Probably the most famous city in Croatia, Dubrovnik is a must-see for any visit to this beautiful country. The stunning walled city clings to the sparkling Adriatic sea and invites visitors to explore the secrets within its walls. Short on time? Don’t worry about it, it’s the perfect size to explore in a day. Here’s how to spend 24 hours in Dubrovnik.
Croatia still feels like a hidden gem when it comes to travel in Europe. Like many eastern European countries it was off the beaten track for many years. However, that’s all changed. The country has rebuilt itself after a brutal civil war and Dubrovnik is a true gem in its crown. It’s impossible not to be impressed when you approach this city. The gleaming white walls and red tiles are a feast for the eyes, especially as they are frame by clear blue waters. It looks like fairy-tale city. It’s not surprise, then, that Dubrovnik is also a Game of Thrones filming location!
When you arrive in Dubrovnik the first thing you’ll see are the famous city walls looming ahead of you. It’s impossible to avoid getting a little excited as you walk towards the city gate and imagine everyone else who’s gone before you.
Once you’re inside, there’s a couple of options for making the most of your morning. The first is to head up the main road in front of you to the craft and food market. Here you can get a sense of day to day life in Dubrovnik and, if you’re there in cherry season like we were, gorge yourself on these sweet fruits.
Alternatively, take a left when you get through the main gate and head for the city walls. It gets really hot around midday in Dubrovnik and when you’re walking around the city walls there’s little opportunity for finding any shade. They’re the real showpiece of the city though, so taking advantage of the cooler morning temperatures means you can really appreciate the experience. And the views are nothing short of breath-taking. You won’t regret this!
Dubrovnik has plenty of restaurants to choose from, but I recommend heading down one of the side streets and picking up some fast food. Don’t worry, I don’t mean McDonalds! They do fast food a little differently here. We found a little place that was serving ‘breaded savoury pancakes’…trust me, they are absolutely delicious! Plus, if you’re only going to spend 24 hours in Dubrovnik you’ll be saving a good chunk of time by grabbing something fast and delicious. Fast food is also one of the most budget friendly offerings within the walls of Dubrovnik Old Town, where prices can soar to hundreds of Euros for a sit down meal.
After lunch you have two choices. If, like us, the mid-afternoon sun is making you feel a little too hot you might like to head inside. Dubrovnik claims to be home to the oldest pharmacy and this museum is handily located right by the main gates to the city. Inside is an oasis of shade and tranquillity. Spend some time strolling around the shared cloisters, or take in the religious are and medical paraphernalia.
If museums aren’t you thing, another option is to take the cable car to the top of the hills beside Dubrovnik. From here you can take in unparalleled views of the city and its surroundings. If you’re feeling adventurous you can climb the hill instead of taking the cable care. However, if you only have 24 hours in Dubrovnik, this will take up the vast majority of your day.
Then, as day turns to evening, consider visiting one of the famous bars that are cut into the cliff face. Here the city quite literally meets the sea. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the city and have a nice drink. For me, it was the perfect place to sit and take time to appreciate my visit to this wonderful city.
Since you saved all that money at lunchtime, you’re probably ready to splash the cash now right? If so, the restaurants in Dubrovnik cater to most tastes. Croatia is famous for its seafood cuisine. So, what better place to try it than during dinner at one of the restaurants by the harbour? If you’re looking for a real fine dining experience, there’s also local and tourist favourite Madama PiPi, a trattoria style affair which serves up delicious food from the grill. We were lucky, our hostel had a discount offer for a couple of restaurants in the old town, so we headed here and spent more than we probably should have on food. It was worth it though, a truly brilliant experience and one of the highlights of our 24 hours in Dubrovnik.
The night life in Dubrovnik is relaxed. So, don’t expect the party atmosphere of Islands like Hvar. For serious partiers, there is a huge nightclub outside of town, so if you’re looking for a late night head here and dance until dawn. Inside the city walls, it’s a little bit quieter. We headed to an Irish bar (seriously, is there a city in the world that doesn’t have an Irish bar?) as well as a few others. These are all tucked down side streets so they’re not always obvious. But, most patrons will move from the bar to the street outside to mingle on the pavement and stairs. Luckily, this means you can hear them, long before you can see them!
Making the Most of Your Time
- Consider the Dubrovnik Card. Especially if you plan to walk the city walls and visit some of the museums.
- Make a reservation if you’re going for dinner
- Check out transport times
- Factor in queuing time
- Enjoy yourself!
How will you spend 24 hours in Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik is a jewel in the crown of Croatia. This country is full of beautiful places and wonderful spaces but for me Dubrovnik stands out thanks to its stunning location and history.