Even in a country as beautiful as Croatia, Dubrovnik is a special place: an ancient walled city surrounded by crystal clear seas. Let me show you how to spend two perfect days in Dubrovnik, so you can experience the best of this city in a small amount of time.
My suggested itinerary for two days in Dubrovnik covers the best of the Old City and the surrounding water and is organised around two calendar days. However, you could move the items around if your time is spread out over three days.
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Why visit Dubrovnik?
There are two main reasons why you should visit Dubrovnik…
Dubrovnik is beautiful!
The first reason you should visit Dubrovnik is obvious: it is astoundingly beautiful. They call Dubrovnik the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ and the name is well-deserved. Dubrovnik’s Old Town streets are paved with pale, smooth marble stones, which gleam like pearls.
The city is enclosed by formidable medieval walls and fortresses, from which you can admire the red rooftops and narrow streets of the old town: it is such a gorgeous sight! Architecture-lovers will find examples of medieval architecture, we well as Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. Walking around the Old City feels like stepping back in time.
And the surrounding water, like the rest of the coastline of Croatia, is also stunning: clear blue seas lap against the dramatic rocky coast.
Dubrovnik’s fascinating history
The second reason why you should visit Dubrovnik is its historical significance. A town has existed on this location since the 7th Century and Dubrovnik is the biggest and best example of a fortified town in the whole Adriatic region. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.
Fought over for centuries, Dubrovnik has been a prize for many empires including the Byzantine, Venetian, French and Austrian empires. And of course, more recently, Dubrovnik was heavily shelled during a seven-month siege during the conflict that surrounded the break-up of Yugoslavia.
I guess there’s also a third reason if you’re Games of Thrones fan, which is that Dubrovnik was used as a filming location for King’s Landing – but I haven’t watched that show, so I can’t provide too much intel on that in this Dubrovnik travel guide, I’m afraid.
Two days in Dubrovnik: at a glance
Here’s my suggested itinerary for two days in Dubrovnik, in a nutshell:
- Morning: Explore the Old Town
- Afternoon: Walk the City Walls
- Evening: Dinner with a view of the ocean
- Morning: Kayaking on the gorgeous water
- Afternoon: Dubrovnik museums
- Evening: Old City at night
Two days in Dubrovnik: in detail
Morning: Explore The Old Town
Day 1 involves a lot of walking! You’ll start your time in Dubrovnik by getting to know the Old City – and the best way to do that is to explore on foot.
I encourage you to wander the streets and explore the old buildings, going at your own pace, but if you want some ideas for landmarks to pay attention to, you might want to check out:
- The Pile Gate, which is the main gate in the Old City Walls in the west of the city, which you’ll probably enter through. It dates from the 1500s and you’ll walk over a bridge to go through it
- Just inside the gate is a little square with a round structure called Large Onofrio’s Fountain, an attractive fountain dating from 1438
- To your left will be the Romanseque-style Franciscan Church and Monastery, which has a prominent bell tower. There’s been a Franciscan friary here since the 1300s!
- And ahead of you will be a wide street known only as Stradun. This is the main thoroughfare and Dubrovnik’s most handsome street: its marble flagstones are smooth and shiny, polished by the footsteps over hundreds of years. They’re also quite slippery, so grippy shoes will be your friend!
- At the end of Stradun, you’ll come to another square, Luza Square, which has a clocktower, Orlando’s column and another fountain by Onofrio, known as Onofrio’s small fountain.
- In Luza Square, you’ll find St Vlaho Church, a Venetian church in baroque style, and also the Renaissance and Gothic-style Sponza Palace, which was one of the few buildings to survive the 1667 earthquake which damaged a lot of buildings in Dubrovnik.
- Heading right at Luza Square, you’ll pass the Gothic style Rector’s Palace and you’ll face Dubrovnik Cathedral, which was built in the 12th century, but there has been a cathedral on this site since the 7th century!
- If you go through the small archway, you can find Porat Dubrovnik, the hold port which is normally bursting with small boats.
- There’s also another significant church, St Ignatius Church, which has an impressive interior
These are the main landmarks in the centre of the Old Town, but I encourage you to wander where it looks interesting and take turns that tickle you fancy. The narrow sides streets are really quaint and great for meandering around. And if you like cats, you’re in luck, as you are bound to come across many of them lounging around the side streets.
Afternoon: Walk The City Walls
Have lunch at Gradska Kavana Arsenal. They serve Croatian cuisine with a view of the port. Have a leisurely lunch and make sure you eat well because there’s more walking in the afternoon!
Walk the City Walls
In the afternoon, I suggest you walk the City Walls of Dubrovnik, which date from the 12th Century, with major additions in the 15th Century. They’re amazingly intact, and you can walk almost the entire circumference of the Old City along the top of the thick stone walls, which are up to 6 meters wide.
It is likely to be cooler (temperature-wise) to do it in the morning, but the view of the city roofs glowing red in the late afternoon sun is really spectacular – so I suggest timing it so that you can catch the beginning of sunset if you can.
The walls of Dubrovnik are open to walking from 8 am normally, with the closing time varying depending on the time of year (it is 7 pm in August, but earlier in the rest of the year) and the cost is 200 kuna per adult (approx. €28). The walking route is anti-clockwise around the walls.
The main entrance is right by the Pile Gate, and the walk around the walls is nearly 2km in length and involves some uphill sections with steps. There’s a lot to see on the walls themselves, because of the towers and fortresses along the route – and the views from the walls are amazing. It’s not something to rush, and you could easily spend 3 hours on the walls.
Some highlights to look out for:
- Bokar Tower (Tvrdava Bokar), a large fortress in the south-west corner of the city near the Pile Gate and looking out to sea. It was built in the 15th Century.
- The southern wall that is on the clifftop overlooking the sea, where there are a few places to stop for a drink with a stunning view of the ocean. One of these is Caffe on the Wall and another is Restaurant Salvatore.
- St John’s Fortress (Tvrdava Svetog Ivana) is a fortress at the entrance to the harbour, first built in the 14th Century
- The northern stretch of wall, which looks over a patchwork of red rooftops – you can see the streets like narrow chasms between them
- Minceta Tower (Trvdava Minceta) is at the north eastern corner of the Old city and is the highest point of the walls, and the most prominent defence against land threats. It has amazing views over the city and out to sea. This is where you want to be when the sun starts getting low and the light starts getting warm.
You can walk the walls on your own, but again, if you prefer to have an expert show you around, consider the city walls sunset guided tour.
And if you don’t fancy the walk, or if you prefer a higher vantage point, an alternative to walking the walls could be taking the Cable Car up to Srđ Hill and enjoying the panoramic views from up high.
Evening: Dinner With A View Of The Ocean
After all your walking on Day 1, you’ll welcome a hearty dinner, and a good option is Dubravka 1836, which serves Mediterranean cuisine. I enjoyed some pasta when I went here. Try to get a table on the outdoor terrace which has sea views you can enjoy in the last light of the day.
Morning: Kayaking On The Gorgeous Water
On Day 2, it is time to get out on the gorgeous water! The Adriatic sea is known for its beautiful, clear water, so you must spend some time out on it. Even though I visited Dubrovnik as part of a sailing holiday on the Dalmatian Coast, I still was keen to get out on the water around Dubrovnik!
My recommendation, if you’re up for some exercise, is to Kayak around the old town and the nearby Lokrum island. I hired by kayak on the day from Šulić beach, near Lovrijenac tower, but it is possible to book a guided kayak tour in advance.
If you’re hiring a kayak by the hour, I’d recommend 3 hours to get around Lokrum island and around the city walls.
This is a great activity – the rocky coast of Lokrum island is lovely and just being on the clear blue water alone is a joy. It was a touch scary crossing the shipping channel between the island and Dubrovnik, though, as you do get big ships coming through – so when my husband and I did this, we went as quick as we could cross this stretch of water! Unfortunately, we didn’t want to risk taking a camera on the kayak, so I don’t have any photos from the water.
If you don’t feel up to kayaking, you could take a boat tour from Dubrovnik harbour to surrounding caves and beaches, a tour which lasts around 4 hours.
And if you don’t want to be on the water at all, maybe the beach is for you, there’s a small beach just east of the old City: Banje Beach.
Afternoon: Dubrovnik Museums
Grab a simple but satisfying lunch at the Pizzeria Tomato just outside the Pile Gate.
And after lunch, having been so active so far, I suggest a more relaxed afternoon, so this is a good time to visit one or two of the museums in Dubrovnik.
Some you could consider include:
- The Cultural Historical Museum in The Rector’s Palace
- The Maritime Museum in St John’s Fort
- The Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik
- The Ethnographic Museum
- The Archaeological Museum
- The Museum of Selfie & Memories
However, the one I visited, and I really recommend it, is the War Photo Limited. It sounds kind of serious and depressing after some of those options, but I found it really educational and moving. The Yugoslav wars were relatively recent, and it felt right to understand a little of the impact of them on Croatians. Of course, there are other points of view from the other countries involved, but I viewed less as ‘which side was right’ and more as ‘isn’t war awful’.
Evening: Old City At Night
For dinner on your last night, treat yourself to 360 Degrees, a fancy restaurant near the harbour.
After dinner, why not go out into the streets of the Old City for one last wander. It is lovely how the stones reflect the street lights at night.
Two days in Dubrovnik: map
Here’s a map of the landmarks and places you’ll encounter in your two days in Dubrovnik.
When to visit Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik, like many locations on the Mediterranean, gets very hot in summer, with highs of 30 degrees C in July and August. It is also very popular! so there can be a lot of other visitors in the peak season. Therefore, I recommend the shoulder season: May and September are still warm (highs of 23 and 26 degrees respectively), but without too much rain and still plenty of hours of sunshine, and with slightly fewer visitors.
I visited in September and I was lucky enough to have glorious sunshine, but not so much I was sweltering as I explored the city. It can get windy in Croatia, which also helps avoid that feeling of being too hot.
How to get to Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has an international airport, near Čilipi, about 10km south of the city. Check Skyscanner for the best prices for flights. From the airport, there are no trains, but there’s a shuttle bus that makes several stops in Dubrovnik (and of course, there are taxis).
However, I didn’t fly into Dubrovnik, I sailed there as part of my small ship cruise! You can read more about this adventure in this post on sailing in the Dreamy Dalmatian Coast.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
I didn’t stay in a hotel in Dubrovnik; I slept in my boat in the Port Authority harbour, so I don’t have a personal hotel recommendation, but you could check Booking.com for a hotel bargain. The Boutique Hotel Porto looks like it has good ratings and while it’s not in the Old City, is a lot cheaper than more central options.
Enjoy your time in Dubrovnik!
If you want any more inspiration for where else to do in Croatia, check out my post about the coast and islands of the Dalmatian Coast.