Dubrovnik is two great things, which make it seem like two separate destinations:
- The impressive Old Town, surrounded by walls and towers, is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
- There is a long coastline of crystal clear waters, coves and beaches around the city, offering a perfect contrast to the Old Town
Dubrovnik has been a very popular destination for decades, and the old town can get very busy in the summer. Especially since it's a stop for many Mediterranean cruise ships, that unload masses of tourists every morning for a day in the city. That's why it's recommended to visit Dubrovnik outside the high season. I was there in April and it was a perfect time, not too hot either. Early autumn would be better for swimming of course.
And if you are not keen on swimming, it's a lot cheaper as well to go there in springtime. The room prices in hotels in mid-April are often about 40% or less of the rates in mid-August.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is somewhat divided in two when it comes to services, restaurants etc. The first one is of course the old town and its surroundings. The second one is around Lapad beach area. In the middle isn't much anything from a tourist's point of view. The straight line distance between Lapad beach and Old Town is about 3.5 kilometers, so it's not something one wants to walk back and forth too many times.
Around Copacabana beach is pretty much nothing and the same goes for most of the Lapad peninsula. The only area where there are several cafes, restaurants, pizzerias etc. is just behind Lapad beach. That beach boulevard (Šetalište) kralja Zvonimira is marked on the map with a red line.
So for the location of the hotel/apartment I think there are three clear choices:
- In Old Town or near it.
- Šetalište kralja Zvonimira / Lapad beach area, especially if you are travelling with small children and only want to just visit old town, but appreciate services nearby.
- A hotel with a swimming pool in the Lapad / Babin Kuk peninsula with more peace and quiet.
Things to do in Dubrovnik
The Old Town of Dubrovnik has got to be one the most interesting places in Europe. The inner area is flat terrain and full of churches, palaces and museums. The outer area is mostly uphill and residential area (also full of rental holiday apartments), with countless narrow streets, stairs, and small restaurants around every corner. It would be easy to get lost there, but fortunately there is a simple way of navigating: go down and you'll end up in the center, go up and you'll eventually face the surrounding walls.
Old Town Walls and Fort Lovrijenac
Dubrovnik Old Town is completely surrounded by walls, and they are open for visitors to go around (within opening hours). Tickets can be bought from the booths next to the entrances, and it cost 120 HRK in 2016 (about 16 euros). The same ticket was valid for Fort Lovrijenac as well (the stand alone building across the small bay in photo number 11). The price to see only Fort Lovrijenac was 30 HRK, but if you bought a ticket after that the same day to the city walls, the 30 HRK was deducted from the 120 HRK price, just by showing the previously bought Fort Lovrijenac ticket. (Update in 2018: the price for the walls is 150 HKR, don't know how much Fort Lovrijenac is) The walls can only be walked counterclockwise, but it doesn't matter where you start. There are a few entrances, the easiest to find is by the Pile Gate on the west side of the old town.
Fort Imperial at Srd Hill
Fort Imperial is visible from almost everywhere in Dubrovnik, it's on top of the Srd Hill behind the Old Town (image). Inside the fort is a museum of Croatian War of Independence. And at the upper cable car station there is a restaurant with spectacular views.
First three pictures in the gallery above were taken from the top (or halfway down) of the Srd Hill. It's easy to get to the top by a cable car, and down as well, but it can be a good idea to walk down. The view is amazing. You can see in the first two photos of the gallery what the road is like. The rocks can be sharp, so it's best to wear good shoes.
The island of Lokrum is located on the southeast side of Dubrovnik, only a short ferry ride away from the Old Town Harbour. You can see both the harbour and the island in this image.
Lokrum is a popular place for a day trip: swimming, sunbathing, walking in the forests around the island or in the Botanical Garden. There is also ruins of Benedictine Monastery as well as a restaurant and snack bars.
More information: lokrum.hr
How to get there from the airport
Dubrovnik international airport is located 19 kilometers from the Old Town.
By shuttle bus:
Atlas Shuttle Bus is the official airport transportation bus service to and from Dubrovnik Airport. After you exit the baggage claim area, you will find Atlas travel agency counter on the right-hand side, where you can purchase Airport shuttle bus ticket to Dubrovnik. In case of late arrivals (when Atlas counter is closed), you can buy tickets on the bus from the driver. Airport shuttle bus waits for every scheduled flight at the right-hand side outside of the airport arrivals terminal.
A one-way ticket costs around 6 euros and a return ticket around 10 euros.
Please check Atlas homepages for the exact shuttle bus schedules: atlas-croatia.com
By public bus:
There are two public bus lines operating between the Dubrovnik airport and the city
Bus line 11 - Dubrovnik - Molunat. Runs from Dubrovnik to Molunat and stops outside the airport terminal, but only 3 times daily.
Bus line 27 - Dubrovnik - Vitaljina. Runs from Dubrovnik to Vitaljina and stops outside the airport terminal, but only 3 times daily.
Weather in Dubrovnik
Winter: The weather in Dubrovnik in the winter is a typical Mediterranean winter weather. The temperatures are mild, the air is damp and it rains often. The average temperatures go around 10-15 °C.
Spring: Spring is great time to visit Dubrovnik. The temperature is on average goes close to 20°C and May is already a very warm month with temperatures going constantly over 20°C. The evenings aren’t that warm in early spring, so it’s still good to have a coat with you. There is often a cold wind blowing during the early spring months. The spring months are as well less rainy than the winter and autumn months.
Summer: From June to August the sunshine is pretty much guaranteed and it gets hot. The temperature in Dubrovnik climbs up to 30 °C and over.
Autumn: September is still a warm month and it’s often beach weather still during that month. The temperature in September stays clearly above 20 °C. September is still a lot rainier month than August. In mid-October the weather cools down to under 20 °C and the rains are even more frequent. October and November are the rainiest months of the year.