Flowing, fine seafood and blanketed by the Adriatic, there’s no reason not to visit Croatia. Here’s how to spend three days in historic Dubrovnik. From where to stay, when to visit and where to eat, to the best sights to marvel for Game of Thrones fans, we’ve got you covered.
How to spend three days in historic, oceanside Dubrovnik, Croatia. From where to stay, when to visit and where to eat, to the best sights to marvel for Game of Thrones fans, we've got you covered.
When we went: April 2019
My wife Cathy and I thought this was the ideal time of year to go. The crowds were few and while temperatures dropped in the evening, days cruised around 20 degrees celsius.
Though April didn’t provide beach weather, it was a treat to not have to tightrope through large crowds.
June-August travellers can enjoy hot, beach weather, but should expect crowds, higher prices, and long queues to get onto the medieval walls.
May and September are also great to visit Dubrovnik, if you want to avoid the crowds, and have warm weather.
Where we stayed: Villa Dubrovnik. It’s a modernist gem in the heart of the historic Adriatic. The hotel is set on rocky cliffs on the most magical stretch of the Dalmatian coast. It’s a stylish retreat for guests in search of luxurious privacy and first class hospitality.
Why we went: One morning, Cathy looked at me and said with vigor, “I’d like to go to Croatia”. I knew little about the country. I’d classify myself as a usual traveler—I gravitate towards sprawling, populated cities. Cathy’s enthusiasm piqued my interest. After much research, I’d fallen in love with the city and we set off to meet my high expectations. Spoiler alert: expectations met.
Day One in Dubrovnik
Villa Dubrovnik is a 20 minute meander from the first gate of the walled city of Dubrovnik, Pile Gate. After passing through the gate we got lost in the narrow streets, full of restaurants and small shops.
The Stradun is the main thoroughfare of the old town. Believe it or not, it was also filming location for the ninth episode of Star Wars. Once you’ve cruised the Stradun, get elevated and walk the Dubrovnik walls—it’s the best way to see the city.
There are a number of entry points to walk the historic walls. They cost around 200 kuna per adult. One ticket lasts the day and allows you to hop on and off the walls. It takes approximately two hours to walk the entire loop around the city and the views are spectacular the entire way. Highlights include climbing the Minceta Tower and countless views over the old town. Be prepared to take a ton of photos.
Gundulic Square: The Only Open-Air Market Inside Old Town
The open air market is only open in the morning, so head there early. Stallholders compete, selling beautiful, local, seasonal produce. Expect cherries and strawberries in spring, fresh figs and peaches in summer, oranges, lemons, pomegranate and walnuts in late autumn.
For lunch we grabbed a sandwich at Buffet Scala. Fresh bread loaded with local cheese and pršut (similar to prosciutto). Finish your sandwich with an apple strudel—it won’t disappoint.
In the afternoon try to get some idea of how local aristocrats once lived by visiting the Cultural History Museum. It’s based on the 15th century Rector’s Palace. This is where the Rector or city governor would reside during his one month term in office. On display are portraits of cross looking nobles, as well as furniture, costumes and clocks from the period. It took me a while to get out of there—I’m a bit of a clock fanatic. Nearby, the 17th century baroque Dubrovnik Cathedral is also well worth a look for its impressive treasury displaying ornately crafted golden relics, including the skull of Saint Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint.
Dinner and a Show: For Game of Thrones Fans
St. Dominica Street is where Cersei made her walk of shame. Minceta Tower is used as the house of the undying and this is where Daenerys recovers her dragons that were stolen from her. What better place to take in our first fine dining experience in Croatia?
Nautika is rated among the top six most romantic restaurants in the world. Many famous people have dined there, namely Pope John Paul, Sir Roger Moore and Sir Paul McCartney. While it’s not an inexpensive restaurant, head chef Mario Bunda promises it’s well worth it. I can vouch.
TLW tip: book in advance through the restaurant and follow up with your hotel’s concierge to reconfirm your booking. In doing so, we were upgraded to a delightful table right on the edge of the precipice, overlooking the Adriatic, and it made for a very special evening.
Day Two in Dubrovnik
Take a cable car ride for a bird’s eye view of the city. Tickets cost 90 kuna for one way or 170 round trip. The views of the Adriatic are mesmerizing from the car. At the top, enjoy a bite at the Panorama restaurant. We had a light lunch—dinner at sunset would be tremendous. For a table with a view, make reservations in advance.
The hours of operation of the cable car vary—have your hotel check its operating hours or view the website before venturing out.
On our second night we dined at 360 Dubrovnik again. To enter, you’ll need to spot the single entrance, just to the left of the Pile Gate. Climb up and bask in the views of the Old Port.
Quite a spectacular tasting menu of five courses. Take the recommendations from your server and sommelier. If it’s windy, ask for a blanket to ensure a cozier experience. A wonderful experience, yet it didn’t top Nautika.
Day Three in Dubrovnik
On our third and final day, we continued to stroll inside the walled city to people-watch and see how the locals live.
On warm days you’ll see clean washed clothing hanging outside to dry and it’ll give you a glimpse into what it looked like many years ago at this recently bombed, and exquisitely preserved UNESCO heritage site.
If you’re tired of the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the old town, visit Lokrum Island. The island is a top tourist destination and a short ferry ride from the Dubrovnik harbour. Spend the day playing on the beach or walking the gardens where peacocks saunter and large rabbits run.
For Game of Thrones fans, this is your chance to sit on the Iron Throne, and visit another filming site at the Benedictine Monastery.
- Go in early spring for fewer crowds and warm, daytime weather
- Walk through the Pile Gate, the Stradun and Dubrovnik walls
- View Minceta Tower
- Check out Gundulic Square in the morning
- Visit the Cultural History Museum and Dubrovnik Cathedral
- Eat at Nautika
- Take a cable car ride
- Check on Lokrum Island for a break from the city