3 days in Dubrovnik itinerary: an alternative guide

Let’s be real, despite having a population of just 28,000 and only being Croatia’s 17th largest city, we all know how popular Dubrovnik is as a destination - in fact it’s the most visited city in Croatia!

Thanks to the Games of Thrones series, Dubrovnik has been put on the map and attracts crowds of visitors every year to see the historic walled city, the beautiful beaches and the crystal clear water.

Having been living in Croatia for 10 months at the time of writing (I’m here on a Digital Nomad visa), I’ve been lucky enough to visit Dubrovnik a few times and I think there’s much more to be seen than the usual guides telling you to visit the museums and the cathedrals and walk the walls.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to tell you to walk the city walls!

But my aim with this guide is to give you an itinerary for Dubrovnik which combines the best well known Dubrovnik attractions, with some of the lesser visited spots and maybe one or two Dubrovnik hidden gems.

3 days in Dubrovnik is a great amount of time to see the city and maybe take a boat trip or two. This is a Dubrovnik itinerary for those who don’t want to museum-hop or cathedral-hop - you can get those recommendations on Tripadvisor, you don’t need them from me!

view looking across a bay and coastline in Dubrovnik with turquoise blue water, blue sky, a fortress on the rocky cliffs and terracotta rooftops in the background

View of Fortress Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. While clicking these links won't cost you anything, they will help me to keep this site up and running! Check out the full disclosure policy for more details. Thank you so much!

 

The big question: how many days in Dubrovnik?

People often think Dubrovnik is a major city in Croatia. But in terms of size and population, it’s actually really small.

In fact, Dubrovnik is small enough that you could see the main sites in the city in one day, maybe venture a bit further afield with two days in the city, and three days in Dubrovnik allows you to take a day trip too.

You could easily use Dubrovnik as your base for a week in Croatia, however I would highly suggest taking day trips to Cavtat, Lokrum Island, Kotor in Montenegro or the Elafiti islands to maximise your time in Dubrovnik.

Having visited a few times, if you’re wondering how many days to spend in Dubrovnik, I think spending 3 days in Dubrovnik is enough to see the best of what the city has to offer. That’s my aim to show you what you can see in that time with this Dubrovnik 3 day itinerary.

views from the top of mount Srd of the city of Dubrovnik below, surrounded by blue sea

View of Dubrovnik from Mount Srd

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Dubrovnik, I’ve detailed the best neighbourhoods to stay in Dubrovnik and the best hotels in Dubrovnik, depending on what your priorities are for your trip.

There are 6 key neighbourhoods in the city that you may want to consider staying in, ready my full article here on the best places to stay in Dubrovnik.

My favourite hotel in Dubrovnik is Hotel Adria - it's a 20-30 minute walk from the Old Town which might be too far for some, especially during the summer heat. But it has stunning views, overlooks Lapad and the islands, has a stunning pool and comes with parking.

Booking.com
 

What to do in Dubrovnik in 3 days

Day 1: Explore the city

Use day 1 of your trip to see all the must do in Dubrovnik activities! 

Walk the Dubrovnik City Walls

View from Dubrovnik city walls looking down the main cobbled street in dubrovnik with light stone buildings either side and church towers in the foreground and the background

Stradun Street in Dubrovnik seen from the city walls

Start the morning by walking along the Old Town City walls, a must do in Dubrovnik! The morning is the best time to go - temperatures are cooler and the crowds are less. The Walls are open from 8am each day.

Although if you do visit later in the day, there are plenty of spots to enjoy a drink and some much needed shade!

Allow around 2 hours to walk the walls, enjoy the view of the terracotta rooftops and see Lokrum Island and the Croatia coast from the walls.

Tickets to visit the walls aren't cheap, €30-35 - but the views are stunning and in my opinion, the tourist attraction in Dubrovnik that is most worth the price.

The ticket entrance is at the Pile Gate or Ploce Gate, both are historic entrances to the old city walls where historically the drawbridges were raised each day for protection.

The walls are walked in an anti-clockwise direction to reduce crowds. Make sure to bring sun protection, a hat and sunscreen, the walls have very little shade unless you stop at a cafe along the way. The ticket only allows you to enter once too, so once you start the walk, you can’t leave and return without buying another ticket.

Buy your ticket at the entrance or get tickets as part of a guided tour - this guided tour includes wall tickets and is great value for money.

 

Explore the Old Town

After walking the walls, take some time to wander the old town, literally get lost in the winding streets and cobbled alleyways. Be warned, there are a lot of steps, so bring your walking shoes!

Make sure to walk down Stradun Street, see the 16th century Sponza Palace and visit the Church of Ignatius (Crkva sv. Ignacij) which has the iconic stone staircase known as the Jesuit Stairs.

view across the terracotta rooftops of Dubrovnik old town in the sun

View of Dubrovnik Old Town

steep steps in Dubrovnik looking down the street towards the rooftops of the old town

Steep steps in the alleyways of Dubrovnik

 

Swim at the secret beach

a shallow, calm cove with emerald green water in the bay and cliffs on either side

Beach Sulic

In the afternoon, cool off at the secret Beach Sulic, situated in a charming Cove on the other side of Lovrijenac Fortress, which you'll have seen perched on the rocky cliffs on the other side of the natural bay from the city walls.

The beach is pretty small but the Cove is long, clear and shallow - perfect for swimming in and it's just a few steps from Pile Gate at the Old Town.

 

Sunset drinks at a secret bar perched on the cliffs outside the walls

In the evening, head to Buza Bar - a secret bar (or not so secret now!) through a rocky doorway in the city walls. The bar is perched on the cliffs outside the city walls with epic sea views and direct access to the water, if you brave the jump!

You'll see plenty of people cliff diving and sunbathing on the rocks here before enjoying a sundowner. Buza Bar is definitely the best bar for sunset drinks and epic views in Dubrovnik. 

Prices are reasonable but it is cash only.

 

Day 2: Lokrum Island

Visit Lokrum Island

a bay with a boat dock and a pink house on the waters edge

Arriving on Lokrum Island

After spending your first day exploring Dubrovnik, day 2 in Dubrovnik is perfect to spend a day at Lokrum Island - a magical island just 14 minutes boat ride from Dubrovnik harbour. 

You'll find the harbour outside the Ploce Gate entrance to the east of the Old Town.

Boats to Lokrum Island depart every 30 minutes and you can just turn up and buy a ticket for the next available boat.

Lokrum Island is a beautifully preserved pedestrianised island, home to a Monastery, military fortifications and miles of hiking trails and beaches.

While you're on Lokrum, make time to walk around the island coast path, stop at beaches and rocky cliffs for views of the turquoise sea, swimming holes and even a world famous nudist beach / FKK beach on the southeast side of the island.

 

See the sights of the island all for one boat ticket price

The dead sea on lokrum island with people floating

The Dead Sea on Lokrum Island

Make sure to stroll around the ruins of the Monastery, used as a Game of Thrones filming location for any GoT fans!

Look out for the peacocks that roam the island too!

Don't miss the Dead Sea - an inland swimming hole on the island which is similar to the Dead Sea in Jordan, the salt water here is much higher than the sea usually so you'll float effortlessly on the water's surface.

There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants to enjoy if you need a break from the sun.

The whole island price is included in the boat ticket so once you arrive at the island, the Dead Sea, the Monastery, the walking trails, Botanical Gardens, beaches and ruins are all free to explore.

 

Hiking trails on Lokrum Island

If you've got good shoes, walk up to the old military Fortress at the highest point on the island. It's a steep and rocky walk but the views of Dubrovnik and the coast are worth it.

We also walked the loop around the edge of the island which was well signposted and fairly flat.

view from the hiking trail at the top of Lokrum island, Dubrovnik

View from the fortress at the top of Lokrum island

 

Mount Srd for sunset

girl in a cap and pink tshirt sitting on a rock with views looking down on the Dubrovnik old town

Dubrovnik view from Mount Srd

For those wanting to see the spectacular views at the top of Mount Srd, there are 3 ways to get up there:

  • By cable car

  • By road (car, taxi, buggy tour etc)

  • By foot on the hiking trail

The hiking trail is steep and I’d recommend avoiding it in the summer months when it’s hot, or attempting it very early/later in the day.

The cable car offers great views, but the views from the top are stunning and they are free - so I really didn’t want to pay 200 kn / 27 Euros for a return cable car ticket per person!

However I later found out that you can actually drive up to Mount Srd - the cable car is not the only way to get up there.

We spoke to a few locals who confirmed that the road up is steep in places but completely paved and very doable so we drove our own car up to the top and saw the views for free. We also saw plenty of taxis and buggy tours up there too.

Although the cable car sounds fun, 50+ euros for a couple or 100+ euros for a family of four just seemed too expensive to me, so I’d recommend taking a taxi and making your own way to the top if you can!

If you fancy a walk and it’s not too warm, you could also take a taxi to the top, enjoy the views and the museum at the top and then walk the trail back down.

There are a few switchbacks but the trail is relatively easy and took us about 1 hour when we did this in April and the weather wasn’t too hot.

 

Fresh seafood for dinner at Barba 

black sesame seafood burger and chips on a table

Seafood burger at Barba

I don’t know about you but I often feel overwhelmed with all the food choices in a new city when I have a short time to visit.

We stumbled on Barba, a casual fish restaurant and takeaway by accident and discovered it is one of the most highly rated and affordable seafood options in the city.

The restaurant is small, only seating around 10 people so the queues outside can be huge in the summer, but they also have a street food hatch so you can take your food to go.

The fresh fish platter and the fish burgers were unreal, the owner had a chat with us and honestly the value for money with how fresh that fish is - you don’t find that in many places!

It’s also a great option if you prefer no-frills food or you’ve got young children and prefer quick food or food on the go.

 

Day 3: Take a day trip from Dubrovnik and explore Cavtat or the Elafiti Islands

an old town square with cobbled street and mountains behind in Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor Old Town, Montenegro on a day trip from Dubrovnik

There are plenty of options for day trips from Dubrovnik if you’d like to explore more of the area on your itinerary for Dubrovnik. You can visit nearby islands or even visit Montenegro from Dubrovnik or Bosnia and Herzegovina - Dubrovnik is ideally located to visit other countries on a day trip.

If you’d prefer an organised tour to take the stress out of planning a day trip or a boat trip for the day, I’ve left a few options here, or you can see the self-guided options below.

 

Dubrovnik to Cavtat day trip - self-guided

Located just 20 km along the coast, Cavtat is a charming town on the Adriatic Coast just 30 minutes drive from Dubrovnik. The town itself is famous for its beaches and historic sites. There are also great walking trails along the coastal peninsula here.

The easiest way to get to Cavtat is by taxi, however that can be pricey so during the April-October season, I recommend taking the ferry service. There’s a regular 30 minute boat service which is probably the more fun way to get to Cavtat from Dubrovnik and leaves directly from Dubrovnik harbour. Find the times here.

Alternatively you can also take the bus which is the cheapest option. Buses leave from the cable car station or the Pile Gate regularly through the summer season, but check the schedule here if you’re visiting in the shoulder or low season.

Alternatively, Cavtat is actually closer to Dubrovnik airport than Dubrovnik town is! So if you’d prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik and enjoy a slower paced trip, staying in Cavtat might be for you!

Don’t miss these spots in Cavtat:

Discover this stunning ancient Adriatic city with this Dubrovnik itinerary for 3 days in Dubrovnik. Find out how much time to spend in Dubrovnik and the must do activities in Dubrovnik in 3 days. | 3 days dubrovnik | dubrovnik 3 days | dubrovnik croa

Exploring further along the coast in Dubrovnik

  • Explore the old town

  • Enjoy a drink at the beautiful Beach Bar Banac

  • Stroll along Cavtat Boulevard

  • Go Sea Kayaking in the bay

  • Walk the Setnica oko Rata hiking trail, it’s a trial that leads you around the Cavtat peninsula with spectacular views

  • Sustjepan is along walking option around the peninsula on the west side of Cavtat town

  • Head up to the Grey Falcon Lookout for incredible views

 

Boat trip from Dubrovnik to the Elafiti Islands

As well as the tour to the Elafiti Islands I’ve listed above, you could also check with your accommodation or visit some of the local boat stands on the harbour to discuss pricing and schedules for the boat service to the Elafiti Islands rather than a full guided tour.

The islands lie a short way off the coast of Dubrovnik and are made up of 13 islands in total that only cover around 30 square kilometres. Although surprisingly there are 850 inhabitants on the islands who live on just the 3 biggest islands - Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep.

The Elafiti Islands are lush green with sparkling turquoise inlets, stunning beaches and many walking trails - making them a popular option to escape the crowds in the summer!

Jadrolinija is the main ferry company in Croatia and they run a ferry service throughout the year from the harbour a Gruz, in Dubrovnik.

There are up to 4 sailings daily - both for foot passengers and car ferry, except on Sundays and Holidays. They run to the main islands depending on which island you want to visit.

Find the foot passenger timetable here - Line 807 -  Šipan - Lopud- Kolocep - Dubrovnik

Find the car ferry timetable here - Line 831 - Šipan - Lopud- Dubrovnik

Looking out at the islands from Dubrovnik at sunset with lights on the islands

View of the islands of the coast of Dubrovnik just after sunset

 

Dinner and drinks at Dubrovnik Brewing Co

stacked burger, tacos and a beer on a table at a brewery in Dubrovnik

Food at Dubrovnik Beer Company

When you return to the Gruz ferry port, you’re right near the Dubrovnik Brewing Co, perfect for a beer and street food with a view of the port and cruise ships docking.

I love this spot because it’s in a more local area of the city in the neighbourhood of Gruz, away from the busy Old Town and crowds.

Their burgers and snacking menu are amazing, we went back two nights in a row on our last trip!

 

Summary: Dubrovnik 3 days itinerary

Is 3 days enough in Dubrovnik? I think 3 days is plenty of time to see the main sights of the city, explore the food and drink scene, take a boat trip and enjoy a day trip too if you’re feeling ambitious!

Hopefully this 3 day Dubrovnik itinerary has given you plenty of ideas and inspiration, whether you’re spending a long weekend in Dubrovnik or visiting as part of a longer trip through Croatia.

Pin this for later to plan your future trip.

Discover this stunning ancient Adriatic city with this Dubrovnik itinerary for 3 days in Dubrovnik. Find out how much time to spend in Dubrovnik and the must do activities in Dubrovnik in 3 days. | 3 days dubrovnik | dubrovnik 3 days | dubrovnik croa