Dubrovnik is one of the most fascinating of the old Mediterranean cities — steeped in history, soaked in sunshine, and packed with incredible things to see and do. Of course, the city is no longer the hidden treasure that it was a couple of decades ago, and the word is well and truly out about Dubrovnik’s alluring charms. But if you’re prepared to go a little bit beyond the usual crowded spots this is still a place with astonishing natural and cultural riches. So with that in mind, here’s our guide to spending a packed 24 hours in Dubrovnik.
It’s a real treat to start the day with a leisurely breakfast in the old town of Dubrovnik. The areas near the centre will be pretty busy, so head out into some of the surrounding cobbled streets and find something more soothing. Buffet Skola and Cafe Festival are some good options, but ask around and you’re sure to hear a couple of good tips.
After breakfast, take a stroll along the old city walls. These walls have been iconic for centuries in the eastern Mediterranean, but they have also become much more widely known in the last few years as a dramatic backdrop in episodes of Game of Thrones. This means that there are plenty of Thrones-themed walks and talks available, but unless you’re a super-fan they are best avoided. These walls have been a site of battles and sieges, but also trade and cultural exchange, since the 1100s, and they exude the noble grandeur of a place that has seen and survived eras of war and peace. No surprise that they have also been honoured as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Kayaking — or a cable car trip
After your stroll, it’s time to decide how active you’d like the day to be. If you’re in the mood for adventure, then it’s a real treat to go sea-kayaking along the city’s coast. The city is right on the shore, and the water is the sort of crystalline deep blue that looks almost like it cannot be real — until you are in it. One of the most amazing views of the city that you can see is the view of the walls seen from the sea. It’s worth getting out there! However, if you’re not a canoeing enthusiast, then an alternative is to take the cable car up to the peak of Mount Srd. The mountain towers over the old city and the views from the top are a treat. There are a couple of bars at the peak, in case you need refreshment once you’re up there. Just try to make sure to pack your hat and sunscreen, as it can get pretty intense in the summer heat.
Once you come back into town, mosey slowly back towards the centre and head for the clock tower on Luza square. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to be able to see the bells ring at noon. The tower was built in 1444, and the bronze statues at the top that ring the bell are locally referred to as Baro and Maro. The sea air has turned the bronze-green over the years, so they are also known as ‘zelenci’ (‘green men’). After that, get yourself some lunch. It’s definitely worth checking out some local seafood, but there are also plenty of other options. And for dessert, get an ice-cream — you’ve earned it! The city is renowned for its many small ice-cream shops, and you definitely shouldn’t miss out on them.
As the afternoon arrives, one fascinating option is to take a trip to Trsteno Arboretum. This hillside park dates from the fifteenth century and has tree species from around the world. This is partly because of Dubrovnik’s history as a centre of trade and exchange. The trees, fountains, sculptures, and aqueducts that form the park are not only beautiful, they are also a fascinating lattice of interlocking medieval technologies that still work today to keep the plants watered and well-looked-after.
A quick dip
Next, it’s time for a swim. The city has a whole swathe of beaches, many formed from coarse sand or small pebbles. The water is clear enough that you can swim out, look down, and see the patterns formed by the pebbles meters below you. It can feel like flying. Don’t miss it.
It’ll be getting close to dinner time, but if you have a spare moment, take a look at the artwork and interior of Dubrovnik Cathedral. The grand Romanesque facade reveals an intricately-detailed interior, with frescoes and relics dating back to the seventh century.
Dinner and wine
There are myriad dinner options awaiting you, from homely and straightforward right through to Michelin-starred gastronomy. If you’re in the mood for a treat, then see if you can get a reservation for the Restaurant 360, which is right on the city walls, and offers not only world-class dining but also breathtaking views down towards the sea, including nearby Lokrum Island, just off the coast. Also, don’t miss out on trying a couple of the local wines with your dinner. The region’s vineyards produce a variety of casks, and there are many hidden gems among them.
Dancing and walking
Dubrovnik may not be renowned as a party destination, but in recent years there has been a flourishing of new clubs and bars. The Revelin Culture Club is certainly among the ones to check out. It’s a club encased within a former military fortress, with huge stone walls and vaulted ceilings giving a grand atmosphere to any night out. And once you’re done with the partying, it’s worth taking a late-night wander through the streets. Parts of Dubrovnik can get pretty thronged with visitors, and this is one of the best ways to get to beat the crowds, before finally going back and getting some well-deserved sleep.
These are just a few of the possibilities that are in store for a packed day and night out in Dubrovnik. We hope you have a wonderful time in Croatia, regardless of what you might get up to. And remember, if you’re staying on for a little longer, Sixt have plenty of available options for car rental in Croatia, including two in Dubrovnik: at the Hotel Rixos and at Dubrovnik Airport.