October 10, 2018

Dubrovnik Travel Guide: How to See the Old Town in a Day

Games of Thrones fan or not, Dubrovnik should be high up on your bucket list. It’s a popular choice for a city break, but with so much to see in Croatia, it’s no surprise that people decide to book an island or mainland resort and allocate one day of their holiday to visit the 16th century Old Town instead. Best of both worlds, right? I feel like we nailed Dubrovnik in a day, and I hope my guide helps you do the same. 

Getting to Dubrovnik

If your accommodation is fairly local to Dubrovnik, there are usually a few ways of getting there. As we were staying just 20km away in our Cavtat resort, we boarded a water taxi for 50 Kuna pp (£5.92) in the morning and hopped on a bus for 25 Kuna pp (£2.96) for the journey home. This meant we arrived where we wanted our day to begin, in the Old Town Port, and left where our day ended, higher up in the Old Town.  

Tip: Aim to arrive around 8/9am to beat the crowds and stay until 7/8pm to see the sunset. It’s worth the wait!

Arriving in Dubrovnik

When you arrive into the Old Town, give yourself some time to get your bearings and explore your options. It’s a busy place on any day of the year, so suss out where you are and where you want to go before you dive head first into the crowds. You can easily pick up a map at any of the tourist information points. Anyway, it’s easy to tell where you are. If you’re by water you’re on the edge of the Old Town, and if you’re surrounded by buildings with terracotta roofs you’re in the center. 

Tip: If you’re on a phone package where data is inclusive in Europe, Google Maps is your best friend. Just check before you go, because not all European countries are included (I found out that Montenegro isn’t the hard way).

Morning: Climb the City Walls

Your first stop should be the ancient city walls, because not only does this attraction get super busy, it also gets really hot later in the day. We purchased two tickets for 150 Kuna pp (£17.77) from the ticket booth at the bottom of the city walls entrance at 10am and headed straight up. If you take your time you can walk the walls in about 2-hours, but you’ll find yourself stopping often to snap photos of the terracotta roofs and stunning ocean. There is a restaurant along the way too. 

Tip: take plenty of water with you and remember to save your ticket, as you might want to use it for something else later!

Lunchtime: Grab a Bite to Eat & Explore the Old Town

After the long walk you’ll be keen to sit down and refuel. We were on a tight budget so just grabbed a baguette and ate it on a bench in the center, but there are countless restaurants if you’re looking for a sit-down meal. After lunch, why not take an hour to explore the town? On every corner there’s another stunning building, and that’s just inside the Old Town. If you head out towards the Port, you get views of the water and the ancient town in one. 

Tip: look for a place to eat in one of the quaint back streets. The menus seemed a lot more affordable and there was no need to queue for a table.

Early Afternoon: Head Over to Fort Lovrijenac

Remember I said about keeping hold of your ticket? This is because you can use it for free entry to Fort Lovrijenac, which you will have seen during your city walls walk. You can get here by existing the Old Town on the opposite side to the Port. Apparently this is a major filming location for GOT (sorry, not a fan), and the Fort’s views show off a spectacular angle of the Old Town with the crystal clear Adriatic Sea below. It’s no wonder that this is a popular place to hire kayaks. 

Tip: this is quite a climb, so possibly not suitable for those who struggle with walking. Oh, and hang around some of the tour groups if you want some free info. I lost Darryl at one point and discovered him ear-wigging on a Game of Thrones tour. 

Late Afternoon: Take the Boat Over to Lokrum Island

You may have seen a big green island in photos of the Old Town. This is Lokrum Island, another filming location for Game of Thrones. You can get a return boat from the Port for 150 Kuna pp (£17.77), which only takes about 15-minutes. There’s tons to do on this island, enough to take up a full day in itself, but we managed to see all we wanted to in a couple of hours. I’ll be writing a separate guide to Lokrum soon! 

Tip: the last boat in summer heads back at 7pm, so don’t miss it!

Evening: See Dubrovnik from Above Via the Cable Car

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Dubrovnik and Lokrum from above, it was no doubt taken from the top of Mount Srd. You can spend an hour walking to the top, or you can pay 150 Kuna pp (£17.77) and get the cable car. It doesn’t take long to get to, and you can stay up there as long as you like. There’s even a panoramic restaurant if you don’t mind paying a small fortune. There are several view points, but I’d recommend climbing down onto the rocks for those Instagrammable photos. 

Tip: stay put until the sun sets and your entire view across Lokrum, Dubrovnik and the more distant Croatian islands will go from wow to is this even real? By far a holiday highlight for me.

There’s plenty more you can do in Dubrovnik if you can squeeze a few more hours into your trip, but don’t skip taking some time to explore. This is the kind of place you’re happy to get lost in! You can also book a tour if you want to learn more about the history. Perhaps a must for true Game of Thrones fans! 

If you choose to go solo in Dubrovnik just like us, then I hope this guide helps you see the key attractions which have people falling in love with the city over and over again. 

Have you been to Dubrovnik before? What was your favourite part of your visit?

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