs, the upside is the magnificent views you’ll encounter after each bracing climb. The areas are also an ideal base for visitors, as they are both within walking distance of the city’s main attractions.

Gruz

Just north of Dubrovnik is Gruz, the neighborhood surrounding Dubrovnik’s main port. Gruz is the transportation hub of the city, servicing major cruise ships, along with the ferries going to and from the surrounding islands. Gruz is also home to the city’s largest farmers’ market, which throngs with locals stocking up on fresh produce and catches from the Adriatic. 

Lapad

Lapad is ideal for larger groups, or those who would simply like a wider selection of hotels. The area’s popular Uvala promenade is brimming with bars, restaurants and music venues. From Lapad you can get into Dubrovnik within 10 minutes by bus, or take a scenic walk along the seafront.

Zupa Dubrovacka

Moving South along the Dubrovnik Riviera you’ll find the Zupa Dubrovacka region, which has become a destination in its own right, thanks to a wide selection of seafront accommodation, restaurants and Dubrovnik’s biggest mall. What’s perhaps most appealing about Zupa is that the abundance of beaches and the convenience of taking a scenic boat ride right into the Old Town.

Konavle

For those interested in really getting off-the-beaten-path, Konavle, south of Dubrovnik, is the place to be. The tiny mountainous region boasts of a lush valley full of vineyards, traditional villages and cliffs towering over the sea, providing a magical counterpoint to the bustle of the city.

Cavtat

Cavtat is considered by many to be one of the more attractive small towns in Croatia. Known for its quaint Old Town and seaside promenade, along with wonderful beaches and beautiful buildings, Cavtat is 30 minutes to Dubrovnik by bus and is also a popular day trip from the city by boat. 


Fine Dining Restaurants

Photo by Alexandra Schmidt

Above 5

020 322 244, Ul. od Sigurate 4, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Above 5 is one of the only rooftop bars you’ll find within the Old Town. This quaint terrace sits atop the Boutique Hotel Stari Grad overlooking the city’s main drag, Stradun, along with russet-colored rooftops and the Adriatic sea. If the view a knock-out, so too is the seasonal menu, which presents local ingredients with a modern twist.

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Pantarul

020 333 486, Ul. kralja Tomislava 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

This immensely popular restaurant goes by the motto “Feels Like Home,” which applies to both the food and the ambience. The menu features items like braised ox cheeks and fish steak with Dalmatian-style vegetables, expertly prepared but with an emphasis on comfort. Co-owner Ana-Marija Bujić is so invested in her menu, she wrote a cookbook to share it with the world.

pantarul.com

Lokal

+385 20 222 000, Dr. Franje Tuđmana 1

In the Zupa region, at the One Suite Hotel, Lokal bar stands out as a favorite among tourists and locals. The restaurant uses all local ingredients in both modern and traditional dishes. Brunch offers items like avocado toast, with Croatian-made gluten-free bread and local eggs. The bar offers a selection of Croatian wines and even local gin, with a traditional cheese and prosciutto plate to top it off.

Photo by Alexandra Schmidt

Konoba Vinica Monkovic

099 215 2459, Donja Ljuta 44, 20215, Gruda, Croatia

Tucked away in the Konavle Valley, south of Dubrovnik, this family-owned eatery is known for its meaty Balkan dishes, such as homemade ham, wood-grilled meats, slow-baked lamb and Dalmatian pašticada (stewed beef with potato dumplings).  In warm weather, there is live music in the gardens along the river. 

konobavinica.com

Local restaurant

Horizont

020 358 368, Put od Bosanke 8, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Overlooking the Harbor, Horizont is located right outside the Ploce entrance into the Old Town. The outdoor seating combined with fantastic food make this place a hugely popular spoot. Everything is lovingly prepared using fresh ingredients, but you can’t go wrong with any of their seafood or pasta dishes.

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Taj Mahal

020 323 221, Ul. Nikole Gučetića 2

Don’t let the name throw you off—this is actually a traditional, award-winning Bosnian restaurant. Taj Mahal has two locations, one in the Old Town and the other in Hotel Lero. The menu satisfies cravings for Balkan meat dishes, homemade bureks, and of course traditional Bosnian coffee and teas.

tajmahal-dubrovnik.com


Cocktail bars

Culture Club Revelin

098 533 531, Ul. Svetog Dominika 3, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Named within the top 100 clubs in the world by International Nightlife Association, Revelin is one of the most popular night spots in Dubrovnik. The club is located inside a medieval fortress and often holds outdoor concerts on the terrace overlooking the Old Town. The vibe is much of youthful exuberance. Hosting Djs and electronic music from around the world. 

clubrevelin.com

Banje Beach Club

099 314 6485, Ul. Frana Supila 10/B, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

This seafront venue has a private pier for those who arrive by boat, but the atmosphere is anything but rarefied. Daytimes tend to be a low-key affair, with guests sipping beers around the outdoor tables. The restaurant offers Mediterranean-Dalmation fusion and some fine domestic wines. At night, youngsters dance on the sand, in sight of the Old Port. 

banjebeach.com

Love Bar

095 227 5683, Ul. Andrije Hebranga 95, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Over near the port of Gruz, Love Bar opened last year on the rooftop of an old factory. The views from the terrace (along with the name) make it a prime date spot, and the reasonably priced cocktails don’t hurt either. They host regular themed events, such as a “No Borders, No Nations” love-in. What you won’t find here is attitude—as the motto puts it: “No judgement, just love.”

lovebardubrovnik.com

Where to drink beer

Dubrovnik Beer Factory

Ul. Miha Pracata 6, 20000

There are many bars along the Old Town’s main street, Stradun, but this one is a more casual and affordable option. The bar has a variety of local beers and a terrace dotted with colorful lights. You can also visit the Dubrovnik Beer Factory Brewery in Gruz to try a broader selection of local hops.


Five notable locals show us how to do their town, their way

It is hard to believe that, not so long ago, this medieval walled city overlooking the Adriatic Sea was Europe’s best-kept secret. Last year, Dubrovnik attracted a record 1.27 million international visitors, drawn to its thrillingly preserved Gothic and Renaissance buildings, its vibrant...

Hotel Excelsior

020 300 300, Ul. Frana Supila 12, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

This handsome beachfront property, a 10 minute walk to the Old Town, combines the slick design of an urban hotel with the amenities of a resort. The Abakus Piano Bar has tall windows looking out onto Lokrum Island. The Prora and Sensus restaurants offer great food and more wonderful views. There is a large pool, a luxury spa, a private beach and most of the rooms have sea-facing balconies. 

adriaticluxuryhotels.com

Hilton Imperial Hotel

020 320 320, Ul. Marijana Blažića 2, 20000

The Hilton is the largest hotel within steps of the historic Old Town, accommodating up to 250 guests. Located in a vibrant, 18th-century building, its rooms look out onto the Old Town and Fort Lovrijenac. The Hilton also has an indoor swimming pool and spa, which is one of the most popular in the area. 

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One Suite Hotel

020 222 000, Dr. Franje Tuđmana 1, 20207

One Suite is an ideal option if you’re looking to stay in a boutique hotel in the Zupa region. With 16 rooms and two suites, the locally-owned, hip property was the 2017 winner of an International Hospitality Award for “best new opening.” It also offers an eco-conscious stay by providing organic toiletries, locally-sourced food and power via solar panels.

onesuitehotel.com


Historic Sightseeing

Photo by Alexandra Schmidt

Climb the City Walls and Fort Lovrijenac

Ul. od Tabakarije 29, 20000

The City Walls allow you to walk the full perimeter of the Old Town, getting the best views of the city and the sea from above. Fort Lovrijenac, known to Game of Thrones fans as King’s Landing, is a fortress that overlooks the Old Town atop the seaside cliffs. Try to do the City Walls in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat and the crowds.

wallsofdubrovnik.com

Photo by Alexandra Schmidt

Explore the Old Town

020 323 400, Ul. Vrata od Pila, 20000

So much of Dubrovnik’s history and culture is packed within the narrow, cobble-stoned streets of the Old Town. While the main Stradun might get packed, you can venture along many of the quiet side streets to find locals hanging their laundry from windows and cats curled up in corners. Must-see landmarks include Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, the Franciscan Monastery and the Church of St. Ignatius. 

wallsofdubrovnik.com

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Visit an island

Lokrum, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is surrounded by dozens of islands, seven of which are inhabited. The closest is Lokrum, known for its exotic wildlife and ancient monastery. You can also take a day trip to the three inhabited Elaphiti Islands for crystal clear water and quaint coastal villages. A little further afield are Mljet and Korcula. The latter is known for its picturesque Old Town, where locals claim Marco Polo was born. Mljet is the greenest island in Croatia, and offers some of the freshest seafood around.

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Drive to Mostar

About 100 miles north of Dubrovnik is the gorgeous city of Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Attractions include the Mostar bazaar and the rebuilt Ottoman bridge—both of which reflect the city’s pervasive Islamic influences. You’ll also find traditional Bosnian coffee, burek pastries and the famous cevapi skinless sausage. Most tours of Mostar also stop at Kravice Waterfalls on the way to or from Dubrovnik as well.

Photo by Alexandra Schmidt

See the Peljesac Peninsula

Pelješac, Croatia

Just north of Dubrovnik you’ll find the Peljesac Peninsula. This stunningly beautiful spit of land is home to some of Croatia’s best vineyards and wineries. The area is also known for having some of the freshest oysters on the Adriatic. Visit a local oyster farm to indulge in fresh samples pulled straight from the Bay of Mali Ston. Afterwards, climb the medieval Walls of Ston, considered to be the second largest defensive walls in the world, after the Great Wall of China.

Relaxing in Dubrovnik

Photo by Alexandra Schmidt

Live the high life

Providing what is arguably the most scenic view of Dubrovnik, Mount Srd is an ideal location for a sunset drink, which you can do at Restaurant Panorama. For around 20 Euros you can take the cable car here and back, or more robust visitors may opt to hike the 1,352 ft mountain overlooking the Adriatic.

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Relax at the beach

099 314 6485, Ul. Frana Supila 10/B, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

While many local hotels offer private beaches, you will also find an abundance of public beaches in Dubrovnik. Banje Beach, near the Old Town, is the most popular of these. A 15 minute walk from here is Sveti Jakov Beach, which is surrounded by lush hills. Over in the Lapad region, Sunset Beach is ideal for families, while Copacabana Beach offers luxury cabanas and cocktails.

banjebeach.com

Buy some gifts

091 767 7530, Antuninska ul. 5, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Kawa is your one-stop-shop if you want to buy artisanal and authentic souvenirs. This concept store sells only Croatian-made products, including clothing and accessories, home decor and Dubrovnik’s famous gin. For funkier gifts, Craft & Stones offers a wide selection of T-shirts and tote bags, decorated with vintage prints of Dubrovnik and Croatian phrases like “pomalo” (take it easy). 

nautical-bracelets.com

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Get wet

Sailing on Dubrovnik’s calm and clean ocean offers a unique perspective of the city, along with a full range of water sports. You can snorkel, scuba dive, or jet ski around the Dalmatian Islands. For a relaxing experience, kayak around the city and explore its hidden sea caves. If you’d rather stay on deck, you can take a sunset cruise atop the Karaka Ship, which has the look and feel of an old pirate ship, only nicer. 

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Take a food or wine tour

There are plenty of local dishes to try in Dubrovnik, such as black risotto, lamb under the bell, and rozata cake. To hit all the right spots, take one of the city’s fun, informative and filling food tours. You may also consider taking a wine tour in the Konavle valley, offered by a number of operators.