It’s easy to pass seven wonderful days in Dubrovnik and here’s the perfect itinerary to do it.
The incredible walled city of Dubrovnik is familiar to many as a location for Game of Thrones, but as a destination it has so much more to offer than just expecting to see Daenerys Targaryen around every corner. The Old Town is a maze of preserved grandeur and charm, while nearby islands provide enough interest to fill a week in the furthest corner of Croatia or even longer. Keep reading to find out the myriad ways seven days in Dubrovnik could be spent.
Day 1 – Wander the walls
The most instantly recognisable thing about Dubrovnik is its set of complete walls that encircle the Old Town. These fortifications provide the perfect opportunity for getting up high and establishing bearings upon arriving in the city. At around two kilometres in length, they represent a leisurely walk without tiring you out too much.
Spend the time looking out over the terracotta roofs of the buildings of the Old Town. Strict rules mean the overall appearance of this part of Dubrovnik is protected and there isn’t a tile in the wrong colour. In the opposite direction is the sea, various islands and boats coming into the city’s marina.
Since you are on holiday and there is no rush, stop at Bar Buza, part of the way round your circuit of the walls. This charming establishment is set into the cliffs on the outside of the walls, making it a location like no other. Sit and have a drink and a bite to eat at one of the tables clinging to the cliffside and take in the views of the island of Lokrum and the Adriatic beyond. For some, the temptation of the sea is too much and it is possible to swim from this idyllic spot.
Having surveyed the city from its walls, it’s time to get amongst it and the best place to start is Stradum, Dubrovnik’s main street. Along the length of this marble thoroughfare, which stretched from the Pile gate to Ploce are various fascinating sights. These include the Luza bell tower, which was built in 1444, Orlando’s Tower and the two Onofrio fountains.
Not far from Stradum but safely tucked down a side street is the Antunini Restaurant, which has been feeding the people of Dubrovnik for years. Enjoy freshly caught seafood, locally produced cheese or family-friendly classics at this wonderful establishment. Why not finish the evening at the delightful bar owned by former Eurovision Song Contest participant Luci Capurso? It’s tiny, charming and hard to beat.
Day 2 – Explore Dubrovnik’s history
On your second day in this historic city, you are probably going to want to know more about the events that have led to it being the way it is and the people who created it. There are innumerable places to explore to soak up the history and which ones you choose are entirely up to you. The Rector’s Palace and its accompanying City Museum are a good place to start, as this impressive building is home to everything from coins and coats of arms to the portraits of notable Dubrovnik residents over the ages.
Tear yourself away from the exhibits to examine the main features of the building itself, which has been rebuilt and modified multiple times. The original edifice was constructed in the 15th century for an elected rector, but its grandeur has been added at later intervals. Note the grand staircase and carved capitals that demonstrate delicate skill and incredible taste.
Moving on to the Franciscan Monastery, it is possible to see a number of elements that would have been housed in the 1317 building. Unfortunately, it was mainly destroyed in an earthquake in 1667, but what could be salvaged was incorporated into the newer version of the monastery. Be sure to seek out the pieta by Petar and Leonard Andrijic carved into the south portal in a gothic style. The oldest functioning pharmacy in Europe can also be found within the monastery’s grounds.
While on your historical exploration you will probably wish to stop and refuel for lunch. There is nowhere better for freshly baked bread than Skola, which is easy to find as it is in an alleyway just off Stradun. It may be simple, but a sandwich crammed full of local cheese or the Croatian ham known as prsut is the ideal sightseers’ lunch.
One option is to pack this tasty morsel up and bring it with you to the beach, as by the afternoon, most people will be ready for a bit of relaxation. Banje Beach could not be located any more conveniently as it is just a short ten-minute walk from Stradun. As well as boasting sand imported from North Africa, the beach is close enough to the Eastwest Club to rent sun loungers and parasols or pop in for a drink or two.
If by the early evening you are fully revived and ready to take on a little more history, make your way back to the alleyway where Skola is situated and head to War Photo Ltd. This incredible exhibition space is dedicated to photojournalism and can shed light on the more recent history of the area. It also features a schedule of ever-changing exhibitions with images on display of conflicts around the world. While a fascinating place to visit, it is not one to take young children to.
In the evening you may wish to follow in the footsteps of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson by dining at the incredibly romantic Proto. The food here is mainly inspired by the sea and the menu features traditional recipes handed down by fishermen. But if you think the fare will be humble, think again, as this is most-definitely a fine dining establishment. And it’s not at all far from the D’vino Wine Bar for a nightcap afterwards. Perfect!
Day 3 – Head across to Lokrum
That little green island covered in lush vegetation that you have spotted from various locations in Dubrovnik so far during your stay is just crying out to be visited. To do so, make your way down to Dubrovnik Old Harbour, where the boats depart from every half an hour during high season. At quieter times of the year, the vessels don’t run as frequently, but the departures are still fairly regular. The journey lasts just ten minutes and will allow you to disembark in the tiny bay of Portoc across the small section of Adriatic that divides Lokrum from the mainland.
Now that you have arrived on the island, you’ll find yourself in a veritable paradise for nature lovers. Lokrum is a Special Forest Vegetation Reserve and has a network of trails to allow visitors to explore its 0.8 square kilometres of vegetation, complete with animals and stunning views back to Dubrovnik and its imposing walls. While traversing the island, you’ll undoubtedly come across a tempting beach to settle on and relax for a little while. One of the beaches on Lokrum is for nudists, so decide whether this is your preferred destination in advance.
For those who haven’t brought their lunch with them (Skola sandwiches are a good bet for a second day in a row), the choice of eateries on Lokrum is limited. But fear not, the island’s 11th century Benedictine monastery features an on-site restaurant and while the menu is a little limited, it is not difficult to find something among the pastas, salads or simply grilled fish or meat to fill grumbling bellies. Dining in the beautiful surroundings of the monastery and viewing its resident peacocks in all their splendour add to the enjoyment of the meal.
If you spent the morning wandering around the island wishing you knew more about the species of plant you spotted then the afternoon is the perfect time to get educated. Lokrum is home to a well-established botanical garden, which was introduced in 1959. Prior to this, the island had a long tradition of horticulture, as the resident monks found its climate supported plants from all over the world. This is something the Habsburgs took advantage of when they introduced ornamental species to Lokrum in the 19th century, which impressed the world-renowned botanist Roberto Visiani who visited the Lokrum to study its flora.
Return to the mainland for dinner and after splurging out on a posh meal the previous night, head to the relatively inexpensive Kamenica. The food here is still good and typical of the meals that are served up and down the Dalmatian Coast on any given day. The octopus salad and fried squid are house specialities and sitting in the picturesque square the restaurant occupies is a lovely way to spend an evening enjoying the delights of Dubrovnik.
Day 4 – Take in some culture
After a day out of the city it is nice to return and enjoy more of its cultural offerings. While you may have managed to get round a few of its institutions earlier in the week, there are still more to be explored. Check out the Museum of Modern Art, the Maritime Museum or the Cathedral Treasury, which can be found underneath the city’s 18th-century Virgin Mary Cathedral. Alternatively, Sponza Palace tells the story of those who were killed defending Dubrovnik during the Croatian War of Independence.
Enjoy some Italian favourites at Oliva Gourmet, within the Old Town and perfect for a light lunch. There is a chic inside seating area or the option to dine outside on a pretty little Croatian street for those keen to make the most of the temperate climate. Whether it’s pizza, pasta or a fresh salad you’re after, you can’t go wrong here.
After soaking up more of Dubrovnik’s cultural offerings in the morning it is time to relax again in the afternoon. Everyone has a different idea of what kicking back looks like, but heading to Sveti Jakov Beach is a good place to start. Located just 20 minutes’ walk from the Old Town, you will find your lunch has settled by the time you arrive, ready to stretch out on the beach.
Those who can’t sit still for too long can opt to partake in a little sea kayaking expedition, while anyone in need of pampering can have their stresses eased away with a beauty treatment at Villa Spa inside the stunning Villa Dubrovnik building close by.
Fully rejuvenated and in need of something a little different for dinner, head to Bota Sare, right next to the cathedral. The house specialities are oysters and sushi, which are the perfect antidote to the carbohydrate-filled pasta you may have had for lunch. Expect traditional Croatian style mixed with the clean, chic lines of Japanese design to create a truly unique establishment. Bota Sare has been popular in Dubrovnik since it opened its doors in 2011, so booking is a good idea if you don’t wish to wait for a table at busy times of the year.
Day 5 – Stretch those legs
By your fifth day in Dubrovnik it is time to head out of the city once more, but why not go somewhere to give you great views looking back at it? Mount Srdj is perfect for this as it is located just behind the Old Town and you can pick out all the places you have explored so far from your vantage point. The best thing about Mount Srdj, however, is that the Dubrovnik Cable Car works its way up the side of the hill so you don’t even have to climb to the top yourself.
At the summit is Fort Imperial, which was constructed between 1806 and 1816 during the Napoleonic Wars. Mount Srdj has played important roles in the history of the region since then and was used as a strategic spot for fighters in the Seige of Dubrovnik. This was one of the fiercest battles that took place during the Croatian War of Independence from 1991 to 1995. Nearly all of the trees that once thickly forested Mount Srdj were destroyed in fires throughout the war.
While at the summit, visitors can decide to have a look around the highly informative museum and grab some lunch in the restaurant. Alternatively, take a picnic with you and enjoy it either at the top of the mountain or part of the way down. Ensure you have the proper footwear to hike back to Dubrovnik, with the city getting larger as you walk towards it. The walk takes just over an hour, but is well worth it to savour the views.
Spend the afternoon enjoying the delights of the Lapad Peninsula, which are not far from the Old Town. It will take around 25 minutes to walk, but if you feel you have done enough exercise for the day on your descent from Mount Srdj then a taxi will take less than five minutes and shouldn’t cost too much for a small group. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by an array of beaches, a lovely promenade and lots of places to grab a coffee or a meal. The Orsan Yacht Club comes highly recommended when contemplating dinner, with delicious seafood dishes a definite must-try.
Day 6 – Pick a day trip
Among the wonderful things about Dubrovnik is its location close to so many amazing places. This means there are almost endless possibilities when it comes to taking a day trip from the city. Whether you fancy heading to Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina or even across to Venice, these are all within easy reach. Alternatively, stay within Croatia and visit another of its cities, such as Split, which is just up the coast.
For us, it is the islands of the Dalmatian Coast that are just too tempting to ignore, with Mljet and Korcula both close by. There are several ways to get from Dubrovnik to Korcula, with ferries and catamarans being offered by a number of companies. Alternatively, it is possible to go on an organised tour that will ensure a packed itinerary and all transport is included.
Said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, the island of Korcula is a fascinating place to explore and enjoy a walled medieval city to rival Dubrovnik. Spend the morning wandering the charming streets, taking in the opulent palaces and visiting St Mark’s Cathedral. A visit to the house sitting on the site where the great explorer may have been born makes a case for Korcula claiming Marco Polo as its own. Another thing that the island is proud of is its fish stew and a great example of this traditional recipe can be enjoyed at the Gradski Podrum restaurant in the Old Town.
After being refuelled in hearty fashion, use your afternoon to find out more about Croatia’s wine-growing heritage in the Peljesac region. This peninsula is located on the way back from Korcula if travelling by road and is home to many top-quality wineries. Families that have established vineyards in the area have passed their knowledge down through the generations and often open their doors to visitors keen to learn about their wines and indulge in a tasting or two.
For your final night in Dubrovnik be sure to say farewell to the city in style by dining at Restaurant 360°. Perched atop the city walls, the views from this establishment are unrivalled and the food and wine are as good as the scenery. This is definitely a treat; one worth splurging out on just once while you’re here.
Day 7 – Soak up Dubrovnik’s atmosphere
On the last day of your holiday you will want to feel relaxed and soak in the atmosphere of Dubrovnik in order to take wonderful memories home with you. A great way to do this is to indulge in a leisurely brunch at Gradska Kavana. This eatery near the Rector’s Palace and situated in the former arsenal serves up unbeatable coffee and incredible views of the port in one direction and Stradum on the other.
Spend the rest of your time doing a bit of shopping, whether it be picking up some souvenirs for yourself or gifts for those back home. As well as all of the usual tourist offerings, Dubrovnik Old Town also has some great authentic shops. Check out Dubrovacka kuca for everything from handmade ceramics to high quality olive oil. Meanwhile, Atelier Secret sells jewellery in traditional styles from Dubrovnik.