24 Hours in Dubrovnik: Good Things Come in Small Packages

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Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

A (very) brief history of Dubrovnik

Dating back to the 7th century, Dubrovnik was once a town known as Ragusa, founded by refugees from an ancient Greek colony – Epidaurus. Since then, Dubrovnik has changed hands several times, having been part of the Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, and the Kingdom of Dalmatia within the Austrian Empire.

More recently, Dubrovnik became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Banovina of Croatia upon its creation in 1939. During World War II, it was reincorporated into Croatia as part of Yugoslavia prior to Croatia’s independence in 1995.

Right, with that in mind, let’s begin a full day of activities in Dubrovnik!

9.00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m.

What better way to start your day in this rich, historical city than treating yourself to a lush breakfast with an amazing view. While there are a number of restaurants in Dubrovnik, a personal favorite is the breakfast “Orlando” at Gradska Kavana Arsenal, situated in the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old City.


Located in the very heart of Old Town, overlooking the former medieval shipyard. Image: Management/Tripadvisor screenshot.

Think crispy bacon, eggs, grilled mushrooms, and toast, finished off with a well-made latte (big plus, they have milk alternatives like oat, soy, and almond) to power you through this busy day.


Can’t think of a better way to fuel the day. Image: Tripadvisor/Screenshot.

10.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.

With your bellies filled and the caffeine flowing through your veins, time to explore Dubrovnik’s Old Town, housed within its famed city walls that date back to the 9th century. You can either choose to join one of the free walking tours (2-2.5 hours), take a game of thrones tour, or as I highly recommend, head off on your own adventure. For those who are a choose-your-own-adventure type, here are some not-to-miss spots.


Famed for its terracotta roofs and stunning architecture, Dubrovnik has been the setting for many international films over the years. Image: Pixabay.

While it’s still early, head to Gndulić Square which hosts the Gunduliceva Poljana Market to pick up souvenirs and treats like small jars of honey, jam, and lavender products before it winds down around noon.


The market is busiest between 8.00 – 11.00 a.m., so get there early! Image: Sab5859/Tripadvisor screenshot.

Criss-cross the famous Pile and Ploce gates located on opposite ends of the city, and flit through the 300-meter-long pedestrian street called Stradun, whilst ticking numerous monuments off your checklist.


Stradun, the main pedestrian vein of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Image: Pixabay.

Visit the landmark Bell Tower that’s a rebuild of the 1444 original, the famed Dubrovnik Cathedral and Onofrio Fountain that’s been providing the city with fresh spring water since 1438. Then there’s the St Ignatius Church at the top of Jesuit Stairs; St. Blaise, a Venetian Baroque-style church; Sponza Palace where great minds of the past discussed literature, science, and art; the Rector’s Palace built in 1435 but has not lost any of its former grandeur; before finishing off this exploration at the Franciscan Church and Monastery.


In the Onofrio fountain, built from 1438 to 1440, each of the sixteen sides has a unique stone-carved design of a masked face. Image: Pixabay.

12.30 p.m. – 1.00 p.m.

All that walking is guaranteed to make you peckish, so head down to Pekara Glavinić and pick up some delicious pastries like the forearm-sized burek, a flakey filo pastry stuffed with cheese and/or meat.


Nothing like a light, flakey, cheesy snack to keep you going. Image: Recipe 24/Screenshot.

Looking for something sweet? Head down to Slasticarna Ana for an assortment of kolači (sweet pastries) such as a slice of apple strudel, krempita, or a delectable cream puff.


Do try to get your hands on a luscious, creamy vanilla slice (krempita) when wandering the Old Town. Image: Recipe 24/Screenshot.

1.00 p.m. – 2.00 p.m.

While locals would grab a yogurt or coffee to wash all that deliciousness down, I suggest seeking out one of the cliff bars that are unique to Dubrovnik. Buža bar is my star pick as one of the original cliff bars, so well hidden that if you blink, you’d probably miss it. While not a fancy place, think worn metal furniture and curt service, the ice-cold drinks and panoramic views more than makeup for it.

So, sit back, enjoy a drink, and watch the cliff divers leap off a rock beside you to the turquoise waters below (not for the faint of heart).

buza_bar_-_tripadvisor_screenshot_1.jpgThe bar has literally been built into the side of the cliff walls. Image: Tripadvisor/Screenshot.

From here, there are two alternatives for afternoon itineraries.


2.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.

24-hours in Croatia would not be complete without time on the beach to work on that tan. Banje Beach is just a few minute away from the city, boasting views of the Old Town and Lokrum Island. Alternatively, a 20-minute walk from Old Town will bring you to Sveti Jakov, boasting some of the clearest waters along the Dubrovnik Riviera.


Time for a quick dip in the Adriatic. Image: Pixabay.

4.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.

2 minutes from Sveti Jakov beach lies the skeletal remains of Hotel Belvedere. Opening its doors in 1985, this once epitome of luxury even had its own helipad and private marine to welcome the well-heeled. Guests could lounge around the pool, and dine at several of its restaurants before dancing the night away at the hotel’s in-house nightclub. Sadly, during the Homeland War (1991-1995), the hotel was bombed and unlike the Old Town of Dubrovnik, has since been left in ruin.


Go on a slight detour and explore the haunting ruins, scars from a devastating past. Image: Pixabay.


2.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.

Without a doubt, Lokrum island is one of the most beautiful spots just a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik. Hop on a ferry (€20 return) that runs every hour from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. from the Dubrovnik harbor, and just 15 minutes later, you’re in a different world. One where peacocks strut around without a care in the world, weaving around the luscious greenery of the island.


Just a short 10/15 minute ferry ride from the Dubrovnik harbour. Image: Pixabay.

While there, try to visit the Botanical Gardens, Royal Fort, and the former Benedictine monastery, or take it easy by lounging on one of the island’s many picturesque beaches. Just remember to pack enough food and water as the offerings on the island are quite underwhelming.


Lokrum is known for being a lush, green jewel. Image: Dubrovnik Tourism Board/Facebook screenshot.

5.30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.

Head back to your accommodation to wash that salt off your skin, recoup, refresh, change into your evening’s finest, and get ready for a night out in Dubrovnik.

6.30 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.

Since 1969, visitors have been able to take a short ride aboard the Dubrovnik Cable Car (€22 round-trip) up Mount Srđ that transports you 1350 feet above the Old Town. From the top, you’ll be able to gaze down on the Dalmatian coast and get a bird’s eye view of the terracotta rooftops that are a Dubrovnik icon.

Alternatively, you can also choose to hike up Mount Srđ. Image: Dubrovnik Tourism Board/Facebook screenshot.

While at the top of Mount Srđ, indulge in a bottle of wine or cocktails, paired with a sensational cheese plate whilst watching the sunset at Panorama Restaurant. As you can imagine, this will be a pricey experience but again, the atmosphere and views here are second to none.


Panaroma Bar offers an unparalleled bird’s eye view of Dubrovnik and the stunning sunsets. Image: Management/Tripadvisor screenshot.

8.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.

Cheeks flushed, bellies half-full, now’s the perfect time to round out the evening with some good, hearty cuisine. There’s only one place for you: Pantarul. Housing a simple, modern, and cozy interior, Pantarul’s food is creative, honest, and absolutely delish. With a seasonal menu, all dishes are prepared using ingredients sourced from the surroundings of Dubrovnik such as the regions of Župa and Konavle. The tender braised ox cheeks and vegetable risotto are the stand-out dishes that I would not hesitate to get again and again.


Expect high-quality seasonal ingredients and creative presentations in a warm, intimate setting. Image: Alajandra G/Tripadvisor screenshot.

At this point, you might want to call it a night but for those night owls looking for more, here are some spots to check out.

10.00 p.m. – the sun comes up

There’s something for everyone when it comes to nightlife in Dubrovnik. For those looking for an intimate setting to sit, chat and relax at the end of this busy day, D’Vino Wine Bar is the perfect place to be.


Do try some of the domestic Croatian wines (e.g. Plavac Mali, Debit, Prošip), you’ll be in for a wonderful surprise. Image: Pixabay.

If dancing the night away is your thing, there are several places to choose from. You might want to head down to Culture Club Revelin, built inside a medieval fortress or Lazareti, a club set in an old stone ex-quarantine barracks. If a beach party is more of your thing, check out Banje Beach Club, with its stunning views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  For electronic dance music lovers, give Skybar Dubrovnik a go.


Nothing like dancing under the stars with sand between your toes at Banje Beach Club. Image: Pixabay.

8.00 a.m. – 9.00 a.m.

Whether you’ve partied till the sun came up or just looking for a good cup of coffee in the morning, ring in the final hours of this 24-hour whirlwind trip of Dubrovnik at some of these spots.


Some of the best artisan coffees can be found at Cogito Coffee. Image: Kaleb F/Tripadvisor Screenshot.

Cogito Coffee is my top pick, serving quality coffee with beans roasted at their HQ in Zagreb. 

Alternatively, let’s finish where we started with a prime spot on the Stradun, Café Festival is where you can sit back, watch the buzz along the street, and reflect on your wonderful time in this marvelous city.

And that’s a wrap! A packed 24 hours in Dubrovnik, hoping to show you just a fraction of its uniqueness and beauty.


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