A growing number of people I know seem to be planning trips to Dubrovnik, or have friends who are visiting here. As a result, I’m getting an increasing number of requests for recommendations. Rather than repeating my suggestions in numerous individual emails, I thought I’d compile them here. If you’ve got questions beyond what I’ve provided here (and/or what’s in Rick Steves’ excellent Croatia guidebook), feel free to contact me (liz [at] lawley [dot] net)!
Where To Stay
In addition to the many hotels here in town, there are many private rooms and apartments for rent–you can use sites like AirBnB, HomeAway, or Booking.Com to find the privately owned places. If you do that, look for a place that’s high enough up that you’ll have a terrace overlooking the sea; it means you’ll have to climb a little from sea level, but it’s worth it.
The main tourist area here is the Old Town, and there are plenty of places to stay in and around it. The majority of big hotels are located out on the Lapad peninsula, which is a 30-60 minute walk, 10-15 minute 15kn bus ride, or a 5-10 minute 70-100kn taxi ride from the Old Town.
Arriving by Plane
If you’re flying into the Dubrovnik airport, a taxi into town is pretty expensive–250-280kn, which right now is $36-40. A better alternative is the Atlas bus that goes from the airport into town after every flight arrival, and costs only 35-40kn. It will drop you at either the bus station or the Pile Gate outside the Old Town, and from there you can either walk or take a taxi to your hotel or apartment. The only time I don’t take the bus is when I’m arriving or leaving with my giant intercontinental-move suitcases. 🙂
The “must-do” tourist activities are the walls of the Old Town (which cost 100kn to enter, and take about an hour to circumnavigate…a little longer if it’s hot and crowded), the Old Town itself, and Mt Srđ, which rises above the town to the east.
It’s best to walk the walls early in the day, before the crowds and heat are bad. (If you’re here in the off season, that’s unnecessary…you can go anytime and it’s enjoyable.)
For Mt Srđ, you have the option of climbing the trail up the mountain, or taking the cable car from just above the Old Town. My apartment is just below the base of the trail, so I usually go up by foot. It’s not a very steep trail, since it zig-zags back and forth across the mountain, but it is a climb, and the trail is a bit rocky. The views along the trail are spectacular, and it’s well worth doing if you have the stamina and good footwear. Up at the top there’s a decent (if somewhat pricey) restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The cable car leaves from just above the Old Town, and whisks you up quickly. More expensive (108kn r/t) than walking, and the views aren’t as good, but it’s a lot less time consuming and energy intensive!
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, many companies run walking tours that show off the various locations from the filming of the show. I took one with a friend this year, and it was quite enjoyable and informative. The tour includes locations in the Old Town, as well as in Fort Lovrijenac, and Park Gradac (the park is directly above RIT Croatia, and one of my favorite places to sit and have lunch).
If you’re here for more than a couple of days, I recommend also doing day trips to Montenegro and/or Mostar–there are many local companies that run these trips, and both locations are interesting contrasts to Dubrovnik. I’ve heard the Elafiti Island tours are supposed to be quite nice, but I’ve yet to do one.
Dubrovnik is full of restaurants, and I’m sure there are many excellent places that I haven’t visited. This is not a definitive list, just my favorites. Dubrovnik’s food has a strong Italian influence, which is reflected in some of my choices.
D’Vino (Old Town). Okay, it’s a bar, not a restaurant. But it’s a wonderfully welcoming place with spectacularly great wines, and really good cheese and antipasto platters. This is my most favorite location in all of Dubrovnik, and where you’re most likely to find me on any given night when I’m here. Ask either Saša (the owner) or Anita for recommendations, and they’ll figure out the right tasting flight or glass of wine for you. (And tell them I said hi!)
Amfora (near Gruž Harbor and the Port of Dubrovnik). Great food and wine, reasonably priced. Best risottos I’ve had in town. One of the specialities in Dubrovnik is black risotto, made with cuttlefish ink, and theirs is excellent. I’m also quite fond of their veal risotto.
Nishta (Old Town). Really wonderful vegetarian restaurant. If you know me, you know how surprising it is to see a vegetarian restaurant on my list, let alone near the top. But Nishta’s food is really wonderful. Highly recommended.
Pizzeria Tabasco (near Cable Car station). Best pizza in Dubrovnik. A local favorite. It’s open year-round, which is nice for those of us who are here in the off season! Since it’s right below the cable car station, if you decide not to spend the money on pricey food at the top of the mountain, you can grab a delicious and reasonably-priced meal when you come down.
Spaghetteria Toni (Old Town). Unpretentious pasta place with great food and very generous portions. A favorite “comfort food” spot for me. I particularly like their pappardelle with prawns, sundried tomatoes, and pistachio pesto.
Steakhouse Domino (Old Town). Owned by the family of one of my RIT Croatia colleagues, they serve the best steaks in town if that’s what you’re craving! My favorite is the filet mignon with garlic sauce; I think it’s called “The Rancher.”
Gaffe Irish Pub (Old Town). Good, hearty, unpretentious food. A favorite lunch spot for me.
Dolce Vita (Old Town). Best ice cream in Dubrovnik. I particularly like the Choco-Banana when they have it, and the Dolce Vita flavor (vanilla with some kind of red berry) when they don’t.
Hilton Lobby Bar (Pile, near Old Town). My favorite spot for coffee, especially when it’s cold or rainy. (Although there’s a lovely view from the terrace on a nice day, if you’re vacationing you probably want to sit at a cafe in the Old Town for your coffee, just for the people-watching.) My usual coffee order here is a “bijela kava,” or white coffee. It’s like a latte, but with no foam. (I think it’s close to what the Australians call a “flat white.”)