Explore the city with two sides
Mixing old with new is what Dubrovnik does best, so one minute you can be exploring the historical sights of the old town, and the next be in a hip bar or sprawled on the beach.
Begin your tour around the narrow lanes and the main promenade, Stradun, paved with shiny limestone. It’s a lively spot, adorned with many shops, cafes and restaurants. More significantly, the area boasts many well-preserved historical sites, including a Medieval Franciscan Monastery home to the third oldest pharmacy in the world. There’s also the baroque St. Blaise Church and the Renaissance Sponza Palace, once an important arbiter of secularism.
For something a bit more modern, head to Lapad Bay to discover elegant shops, cafes and restaurants set among the lush subtropical scenery. If you’re after a bit of sunbathing or swimming in the azure sea, try the pebbly and sandy Banje Beach, which just happens to be the closest beach to the Old Town.
Old Town dining and waterside dancing
Our cheap holidays to Dubrovnik save you money to spend on an eating and drinking scene just as tantalising as the scenery. Due to Dubrvonik’s strategic location by the Adriatic coast many of the local dishes are focused on fish.
Many popular restaurants are situated in the elegant Old Town, among the quaint lanes and the main street Stradun – a great spot for a bit of people watching. If you fancy some celebrity spotting, it might be worth booking at table at the traditional-style Porto, plus the fish is delicious. You will also discover many restaurants along the waterfront, at Gruz Port and on Lapad Peninsula such as charming Orsan. Other types of cuisine served in the area include Bosnian and Italian.
But when it comes to going out in Dubrovnik the fun doesn’t have to stop there, as there are plenty of bars and dance venues to keep you occupied until the early hours. You can sit over candlelight on a rocky outpost in Buza bar, which is located in the Old City walls. Otherwise you can dance the night away at Eastwest, located on the beach. It’s where the young, hip crowd like to hang to the sounds of live DJs. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
Hop around the diverse offshore islands
Numerous clusters of islands lie off the coast of Croatia, just a short boat trip away from Dubrovnik. Hvar is considered one of the most stunning and belongs to a group called the Dalmatian Islands. It offers an elegant Venetian era town, as well as a palm-lined, seafront promenade clustered with luxury yachts. It’s also a delightful hiking area with a rugged landscape of purple lavender fields and hillside vineyards, perfect for romantic strolls or family days out.
The picturesque island of Brac is famous for Zlatni Rat – a beach on a spit of land jutting into the sea. Located on the island’s south coast, it’s one Croatia’s most photographed beaches. It’s also where windsurfers like to head, and the line-up of other sporting opportunities also includes scuba diving, sea kayaking, parasailing, water skiing, jet skiing, wakeboarding and pedalos.
Just a 15-minute boat ride away lies one of the most visited Croatian islands, Lokrum. This forested spot offers botanical gardens and a former monastery with a mesmerising network of walled gardens. You can get to these diverse offerings by catamaran and taxi boat.
More attractions in the surrounding areas
The whole area around Dubrovnik is brimming with cultural and scenic opportunities. Just a 20-minute drive away is Trsteno, home to the oldest arboretum in the world and boasting the 15th century renaissance summer residence of the Gucetic-Gozze family.
It has an astounding garden, which continues to be cultivated to this day and is famous for its 500-year-old Asian plane trees. Trsteno Arboretum was used as the setting of the Red Keep palace gardens in the much loved TV series ‘Game of Thrones’.
Another 20-minute drive away in a different direction is Konavle Valley, where you can ride on horseback or cycle through pine forests and rocky coastal planes. There’s also the Peljesac peninsula for some fantastic wine tasting tours, while slightly further afield lies the glamorous country of Montenegro. Day excursions are available, although hiring a car is recommended to explore all that this area has to offer.
Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car for the best views ever
Some of the best views of Dubrovnik can be seen while taking a ride on the Dubrovnik Cable Car, which starts on a hillside above the town, offering views across 60 kilometres on a clear day. This would have been excellent for spotting enemy sailing ships, which is why the Imperial Fortress, located nearby, was built on this spot in the early 1800s.
If you can’t get enough of the scenery you can stay while you have a meal at the Panorama Restaurant which sits at the top of the cable run. Boasting awesome views, it also serves Mediterranean specialities and tasty cocktails, so you can completely unwind and recharge before you enjoy the panoramic views on the way back down.
Walk along the fortified city walls and browse an ancient market
Dubrovnik was always a heavily fortified spot and the city walls and imposing presence of St John’s Fortress remain largely intact. One good place to start exploring is to take a stroll along the top of the wall working your way round and spotting areas you’d like to explore further.
You may also want to visit the beautifully baroque Gunduliceva Pljana square which is home to the oldest market in Dubrovnik. Browse for fruits, vegetables or local handicrafts here, just as people have done for centuries, and at the end of market an official feeds the pigeons, keenly watched by local cats.