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
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.
In addition to the many hotels in the area, there are many more 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, you may want to consider looking 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. (Dubrovnik is built on a hill, and it slopes up pretty steeply from sea level…)
Arriving by Plane
The airport is about a 40 minute drive from town. Don’t let the taxi drivers scam you (and they’ll try). The best price into town is usually via Uber (as of February 2019, the price was 215 kunas, vs the 280+ that taxi drivers will typically ask for. There’s also a less expensive bus, but if you’re jet lagged and/or getting in late, figuring out how to get from the bus to your accommodations can be tricky.
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 Sr?, 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 Sr?, 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 than walking, and the views aren’t quite 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 (and you’re not there in the off season), you should spend at least a few hours, if not a day, on Lokrum Island. I recommend also doing day trips to Ston, Montenegro and/or Mostar–there are many local companies that run these trips, and all of the locations are interesting contrasts to Dubrovnik. The owner of D’Vino also runs private tours of the wineries on the Peljesac Peninsula. 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.
Pasta Lab (Old Town). Unpretentious “build your own” pasta place with great food and generous portions. A favorite “comfort food” spot for me.
Gaffe Irish Pub (Old Town). Good, hearty, unpretentious food. A favorite lunch spot for me–and it’s open year-round, which is nice if you’re there in the off-season.
Dolce Vita (Old Town). Best gelato 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. They also have delicious dessert crepes.
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.”)
Gradska Kavana Coffee Bar, at the Ploce end of the Stradun, is one of the very best people watching spots in town. The coffee’s a little pricey, but it’s a great place to spend an hour relaxing.