Dubrovnik has been on my Bucket List for European destinations for a long time, I was intending on visiting the City about 5 years ago while I was Interrailing around Europe. It never happened. I got as far as Italy, loved it so much there that I never actually made it to Croatia! So, with only a few days spare to get a quick trip in, this desination was top of my list. Hence forth Dubrovnik in 2 days.
As far as European cities go, Dubrovnik is up there with the best-of-the-best. Situated in the gorgeous blue waters of the Adriatic with a boastful climate and easily accessible from the UK it’s easy to see why. More recently it’s lent itself to the backdrop to Game of Thrones, which I can add I’ve still not managed to watch a single episode of. One day, I keep telling myself.
In 1979 The City of Dubrovnik became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then in 1991 was heavily shelled during the breakup of Yugoslavia causing a ton of damage to the Iconic Old City. During the 90s and 00s, Dubrovnik underwent major reconstruction, restoration and repairs to bring the City back to its glory and into what is now a huge tourist hot-spot.
Dubrovnik has a heap of stuff to offer and you could totally justify spending longer here, however you can get see the main highlights in a long weekend.
Read on to find out HOW I crammed in all the best bits of Dubrovnik in 2 days!
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Day 1 - Morning
Walk around The Old City
To really get the best out of Dubrovnik in 2 days, it’s worth the early start and getting up at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds. Dubrovnik gets busy, and by that, I mean absolutely rammed! Tourists flock to the Old City in their droves and after several cruise ships and coaches have dumped their loads, the place starts to resemble Disney Land during the School Holidays, rather than a romantic medieval destination.
My camera and I were wandering about the Old City by 6.30am, believe me, I AM NOT a morning person in the slightest, however, I am also NOT accustomed to the idea of the world and his dog in every one of my photos. Aside from the lack of crowds, it’s cooler and the sun is at a decent height in the sky to get some beautifully lit shots. The biggest plus; the only people you will spot are fellow photographers and maintenance staff (7 am is evidently bin collection time!)
Top Tried-and-Tested Tip
For the best photo opportunities get into the Old City before the crowds, by 8am (when the City Wall Walk opens) crowds have already started to form. Leave it until 10am then you’ll be contending with all the day-trippers from cruise ships that have docked for the day. By this time getting decent pics without anyone in them is near impossible! So suck it up, get up before the crack of dawn.
Make a bee-line for all the major highlights first (Game of Thrones fans will know them all!), plan a route of the things you are desperate to see and take photos of them without the hoards. If you are intending on doing Dubrovnik in 2 days, it’s worth doing a bit of homework beforehand to ensure you get the most out of the quiet hours. When it gets to about 10 am, as the crowds are starting to build, head to the side and back streets. Then when it’s super busy, stop to chill for breakfast or brunch satisfied by the fact that you’ve got some awesome crowd-free shots.
Not sure on what to see, check out these iconic landmarks
– Onofrio’s fountains – the big one near Pile Gate is impressive (see picture below)
– The Church of St. Blaise
– Saint Ignatius Church
– Stradun (The main street in Dubrovnik)
– Lovrijenac Fortress
– Minčeta Tower
– Rector’s Palace
– Dubrovnik Cathedral
Money-Saving and Eco Tip
I’m not sure where the misconception of not being able to drink the tap water came from, but ignore it! The tap water in Dubrovnik is perfectly fine to drink, so save your money and do your bit for the Planet and refill at the quirky Onofrio fountains dotted about the city. There is huge one near to the main Walk Walk ticket office!
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Day 1 - Afternoon
Catch the boat to Lokrum Island
By the afternoon the heat in Dubrovnik can get intense, this makes for the perfect opportunity to escape the sun and the crowds and head over to nearby Lokrum Island – it’s a mere 6oo metres from the Old City!
Lokrum Island is a Nature Reserve just off the coast of Dubrovnik Old Town. Various boats go here, you can pick them up from the just outside the Old City Walls at the Old Port. But beware A LOT of companies will try and sell you some form of ‘Island Hopping Tour’; these are priced anywhere between 300-400K and yes, if you aren’t doing Dubrovnik in 2 days, then it’s perhaps worthwhile. Some of the ticket touts will also tell you that you can only get to Lokrum as part of a day tour. This is absolute BS.
So to summarise that bit above, ask around for the best price!
I didn’t have the time or the inclination to do any overpriced island-hop so was only interested in getting a return boat ride over to Lokrum Island. I had undergone a bit of research online prior to this to check prices and schedules. Expect to pay around 60K for the return boat ride, they will, of course, try it on for more than that, barter them down. I spent about half an hour going from booth to booth to get this price, lots of the vendors telling me otherwise. The journey over lasts approximately 15 minutes.
As soon as you set foot on Lokrum Island, you will be ushered into the little cottage. Entrance is 120K, which comes on a decent looking ticket which is also a postcard! This nice touch makes for a novel little souvenir compared to the usual flimsy bit-of-paper ticket stub.
Trying to do Dubrovnik in 2 days is intense, so it’s nice for an opportunity to chill in the shade of the trees. You could easily spend a day here sunbathing and wandering about in the pine, olive and cypress trees. Look out for the colony of very tame rabbits that will come and eat out of your hand if you offer them food and peacocks wandering about. Another thing to watch out for is the nude beach!
There's loads of stuff on Lokrum island, but be sure to add these to your to-do list.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan then look out for one of props used in the series. You’ll find a Throne in them museum under the Monastery!
After an afternoon of chill, catch the return boat back to the mainland.
If you don’t want to take a trip over to Lokrum Island and just want a very quick stroll away from the crowds, then visit Park Gardac to the west and outside of the Old City walls.
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Day 1 - Evening
Take the Cable Car for a Panormaic Sunset
Head out of the Old Town and up the hill, to the well signposted Cable Car. Hop on one of these to the top for a panoramic view of the Old City at sunset and dusk. A roundtrip on the Cable Car is 150K, although if you are i) wanting to save money and ii) feeling energetic, you can take the footpath up. The Cable Car is on top of a hill called Srd Hill. Its height is 412 metres
The footpath is well defined and zig-zags its way up to the look-out point at the top. The walk is free to do – but if you are doing Dubrovnik in 2 days you may be pushed for time. You could come to a compromise and walk up and get the cable car down or vice versa – A one-way ticket on the cable car is 85K. If neither of those suits, then you can also get a taxi up to the top.
At the top you’ll find Fort Imperial, a museum, 4×4 off-road buggy, an overpriced restaurant (book in advance if you want to eat here, apparently the food is nice, I didn’t try it) and a stunning view of the Old City and surrounding areas; on a clear day you can see up to 60km (37miles).
Viewing platforms - the official vs the non-official
There are the official viewing platforms, and then the unofficial ones. To find the unofficial ones just follow the well-trodden dirt paths out of the back of the restaurant and then around to the shrubland situated in front of the restaurant. This is where all the Insta and Selfie-Stick crew are posing (I ‘might’ have been one of them).
One of the best times to go up is up to an hour before sunset – there is still enough light to see Dubrovnik by day, and a short wait will unveil beautiful golden light hitting the rooftops as the sun begins to set. Wait even longer and you’ll see the City lights come on.
When you’re finished with the panoramic view, head back down to the Old City. After a super early start, have a relaxing evening at one of the hundreds of restaurants and bars in the Old City. I LOVED a place called Nishta, the menu here changes daily, the food is freshly prepared and perfect to get a vegetable fix. I found a lot of the cuisine in Dubrovnik very carb and seafood-heavy; I’m a fan of neither! So this ticked all my boxes.
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Day 2 - Morning
Walk the Old City Walls
For the second half of Dubrovnik in 2 days, make for another early start, although not quite as anti-social as the previous day. The City Wall Walk opens at 8 am. People are queuing for a ticket by 7.30! Most people are queuing at Pile Gate.
Top Tip – from an Insider!
Here’s a tip I took from a local regarding the entry to the City Wall Walk. Start at the entrance nearest to the Ploce Gate, the ticket queue is quieter AND you get to be on the much more interesting side of the City Walls before the masses get there. This is the part of the Old Wall with all the Towers and Turrets. The City Wall Walk has a one-way system, it goes in an anti-clockwise direction to keep the flow of people steady. Get the best bit of the Old Wall done first, and do it thoroughly as you will not be able to come back to it. Another note KEEP YOUR TICKET! – I’ll explain why in a minute.
The City Wall Walk will take you about 2 hours. When you’re done with the Wall Walk, exit the Old Town and climb the hill to the West of the City Walls and up to Fort Lovrijenac to see Dubrovnik from across the water.
To enter the Fortress on it’s own it will cost you 50K. You know I said in the previous tip box about keeping your City Wall Walk ticket, here’s why; Fort Lovrijenac is free to enter with the City Wall Walk ticket. Bargain!
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Day 2 - Afternoon
Check out some of the awesome Museums or Cathederals
To avoid the afternoon heat again, spend the time visiting some attractions in the shade. There are loads of World-class museums, (The Old Pharmacy at 30K is certainly worth a look), as well as lots of the Cathedrals. Some of these are free to get into and have a donation box. There are so many places to go inside, I’m not going to list them all.
You'll be spoilt for choice for which Museum or Cathederal to go in but these are some of the better ones...
Franciscan Church and Monastery (check out The Old Pharmacy here)
Top Money-Saving Tip
If you plan of going into lots of attractions, then it might be worthwhile buying the Dubrovnik pass. Available in 1,3 and 7-day passes. You’ll pay an upfront fee for a pass-card which then gives you access to loads of different museums, buildings, cathedrals and other places of interest. They can be bought at Tourist Information.
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Day 2 - Evening
Take a Sunset Kayak tour to see the Sun setting over Dubrovnik
So, you’ve seen Dubrovnik from the inside, from the walls, from a panoramic view, so now is the perfect time to complete the set and see the Old City from the water. To finish your trip to Dubrovnik in 2 days, opt for a Kayak tour. There are few Kayak companies around the Old City but I can really vouch for X Adventure Sea Kayaking.
I booked on to the Sunset Tour, which goes around the outside of the city, across to Lokrum Island, in and out of little caves, around the Island (some sausage spotting as you row past the nudist beach) and onto a secluded cave beach before heading back to the Old Town for wine.
The cave beach is only accessible via the sea and is where you have a short break. Some people in the group opt to chill on the beach, some swim, and others try their luck at cliff jumping.
On this trip, you’ll be told lots of interesting stories, shown places where Game of Thrones was filmed, challenged to some silly games all while watching the sun go down over the Old City of Dubrovnik. The whole tour lasts 4 hours, which includes your group briefing, the kayaking, the stop on the cave beach and drinks when back on the mainland.
For the remainder of the evening take a walk back through the Old Town to see it lit up. The light-coloured stone really reflects the lights and it does look super sparkly.
So, you’ve covered the highlights of Dubrovnik in 2 days, but I’m going to add in a bonus day because I’m nice like that.
Dubrovnik in 2 Days - Bonus Day
Escape the crowds and head for Cavtat
If you have a few hours to kill, such as waiting for a flight, or are desperate to escape the crowds of the Old City then I highly recommend a trip out to nearby Cavtat. Being only 18.5km from Dubrovnik, it takes about 20 minutes by car/taxi to get to Cavtat.
Historically, Cavtat was a fishing village, and in contrast to nearby Dubrovnik, still has some of this laid-back charm. There are plenty of spots to get a sun lounger around the little peninsula as well as to take a stroll along the tree-clad promenade.
To get there, I used the Bus which takes 20-40 minutes (depending on the time of day). To get to Cavtat from Dubrovnik, or vice-versa, take the Number 10. In Cavtat, this drops off and picks up at the main bus station. From the Dubrovnik end, the outward-bound bus picks up from the Cable Car entrance, coming back into Dubrovnik it will drop you off on a parallel road higher up the hill. The bus costs 25K, and there is a very frequent service; 2 nearly every hour.
Another way to do the Dubrovnik to Cavtat journey is by boat. This is by far the longest way to do the journey, approximately an hour, BUT the payoff is that it’s the most scenic way. Ticket vendors in both Dubrovnik and Cavtat will sell you a ticket. Expect to pay 60K for a single, and anywhere between 80-100K for a return ticket.
One great little find in Cavtat was the bakery Peco, selling THE biggest vanilla custard doughnuts I have ever seen. They also do loads of other freshly prepared bread-based products to take out or eat in. It’s worth a visit to Cavtat for the doughnut alone!
Dubrovnik in 2 days is a totally do-able trip. There is of course so much more to see and do here so this taster of the UNESCO City will most likely leave you wanting to come back and see more, but that’s a good thing, right?
I’m certainly keen to come back to Dubrovnik again. Have you been to Dubrovnik? What things would you add to that itinerary? Please comment below, I’d love to hear.
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