Croatia became a destination on my radar after an artist friend of mine boasted about a retreat here. My partner and I spent 10 days and it was honestly dreamy. Food fresh from the Mediterranean sea, an apartment with a private terrace offering stunning views, and the ambiance of rich history represented through the architecture.
It turns out early April is a pretty perfect time of year to visit Dubrovnik, before the tourist season really kicks off (we were told this usually happens after Easter weekend). The temperatures are favorable in the sunny high 60s, though the water is a bit chilly for swimming if you ask me!
We had plenty of time to leisurely explore the city of Dubrovnik, getting a full taste of what the place has to offer.
Some basics: We flew into Dubrovnik’s airport, which is about a 25-30 minute drive outside of the city itself. It was easy to grab an uber or taxi from the airport, and from that point on we were able to walk to every destination throughout the trip.
That’s one thing I loved about Dubrovnik, no rental cars or public transport tickets are necessarily needed! Keeping that in mind, the city isn’t the most accessible for those with limited mobility. There is A LOT of walking and A LOT of stairs throughout the small city.
We stayed at an Airbnb that I would highly recommend! The hosts were so kind, the location amazing, and the apartment had everything the two of us could need; a small but functional kitchen, a washing machine, and a lovely private terrace to boot.
Don’t miss this while you’re in Dubrovnik
First thing’s first, I’d definitely recommend getting a Dubrovnik card! It’s a pass you purchase for either one, three, or seven days that gets you into numerous historic sites and museums, and it includes a 24 hour bus pass for even more exploring.
The Dubrovnik card includes many of the key sites including the iconic city walls & St. Lawerence fortress, the Museum of Modern Art, the Maritime Museum, and a Monastery museum, among others, plus discounts at other locations and shops.
The price is worth it, a money saver actually! There were places to purchase the cards all over Dubrovnik, but you can find more information here.
City Walls & St. Lawerence Fortress
Walking the city walls is an absolute MUST do while in Dubrovnik, an experience completely unique to this place. As the name infers, these expansive stone walls surround the city, a defensive fortress. Again, this is something that’s included when you purchase the Dubrovnik card!
Wherever you are along the walls, it offers incredible views of the city and the sea. When you buy tickets to walk the city walls, it also includes a visit to St. Lawerence Fortress (you may know it as the Red Keep if you’re a Game of Thrones fan).
Once again, this is definitely not a good activity for those with limited mobility.
Old Town Walking Tour
There’s a number of ways to book a walking tour around Old Town, but we booked ours through Airbnb. We chose an early bird walking tour, which turned out to be a great decision. Our group was small, the tour more intimate, and not to mention the city is known for being far more quiet in the mornings. Later in the day the town is filled with large groups of tourists following guides around.
I really loved the walking tour as Dubrovnik has a rich history that I knew very little about previously! Our tour guide was born and raised right in the area, and she had an interesting perspective on the war that dominated Dubrovnik during her childhood. With a small group, all our questions and curiosities were answered.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones (sorry, but I never watched!) then you’ll want to consider a GOT walking tour, as many scenes familiar to fans were filmed here in Dubrovnik. Our tour guide pointed out a few things, but there are far more in depth options available for true fans.
I would recommend doing a walking tour early on in your trip, it’s nice to subsequently explore the town with a deeper understanding of the brick facades that surround you.
Cable Cars – Panorama 360 Restaurant
The cable cars are a fun experience and offer a wholly different view of the city than what you can get on a walking tour or on the city walls. The cable cars quickly carry you up the mountain that sits in the city’s back drop.
In addition to the amazing views, there’s a lovely restaurant at the top, Panorama 360. Upon entering, you’ll quickly know why it’s called that. I think we may have just been lucky to walk in and get a table, so I’d recommend looking into a reservation. It is possible to get to the restaurant by other vehicles, not just the cable cars.
The food was mouthwateringly delicious at the Panorama restaurant, and I have to highly recommend the espresso martini they serve. We left the restaurant full and happy right around dusk, so we got to experience the sun set as the cable cars carried us back down to the city.
From the cable cars, to the art museum, to the city walls and even our private terrace, there were views of this decent sized island off the small city’s coast. Called Lokrum, this island in the Adriatic sea is easily accessible via a ferry from old town. We were looking for some time outdoors, hoping to do some hiking. Lokrum definitely did not disappoint.
There is SO much on this island to explore! Go early and you can easily pass a whole day here; botanical gardens, a dead-sea like lagoon, rocky beaches, forts to explore and more.
If you do plan to spend a full day, it’s helpful to know that there are a few food and drink options on the little island. So, no need to worry about getting hungry or running out of water!
Regardless of what you chose to do with your time on the island, one thing you won’t miss is the wildlife, particularly the peacocks.
This male put on a show for us right before we left for the day. Did you know that it’s the male peacocks with the vibrant colors and signature feathers?
Banje Beach Club
Banje beach was a very short walk from our Airbnb, so only a short walk outside of Old Town. We visited the beach club multiple days on our trip, sometimes to sun tan, sometimes to eat, sometimes both! They offer an extensive drink menu and standard Mediterranean bites. They also offer beach chair and umbrella rentals for a reasonable cost.
And finally, food!
Excelsior is a five-star hotel known for its stunning views of old town and beautiful handcrafted cocktails. We tried a range of their cocktails as well as a few appetizers. It was located right by where we stayed, a perfect place to stop in for a pre-dinner cocktail or a night cap!
A hidden gem of sorts, in that it’s literally a bit hidden and hard to find. You certainly need to be looking for it, it’s not likely a place you’d stumble upon. Situated along the city walls, Buza Bar has an amazing view of the sea and a good range of drink options.
I know, a pizza place seems super basic to include on a list of the best food I had while abroad, but this was some seriously good pizza. The crusts were clearly baked in an authentic brick oven and the ingredients, from the cheese to the tomatoes to the basil, all tasted so fresh! We actually ended up eating here twice!