There’s a reason why a day in Dubrovnik is on so many Mediterranean cruise itineraries. Widely known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik Croatia has stunning tile-red roofs and ancient medieval stone walls jutting into the sparkling, azure blue Adriatic Sea.
Places to visit near Dubrovnik
Cruise ships dock far from the walled city, and plenty of taxis are waiting whenever they do. Our enterprising driver offered to take us around the region before visiting the walled city. Why not? After all, who knew when we might be back?
1. Mount Srd
Our first stop was on a 412-foot-tall mountain that overlooks the city. Mt. Srd always makes the”things to do in Dubrovnik in one day” shortlist. It’s super easy to visit too, because a cable car runs directly from the city to the Napoleonic-era fort at the top.
Mt. Srd played an important role in the Siege of Dubrovnik. This was one of the fiercest battles of the 1991-1995 Croatian War of Independence. It offered the perfect vantage point from which to bombard the city.
Maybe it was a self-defense move, but the terminal for the cable car was one of their main targets. There was a positive result though, because the new terminal is much nicer.
The long queue for the cable car is worth it. Look at the spectacular views from the top!
The cable car stops at a building, and typically, it contains a gift shop. There’s also a small restaurant that is very clean and bright and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
If we had had more time, it would have been nice to sit with a refreshing drink and take in those fantastic views.
Gift shops are nice, but sometimes it’s more gratifying to buy a souvenir on the street. What would a tourist site be without vendors?
If you have the inclination and the energy, you can walk down to town from the top. (You can climb up, too, but unless you’re craving a serious workout, it’s probably not the best use of your time if you’re only in Dubrovnik for one day.)
Next, we had the rare chance to glimpse a bit of Croatia’s stormy recent history. Our driver took us to Kupari, a once-thriving tourist destination nearby. Doesn’t this look like an inviting resort?
Well, it was.
Get a little closer and you’ll see what Croatia’s war for independence cost her.
I felt sorry for the family who lost such a grand home as this.
While 15 minutes was plenty of time for Kupari, the same couldn’t be said for our next stop. If a day in Dubrovnik doesn’t appeal to you, Cavtat (TSAV-taht) would make a nice Dubrovnik day trip. It is only 30 minutes away.
Trade offs. Exploring this quaint Croatian town meant we would have less time in Dubrovnik itself. Still, it was worth it to see what a typical Dalmatian tourist resort is like. We were enchanted.
ⓘ TIP: European tourists will spend their entire holiday Cavtat and other nearby resorts. Seems that there’s enough to do that going into Dubrovnik for one day is all they need. Check Dubrovnik-to-Cavtat transportation prices here.
What to see in Dubrovnik in 1 day
Next stop: the walled city of Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik has been a major seaport since the 13th century. After sustaining severe damage from an earthquake in 1667, the citizens chose to stay and rebuild. They restored everything, from the beautiful palaces and fountains to their Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches and monasteries. To my mind, this only adds to the city’s appeal.
It’s one thing to read about Dubrovnik in a Croatia travel guide, but nothing can match seeing it in person. We think the best way to get a sense of the size and vibe of a place like this is to walk through the city.
I have mixed feelings about our visit. Sure, it was fun exploring the city on our own, wandering about, checking out inviting doorways and intriguing nooks and crannies. But in retrospect, we could have made better use of our time if we’d started with a walking tour like this one. We were left wondering if we’d missed anything important.
If you fancy a guided tour, here are some interesting ones:
The city’s defense construction begins outside the walls, with a bridge over the water.
Once through the gate, we went in search of an ATM. It’s best to pay in cash because many places have a surcharge for using plastic.
ⓘ CROATIAN CURRENCY. Croatia’s official currency is the kuna. However, many hotels and restaurants will accept euros as a courtesy to foreign patrons. Take it from us: their exchange rates aren’t very good. It’s best to stop at an ATM and get some Kuna. If you’ll be in Croatia for a few days,you’ll use them up, especially if your travel itinerary includes Split, as ours did.
Places to stay
I’m a sucker for medieval walled cities, old churches, and cobbled streets. And so is Dan. He has a “thing” for interesting old doors and windows and has the copious photos to prove it.
He also never misses a chance to photograph people in interesting dress.
Here are a few images from our Dubrovnik photo album.
Cuenca, Ecuador may show its half-millennium of use in its rustic walls, but Dubrovnik wears its age well. The shiny cobbled streets are polished through centuries of use, the locals are friendly and polite, and the buildings are in good repair, even after the recent war.
Another interesting note is that we saw no litter anywhere, even though the place was crawling with tourists.
Beautiful Orthodox churches
Religion is a huge part of Eastern European culture and there seems to be an Orthodox church at every turn. Dubrovnik is a delight for anyone who appreciates religious art.
Orthodox churches have the same setup, worldwide. Regardless of which country they’re in, you will always find:
- an overhead dome with an image of Jesus,
- Jesus’ disciples standing alongside him,
- a golden front wall, the Iconostasion, between the congregants and the altar.
- On the right-hand side of the Iconostasion you’ll always find the icons of Christ and John the Baptist.
- On the left-hand side are always the icons of Mary and the patron saint of the church.
- The Iconostasion always has three entrances to the altar: a center entrance which is called the Royal Door, flanked by a Deacon Door on either side.
The beautifully crafted ikons and intricately painted portraits are impressive … but I have to confess that, as beautiful as it was, the phrase “graven images” kept popping into my head. Go figure.
One can’t help but be awed by the quality oft craftsmanship that went into everything. And even more astonishing is how much silver is on display. The talents and wealth they offered are a testament to how much they wanted to show their love for the Almighty.
Walking Dubrovnik’s walls
Walking the walls is #1 on the list of things to do in Dubrovnik. Just as in the Middle Ages, you can walk all along its walls and see the city and ocean from some 80 feet above ground level. Let me tell you, it makes for spectacular views of both the city’s interior and the Adriatic.
ⓘ TIP: For fewer crowds, walk the walls early in the morning or later in the afternoon. In the hotter months, the walls can get very hot and bright at midday. Dress coolly and remember to wear a hat and sunglasses.
Swimming in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is also a good place for sea, sun, and beach, and there are several nice beaches around the town one can enjoy. If you are tired of historical sites, you can spend a day in Dubrovnik lying on the soft sand, soaking up Adriatic rays, and swimming in the clear, blue waters. Just don’t forget a towel and your sunscreen!
Eating in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has more than 60 sidewalk cafes and restaurants, so there’s no problem finding a place to eat. The hardest part was deciding where. Everything looked good.
Why travel to other parts of the world just to eat food we can get at home? We all wanted to sit outside in the beautiful October weather, but our lunch spot must serve local food and we had to see locals eating there. They also had to accept Euros, because that was all Celia and Jim had.
Anyway, we soon found ourselves outside a little cafe on a narrow side street. Like most restaurants in a tourist destination, ours had bilingual menus. (Well, actually they were multilingual; besides Croatian and English they were also in French and Spanish.)
Jackpot! They served local cuisine.
Croatian food to try in Dubrovnik
Glad you asked. Croatian cuisine differs depending on the region. Dubrovnik lies on the Dalmatian peninsula, that little sliver of Croatia that runs south along the Adriatic coastline. Dalmatian cuisine includes the best of the Mediterranean diet: fresh seafood, flavorful olive oils, fragrant herbs, and local red wines.
Being a seaport, elements of other regions’ cuisines have contributed to its uniqueness. We ordered grilled fish while Celia and Jim ordered an octopus dish. Our meals came with the traditional side of boiled potatoes drizzled with olive oil. (Swiss chard is also a traditional accompaniment, but alas, all we got was a salad.)
For a rare treat, try Croatian wine. Necause so much is consumed in the country, tt’s rarely exported.
ⓘ TIP: If you’d like to immerse yourself in Dubrovnik’s gastronomy, consider this 3-hour food and wine tour. Stroll down the ancient cobblestone streets of the city’s Old Town, stopping to visit some of its great sights and to taste the local specialties over a glass of local wine.
Plan a day in Dubrovnik
See more: Enjoy more photos in our Dubrovnik photo gallery.
Want to hire a local guide? Get Your Guide offers unique tours and experiences, many priced per group, instead of per person. CHECK PRICES HERE.
Dubrovnik guide book and articles to read
- Lonely Planet Croatia (Travel Guide)
- Rick Steves Snapshot Dubrovnik
- City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
- 10 Reasons Why We Loved Dubrovnik
- How NOT to Do Dubrovnik
- The Budget Traveler’s Guide to Dubrovnik
Day trips from Dubrovnik
If you’ve already “been there, done that” and don’t want to spend another day in Dubrovnik, there are plenty of other things to do. For example:
- Konavle Valley: Private Half-Day Tour with Wine Tasting
- Traditional Dalmatian Cooking Class
- Private Elafiti Archipelago Cruise
- Montenegro Tour with Cruise in Kotor Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Mostar Full-Day Trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina – a UNESCO World Heritage site
The sky’s the limit!
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