With the meteoric rise in popularity of Dubrovnik, thanks to tourism and the Game of Thrones phenomenon, it might seem like there are not many Dubrovnik hidden gems left!
But as with any popular destination, if you take the time to go beyond the famous areas and see Dubrovnik off the beaten path, you’ll find an alternative Dubrovnik beyond what the guide books share.
I’ve lived in Croatia for over a year now and have visited Dubrovnik numerous times, I even became a Digital Nomad Ambassador for the city in 2023. And thanks to the time I’ve spent there and local connections I’ve made in the country, I’ve discovered more hidden gems in Dubrovnik than I thought possible for such a small city.
After all, Dubrovnik is actually only home to around 30,000 people!
But don’t let that fool you, read on to discover the plentiful and beautiful hidden gems Dubrovnik has to offer!
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22 Dubrovnik hidden gems to discover
The abandoned ruins of Hotel Belvedere
The first time my friend and Dubrovnik tour guide, Vuka, took me here, I was blown away.
How can this huge, 5-star luxury resort lay abandoned and within eye-line of the Dubrovnik Old Town and yet it’s relatively unknown.
The history of Hotel Belvedere is both fascinating and tragic. The hotel was the ultimate luxury resort for travellers to Dubrovnik in the 80s.
But when war broke out in the 1990s and Dubrovnik was under siege from the Serbian and Montenegrin forces (the Yugoslav Army), the hotel was abandoned, then destroyed by shelling and mortars.
For a while it was used as a Croatian forces military base. But since the 90s, the hotel has had an owner but has been unable to develop it due to financial and political reasons.
The hotel is easily accessed if you take a car or a taxi to Sveti Jakov car park and follow the path past Sveti Jakov beach. Just beyond the beach steps you’ll find yourself in the centre of the ruins.
You can still see receipts in some of the offices from the last guests who stayed here.
You can walk into the rooms, see the empty and graffitied hotel pool and explore once grand hallways and terraces with incredible views of the Adriatic coast and Dubrovnik Old Town itself - this place must have been a truly high end luxury getaway at the time.
Game of Thrones fans will also be interested to know that the show filmed some scenes here in the amphitheatre where you see the huge Hajduk Split football logo on the ground - although they obviously covered that up for filming!
Please note - this place is public access and the local authorities have tried to clear it up. However this is still an abandoned building with rubble, unstable infrastructure in places, smashed glass and other dangerous facets - please explore with caution and at your own risk.
Plaza Sveti Jakov
Since I mentioned this beach in the Dubrovnik hidden gem above, it makes sense to also share one of the best Dubrovnik hidden beaches with you which is located right next to the abandoned hotel, on the path just before you reach the ruins.
Plaza Sveti Jakov, or St Jacob’s beach, is a small beach cove with epic views across the bay towards Dubrovnik’s walled city.
Be warned - there are about 500 steps down to the beach, the steps down are barely noticeable on the side of the path but you can see the beach if you look over the wall.
There is a small bar here in the summer and supplies are taken up and down by a rope pulley system that you’ll see at the top of the steps due to how steep the cliff is and the steps not being practical to carry crates of beverages down!
But this beach offers stunning clear blue water, a white pebble beach and incredible views of the Adriatic and Dubrovnik city itself.
Know your beach rights
This is not just a cool fact about Dubrovnik, but it’s actually true for all of Croatia and I think it’s an important “hidden fact” for you to know before your trip.
All beaches in Croatia are public access. There are no private beaches in the country.
Hotels and resorts cannot restrict access to a section of their beach if they are a beachfront property. In fact, even if the only access to the beach is through their property, they have to allow the public to walk through their hotel to access the beach.
So when you see the gorgeous beach areas in front of famous hotels like Hotel Excelsior or the Dubrovnik President Hotel, you are allowed to walk through the to access the beaches.
Plaza Dance - the local’s beach
If you’re wondering about hidden beaches in Dubrovnik, where better than the beach that locals go to?
Plaza Dance, or Dance Beach Dubrovnik, is located the next cove over from Beach Sulic and the Lovrijenac Fortress, away from the Old Town and facing towards Lapad.
You can get here by walking up Ulica don Franca Bulica, past the university buildings to the car park at the top.
In the car park, turn right and follow the path down to the beach for a more secluded beach area away from the Old Town tourist crowds.
Note that this car park is for residents only, so you can’t park here if you’re visiting or have a rental car.
Secret Dubrovnik viewpoint for sunset
You’ll see people flocking to the restaurants and terraces for views at sunset, some of the “secret” bars outside the city walls are also popular sunset spots.
But if you’re looking for a free sunset viewpoint, it doesn’t get much better than this hidden gem and probably one of my favourite hidden gems in Dubrovnik.
Following the instructions on the last Dubvonik hidden gem recommendation, make your way up Ulica don Franca Bulica to the Dubrovnik parking area and walk straight to the far end of the car park so you’re closest to the sea.
Along the back hedge of the car park you’ll see a small dirt path weaving among the shrubs and taking you down the rocky outcrop onto a large rocky plateau.
This is a huge rocky area with spectacular views of the sunset in the west and Dubrovnik Old Town and Lovrijenac Fortress in the east.
Locals come here and a few tourists who might know about it, but it’s a large open space with plenty of room for people to enjoy the views and enjoy the epic Dubrovnik sunsets.
The best part is that it’s only a 10 minute walk from the Pile Gate in Old Town Dubrovnik.
My recommendation? Get a takeout pizza and a couple of drinks to enjoy the sunset views at one of the most unique places in Dubrovnik away from the crowds.
Setnica Walking Trail
Another spot that I love for sunset and one of my favourite walks and free things to do in Dubrovnik outside old town.
If you stay in the Lapad area where there are plenty of Dubrovnik’s hotels and resorts, you might come across this spot already.
From Sunset Beach in Lapad, there’s a raised walkway to the right as you look out to the sea.
Follow this walkway for an easy and stunning evening sunset walk and maybe reward yourself with a drink at the picturesque Levanat bar at the end.
This isn’t just a recommendation for sunset either. There are plenty of stairs down from the walkway to small secluded beach areas, rock pools and a few bars along the way. You could really spend a day here, swimming, eating, drinking and enjoying the scenery away from the crowds.
For me, this is one of the most beautiful places in Dubrovnik.
Cave Bar More
Another hidden gem in Dubrovnik that’s linked to the recommendation above.
Although Cave Bar More’s fame is growing internationally, many people visiting the city still don’t know it exists. Or for cruise ship visitors who are only here for one day, it’s too far from the Old Town to have time to visit.
Cave Bar More is part of Hotel More and it’s the largest bar in a cave in Europe.
The cave was actually found by accident when the hotel was being constructed and the owner cleverly decided to incorporate it into the architecture.
Now you can enjoy drinks in this huge cavernous space with stalactites and features within the walls believed to have formed 6000 years ago - definitely one of the unique things to do in Dubrovnik for your bucket list!
Being subterranean, the bar also holds a steady temperature all year round, meaning it’s a cooling escape from the heat in the summer! Note that the bar is closed during October-March to allow preservation of the natural environment.
The cave only has seating for 60 people and reservations cannot be made, so plan in advance.
The bar and hotel does however have more seating, a bar and sun terrace right on the Setnica Trail walkway.
Dubrovnik secret bars (one that you probably haven’t heard of)
When I first visited Dubrovnik in 2017, a few places online mentioned a secret bar perched on the rocks right next to the sea and only accessible through a doorway in the stone walls of the Old Town - but you had to find it!
That bar is called Buza Bar and it’s no longer quite as secret - it’s marked on Google Maps in fact!
And I still love Buza Bar, I go back each time I’m in Dubrovnik because it’s actually open all year round - bring a jacket if you visit in winter though, it gets windy on the other side of the walls!
However there’s a second hidden bar, just slightly further east along the walls from Buza Bar.
It’s called Bard Mala Buza and you’ll find the entrance just next to BARD coffee shop, through a hole in the wall and down some steps.
In the off season the bar doesn’t exist, but this is another beautiful sunset spot (or sunbathing spot if it’s warm enough!) tucked between the sea and against the walls of the Old City.
In the summer, this spot comes alive as another “secret bar” to enjoy.
Note, both bars are cash only.
Play basketball on one of the most scenic basketball courts in the world
If you walk the city walls, in the far northwest corner you’ll look down and see a basketball court. This court was voted top is the world for the best designed basketball court, offering spectacular views of Dubrovnik
Many people are often intrigued by it, but not sure if it’s public.
Well, it is public! Although you’ll need your own ball to play! But alternatively, you can just head up here to enjoy some epic and totally free views across the terracotta rooftops of Old Town Dubrovnik.
The easiest way to get to the basketball court in Dubrovnik is to enter from the upper (north) Buza gate and turn immediately right, follow the city walls until you reach the corner and you’ll see a small gate in the wall which gives you access to the basketball court.
If you’re looking for cool places in Dubrovnik and perhaps somewhere unique for a photo - this is it!
Many people see the basketball court from the walls but never get to experience it - playing on the court itself and seeing the unique views from here is one of the best hidden gems in Dubrovnik.
Prosecco Bar evenings and events
Yes, you read that right.
Outside the city walls and up Ulica branitelja Dubrovnika, there is a prosecco bar called Fratellos Prosecco Bar Dubrovnik.
Not only is this a really cool prosecco bar (the first in Dubrovnik) with a gorgeous terrace and sea views, but they also run events throughout the summer such as outdoor cinema, jazz nights, live music, comedy events, artist performances, gastronomic experiences and more.
Check their website for the schedule.
Midday pigeon feeding
At the market square in Old Town Dubrovnik each day they feed the pigeons.
This is absolutely insane to see and pretty cool, even coming from someone who doesn’t like pigeons!
If you get to the square just before midday, you’ll see all the pigeons on the rooftop waiting. But as the town clock strikes midday, they all lift off together, flying in unison and circling around and around the square - they are so well trained to expect food at this time that they know the clock strike means they are about to be fed - to me that is the most spectacular part to see.
A man comes out with a bucket of feed and then it all does get a bit frenzied on the ground where the feed is poured and I’d suggest staying back a bit unless you have a real affinity for pigeons!
But just the sight of them all taking flight as the clock strikes and circling in the air above is actually really cool and definitely one of the more unique things to do in Dubrovnik!
Lokrum Island’s Dead Sea
Lokrum Island is a popular day trip from Dubrovnik and one I 100% recommend.
You can easily spend a day on Lokrum Island exploring the beaches, the monastery, the walking trails, botanical gardens and more.
But in the centre of the island is a Dead Sea and just like the Dead Sea in the Middle East, the salt content in the water here is higher so you’ll float more easily.
The water comes up through a series of caves and tunnels that are connected to the sea around the island. But due to the location of the pool, the salt content remains higher than that of usual sea water.
There’s a small beach area around the pool and cafes nearby, make sure you take your swimming suit with you to Lokrum and float on Dubrovnik’s Dead Sea!
The only craft beer brewery in Dubrovnik
If you’ve ever read any of my other posts about food and drink, or you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m a big craft beer fan. In part influenced by my partner who is from Portland, Oregon - where there’s a huge craft beer scene.
So this means, whenever we go somewhere we always look up breweries and taprooms.
Dubrovnik Beer Company is the first and only craft beer brewery in Dubrovnik and we go back every time we visit without fail.
We love the friendly welcome and community at breweries and DBC is no exception. We always meet interesting people there too and have left with contact information from people we meet there more than once!
They have 4 pillar beers, lager, pale ale, IPA and stout as well as a great street food menu with burgers, tacos etc
They are located right by the cruise ship port which is an up and coming area of the city for tourism development so it might be a bit out of your way to reach - but very easily reached by Uber or taxi if you don’t fancy the walk.
Definitely one to add to the list of alternative and quirky Dubrovnik spots.
Extra tip: Love Bar right behind DBC runs regular music gigs, great if you want to experience the music scene in Dubrovnik.
Bistro 49 for the cheapest meals in Dubrovnik
Looking for cheap places to eat in Dubrovnik? B49 is just down the road from Dubrovnik Beer Company and the prices there are a STEAL in comparison to the Old Town.
It’s no wonder it’s full of locals when you go there - this is a real hidden gem in Dubrovnik from a tourist perspective!
We had a starter, a huge pizza, burger and fries and x2 0.5L beers which all cost us 31 euros / £28.
If you’re looking for cheap eats in Dubrovnik, this is the one!
This is a collaborative project in Dubrovnik city that provides cheap accommodation, full service cafeteria, a gym, meeting spaces, study rooms and more - basically a city for students to live affordably in a city which is becoming astronomically expensive for the locals trying to live here.
However members of the public are also able to take advantage of the very affordable prices in the cafe bar and restaurant here. Coffees and cocktails are incredibly cheap and the outdoor seating in the garden area is lovely.
If you’re looking to see Dubrovnik on a budget and have a more local experience, this is another great spot to consider for your stay.
The cheapest coffee in Dubrovnik Old Town
You might be thinking, nothing is cheap in the Old Town!
It is if you have a local friend and you know where to find it!
The Stradun is the most famous main street in Old Town and you can expect to pay premium prices here. But if you go just one street back, up one of the steep stairways, you’ll find Buzz Bar Dubrovnik.
Buzz Bar is one of the last affordable coffee places in the city, evidenced by the number of locals who still frequent it.
We paid 3 euros something (perhaps 3.40, although I can’t remember off the top of my head) for 3 coffees.
They also have cheap cocktails, homemade beer and free wifi.
The Dubrovnik Pass
I spoke to a local tour guide who said “the Dubrovnik Pass is the only actual value for money if you’re visiting Dubrovnik”.
This isn’t a hidden gem in Dubrovnik but so many people don’t know it exists and it could dramatically improve your trip and keep your costs down!
Dubrovnik offers 4 different Dubrovnik Passes depending on the length of your stay which all include access to many of the most popular attractions, as well as discounts on dozens more.
Here’s what a Dubrovnik Pass gives you:
Entry to 12 of the major attractions in the city, including the City Walls
Free public transport on Dubrovnik’s bus network for the duration of your pass
Discounts on 84 other attractions, trips, tickets, restaurants and experiences between 10-30%
The Dubrovnik Passes that are available are:
1 day pass - 35 euros
3 day pass - 45 euros
7 day pass - 55 euros
28 day pass - 85 euros (also called the Digital Nomad Long Stay Pass)
Considering that a single adult ticket to walk the Dubrovnik City Walls is 35 euros, you can see that the value for money is already returned even just on the 1 day pass. Plus you can visit other attractions such as the Maritime Museum, the Rector’s Palace, the Natural History Museum, the Franciscan Monastery Museum and so much more, basically for free if you’ve already used it for the City Walls.
Plus it gives you free access to Dubrovnik’s very regular, very efficient bus network. So your transport around the city is free for the duration of your pass too.
For the 28-day pass you need to purchase it from the Dubrovnik Tourism Board office with proof of your accommodation.
Disclosure: this is not a paid partnership but I’ve previously worked with Dubrovnik Tourism Board and other organisations to promote the 28-day pass to Digital Nomads in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra
I recommend this as a unique and alternative Dubrovnik experience, not only because the music is spectacular, but also because the Orchestra performs in a variety of stunning locations in the city such as the Rector’s Palace and Revelin Fortress.
Also you can get discounted tickets for the Symphony Orchestra with your Dubrovnik Pass (mentioned above).
We also managed to get free tickets for a student show that was happening during one of our stays. Look out on the Dubrovnik events page to see what’s happening and look for free shows too!
Find the Dubrovnik Events Calendar here.
Visit in the winter for free tours, events and festivals
One of my top recommendations is to visit Croatia during the low season.
If you want great weather, sunshine and swimming then September and October are best. But if you’re more keen to explore and less bothered about hot temperatures and sunbathing, November - March are my favourite months to explore Croatia and Dubrovnik is no exception.
In fact, between November and March every year, the Dubrovnik city and tourism board run a winter festival and events. This includes every Saturday:
9.30am - free sightseeing tour of the city in English
11.30am - Performance of Lindo Folklore ensemble - traditional dancing performance
12.30am - free sightseeing tour of the city in Croatian
Every Saturday morning the city comes alive, mostly with locals but these free activities and sightseeing is provided so you can get the most out of the city, even if the usual summer tour operators aren’t running!
Locals also play winter games, competing with different neighbourhoods of the city. So if you see groups of people running, playing, kicking a ball, playing basketball or any other game - it’s the local’s winter sports - a fun tradition that’s existed for generations.
Experience the Dubrovnik music scene
Behind the Dubrovnik Beer Company is Love Bar where regular music gigs are held. This is a very local scene and a great chance to experience the local music in Dubrovnik.
Take a local ferry rather than a boat tour to the Elaphiti Islands if you’re on a budget
You’ll see plenty of tour companies trying to sell you boat trips to the Elaphiti Islands and if you want to go on one - that’s great!
However people live on the islands which means there has to be regular ways to get to the islands for locals all year round.
There are daily ferries, running multiple times a day to all 3 of the Elaphiti Islands which are a fraction of the cost of a tour and give you the freedom and flexibility to explore the islands as you wish.
The nearest island of Kolocep is only a 30 minute ferry away from Dubrovnik Port and is a nature lover’s paradise. Taking a ferry is the perfect chance to go hiking, swimming and explore the island at your own pace at a fraction of the cost.
There are 5 ferries per day to Kolocep and additional ferries between all of the islands if you want to island hop.
To give you an idea, in 2023 an adult return ticket to Kolocep is 6.10 euros.
Check times and prices on the Jadrolinija website - Croatia’s national ferry company.
Located on the hillside above the ruins of Hotel Belvedere is Park Orsula.
The park offers stunning views of the Adriatic Coastline. Dubrovnik Old Town and Lokrum Island and is famous not just for the views, but for the amphitheatre there.
It’s a short hike to reach the park and you’ll see the ruins of the historic church on this site as well as a playground for children and shaded areas to sit and enjoy.
The amphitheatre is used for plays, concerts and events throughout the summer in the most spectacular setting.
But even just for a short walk and incredible views, I recommend stopping by Park Orsula for a lesser-visited view of the city and Dubrovnik coast.
Summary: the best hidden gems in Dubrovnik
Hopefully I’ve given you plenty of ideas and inspiration for hidden gems in Dubrovnik and alternative Dubrovnik activities as well as cool things to do in Dubrovnik that aren’t necessarily on the beaten path!
Some of the best hidden gems in Croatia can be found in and around Dubrovnik if you take the time to find them.
These cool places in Dubrovnik are best explored if you have longer based in the city, perhaps 5 days or more!
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