How to Spend Three Days in Dubrovnik: The Best Itinerary

Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Dubrovnik, Croatia, is one of the most magical places in the Mediterranean: a city of ancient walls and orange roofs, a city of Game of Thrones, rocky beaches, and pršut ham carved from the leg and brought to your lips. If you’re visiting Croatia, I recommend spending three days in Dubrovnik to make sure you’re enjoying the city to the fullest.

Dubrovnik and I have been getting to know one another for years — first as tentative acquaintances, now as close friends who can finish each other’s sentences. I’ve been to Dubrovnik three times on research trips; on my most recent visit, during July and August 2020, I spent a full week. (See more on traveling during our current global health crisis below.)

A lot of travelers come to Dubrovnik and do it all wrong — climbing the city walls during the hottest time of day; spending hours in line for immigration on a day trip to Montenegro; eating nothing but pizza and pasta.

I want you to have the best trip to Dubrovnik possible — and so I’ve put together an itinerary that shows you the best things to do in Dubrovnik, but also paces them at a decent rate so you won’t end up running yourself ragged, sweaty and exhausted. Plus, all my favorite dining options!

I hope this three days in Dubrovnik itinerary helps you plan the trip of a lifetime.

This post was updated as of October 2020.

Three Days in Dubrovnik Itinerary

How much time do you actually need in Dubrovnik? I think three days in Dubrovnik is a good amount. Three days is doable on a long weekend getaway, and even for people planning longer trips to Croatia, three days is a good amount of time to devote to Dubrovnik. And if you have more time, great!

You might notice that there is time marked out for relaxing and chilling out on this Dubrovnik itinerary. That is intentional.

Most people visit Dubrovnik during the busy summer season, and Dubrovnik in the summer is a LOT to take in. In an ordinary travel year, Dubrovnik is insanely crowded, especially on days when more cruise ships than usual are docked in town. It’s incredibly hot and tiring, and it can sap your energy away much more quickly than you realize.

For that reason, I recommend making time to chill out in Dubrovnik — to swim in the ocean, to relax and read a book by the pool, to take a moment to enjoy yourself away from everyone else. And I don’t usually say that.

Whenever I’m in Paris or New Orleans or Tokyo, I’m happy to be out and exploring all day, only taking short breaks along the way to recharge with a coffee. Dubrovnik is different — you need to take a few hours off, especially during the early afternoon, the hottest time of day, and relax.

It’s not a waste of time to sit by the pool when visiting a world-class city like Dubrovnik. In fact, I’d argue that these breaks are essential to enjoying Dubrovnik to the fullest.

More on this subject: Dubrovnik Survival Guide

Day One in Dubrovnik

I want your first day in Dubrovnik to WOW you over and over. I love this itinerary for your first day — it takes you around the Old City, gives you some time to chill by the beach or pool, visits my favorite restaurant in town, and takes in unforgettable views of the city.

No, my guide Ana and I didn’t plan our matching outfits!

Explore the Old City

Your first activity in Dubrovnik should be exploring the Old City! Set out early before the heat kicks in.

You can either explore the city by yourself or hire a guide. It can be nice to have a guide — they’ll actually teach you about the real history of the city instead of the fictional Game of Thrones history! You can hire a guide at the Dubrovnik Tourist Board office just outside Pile Gate.

Otherwise, Dubrovnik is a good place in which to get lost. Spend time exploring the hidden pathways, hiking up staircases, and finding the occasional beach bar on the perimeter of the city.

I recommend taking a look at the Dubrovnik Card and seeing if it will save you money. It gives you access to walking the walls of the city; several small museums, galleries and attractions (I enjoyed the Franciscan Monastery); free public transport throughout the city; and discounts on several restaurants, activities, and attractions.

The Dubrovnik Card costs 225 kuna ($35) for one day, 270 kuna ($42) for three days, and 315 kuna ($49) for seven days. Considering that walking the walls alone costs 200 kuna ($31), this will likely save you money.

Lunch at Proto

Proto is a restaurant that will SERIOUSLY wow you. Proto has been my favorite restaurant in Dubrovnik since 2014. On my most recent visit, I was delighted to learn that my boyfriend’s colleague’s husband is the manager now! He hosted Charlie’s colleagues for a comped lunch and generously invited me to join — and he kept bringing out plate after plate of specialties that he wanted us to try.

Scallop tartare with avocado
Octopus tartare
Ravioli with butter-poached shrimp
Pasta with shrimp and Istrian truffles
Fish cooked in a crust of sea salt

The food here is uniformly excellent — the kind of place that will have you making yummy noises for the whole meal because HOW can this FOOD be so GOOD?!

If you have four people, the fish cooked in a crust of salt is a fantastic dish to share, and watching your server crack the shell open is entertaining to watch. Somehow this turns into the most savory, flavorful fish on the planet.

Otherwise, the tartares are wonderful (scallop, tuna, octopus), the clams and mussels are scrumptious, and the most popular dish on the menu (and justifiably so) is the pasta with shrimp and Istrian truffles.

NOTE: Are you not a seafood fan? Go to Kopun instead. Kopun is a restaurant in the Old City specializing in capon — castrated rooster. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s like a richer, juicier version of chicken. Their capon gnocchi with truffles was one of the best things I ate in Dubrovnik.

Afternoon Relaxing and Lounging

Wait, shouldn’t you be out exploring on your first day?! Yeah, and you did that! By now you’re probably hot, sweaty, and a little bit sleepy after your big meal at Proto, so it’s time for a break.

Go sit by the pool. Go for a swim in the wild waves of the ocean. Relax and enjoy the bright turquoise Adriatic waves.

Then go take a shower and you’ll be ready for your evening fun.

Cable Car

Dubrovnik has a cable car leading up to Srd Hill with unparalleled views of the Old City. This is another wow-able experience!

For the best timing, take a ride on the cable car just before sunset. I recommend looking up the sunset time online and planning your arrival about an hour before sunset to take in the views and colors.

The views at the top are incredible — and it’s even better once the sun starts to go down. Looking northward, you see the Elafiti islands rising out of the ocean for as far as the eye can see, illuminated by a changing sunset of pink and purple and orange.

A lot of people leave as soon as the sun dips beneath the horizon, but don’t be so fast — the colors get even better. That photo above was taken after the sun had disappeared.

Round-trip tickets on the cable car are 100 kuna ($15.50) for adults, 50 kuna ($8) for children 4-12, and free for children under 4.

How about enjoying dinner with THIS view?

Dinner at Panorama Restaurant

You’re already up on top of the hill — might as well stay for dinner! While I think most restaurants on top of epic viewpoints tend to be on the mediocre side, that’s not true for Panorama Restaurant. I’ve eaten here twice and both times the food has been surprisingly great — and everything tastes better with a view like this.

My top tip: Call and book a reservation at Panorama Restaurant when you’re planning your trip. Ask for a table with the best view. It’s so worth it to get one of the tables with the best view! You should do this at least a month in advance, because there aren’t a ton of tables, and you don’t want to get shut out.

Oh, and get ready to witness some marriage proposals! It’s a popular spot for that.

Stroll the Old City at Night

After taking the cable car down, stroll back into the Old City. Dubrovnik is so different during the night. It’s less crowded — no cruise ship passengers! — and the lamps against the darkness add a mysterious feeling to the city.

Drop Into D’Vino Wine Bar

If you’re in the mood for drinks, I recommend stopping by D’Vino Wine Bar in the Old City. This bar, owned by an affable Australian man married to a lovely Croatian woman, is a great place to get to know Croatian wines.

Croatia has a major wine industry, but most people don’t realize this because it’s hard to find Croatian wine outside Croatia. This is because most of the producers are very small, and it doesn’t make fiscal sense to export them, especially to huge markets like the US. So Croatia is your best chance to sample them.

While there are some wine samplers on the menu at D’Vino, I didn’t love them — instead, ask for a recommendation for something by the glass. If you like deep, spicy reds, I highly recommend Dingač, a specialty from the Peljesač peninsula. This is a very special varietal and my personal favorite Croatian wine.

Grk and Pošip are two specialty whites from nearby Korčula. If you’re not going to Korčula on your Croatia trip, this is a good place to sample them (though be prepared to pay a lot more for Grk by the bottle). Malvasija is a lovely white from the Istria region.

Day Two in Dubrovnik

You’ve already covered the basics on your first day in Dubrovnik. Today I’m going to show you a few more special things, with two different outdoorsy options for the morning, plus the single most special dining experience you can have in all of Croatia.

Kayak Around the Old City

If you enjoy sea kayaking, you’re in for a treat — Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful urban environments in which to kayak. Getting down on the water gives you brand new views of the Old City and beyond. And being in the water on a hot day gives you the excuse to jump overboard and take a little swim!

Even though this environment is the ocean, the waves are usually very small, and most tours are open to people with no kayaking experience.

You have options: you can join a tour, or you can rent a kayak on your own. This kayaking tour starts at $35 and even includes a snorkeling break on a secluded beach! If you’re looking to rent, there are rental spots near the port and City Beach.

Lokrum Island is a good place to explore independently by kayak; you might want to consider that as a Day Three option instead. (More on that in the Day Three section.)

NOTE: Know your physical limits. If you’re not in good shape, don’t join a tour that goes all the way to Lokrum Island, around, and back. You may prefer a more low-key tour, or you might just enjoy renting a kayak and paddling as your leisure. Talk to the tour leader about your concerns before you book it.

Even after kayaking in Antarctica, arguably the most badass thing I’ve ever done, I still tend to be the slowest kayaker in every group.

At City Beach, you can’t beat the proximity to the Old City!

Enjoy a Beach

If you’re not up for kayaking, why not have some beach time instead? Relax on the pebbles (don’t forget your water shoes!) and enjoy the sunshine in between dips into the bright blue water.

So, if you’re spending a morning by the sea, what’s the best beach in Dubrovnik?? I’ve got three good options for you (and that doesn’t even include your hotel).

If you want easy access and minimal fuss, head to City Beach, pictured above, on the southern end of the Old City. It’s practically adjacent to the Old City and despite being central, the water is really nice.

If you want an epic Croatian beach far from any urban environment, head to Pasjača Beach, about a 35-minute drive south of the Old City. This has a bit of a rugged path to get there, but it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Croatia.

But if you want the best of both worlds, head to Sveti Jakov Beach, about an eight-minute drive south of the Old City. It’s a truly beautiful beach, yet it’s still close enough to the city to do easily. Most of my Dubrovnik friends consider this their favorite beach.

Fun fact: there’s no such thing as private beaches in Croatia! You can go to any beach you want.

Lunch in the Old City

After you’ve enjoyed your morning, enjoy a nice meal! You can go your own way today, so I thought I’d recommend some places I love.

Kopun is an excellent restaurant specializing in capon, or castrated rooster. Trust me, it’s delicious. The capon truffle gnocchi is the bomb.

Kamenice is a great spot if you’re in the mood for mussels, fresh from the sea.

Bota Šare Oyster and Sushi Bar is a great spot for — you guessed it — oysters and sushi.

Pizzeria Castro has great pizza, I’ve heard, though I can’t personally vouch for this place.

If you’re in the mood for ice cream after, Dolce Vita has a nice bitter orange flavor that pairs well with dark chocolate.

After lunch, head back to your place for a siesta or go for a swim. You can even swim off the rocks of the Old City itself if you’d like!

Walk the Walls of Dubrovnik at Sunset

Walking the walls of Dubrovnik is one of the absolute best things to do in the city. But most people make a huge mistake — they go in the middle of the day. Going in the middle of the day, you’ll have the sun beating down on you with very little shade along the route, and it can become a miserable experience, limping from shady spot to shady spot, guzzling water along the way.

Instead, I recommend going right when they open, or going two hours before they close, and taking advantage of the lower temperatures and better light. It will still be hot, but you’ll have a much better experience.

The photography from these vantage points is superb — but for me, my favorite part is finding little pieces of local life. Laundry hanging on lines. A kids’ playground in a back garden. Dubrovnik’s Old City has very few year-round residents anymore; most rent their places out during the summer months. It’s nice to see that locals still exist here.

There are a few cafes along the route serving water, coffee, and other drinks.

Tickets to Dubrovnik’s walls are 200 kuna ($31 USD) and they come included in the Dubrovnik card. During high season the walls open at 8:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM, though double-check as COVID has affected opening times. It takes about two hours to walk the walls to completion and you must walk a one-way counterclockwise route without backtracking.

NOTE: If you’re a hardcore photographer, you’ll probably want to shoot the walls of Dubrovnik twice: once as close to sunrise as you can, and once as close to sunset as you can.

Experience a Croatian Peka Meal

Tonight, you’re going to experience the most special part of your time in Dubrovnik: a peka dinner with wonderful locals. A peka is when you serve dinner “under the bell,” cooking either octopus or lamb and veal in a giant communal pot with potatoes under a bed of coals.

Locals Marija and Zlatko welcome travelers into their backyard to enjoy a traditional Croatian feast — one that starts in the early evening and lasts for hours, filled with cured meats and cheeses, anchovies and olives, several kinds of homemade liqueurs, and plenty of local wine. It’s all fresh and local and built on generations of traditions.

If you’ve felt a little underwhelmed by Croatian cuisine so far — and people often are underwhelmed — this is the experience that will blow you away.

Marija: “Kaaaaaaaate, would you like more pršut?” Always!

What I love about this experience is that the food is superb — but the people will be what you remember the most. Marija and Zlatko treat you like a long-lost friend, asking you about your life, encouraging you to try more of liqueurs and serving pršut sliced off the leg moments earlier. Soon you’ll be telling stories, laughing uproariously, and toasting frequently with a hearty “Živjeli!”

This piece in Nat Geo Traveler, written by a friend, is a wonderful account of the experience.

You can see more and book at Marija and Zlatko’s website, Dubrovnik Eat With Locals. Dinners cost in the neighborhood of $100 per person (check directly for the latest rates) and are worth every penny.

Lokrum Island is a great way to spend a morning.

Day Three in Dubrovnik

If you’re spending three days in Dubrovnik, your third day in Dubrovnik is about doing things your way! It’s a good opportunity to get into nature, do some physical activities, visit an island, or just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.

For that reason, here I’m listing several different options of things you can do during the day — plus one specific recommendation for evening drinks and one memorable final meal.

Here is what I recommend doing on your third day in Dubrovnik:

Want to pose on the Iron Throne? You get that at Lokrum Island!

Visit Lokrum Island

You know that little island next to Dubrovnik? That’s Lokrum Island! Is it worth it? Absolutely!

Lokrum Island is a small island, but it encompasses quite a bit of what makes Croatia special. There are rock slab beaches, where you can jump into the water and enjoy a stunning view of the Old City. There are botanical gardens and a Benedictine monastery. There are playgrounds and wooded trails to explore. You can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the coastline.

Most memorably, this is where you can sit on the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones! Lokrum Island served as the City of Qarth in the series. The throne is on display in the Lokrum Visitor Center, which is free to visit.

There’s also a nude beach on Lokrum Island, if that’s your thing. Nude beaches are called FKK beaches in Croatia (it stands for Freikörperkultur, the German word for “free body culture” — love how Germans have words for everything!). Most of the time, they are a bit challenging to get to and don’t have a direct path. This beach is in the southeast corner of the island.

For the love of God, do not take pictures on the nude beach, even of the scenery; if you’re kayaking around the beach, do not take pictures. Taking pictures anywhere near an FKK beach is a gross invasion of privacy.

How much time do you need on Lokrum Island? A half day, and I’d recommend going in the morning. There is a restaurant on the island if you want to have lunch. There is no overnight accommodation on the island.

The ferry to Lokrum Island costs 40 kuna (6 USD) each way and boats depart from the Old City’s port. (This is different from the larger ferries, which depart from the port of Gruž, a 15-minute drive from the Old City.)

Mljet is a gorgeous nature island worth visiting.

Visit Mljet Island

I love Mljet — it’s a quiet, magical place, and one of my favorite Croatian islands. Mljet is filled with spectacular nature, from dense green forest to neon blue saltwater lakes, and it makes a great contrast to the city of Dubrovnik.

You can easily spend several days in Mljet — but its highlights can be done in a day trip from Dubrovnik.

Mljet National Park is the crown jewel of the island and where you should spend your time. Within the park, I recommend renting a bike and cruising around. The absolute best views are from Montokuc (monta-cooch), an uphill 45-minute hike from the bike rental spot. You can also go swimming in the buoyant, velvety saltwater lakes and visit a monastery on St. Mary’s Island.

Want to get lunch? Pizza and beer at Pizzeria Levanat in the town of Pomena was a great way to refuel after the hike.

How much time do you need on Mljet? Plan it according to the ferry schedule. During high season, there is a daily passenger-only ferry called the Nona Ana that departs from Dubrovnik’s Gruž port in the morning and returns in the late afternoon. You will want to get off at Polace — NOT Sobra, the first stop — as this is the gateway to Mljet National Park.

That being said, double-check the ferry schedule for all your days, as it can vary, and some days give you more hours on the island than others. Try to maximize your time on Mljet. The ferry takes about 90 minutes and costs 100 kuna ($16) each way.

The Red History Museum is a time capsule from the sixties and seventies.

Visit the Red History Museum

I LOVE a good themed museum — and Croatia has so many of them. The Red History Museum is a wonderful museum to visit, especially if you love history.

You might notice that even on historical tours in Croatia, people tend to skip over the communist years as Yugoslavia. Well, this is an opportunity to learn about those them! Of course, this was an oppressive time and awful in many ways — but do you think people live lives completely devoid of joy and meaning just because times were hard? (I mean, it’s 2020.)

The museum is built from painstakingly reconstructed, historically accurate artifacts from those times. And it’s interactive! You can open a kitchen cabinet and see products that were for sale in that time! What I loved most was looking at the collections of photography — groups of girlfriends hanging out and laughing, wearing killer dresses; school fairs and birthdays and teenagers trying to look cool. Oh, and the weddings. SO MANY WEDDINGS.

More than that — this museum is an Instagram dream. Are you an Instagrammer? Put on your most vintage outfit and come to pose on all the sets! Yes, you can pose in the sixties bedroom, in the seventies kitchen, listening to Croatian records with headphones on, in the kiosk selling magazines and candy!

The Red History Museum is right across from the Gruž ferry port, so it’s a great place to visit once you come back from a day trip by boat (Lokrum excluded). We visited the museum after we got back from Mljet.

How much time do you need at the Red History Museum? It’s a small place, and 90 minutes should be sufficient. Entry is 50 kuna ($8) for adults, 40 kuna ($6) for university students, 20 kuna ($3) for primary and secondary school students.

A set of hands in Dubrovnik holds a picture of a scene from Game of Thrones taking place in the Dubrovnik walls.
See the actual places where Game of Thrones was filmed!

Take a Game of Thrones Tour

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan — even if you hated the final season — you should go on a Game of Thrones tour to see the locations in depth. Dubrovnik served as King’s Landing in the series and so many pivotal scenes were shot here.

Double-check to see whether your tour includes Lokrum Island or not. Lokrum Island is where you can sit on the Iron Throne. But getting there takes so much time and effort that most tours stick to the mainland.

This tour is a mainland tour that covers most of the interesting sites — and lets you upgrade to a bonus visit to the palace gardens in Trsteno, outside the city.

How much time do you need on a Game of Thrones tour? Most take around two to three hours, and they’re usually timed to avoid the hottest time of day. I actually recommend doing this in the late afternoon if you can, because you can get the most beautifully lit shots of the Old City from Lovrijenac Fortress.

Time for a beach break!

More Beach or Pool Time

Like I keep saying, this is important in Dubrovnik! Give yourself a break from the heat and the crowds and enjoy that bright blue water.

How much time do you need at the beach or pool? You know yourself better than I do.

If you’re only going to one bar in Dubrovnik, make sure it’s Buža Bar.

Evening drinks at Buža Bar

Buža Bar is a VERY cool spot — a bar carved out of rocks on the edge of the Old City overlooking Lokrum Island! (You probably saw it from above while walking the walls yesterday.) Early evening, or sunset, is the best time. Temperatures are getting cooler and you get to see the colors change.

During the day, Buža Bar is popular place for people to enjoy cocktails in between swimming in the ocean. It definitely has a louder and more family-friendly crowd during the day; I preferred the evening atmosphere.

If I may make a recommendation — you should get a gin and tonic made with Opihr, a gloriously spicy gin with notes of cardamom, black pepper, cubeb berries, and coriander. I discovered this gin on my gin trip to the UK in 2014, and it can be hard to find, which makes it a perfect special occasion drink.

Azur is a must for dinner!

Dinner at Azur

One of my favorite restaurants in Dubrovnik is Azur, a Mediterranean-Asian fusion restaurant — CroAsian, as the owners like to say! The food here is SO good (and most importantly, DIFFERENT, as so many restaurants up and down the Croatian coastline serve the same menu over and over).

We enjoyed Korean fried chicken sliders, pork belly tacos, and the best dish we had, shockingly, was a plate of vegan meatballs in a coconut curry! I think they were made of amaranth. Azur also has an excellent selection of cocktails.

Note: If your time in Dubrovnik is at the end of a longer Croatia trip, you may want to eat at Azur on your first night instead. By then you’ll probably be sick of octopus salad and marinated anchovies and looking for something new.

Morning at the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, orange roofs and a bright blue sky
If you only have a day trip to Montenegro, you’ll miss out on this view at sunrise.

What Not to Do in Dubrovnik

Please resist the urge to day trip to Kotor, Montenegro, or Mostar, Bosnia. These are two of the most popular day trips from Dubrovnik.

Know this: I love both of these cities. Kotor in particular is one of my favorite places on the planet. (Even though I was haunted by a ghost there for five days.)

But day tripping to either of these is a bad idea. During high season, you could be sitting at each border crossing for TWO HOURS. Not to mention that you have to go through an extra set of border crossings for the little piece of Bosnia that bisects Croatia. Do you really want four hours of your day trip spent on that?

Besides that, both of these destinations deserve more of your time!

I think Mostar can be done in a well-planned overnight visit. For Kotor I would recommend spending at least two nights there, or longer if you can, as there’s so much to do in that part of Montenegro.

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

Where’s the best place to stay in Dubrovnik? Dubrovnik is a relatively small city and it’s easy to get around.

I actually don’t recommend staying within the Old City because there are few properties, they charge a high premium, and you’ll have to drag your bag up lots of staircases. Instead, I recommend staying within a short walk or Uber ride to the Old City.

I don’t recommend staying outside Dubrovnik and driving in each day. It’s a pain, it won’t save you that much money, and parking near the Old City is expensive.

On this trip I partnered with two Adriatic Luxury Hotels properties — Hotel Dubrovnik Palace and Hotel Excelsior.

Hotel Dubrovnik Palace

This was my second time staying at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace — and this time I did it so much better. On my first trip, it was where I stayed for the Dubrovnik portion of my group Croatia campaign in 2014 — but our schedule was so packed in Dubrovnik, I didn’t even get to relax and enjoy the hotel!

Because THIS is a hotel in which you can relax and enjoy yourself, resort-style.

The hotel is large, with a huge lobby area and a few restaurants. The rooms have recently been renovated, and they look fabulous — the kind of room that’s perfect to come back to after a long day out.

But what makes this hotel exceptional is its pool and beach area.

The hotel is placed on an expansive swathe of rocky coastline, outfitted into a pool and beach area with outstanding sunset views. There is a VIP section with a smaller, quieter pool and extra room for lounging.

This is the kind of place where you commandeer a beach chair and get cocktails delivered.

As for me, I plunged into the waves as the sun set, illuminating everything with golden light. It was one of the best swims of my life!

Hotel Dubrovnik Palace is located in a neighborhood called Lapad that is about a nine-minute drive from the Old City. This is a lot further than other hotels, but I think you make up for it having such a wonderful coastline.

There is a public bus to the Old City that leaves directly from the hotel (and if you have the Dubrovnik Card, it covers these bus rides!). Alternatively, you can take an Uber, which takes about nine minutes and costs about 50 kuna ($8).

Low-season rates at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace start at $175 USD; high-season rates at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace start at $633 USD. (Rates based on January and June 2021.)

Hotel Excelsior

Hotel Excelsior had long been on my list of hotels I dreamed of staying in. It’s one of the most high-end properties in Dubrovnik. On my last trip, I had breakfast there and got to enjoy the best view in town — on this visit, I got to enjoy the best view in town from my balcony.

The location is one of the top selling points of Hotel Excelsior — you’re just an eight-minute walk from the walls of the Old City, and you hit City Beach on the way. That makes it a convenient option for going back to the hotel for a siesta, a shower, or a few hours by the sea.

On top of that, this property feels small, familiar, and exclusive in a way that other Dubrovnik properties are not.

That said, the room seemed fairly basic for such a stylish property — a significant difference from style-drenched common areas of the hotel. It seemed a bit of a missed opportunity. But the bathtub overlooking the Old City is an inspired feature, and you can’t beat the Excelsior in terms of atmosphere.

The staff here are very attentive, and they surprised me with a gorgeous cake on my birthday!

Low-season rates at Hotel Excelsior start at $480 USD; high-season rates at Hotel Excelsior start at $824 USD. (Rates based on January and June 2021.)

Which hotel is better?

These hotels are both five-star properties, but they have different atmospheres. Hotel Excelsior feels much more exclusive and upscale, it has a better breakfast, a better location, and it has the best view in the city. Hotel Dubrovnik Palace has much nicer rooms, an exceptional beach and pool area, and it’s cheaper.

If you want to be within walking distance of the city and/or have a smaller, more exclusive atmosphere, you’ll prefer Hotel Excelsior.

If you want to spend a lot of your time in Dubrovnik lounging at the beach and pool, resort-style, you’ll prefer Hotel Dubrovnik Palace.

Dubrovnik is full of stairs, making accessibility a challenge.

A Note on Dubrovnik’s Accessibility

Dubrovnik is a very challenging destination for people with mobility difficulties. The Old City is full of stairs in every direction, and many of the streets are polished and slippery. There is a wheelchair-accessible entrance to the Old City at Pile Gate and that allows you to experience about 25% of the Old City without having to use the stairs.

Keep in mind that most of Croatia’s coastline is extremely steep and hilly, making this issue not unique to Dubrovnik. But I do recall my beloved Zadar being remarkably flat in its Old City.

Can Dubrovnik be done in a wheelchair? Yes, the Old City can be done in limited parts. But Dubrovnik would not be a destination I would choose for a wheelchair user. If you or any of your travel companions have challenges with mobility, I would do a lot of research before committing to a trip here.

I’m not an expert on disability travel, so I recommend seeking out other resources. Cory Lee has a guide on traveling Croatia in a wheelchair.

Visiting Dubrovnik During COVID

I spent two months in Croatia during late July and early August in 2020. Conditions varied enormously throughout the country, but at the time I visited, there were only seven active COVID cases total in all of Dubrovnik-Neretva county. As I write this post in October 2020, cases are up significantly now.

Dubrovnik’s tourism numbers been affected more severely by COVID than any other destination in Croatia, for four reasons: the first is that Dubrovnik is a tourism hub but not a business hub, and thus flights were massively reduced; it’s a bit of a pain to drive to Dubrovnik, and European tourists chose more drive-friendly destinations; Dubrovnik’s two biggest nationalities in tourism are Americans and Brits, both of whom massively reduced their travels; and Dubrovnik is a very busy port for cruises, all of which were canceled.

As a result, I got to experience a Dubrovnik with only about 20% occupancy and zero cruise ship passengers. It was something exceptional to witness — empty streets in the heart of high season, being able to walk into any restaurant, no pushing your way through sweaty midday crowds.

Masks were required on waitstaff and indoor hotel employees, but hotels did not mandate masks for guests in indoor areas. Some guests chose to wear masks and some chose not to.

Overall, I found the Dalmatian coast to be one of the better places to be during a pandemic, in part because you can do everything outside, from eating to activities to transportation, and this region has nearly perfect weather all summer.

This summer, Croatia was one of few EU countries open to American travelers. At the time, travelers needed to arrive with proof of paid accommodation and a negative COVID test taken in the past 48 hours, or to quarantine for two weeks. (I arrived overland from Serbia in early July before this went into effect.) This may change as Europe faces another COVID wave, and I recommend staying up to date on the latest information.

My heart hurts for all the people in Dubrovnik — and everywhere — dependent on tourism for income. May this crisis end soon.

Is Dubrovnik Worth It?

Yes, even with all the cruise ships, all the tourist crowds, and having to take breaks — Dubrovnik is very much worth it.

Dubrovnik is worth it today, tomorrow, and forever.

I hope you enjoy your time in this fantastic city.

Planning a Trip to Croatia:

Croatian Islands and the Dalmatian Coast:

Istria and the North:

Many thanks to Adriatic Luxury Hotels for providing me with four comped nights at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace and three comped nights at Hotel Excelsior; to Visit Dubrovnik for providing us with two Dubrovnik cards, two Lokrum ferry tickets, two cable car tickets, and a comped city tour; to the Mljet Tourist Board for two comped ferry tickets to Mljet, a tour of Mljet National Park, and lunch at Pizzeria Levanat; and to the Croatia National Tourist Board for making connections and support throughout the trip. Through my boyfriend’s work connections in Dubrovnik, we also experienced a comped meal at Proto, a comped meal at Azur, a comped kayak rental on Lokrum Island, and a comped peka for us and his local colleagues with Marija and Zlatko.

Have you been to Dubrovnik? What are your tips?