14 Helpful Tips for Your First Visit to Dubrovnik (2024 Guide)

by Sam
A bustling view of Stradun Street in Dubrovnik, with tourists walking between the old town's distinctive terracotta-roofed buildings and the prominent bell tower standing against a blue sky with wispy clouds.

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I visited Dubrovnik for the first time during my recent European travels and was completely blown away.

Everywhere I turned, there was something new to admire. Whether it was stumbling upon the cliff-top bar of Buza while overlooking the Adriatic Sea or walking through the Old Town gates past the city guards,  you could instantly feel the old medieval town aesthetic, which is definitely up my street. 

Are you a Game of Thrones fan coming to relive the fantasy world through Dubrovnik? Or simply someone who appreciates visiting beautiful cities, Dubrovnik has many things you can do to keep you busy. 

Here is all you need to know about visiting the Pearl of the Adriatic, alongside Dubrovnik tips and tricks to ensure a successful first trip. 

Where to stay in Dubrovnik?

Where to stay in Dubrovnik highly depends on what you prioritise the most for your travels.

Best Option – For a more immersive experience, I recommend staying in the Old Town. 

You can leave your room and return to the Old Town atmosphere without worrying about travelling back. Therefore you can spend more time walking around the Old Town and experience it at its best at night.

The narrow alleys of the Old Town Dubrovnik
Stay in the Old Town’s narrow, cobbled alleys, for a more immersive experience.

Affordable Option – For a more affordable option, stay more than 10-15 minutes away from Dubrovnik in a less touristy area.

When travelling to Dubrovnik, I recommend staying in Mlini, a beautiful little village just 20 minutes from Dubrovnik. We saved around 50% more compared to the price of what hotels and apartments in the Old Town were quoting. Buses are very frequent to the Old Town and have connections running through most major areas surrounding Dubrovnik.

We caught the bus most days into the Old Town. However, using taxis to get everywhere would still have been much cheaper than staying in Dubrovnik.

My recommendation: Cavtat is a brilliant starting base for Dubrovnik. It is one of the best places to visit from Dubrovnik and only a short bus away; this beautiful little coastal town offers more affordable accommodation and has its own undeniable charms.

Sunset view of Cavtat marina in Croatia, framed by ancient stone archways, highlighting the tranquil sea, moored boats, and historic coastal architecture in the soft evening light.
The archways of Cavtat

How many days do I need in Dubrovnik? 

I would allocate at least three days to explore Dubrovnik fully, including any day trips from the city and any hidden gems.

You can easily experience most of Dubrovnik in a day at a leisurely pace. However, more days should be allocated to experience it at its fullest.

What is the best way to get to Dubrovnik? 

Depending on your starting point and final destination, the best route to travel to Dubrovnik may vary.

  • Flights: Frankfurt, Istanbul and London have the most direct flights to Dubrovnik for international travel. If you’re travelling from the USA, please be aware that direct flights are few and far between. It would be much cheaper to fly to those three cities on a connecting flight! 

Note: During winter and spring, flight travel to Dubrovnik may be more expensive due to less activity in the airspace—Winter especially, with flights being a rarity due to less demand for the festive months. 

  • By ferry: Dubrovnik is conveniently located by a port, making ferry travel popular. You can travel from many Croatian cities – even from countries like Italy, going over the Adriatic Sea.
  • Coach: For coach travel, consider using budget-friendly services like FlixBus. They offer affordable fares for long distances. Great for those visiting from places like Split or Kotor in Montenegro.  

Should I buy a Dubrovnik Pass? 

The Dubrovnik Pass is an excellent option for those planning to visit multiple museums and attractions in Dubrovnik. The pass gives you access to several of these attractions for free.

A notable benefit is ONE* free entry to ‘The City Walls of Dubrovnik’. It also offers discounts on various tours and activities; for example, You get 20% off Lokrum Island access and ferry with a 3-day pass and 30% off with a 7-day pass. 

I would say it is worth it, but I recommend only purchasing a 1-day or 3-day pass. Check your travel plans first and see if what’s included suits your ideal itinerary. That’s my best advice!

The hallways in Dominican Monastery in Dubrovnik
It includes free entry to the Dominican Monastery - One of Dubrovnik's most prettiest places.

A 3-day pass came in handy, as I visited Lokrum and saved €5.40 with the discount. Plus, public toilets charge, so it helped me to go to more museums and use the free restrooms quickly throughout my stay. I know, terrible, ain’t it!

When is the best time to visit Dubrovnik?

The best time to visit Dubrovnik is during the shoulder months. Both April/May and September/October still have the tinge of summer heat, the accommodation and restaurants are cheaper, and most importantly, there is a more peaceful atmosphere as you are not in the midst of the hectic crowds during peak summer months.

Are you planning a trip to Dubrovnik and need tips to make your first visit a holiday to remember? Don’t worry, I have you covered. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Tips for your first visit to Dubrovnik

Top 14 Dubrovnik travel tips

1. Book Dubronvik’s most famous restaurants in advance

If you’re considering fine dining along the Pearl of the Adriatic streets, please be aware that Dubrovnik’s most notable restaurants are booked up most frequently, especially during the summer, when you’ll find yourself hopelessly searching for tables.

The Nautika’s chain of restaurants are some of the most luxurious in Dubrovnik. In the summer months, these are heavily booked.

When I visited Dubrovnik, the main restaurant, Nautika, voted ‘one of the most romantic restaurants in the world’, was fully booked for over six months. You will be lucky ever to get a seat.

Recommendation: For the best dining experience, take the cable car up to Restaurant Panorama. This was by far the best restaurant I visited in Dubrovnik. This restaurant offers breathtaking panoramic views overlooking Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

View of Dubrovnik from high up
You can pre-book your seat position in Dubrovnik's most popular restaurants. Otherwise, they will assign you one automatically.

2. Wake up early for the perfect photo/video opportunities

If you plan to get that afternoon clear video of you doing the walk of shame on the Jesuit stairs while you ring your bell on the app you just downloaded on your mobile device, then you are out of luck. I know, such a shame…Shame! Shame! Shame!

Dubrovnik is incredibly busy, especially during the summer months. All the famous hotspots will be full of crowds getting their pictures taken and, by no surprise, have the same ideas as you and I.

Best time: To avoid the crowds, walk around the Old Town around 7 a.m. – Just after sunrise.

At this time, my partner and I were fortunate to grab a photo of the Jesuit stairs without a human in sight, but it took some waiting, even then.

Oh, and some cats walked across, causing heavy delays as we fought the urge to stroke them.

View of Jesuit Stairs at 7am and 9am
View from the Jesuit Stairs at 7am vs 9am.

3. Bring spare euros for public transport and necessities

As we enter more into the digital space world, we start to find that every establishment in the world is slowly moving towards being cashless. 

However, that being said, I still recommend bringing cash to many European countries, even tourist areas like Dubrovnik, as some establishments haven’t adopted cards as a payment method.

If you plan to utilise the bus system in Dubrovnik to roam around the city or visit outer areas, bring cash with you just as a precaution. Card payments are not accepted on buses in Dubrovnik.

Bus Stops By Pile Gate
There are many bus stops just outside Pile Gate, making it the best place in Dubrovnik to catch a bus.

There are many Libertas ticket kiosks outside of Dubrovnik Old Town, mostly by Pile Gate, where you can purchase bus tickets through card payment. 

However, kiosks are hard to come by in areas away from Dubrovnik. The nearest kiosk in Mlini (where I stayed) required a 50-minute walk against incoming traffic with no public footpaths, which would have been an incredibly uncomfortable experience.

Plan and allocate a cash budget for these instances if required. Don’t make the same mistake I made – I was charged 150 kunas (£17) for the service charge at a local ATM to take out 150 kunas to pay for my daily bus travel. I can only laugh about it now. 

Bringing Euros
(As of 2023, Croatia has adopted the Euro)

4. Don’t buy water for refills while you’re in the Old Town

In the Old Town of Dubrovnik, you can find two refillable water fountains conveniently located to refill your bottled water for free. The most popular one is Onofrio’s Fountain, just next to the Pile gate.

With Dubrovnik being an expensive tourist area, this could instantly free up some of your budget. And don’t worry, Dubrovnik has some of the cleanest water in the world. 

Or as my Kayak guide so poetically put it, ‘It is so clean that you can drink out the toilet’. PLEASE DON’T! Not for public viewing anyway.

Aerial view of Onofrio's Large Fountain in Dubrovnik, Croatia, showing the distinctive circular architecture with visitors walking around and enjoying the old town square on a sunny day
The Onofrio's Fountain next to Pile Gate.

5. Visit one of the many beaches in Dubrovnik

Croatia has some of the world’s most famous beaches, so it is no surprise that Dubrovnik holds some of its most notable collections.

Just a short walk from the Old Town, you will find plenty of stunning beaches where you can soak in the sun, swim through the seas and gaze at the beautiful views of the Old Town.

The most popular choice in Dubrovnik is Banje Beach, just a short walk from the Old Town, exiting through the Ploce Gate.

Panoramic view of Banje Beach in Dubrovnik, with the historic city walls and clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, as beachgoers enjoy the sun and sea.
View of Banje beach with the backdrop of the Old Town.

This beach offers one of the best views of the Old Town. You need to pay to access the beach, with extra amenities available to rent, like sun loungers or beds, for an additional cost.

Beaches in Dubrovnik are primarily made of stones and pebbles, so I recommend renting sun loungers if you want a more comfortable experience.

Recommendation: For the best beach, visit Sveti Jakov.

You’ll find some Dubrovnik guides always recommend visiting Banje Beach. However, Sveti Jakov is a much quieter option and offers all you need for a serene escape from the busy Old Town.

To locate this hidden gem, walk 25-30 minutes from the Ploce gate entrance, past Banje Beach, and continue on the right path until you reach it. For directions, click here

Sunset at Sveti Jakov Beach, Dubrovnik, with the sun dipping below the horizon, silhouetting beachgoers and boats against an orange sky, while shadows stretch across the sandy shore lined with lounge chairs.
Lovely sunset at Plaža Sveti Jakov.

6. Go on a Game of Thrones Walking Tour

If you’re a big fan of Game of Thrones, you are probably familiar with the fact that Dubrovnik was the main filming location for King’s Landing.

The famous TV show has spiked up tourist numbers, with plenty of fans visiting Dubrovnik’s famous filming locations on the show, such as the stairs filmed for the Walk of Shame’ or the city walls used for the ‘Walls of Kings Landing’.

The walls of Kings Landing Dubrovnik
The outer walls of Dubrovnik's Old Town inspired the 'Walls of Kings Landing' in Game of Thrones

The walking tour provides an immersive fan experience, guiding you through the many filming locations in Dubrovnik. Some tour guides were also extras on the show and will provide personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes secrets during your tour that are currently unknown to the public.

These guides have years of experience and have researched extensively on the various attractions within Dubrovnik. 

Even if you are not a fan of Game of Thrones, I highly recommend booking a tour, as it will still provide valuable insight into the rich history and culture of Dubrovnik.

The Game of Thrones Locations in Dubrovnik
Some of the Game of Thrones locations in Dubrovnik.

7. Walk along the City Walls of Dubrovnik

No Dubrovnik travel guide could be complete without this next activity. If you plan on doing your own tour of the city, then there is no better place to start than walking along the Dubrovnik city walls.

This marvel gives you photo opportunities at every turn. Walk along the walls and enjoy the beautiful views across the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. The walk should take around 1.5-2 hours, with plenty of refreshment stops on the way during your walk to rest if you’re not in a rush.

With your city wall ticket, you also get access to Fort Lovrijenac, which is well worth the visit.  I advise you to prebook your tickets online as tourist centres tend to charge more. Tickets cost €35

A picturesque view of Dubrovnik's Old Town from the city walls, showcasing terracotta rooftops, the Adriatic Sea, and the historic city walls under a partly cloudy sky. A cruise ship and smaller boats can be seen near the harbour.
Note: If you have a Dubrovnik Pass, you are allowed one free entry to the City Walls

8. Try the local seafood

As Dubrovnik is situated on the Mediterranean coast, the city benefits from a huge supply of fish from local traders.

You will be spoilt for choice in the number of available Mediterranean cuisine restaurants. Don’t miss out! You can’t visit Dubrovnik without trying it. It’s some of the best fish money can buy.

A bowl of seafood
Dubrovnik has some of the best mediterranean fish in the world.

9. Take a Ferry to visit Lokrum Island

Just a short 15-minute ferry ride from the Old Town Port of Dubrovnik, we have the beautiful island of Lokrum

This island has many things to do, with monuments, botanical gardens and plenty of scenic walks to keep you busy for the day.

My biggest recommendation would be to visit the Dead SeaThis highly concentrated saltwater lake is so salty that you can just float through it, relax in the sun and watch the world go by.

The Dead Sea Lokrum Island
The Dead Sea on Lokrum Island is a must-visit!

For Game of Thrones fans, your tour in Dubrovnik was just the start. 

There are many filming locations on the Island. In the Benedictine Monastery also sits ‘The Iron Throne’, a replica of the throne that was gifted to Lokrum by HBO.

Plenty of Tourists queue to take a picture of themselves on the chair, so if you’re a fan or want to feel like royalty, hop right on.

Note: Ferry and Lokrum Island tickets can be bought from the Old Town Port at the nearby ticket booths. It costs €27 for access and ferry journeys.

View from inside a cave on Lokrum Island, with sunlight illuminating the rugged rock walls and a serene, natural rock pool leading to the Adriatic Sea
The cave on Lokrum Island: A true hidden gem - Perfect for an instagram photo!

10. Try one of many Dubrovnik excursions

Lokrum Island and the Game of Thrones tour is just the start of your Dubrovnik adventures. There are plenty of other excursions in Dubrovnik waiting for you to experience.

Why not hop on a Kayak and explore the Adriatic Sea around the ancient city walls? Or go on a wine-tasting experience around the local areas near Dubrovnik. There is something for everyone! 

Kayaking in Dubrovnik
Kayaking across the Adriatic Sea around the Old Town.

11. Embrace the Cats of the Old Town

If you’re a massive fan of the little furry friends, prepare to empty out your schedule for the next week. In Dubrovnik, a huge collection of cats roam around the city streets.

Be aware that some of these cats will try to avoid you, so these are best left alone. However, most are friendly and will soak up the fuss if given.

Also, I recommend visiting the famous Instagram cat ‘Johny the boss’, who seems to be front-of-house marketing for the Konoba Koloseum restaurant just next to Jesuit Stairs.

Excellent marketing, I must say! It instantly got me to revisit a few times and purchase their cocktails.

The cats of Dubrovnik
2nd picture - My girlfriend didn't perform any Professor McGonagall magic. A cat just decided to join me for dinner when she popped to the toilet.

12. Save money by opting to purchase local street food

With prices in Dubrovnik being on the expensive side, opting to purchase local street food instead of restaurant dining is an easy way to save your pennies.

There are vendors located throughout the narrow streets of the Old Town, serving dishes made up from fresh local ingredients all for a good price. It is also a convenient way to grab a quick bite and get back to exploring those attractions.

Note: During the summer, most restaurants in Dubrovnik increase their menu prices to cater to the higher visitor demand.

So, if you are on a tight budget and visiting Dubrovnik during its peak season, then I suggest opting for street food! 

Trying the Dubrovnik Street Food
The street food of Dubrovnik is delicious and a much more cheaper option while roaming around the Old Town.

13. Go on a day trip to areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina/Montenegro

It seems like a strange suggestion for a Dubrovnik travel guide. However, with many city escapes being so close by, a day trip to places like Kotor, Mostar, or other surrounding areas offers a fantastic opportunity to enhance your travel experience even further.

Overlooking the Old Town of Kotor
Mostar Bridge in Bosnia

When I first planned my travels to Dubrovnik, I wasn’t aware of the possibility of furthering my scope until I went on an online travel agency and noticed that they offered day trips from Dubrovnik to places like Kotor or Mostar with provided transport and a guided tour.

As I had a longer time than first planned, I booked a day excursion to Mostar & Kravica Waterfall in Bosnia for the day and then a second-day trip to Kotor, Montenegro.

Dubrovnik to Kotor, Montenegro 

To get to Kotor from Dubrovnik, you can book through a travel agency that provides transport with departure and returns to your accommodation. *You must bring a passport.

Kotor offers scenic hikes that overlook the beautiful Bay of Kotor. The UNESCO world heritage site of Kotor Old Town was a massive hit for me, with its medieval architecture and well-preserved walls offering similar vibes to Dubrovnik. 

I highly recommend doing the fortress hike. At the top, you’ll get a panoramic view of the Old Town with a stunning backdrop of the Kotor bay. However, you have to pay €8 to enter the gate towards the fortress. It is well recommended!

Check out my full guide: Dubrovnik to Kotor Day Trip

Old Town and Bay of Kotor Montenegro
The view from the fortress is worth the hike!

Dubrovnik to Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina  

To get to Mostar/Kravice Waterfalls from Dubrovnik, I highly recommend you book a day trip. This is the best option, as they offer transportation to both areas, and public transport isn’t that accessible. *You must bring a passport.

We decided to book a small group tour because it gave us more time for the activities, and we spent less time at border control. It also offers a more personal touch, as our guide, Luka, provided us with anecdotes and experiences within the country.  

The city of Mostar is stunning, and you can walk along the famous Old Bridge. My favourite place was the Kravica Waterfalls. This place is very aesthetically pleasing and offers the opportunity to swim in its pristine, clear waters. With Bosnian temperatures hitting high, the cold, refreshing water on my skin came at a good time.

Note: You must pay the entry fee for Kravice Waterfalls (€10) and tourist tax (€3).

The serene Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia, with its lush greenery and multiple cascades flowing into a emerald lake, viewed on a sunny day with a clear blue sky above.
I highly recommend visiting here. It is truly stunning!

14. Check out the local bars and try the local red wine

There are many local bars in Dubrovnik, offering different views of the Old Town and Adriatic Sea.

The most famous is the cliff-top bar ‘Buza Bar’. This offers perfect views overlooking the Adriatic. I highly recommend it if you want a scenic shot of you holding a cocktail. Even better, come during sunset to enhance your view.

Panoramic view of Buza Bar in Dubrovnik

Fancy a bit of local red wine? You are in luck, as Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Dalmatian regions are notorious for it. My best advice would be to try the wine collection made from the famous grape Plavac Mali.

If you come across Dingač or Postup on the menu, maybe grab a glass with a panoramic view and enjoy the views of the Old Town.

The Red Wine of Dubrovnik
Delicious red wine with the panoramic view from Restaurant Panaroma.

Final thoughts on tips for your first visit to Dubrovnik

Well, that brings us to the end of our Dubrovnik travel guide. Dubrovnik was hands down one of my favourite places I’ve visited out of all my travels. Its pristine waters and picturesque views are still vivid in my memory.

The Old Town offers an immersive experience, from walking past the night city guards to joining the bustling atmosphere while strolling along the long stretch of the Stradun. The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ will create a memorable experience you’ll treasure forever.

If you have any questions about my Dubrovnik travel guide or need more tips or advice for your first visit, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help. Safe travels!

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