3 Nights in Beautiful Busy Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

“Oh, this is nothing!” our waiter told us, “In the summer there’ll be six of them out there!”

We were at the beach café at beautiful Sveti Jakov (Saint Jacob) beach and remarking on the one cruise ship we could see anchored in the Adriatic…but more about this great get-away beach later.

I’d been apprehensive about the busy Dubrovnik reputation and planned on only 3 nights, and yes the town was busy the last week of May, but despite the amount of people I could easily have spent another night. There’s plenty to do in Dubrovnik that we didn’t get to.

Top Dubrovnik Experiences

  • Walking the fabulous Walls
  • Relaxing at Sveti Jakov beach

Dubrovnik Walls

The top activity in Dubrovnik is walking the massive town walls. Dubrovnik Old Town is big and these amazing walls are 6,360 feet long, soaring to a height of over 80 feet on the land side.

Tip: Get to the walls entrance near the Ploče Gate before they opened at 8:00 am, the right strategy if you want to enjoy the fabulous walk around Dubrovnik with only a few other people.

Tip: The walk along the walls is counter-clockwise and there are 3 entrances, if you start at the Ploče Gate entrance you get the best views first as you climb to the highest part of the walls.

Scenes from the walls walk

The Ploče Gate is a dramatic way to enter Dubrovnik – walking over what used to be the city moat and drawbridge and then the road between towering walls, the defensive outer wall and the wall of the Dominican monastery.

Place Gate entrance

Place Gate over the city moat; St. Dominika street and the Portal on the south facade of the Dominican monastery

Game of Thrones fans will recognize St. Dominika street from the many scenes in the series that were shot right here.

Wall next to Dominican monastery

Road between the defensive wall and the Dominican monastery; View of the outer defensive wall and the wall of the Dominican monastery

Dubrovnik panorama

Dominican Monastery complex and tower on the left and view of port and Lokrum Island

When you start early you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery before the cruise ship crowds get off the boat.

Dubrovnik views from the walls

View of 3 domes and down into Luza Square – the Clock Tower on the left, the tall tower of the Cathedral, and the dome of St. Blaise’s Church

From high up on the walls you can’t help but notice the different colored roof tiles. Nearly two-thirds of the roofs were replaced after the bombings during the 1991-1992 siege of the city in the Croatian War of Independence.

Dubrovnik from Minceta tower

Dubrovnik from the Minceta tower

The massive walls were built mainly during the 12th and 15th centuries and continually extended and strengthened through the 17th centuries.

Massive Dubrovnik walls

The walls are 82 feet at their highest point

On the section of the wall over the busy Pile Gate (Pee-lay) entrance you get a great look at the 300 yard long, limestone paved Stradun – the main thoroughfare through the old town.

The Stradun

The Stradun – the limestone paved pedestrian main street that runs through the Old Town. Bell Tower of the Franciscan monastery

The Stradun wasn’t always a street, or even a straight street – back when Dubrovnik was getting it’s start in the 7th century this was a canal that separated the island of Ragusa from the mainland. Finally in the 11th century the canal was filled in and the populations of the Romans who lived on the island and the Slavs who lived on the shore merged.

The Great Dalmatia 1667 earthquake, followed by fire, destroyed most of the city and the Stradun was straightened during the rebuilding.

Damage from 1667 earthquake

Damage from 1667 earthquake

On the sea side of Dubrovnik you’ll see ruined areas, damaged not by the 1991-92 siege but by the 1667 earthquake.

St Lawrence fort view

View of Saint Lawrence Fortress from the Dubrovnik walls

Down below the walls, perched on rocks above the Adriatic is the famous Buža Bar. Buža means Hole in the Wall and that’s how you get to it – a little door opening in the wall. A drink here is one of the things you have to do before you leave Dubrovnik, it’s crowded for the sunset and then – poof – everyone splits.

Buza Bar

Buza Bar from the walls above

City port from the walls

Old City Port from the walls; St. Ivan (Saint John) Fortress protecting the city port

Walking the walls can take a speedy 1 hour to a leisurely 2 hours. We took our time and ended up closer to two and then stopped for an espresso break on the Stradun, the main promenade that runs through the heart of the Old Town, watching the ebb and flow of the tour groups as they hustled purposefully along following the leader.

As we headed to the Pile Gate to go to St. Lawrence fortress (included in the walls ticket) it was amazing to see the amount of people going up and down the steps of the walls entrance at the Pile Gate. We congratulated ourselves that we had a terrific time walking the walls early!

Busy Stradun

Cafe break on Stradun; Big tour groups on the walls

St Lawrence fort view

View of Dubrovnik walls from St. Lawrence fortress

Sveti Jakov Beach Break

By the time we’d finished our morning walls walk and the St. Lawrence Fortress, the amount of people in the town seemed extreme for the one cruise ship we could see from the walls – we got out of town and had a leisurely 20 some minute walk to Sveti Jakov beach.

That is, it would have been 20 minutes but there are beautiful views and at least one enticing detour down some stairs and rocks that slowed us up along the way.

Banji Beach

View of Banji Beach from the road to Sveti Jakov

At the end of the walk was picture perfect Sveti Jakov beach and better yet – a great beach bar. Nothing says Holiday more than sipping a Mojito in the shade with a gorgeous view of the Adriatic and Dubrovnik.

Sveti Jakov

Sveti Jakov

Sveti Jakov

Sveti Jakov

So what about that one cruise ship? The anchorage wasn’t the only place for the ships – the main port was a short bus ride north across town, and the Pile Gate entrance is where the buses drop everyone off.

Lokrum Island

Staying out of Dubrovnik in the busy part of the day seemed like the right idea – on our last day we packed a picnic and got the 10:00 ferry to rocky Lokrum Island for a look around and a little nature break.

Tip: In busy Dubrovnik you’ll want to get to the ferry a half hour early to buy your round trip ticket to the island.

Lokrum path to the fort

Lokrum path to the fort; Fantastic views from the fort at the top of Lokrum Island

The ferry was full going over and coming back, but on the island everyone spread out. An unexpected bonus was the Game of Thrones museum with film clips and info on all the GOT sites shot in and around Dubrovnik. Four hours was plenty of time to see the museum, walk up to the fort at the top of the island, walk all around, picnic, and still have time to sit and stare at the beautiful water of the Adriatic. Plenty of time.

Evening Scenes in Dubrovnik

Bustling Luža Square is gorgeous at night with the lighting on the beautiful 16th century Sponza Palace, the Clock Tower with it’s green men that strike the time, and the 15th century Rector’s Palace that once was the home and office of the official who governed Dubrovnik. A wonderful square for just taking in the busy Dubrovnik scene!

Luza Square

Luza Square with the Clock Tower, Rector’s Palace and Sveti Vlaho (Saint Blaise) Church, the patron saint of Dubrovnik

Rectors Palace, Clocktower and Sponza Palace

Luza Square with the Sponza Palace, Clock Tower and Rector’s Palace

Stradun at night

Stradun at night, looking toward the direction of the Pile Gate with the bell tower of the Franciscan Monastery in the background

Dubrovnik cafes at night

Restaurants on almost every street in Dubrovnik

Od Puca - a long level street that goes from the Pile Gate to Gundeliceva poljana near the city port

Od Puca – a long level street that goes from the Pile Gate to Gundeliceva poljana near the city port

Dubrovnik streets at night

Charming and steep street; Od Buza street leading down to Stradun from the the Buza entrance through the massive walls

Restaurant Horizont

Tables on the sidewalk steps of Restaurant Horizont


Great Eats: Restaurant Horizont: Outside the Dubrovnik walls you’ll find better and less expensive meals than the pricey restaurants inside. Horizont has delightful tables on the sidewalk steps outside with great views, food and service. Instead of a full meal we ordered appetizer portions which were still proceeded with a complimentary starter. The appetizer portion of fuži with truffles – that’s mediterranean homemade pasta with truffles paté (from the motovun forest) in a creamy champagne sauce – was plenty. We ate in truffle capital Motovun in Istria and THIS dish was far better! Another great touch was the small complimentary brandy at the end. A great meal and experience, so good it was worth a repeat the next night.

Practicalities

Apartment with Balcony, Sea View and free parking

View from Apartment

Apartment with Balcony, Sea View, Free Parking (Airbnb)

Lovely apartment with a big view from the living room and the balcony off of the bedroom, this apartment is about 300 steps uphill from the Ploce Gate. It was spotless, well equipped – even with a washing machine although we didn’t use it. The large bedroom and bed were super comfortable (plus Quiet!), the little kitchen had everything we needed although we didn’t cook. Big table for the 2 laptops and WIFI worked fine, we were to stream Netflix connected via HDMI to the nice size LCD TV, which was handy because we couldn’t find any English language channels. The uphill walk was OK two times a day, but it did deter us from just popping in and out. For only 3 nights it was worth the climb to be able to park the car and forget it – plus have that unforgettable view.

Dubrovnik with a Car

A car is a hassle in Dubrovnik – your best bet for piece of mind parking is staying in an apartment that comes with it’s own parking place.

Arriving in Dubrovnik

An easy 2 hour drive from our 5 Nights in Captivating Kotor, we didn’t have any border issues or traffic problems on the main route (Highway 8) from the Bay of Kotor to Dubrovnik.

Leaving Dubrovnik

Next stop: Split Croatia, about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Dubrovnik.

Are 3 nights in Dubrovnik enough for you?

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4 Comments

  1. Frank

    Wow, you got some really great photos. We spent 3 nights as well and basically saw all the same – and totally agree that the walls are the absolute highlight. Just wanted to do them all over again.

    Dubrovnik was beautiful but we felt it was just a bit too touristy. Actually preferred Kotor which felt more rustic/untouched.

    Frank (bbqboy)
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    1. Rebecca

      Thanks a lot Frank! Yeah, Dubrovnik is so busy, but 3 nights is pretty much the minimum – I wouldn’t have complained if we’d spent 4. Most of the time WHERE you stay in a city makes a huge difference, since we had a car I wanted easy parking and ended up in a great place that was an oasis of quiet…just a lot of steps! I agree with you on Kotor, I just loved that place.
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  2. Ingrid

    What a great post, definitely looks worth a trip, everyone seems to have great stories about the city and surrounding area. The accommodation where you stayed looked ideal to me, it’s always fun to have more space than the regular hotel rooms and to have outside space and a kitchen so you can enjoy the goodies bought at the local markets😉

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      Thanks for your nice comment Ingrid! Yes, it was busy, but definitely worth the trip. For fewer people I would have preferred to be in Dubrovnik earlier in May… but that’s the best way the routing worked to fly out of Split to Berlin for the last 9 days of this trip. As far as where to stay – it was terrific for a short time but oh those 300 steps up – whew!
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