How to spend one day in Dubrovnik, Croatia
One day itinerary for Dubrovnik
The Old Town of Dubrovnik is the main place to visit for a one-day wonder to the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’ which is fast becoming the hottest holiday destination. Whether you’re a history buff, a Game of Thrones superfan or someone who searches for magnificent viewpoints to capture that perfect Instagram shot, this Dalmatian city as it all!
1. The City Walls
Tracing the whopping 1940 metres of the city walls that surround the Old Town of Dubrovnik is a trademark activity for any tourist. Initially built way back in the 9th century, it is wildly impressive that the walls survived both an earthquake and several wars, dousing them in history.
You can enter the city walls at three points from 9:00am. The easiest one to find is close to the Pile Gate which is the start point into the Old Town. In the off-season (October – April) there are very rarely queues, however, in the summer months it is best to start early to avoid crowds and sunburn! The Onofrio’s fountain has been keeping Dalmatian’s hydrated since 1438 and is next to this entrance so be sure to take your reusable bottle and fill up before beginning the walk – it takes an average of 2 hours. Don’t waste your money on a tour guide, use your data roaming and get moving!
From the top, you can expect jaw-dropping views of the terracotta rooftops of the Old Town and the stunning sea that surrounds the city. Take the time to walk to the top of St John’s Fort and reward yourself with a midday local Croatian pint at one of the few bars lining the walls.
2. Banje Beach
Having earned some time for relaxation, head to the only beach in the Old Town located just 10-minutes outside Pile Gate. Flip-flops are key as it is a slightly pebbled beach but this does not take away from the beauty of the turquoise Adriatic Sea, which you will definitely want to have a dip in.
The cheapest way to enjoy Banje is by popping a towel down and bringing along your own food and drink. If you have cash to burn though, the Banje Beach Club offer sun loungers to rent or if they are feeling generous, they will allow you to buy yourself a cheeky cocktail as payment. The Club offers a range of Croatian food options if you work up an appetite from all the swimming and you can still sit along the beach as they have tables along the seafront.
3. Mount Srd
Hike (with proper shoes), drive or use the Dubrovnik cable car to reach the highest point of the city, Mount Srd, sometimes known as Srd Hill. As you can imagine, this is without a doubt the perfect place to watch a sunset and for a photo opportunity!
It is unexpectedly easy to spend hours on top of the mountain as there is a restaurant, gift shop, museum and fort built by Napoleon. Once you’ve had a taste of the food and the history, wander past the fort and out onto the mountain edge for about 7:00pm. Settle in to see the captivating expanse of the Dalmatian Coast and the Elaphiti Islands engulfed by a pink sky, an Instagram dream!
Where to eat in Dubrovnik
Much to my surprise (and delight), the primary cuisine in Dubrovnik is Italian and the choice of delicious pasta and pizza dishes is endless. For a carb-fuelled feast with spectacular views, get yourself to the Panorama restaurant on top of Mount Srd. They will offer you a 10% discount card for the next time you visit them or their partner restaurants Dubravka 1836 (situated right next to the Minceta Tower) and Gradska Kavana Arsenal (looks out onto the port of the Old Town) which acts as a little incentive for a second trip.
Transport in Dubrovnik
Have you ever wondered how we used to get around before Uber? Luckily, it is very much alive and kicking in Dubrovnik and a great way to get from Čilipi airport and explore the wider areas of the city if pushed for time or feeling a little lazy. Dubrovnik is incredibly hilly so at times you may want to avoid going up and down another set of steep steps. Avoid local taxi companies as they are notoriously over-priced, even in the opinion of the locals.
To keep the cost down and better discover hidden gems such as Buza Bar, a cliff edge café that can only be accessed by a hole-in-the-wall entrance, the pedestrian friendly Old Town is best explored on foot.
How much I spent in a day in Dubrovnik
First, a bit of quick maths. It is helpful to know that Croatian currency is HRK and £1 is roughly 8.50HRK.
With that sorted, a ticket for the City Walls costs 200HRK (£23.30) but for the same price, you can get yourself a one-day Dubrovnik Tourist Card that not only allows you into the walls but also includes entry to the many museums, free bus travel on certain routes and even money off selected restaurants (including those I’ve named already). You can also get the cards for three and seven days too if you’re lucky enough to visit Dubrovnik for longer.
A round trip for the Dubrovnik cable car which is by far the quickest and coolest way to get to Mount Srd costs 170HRK (almost £20). Other ticket options are available and can include entry to the War Museum. To get to the cable car station from the Old Town, follow the signs up the stairs opposite the Pile Gate, pass a car park and voila!
Make a weekend of it
If you’re able to steal yourself away from the office for a little more time, a visit to the serene Lokrum Island is a must. Located away from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik, stepping onto Lokrum is like entering Jurassic Park but where cloned dinosaurs are replaced with beautiful peacocks and gigantic rabbits that you are allowed to feed and interact with!
Lokrum also boats beautiful botanical gardens that are ideal for picnicking in during the summer months. For Game of Thrones enthusiasts like myself, these gardens were used as the city of Quarth and there is an entire exhibition dedicated to the show including an iron throne so you can channel your inner King or Queen.
Just a 15-minute boat from the port of the Old Town gets you to the island. A return trip is 150HRK (nearly £17) with entry to the nature reserve. Be sure to check the time of the last boat as there is no other means of transport!
My trip highlights
Being both a foodie and someone who appreciates a good view, my trip highlight was definitely going up to Srd Hill. Wining and dining at the Panorama restaurant with a breathtakingly beautiful view was a truly spectacular experience. The food tastes that much better with a side of sea air!
As you probably know by now, Old Town Dubrovnik may be quaint but it is dripping with history and culture. Couple that with Mediterranean sun and fierce fortresses, this is a great choice for a one-day getaway!