Tips on how to visit Dubrovnik are crucial for anyone wanting to visit this fascinating city. Before you start planning your Croatia holidays and thinking about things to do in Dubrovnik, you have to know these facts. With a population of 42 thousand, it welcomes over 1 million tourists a year! The area’s undeniable beauty certainly contributes to its popularity, but there is another essential factor – Dubrovnik was the primary filming location for the TV show Game of Thrones. The fans flood the city to visit the film’s famous spots. No matter what season, you will be dealing with the crowds. Still, creating an enjoyable visit is very possible. In this post, you will learn all the essential tips on how to visit Dubrovnik and how to create the best possible experience.
ESSENTIAL TIPS ON HOW TO VISIT DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
I started my Croatia holidays with my bucket list destination Plitvice Lakes National Park, in my opinion, Europe’s best natural attraction. Of course, I had to add Dubrovnik to my itinerary. I knew it was a popular destination, but I had no idea how overcrowded it could be. I arrived in early October, and the streets were packed with people. If that was already considered the low season, I can’t even imagine how the high season looks like.
When Is Best The Time To Visit Dubrovnik
Choosing the best time for your Croatia holidays is not easy. I think the best combination of crowds and weather can be found in October. That is especially true if you combine your visit with Plitvice Lakes looking at their best during the fall. The crowds are already thinner, and chances are you will get sunny weather. During my stay, many visitors were still enjoying the beach and even swimming. Another good time to visit is early spring, but the sea will be too cold for swimming.
How to get to Dubrovnik
The best way to reach Dubrovnik is by flying or driving. Direct flights from European hubs like London, Paris, and Amsterdam to Dubrovnik are available through major airlines such as British Airways, United, Lufthansa, among others. Another good option is to fly to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, and rent a car there. Driving a rental vehicle to the coast ensures you can keep your own schedule and have the freedom to stop and explore along the way. Train and bus transportation is also available, but it is not the most efficient way to reach Dubrovnik. You can also visit Dubrovnik by ferry.
How long do you need to explore Dubrovnik
The majority of visitors are daytrippers coming on cruise ships, but I personally would not enjoy this kind of visit. Make a trip to Dubrovnik a large part of your Croatia holiday. It is a fascinating city and could be enjoyed as a relaxing destination. I spent three nights there, and I felt it was not enough. I would love to stay for two more nights, and I am not even a fan of Game of Thrones, so I did not spend any time visiting the movie’s locations.
How to visit Dubrovnik to avoid crowds
The main tip on how to visit Dubrovnik is to go against the cruise crowds! Cruise ships flood the city with thousands of visitors at once, making it difficult to even enter the old town much less appreciate the sights. My recommendation is to avoid the area during that time of day and enjoy other attractions around the city, or simply relax at your hotel. Concentrate on sightseeing before cruises arrive and after they are gone. Thursday through Saturday tends to be the busiest period, and mornings are far busier than late afternoons. The crowds arrive around 10am and by 4pm, most day visitors are gone. Work your itinerary around those hours.
Parking in Dubrovnik
The best way of moving around during your Croatia holidays is driving, but like most of the touristy cities in Europe, the old town Dubrovnik can be a nightmare to find a parking spot. If you are traveling by car, make sure your accommodation comes with parking and leave your car behind for the most part. Taxis and Uber in Dubrovnik work well and will save you time and frustration.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
I usually recommend staying close to major attractions, but in the case of Dubrovnik, I advise against it. You do not want to be in the old town when cruises arrive. There is simply no way to enjoy the area when it is packed with people. You will be better off staying a little farther away. It especially makes sense if you travel by car. During the peak tourist hours, you can visit other attractions, like Dubrovnik beaches.
Another option is just to rent a lovely place and enjoy it when the daytrippers are still in. I strongly recommend splurging for a place with a view. Since I was traveling with my sister and her husband, we needed two rooms, and the most economical option was to rent an apartment. For this part of our Croatia vacation, we wanted a view, and we got it! The terrace was so inviting, we had to push ourselves to leave it.
We rented Apartment Nia Deluxe and loved it. The main feature was our own huge terrace overlooking Dubrovnik. But there is a price to pay for that view, lots and lots of steps to reach the unit. If you have trouble walking, it is not a place for you. The interior was matching the outside area with all modern amenities and nice decor. The price was right too. The apartment came with a parking spot, crucial in Dubrovnik if you travel by car.
Things to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is small, so it can be enjoyed without rushing through it. Its primary attraction is the distinctive Old Town, encircled with massive stone walls.
Things to do in Dubrovnik Old Town:
- Visit Game of Thrones sites. If the main reason for your Croatia holidays is to visit Game of Thrones sites, here are 19 Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Dubrovnik.
- Walk Dubrovnik City Walls. The walls run an uninterrupted course of approximately 1,940 meters (6,360 ft) in length, encircling most of the old city, and reach a maximum height of about 25 meters (82 ft). The walk offers beautiful views, but again schedule your visit when cruises are not there. Crowds could get overwhelming there.
- Take a stroll in the Old Town. The town is so small that you can explore every nook and cranny. Make sure you go down all the streets and find charming coffee shops and restaurants and gift shops. Try some gelato too! Explore the streets of the old town to check out its churches, monasteries, and curious monuments, and of course, Game of Thrones filming locations.
Things to do outside of Dubrovnik Old Town
- Kayaking If you are looking for a more active way to enjoy your Croatia holidays in Dubrovnik, try kayaking. There are plenty of outfits renting kayaks throughout the city, and many routes paddle around the walls of the Old Town.
- Explore Dubrovnik beaches. There many beaches around Dubrovnik. Lapad beach is one of more tourist-friendly places to unwind by the Adriatic Sea. There’s a pedestrian zone just behind the beach with bars and restaurants.
- Take a boat tour. For a change of perspective, take a short boat tour for about 10 Euros (cash only!) per person just to get fantastic views of Dubrovnik from the water.
- Take a ferry ride to Lokrum Island. Day trips to the island are very popular among locals as well as among the visitors to Dubrovnik. Spending a day there can be a really refreshing experience, as the island has plenty of pine, cypress and olive trees, and subtropical vegetation offering a lot of shade in the hot summer days. The island is also famous as Game of Thrones filming location
- Visit Mount Srd. Mt. Srd is the best place to enjoy stunning views of iconic Old Town, expansive coastline, and beautiful distant mountains. Most visitors access the mountain by cable car. It’s advisable to go early morning to avoid long lines at the cable car
station. The summit can also be reached on foot or by car. We drove to the top for the sunrise, and it was spectacular.
More Tips on How to Visit Dubrovnik
Is Dubrovnik safe?
I can tell from my own experience that I felt safe in Dubrovnik, much safer than in many other European popular destinations. Still, pickpocketing and petty theft happen, so make sure to take the standard precautions.
Do I need cash in Dubrovnik, Croatia?
You need cash during your Croatia holiday, more than in Western European countries. Credit cards are accepted, but most small stores and restaurants take money only. Even some grocery stores accept cash only. On the bright side, the ATM’s are conveniently located. Exchange kiosks are also available.
Even though Croatia is now part of the European Union and is committed in time to joining the single currency, at present, the currency remains the kuna (code HRK). Rather than arranging funds in advance of your Croatia holidays, I suggest you simply change as you go along. There is intense competition between foreign exchange agencies in Croatia, so you can shop around and find excellent rates.