No trip to Croatia is complete without visiting the famous sights of Dubrovnik. Although known for being a pricey destination, here’s how you can spend 3 days in Dubrovnik without breaking the bank or sacrificing your experience.
Dubrovnik was the third and final city stop on our 10 day trip down the Croatian coastline. By this point, of course we were already feeling painfully aware of the money we’d spent and the countdown to our return to work. Nonetheless, we made the most of our 3 days in Dubrovnik and ended up having some of our most magical experiences here!
Day 1: Arrive in Dubrovnik & Explore the Old Town
2pm Arrive by bus from Split
We booked a bus through Get By Bus departing from Split at 8am with an expected arrival into Dubrovnik at 12pm. We quickly realised that this journey would be hugely delayed, as the bus isn’t a direct service but stops along the way for local passenger journeys.
Additionally, the journey from Split to Dubrovnik might be delayed as you will have to cross the border twice: once entering Bosnia and Herzegovina and then again leaving B+H into Croatia. Thanks to the confusing coastline/border, you’ll have to hand over your passport twice. We also had a brief loo and snack break while in B+H which was actually a bit fun to say you’ve “been” there!
As we realised the bus wouldn’t arrive until 1.30pm into Dubrovnik’s main bus terminal, we were a bit antsy. This was definitely not helped by the terrible cough I was currently battling! We weren’t pleased to be delayed, but for only 120 hrk (£12) per person you can’t complain too much.
once at the bus terminal, we had to catch local bus route 8 to the area of town where our Airbnb was located. We had a really helpful host at our beautiful loft studio apartment who we’d contacted about our delayed arrival time. She gave us instructions on what bus to catch and where, which saved us fumbling about!
Buses in Dubrovnik might not always run to the schedule. We found two buses arrive at once but drove off before we had a change to catch it! You can buy your tickets on the bus, it’ll be 15 hrk per person.
At last, we arrived and got all checked in and checked out the amazing views from the apartment!
3pm Walk the City Walls of the Old Town
Our apartment which sat on the eastern hillside of Dubrovnik was just a 10 minute walk to the Old Town.
To get inside the city walls visitors must enter through one of 3 gates: Gate of Pile to the west, the Gate of Buza to the north, and and the Gate of Ploce in the east. We crossed over a drawbridge into the Old Town through the Gate of Ploce.
We took this opportunity on a sunny afternoon to walk the city walls of Dubrovnik. This is possibly the post popular activity in the city, and you can tell just by how many people there are!
We started at the eastern side and walked anti-clockwise all the way around the nearly 2,000m length to where we started.
Those first few corners that became higher and gave more spectacular views as we climbed were AMAZING! With the ocean crashing behind the city and the hillside to our backs it really felt every bit the medieval fantasy world we expected. Except the crowds. People walk SO much slower when you’re excited, don’t they?!
I would really recommend taking your time at this section as not only is it, in my opinion, the most beautiful views but I also think it’s best to focus on the experience at the start.
Walking the city walls takes around 1 hour at a reasonable speed. By the time you’re halfway around although the view is changing and you can appreciate different areas of the city, you’re gonna get a bit tired of it.
The walls are open to visitors from 8am in summer and 9am in winter. Closing times vary depending on the month, but will close between 5pm – 7.30pm. Take a look at the closing times for your visit here.
A couple of highlights to enjoy while walking the walls of Dubrovnik:
- Minceta Tower – the steep staircase leading up this fort presents you with truly the best views of Dubrovnik! It’s the highest point of the walls so it’s expectedly busy but so worth it.
- Fort Bokar – Another viewing platform from the top of this lesser-visited spot gives a unique perspective to enjoy the views.
- Basketball court – Who’d expect to see an angularly shaped basketball court in the middle of Dubrovnik?! Not me!
- Abandoned ruins – the cumbling, vine-covered ruins of what looks like a church made for an eery but intriguing attraction to see from the walls. It’s fun to let your mind wander to what life was like within the city walls so long ago!
- Cafe in the wall – there are rest stops along the walls where you can buy a small meal or drink. A great idea and something that people might not expect. These premium spots are hella expensive, mind. They can afford to be as we counted just 2 cafes along the walls.
I won’t dig into the history of Dubrovnik’s city walls here (it was built mainly between 12-17th Century, if you’re wondering). Go do some research or read the Wiki page all about it! It has a rich and complicated past. One that as we walked it I didn’t pay much attention to. I wanted to enjoy being in the moment. It was one of the few times I was glad for no information signs to distract from the activity itself.
All I can say is that if you’re wondering if it’s worth it, it is. Yes it’s simply walking around a big stone wall for an hour. Yes it’s not as informative as a museum might be. But for me, it’s just an absolute must-do. Why even bother being in Dubrovnik if you’re not going to walk the walls?! For many it’s a bucket list moment, and I’m glad we took the time to enjoy it without getting bogged down with facts and stats.
Once we’d walked the circumference of the historic city, we ventured inside to see it all up close. A gentle amble through the smooth stone streets to get our bearings landed us at Stradun – the main street within the city walls. From here we navigated to the ferry port and around other sights within the city.
6pm Dinner & Sunset
After tiring ourselves out from the city walls and old town, we stopped by Pizzeria Tabasco for some tasty pizza. Getting an early dinner meant we had the restaurant mostly to ourselves, and while the view of the car park wasn’t anything special the food was delicious!! It was even so good we took home leftovers for the next night.
On our way back through the old town how could we resist an ice cream at Peppino’s as recommended by Where Goes Rose?! With so many ice creameries to choose from I’m so glad this lived up to the hype.
With full tummies, we walked off dinner by going around the perimeter of the walls to the coastline on the west to see the sunset. From Gradac Park we picked a spot on the rocks overlooking Dance Beach and watched a hazy sunset. A perfect first day!
day 2 in Dubrovnik: Visit Historical Sites & Hike Mount Srd
Explore the Old City
We were up bright and early and rearing to go. If the past day’s experience taught us anything, it’s that afternoon is by far the busiest time of day in the city.
It’s a good idea to get out before tour groups arrive and the cruise ship passengers descend. We were inside the city walls by 8.30am and found we mostly had the space to ourselves!
We gave ourself time to wander peacefully and discover fun back alleys to get lost in. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, this would be the perfect time to do some film location sightseeing! You can pay for a guided tour of Game of Thrones sites, but we went for the (free!) self-guided route with some research in hand. We used various blogs such as this one by Greta’s Travels and this by Hello Jetlag which had handy instructions of what to look for and where.
Stop by the Jesuit Staircase of St Ignatius Church – the location of the famous Cersei “shame” scene. We also went to film locations at Pile Gate and St Dominic Street. Pretty much wherever you go in Dubrovnik will have been used as a filming location for GoT, it’s just knowing what to look for!
Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Escaping the growing crowds of the city walls, we went to Fort Lovrijenac. It sits opposite the bay from the old town was also used as a Game of Thrones filming location. Aside from its time on screen, it’s also a well-maintained fortress and theatre known for its prominent place in history by resisting rule from the Venetians in the 11th Century.
What’s great about Fort Lovrijenac is that you can enter with the same ticket purchased for walking the city walls! As long as you visit within 3 days of your time at the walls. If you don’t want to do the walls (madness) but DO want to see inside the fort, it will cost 50hrk.
Note: if you buy your fort ticket but still want to do the walls, show your ticket at the walls ticket office to only pay the cost difference.
While here, it’s a great chance to get some outstanding landscape views of the entire city of Dubrovnik, hillside, and beyond.
Relax at Plaza Banje
After a successful morning of historic sightseeing, it’s time to relax!
The apartment we chose is conveniently located just a 10 minute walk down the hillside to Plaza Banje, one of Dubrovnik’s best beaches. Following the steep steps down, there are some clear arrows and signs to help guide you down to sea level.
Once you get to the main road away from the residential houses, you’ll see the beach from here.
Plaza Banje may be small, but it certainly packs a punch! It’s a mix of sand and stones with beautiful clear water enclosed by a net. The scenery all around includes Lokrum Island, the city walls, and Mount Srd. Could a beach get better than that?!
Expect the beach to get busy when the weather is good. There are some sun loungers and snorkels for rental, as well as a bar. Do mind that there are signs saying no glass bottles on the beach, though.
Finishing off our second day in Dubrovnik we planned to get to the top of Mount Srd that sits behind the city. The question was, how shall we get there? The cable car costs 170hrk (around £20!) for a return trip, and we just couldn’t justify that expense.
So, we decided to walk!
An hour later after a few wrong turns and a LOT of sweat, we made it!! And wow, was it worth the effort.
We took lots of photos and smiled like Cheshire cats. We had brought a picnic of leftover pizza, ciders, and chocolate with us and sat watching the most epic sunset ever. It still stands out as one of my favourite moments from this trip, and is up there as a simply awesome experience from all my travels.
Would DEFINITELY recommend!
Day 3 in Dubrovnik: Visit Lokrum Island & Banje Beach
10am Take the ferry to Lokrum Island
The bulk of our last day in Dubrovnik was spent on a half day trip to Lokrum Island. Here, we enjoyed walks through forest, seeing the wild peacocks and rabbits, and walking up to the abandoned fort for unrivalled views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands.
We found a few areas of Lokrum Island to be quite busy with lots of tourists around. The Monastery and Dead Sea Lake were particularly popular. We enjoyed the areas that were a little less packed, which you’ll find by going towards the rockier edges of the island instead of the well-maintained centre.
Visiting Lokrum Island was more expensive than expected. It cost 150 hrk per person to catch a 15 minute ferry and pay the entry for the national park. We were glad to have visited though, and despite not seeing all the attractions on the island (such as a Game of Thrones exhibition) we felt a 4 hour visit was plenty of time.
We knew we had to check the departure times for the returning ferry which run twice an hour (June – September). This restricted our time on the island somewhat, but we were glad to keep an eye on the time and catch our planned ferry back to Dubrovnik.
2pm Visit Plaza Banje
To round off a day of walking and exploring, we took a last chance to swim and soak in the Croatian sunshine!
We went back down the road from our apartment to Banje Beach where we were treated to views of the city walls, Lokrum Island, and all the passing sail boats. Cider in hand, we had a relaxed last afternoon of our holiday.
7pm Have dinner in the Old Town
To finish off a wonderful 3 days in Dubrovnik we splashed out on dinner in the Old Town. We had searched for some vegetarian options around online and found the delightful Segreto Restaurant. This Italian restaurant served the most delicious pasta dishes which we happily wolfed down! It was so pleasant to dine alfresco and watch passers by in this quiet street of the Old Town. I’d highly recommend choosing Segreto out of the many restaurants in Dubrovnik.
After an ice cream to wash down our dinner we ambled around the Old Town as the light faded. Inside the city walls has such a different atmosphere once the crowds have dispersed and the day moves into night. It is blissfully romantic!
We took a walk along the ferry and sat for a short while enjoying the atmosphere before heading off to our apartment balcony for a drink and cheers to our last night in Dubrovnik.
Next day: Depart Dubrovnik
We departed Dubrovnik at 8am to catch an airport shuttle bus to the airport about 30 minutes drive away.
Having booked our tickets and time the day before, we just had to walk to the bus stop outside the cable car office and wait for our bus to arrive. Luckily, the bus stop was just a 5 minute walk from our apartment so we had a smooth start to our journey back to London.
Like most airports, it’s a good idea to get to Dubrovnik Airport with plenty of time to spare. The queues for security were the longest I’ve ever seen! There are many travel tours and package deal holidaymakers at Dubrovnik airport. You’ll quickly realise that the hoards of people inside the city that weren’t from a cruise ship has to catch their transport home somehow too.
Keep an eye out for the information boards. Your gate number and info might not be displayed until close to the boarding time. As a result, the departure lounge can feel very crowded. As with most budget airlines, there are often delays or disruptions to your journey. It’s a good idea to fill up on water from the fountain and snacks in case of a long wait. We were fortunate to avoid any problems with our flight via Jet2.com, phew!
Cost of 3 Days in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is renowned for being an expensive holiday destination. I won’t deny that eating out, accommodation, and activities are higher in price than elsewhere in Croatia. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your trip on a budget!
Cost breakdown for 2 people:
- Bus from Split to Dubrovnik: £24
- Airport transfer: £10
- Dubrovnik – Stansted flights: £135
- 3 Night’s accommodation: £310
- Walk the Walls: £40
- Day trip to Lokrum Island: £30
- Meals out: £65
- Groceries & snacks out: £24
- Additional costs (luggage extras, local bus, cough medicine): £12
TOTAL: £650 for 2 people
So yes. We definitely spent more in Dubrovnik than we did in Split or Zadar. But we expected that! And, as we were near the end of our trip we were happy to splurge a bit more where we wanted to, such as on meals out and nice ice creams!
Tips for saving money in Dubrovnik:
- Don’t eat out every day. Shop at the supermarket instead to save on expensive dinners! You can get all your favourite treats and ingredients from a grocery store such as Tommy or Spar. This was save loads of money, but doesn’t mean you can’t splash out once in a while. Even if we did eat out, we’d often go to the store for ice creams and drinks to enjoy from our balcony. Best of both worlds!
- Don’t stay in the middle of the city. Find accommodation a bit out of town to save costs. Walking in Dubrovnik is steep but fairly quick, and you’ll drastically reduce costs the further you go.
- Try to choose accommodation with self-catering. Find an apartment or Airbnb that allows you to cook at home if you wish. Even just a toaster and kettle to enjoy breakfast will be a positive impact on your food budget.
- Walk as much as possible. It’s the best way to see the city! Plus, if you have the energy and stamina you can enjoy some awesome experiences, such as hiking Mount Srd, that you’d otherwise miss from paying for transport. Forego the cable car and go at your own pace instead!
- Seek out the best deals. Do some research on discounts, offers, and get savvy with your planning. Importantly, if you’re on a tight budget make sure that your research is up to date. We got quite the shock at the price of Lokrum Island due to 2 year old recommendations!
- Consider which attractions you won’t mind missing. We really wanted to walk the city walls, but didn’t mind missing museums if it meant more money in the budget for the activities we really wanted to do.
I hope this summary of our 3 days spent in Dubrovnik is enough to inspire you to visit yourself! Which attractions appeal to you most? If you’ve already been, is there anything you’d add to do?
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