24 Hours In Dubrovnik: How To Spend One Day In Dubrovnik

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Dubrovnik, with its stunning Adriatic Sea backdrop and historic Old Town, is a gem that deserves even just a sliver of your time. If you’re pressed for time and have just one day to soak in its beauty, worry not—I’ve detailed below how to make the most of 24 hours in this Croatian marvel – and have given you several options depending on your preferences. 

Croatia Travel Blog_How To Spend One Day In Dubrovnik

The key to one-day Dubrovnik lies in smart planning and a little bit of energy to keep up with the pace. Imagine walking the ancient city walls in the morning light, the sun casting a golden hue over the terracotta rooftops, creating a view that stays with you long after you’ve left.

Crafting the perfect day in Dubrovnik involves striking a balance between the city’s rich historical offerings and its modern-day allure. It’s not just about checking off the sightseeing boxes; it’s about immersing myself in the essence of the place.

My advice? Please start at the Pile Gate early in the morning, when the crowds are thinner, and the city feels like it belongs to you.

From there, let the cobblestone paths be your guide through a time capsule of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. The Rector’s Palace, the Franciscan Monastery, and, of course, a walk along the iconic city walls provide a glimpse into a past that beautifully melds with the vibrancy of present-day Dubrovnik.

Eating and drinking also play a vital role in my Dubrovnik itineraries—there’s more to Dubrovnik than its visual feast. A midday stop at a local tavern for some fresh seafood and a taste of the native Croatian wines recharges me for the rest of the day. And, as daylight wanes,

I suggest you save time and see Mount Srđ by cable car—as the city lights begin to twinkle against the evening sky. Even with a packed day, there’s a moment here, looking out over Dubrovnik, where time momentarily stands still. The experience is about capturing these moments throughout a day that’s as full as the city itself.

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Your Morning Itinerary

Dubrovnik, located in Croatia, offers a myriad of things to do for visitors. With its stunning coastal views and rich history, exploring the city's ancient walls and cobblestone street of 7. Placa aka Stradun
An early start means no crowds.

I love the idea of making the most out of every trip, especially when time is of the essence. A single day in Dubrovnik can offer you a tapestry of experiences if you start your day early and plan smartly. From witnessing the sunrise at iconic historical gates to walking down storied lanes, let’s dive headfirst into the morning adventures that await in this Adriatic jewel.

Dawn At Pile Gate & Dubrovnik City Walls

Dubrovnik old town city walls. Minceta Tower - Game of Thrones

I recommend that you begin your day by getting up early and heading to the Pile Gate, the main entrance to the Old Town.

There’s something special about being one of the first to stroll through these gates. No time to waste — time to walk the City Walls. I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance to the town walls to beat the crowds and savor the tranquil morning views of the Adriatic Sea and the terracotta rooftops.

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Exploring Dubrovnik’s Old Town & Monastery

SJ At St. Dominic Street - King's Landing Markets

Walking through Old Town Dubrovnik feels like stepping through time. The main street, Stradun, is lined with historic buildings and vibrant cafes, perfect for a quick coffee. I always find the energy here infectious; it is the ideal place to soak in the city’s medieval charm.

Don’t miss the Franciscan Monastery, home to one of the world’s oldest pharmacies — it’s a real treat for history buffs.

Historical Monuments And Museums

Games of Thrones Locations Croatia - Atrium, Rector's palace, Old Town, Dubrovnik, Croatia

There’s no shortage of culture as morning leads to a slew of historical monuments and museums.  If you are short on time (which you are if you only have 24 hours in Dubrovnik), then I suggest you head to Rector’s Palace, now a museum which makes for an insightful pit stop, with its Gothic-Renaissance architecture offering a feast for the eyes.

If you have time, the nearby Dubrovnik Cathedral and Sponza Palace demand attention for their magnificent facades and the stories they hold within. Absorbing Dubrovnik’s rich past is easy with these treasures lining the Old Town.

Midday Discoveries

By the time midday rolls around in Dubrovnik, I’ve found that the city offers a perfect blend of picturesque dining, awe-inspiring views, and relaxation by the sea, tailored to make 24 hours in this Croatian gem unforgettable.

Lunch With A View

Croatia Travel Blog_Best Restaurants In Dubrovnik_360 Dubrovnik
Photo Credit: 360 Dubrovnik

At the Old Port, a table at Restaurant 360 might be the best seat in town (book ahead if you come in peak season). Here, you can sip on local wine and savor fresh seafood; the view of the city unfolding around me is breathtaking. The Adriatic sea glimmers beneath the sun, crafting a scene so serene it’ll be hard to leave.

  • Cuisine: Mediterranean with a local twist
  • Ambiance: chic yet comfortable
  • Highlight: the panorama of Dubrovnik’s historic walls

Cable Car To Mount Srđ

Cable Car in Dubrovnik

After lunch, I usually hop on the cable car to Mount Srd. The ride offers panoramic views that’ll have you reaching for your camera every few seconds. At the top, the vista spans the entire city and the azure expanse of the Adriatic Sea. With every hour in Dubrovnik packed with such sights, you understand why a day here can be exceptional.

  • Duration: Approximately 4 minutes one way, not including wait times for the gondola
  • Tips: Pre-purchase tickets here to beat the crowd waiting to buy them
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What To See In Dubrovnik In The Afternoon

After exploring Dubrovnik’s charming streets and indulging in a local lunch, the afternoon beckons with unique escapades. Let me take you through some captivating activities that promise to turn your few hours into memorable adventures – you won’t have time to do them all. So you pick your favorite.

Leisure At Banje Beach

Best Beaches In The Mediterranean - Banje Beach, Croatia

To round out the afternoon, unwind at Banje Beach, just a stone’s throw from the city center. Whether you’re looking for a quick dip in the sea or a chance to lounge and absorb the views, this is the spot. The pebbled shore and clear waters offer indulgence for those dedicated to soaking up every sun-drenched hour in Dubrovnik.

  • Activities: sunbathing, swimming, water sports
  • Facilities: beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, beachside bar and cafe
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Boat Trip to Lokrum Island

Iron Thron Lokrum Island (1)

A short boat ride from the Old Town Harbor will transport you to Lokrum Island, an oasis of tranquility and a lovely escape from the city’s bustle. Once you set foot on this island, you’ll be taken aback by its rich greenery and the peacocks and rabbits that roam freely.

Here’s what to do:

  • Explore the botanical gardens, home to exotic plants and aromatic herbs. Try to spot the peacocks
  • Visit the Benedictine monastery ruins: A glimpse into Lokrum’s past
  • Iron Throne Photo-op: A replica of the throne to take photos with. It’s a fun souvenir!

Game Of Thrones Tour

Games Of Thrones Tour Guide_Ivana
Games Of Thrones Tour Guide Ivana

As a fan of the hit series Game of Thrones, I recommend a themed tour around Dubrovnik like this; it’s simply thrilling. For fellow fans, here are the spots I suggest:

  • Fort Lovrijenac: this fortress outside the western wall of the city served as the Red Keep in King’s Landing, the royal Palace of the Seven Kingdoms
  • Dubrovnik City Walls: the ancient city walls provided numerous backdrops for King’s Landing, including scenes of battles and the Walk of Shame
  • Pile Gate: the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old Town, this was frequently seen as a busy entrance to King’s Landing
  • Gradac Park: site of the Purple Wedding feast, where King Joffrey met his demise
  • St. Dominic Street: a narrow street within the Old Town was used for various market scenes, riots, and the Walk of Shame
  • Minčeta Tower: representing the House of the Undying in Qarth, where Daenerys searches for her stolen dragons
  • Lokrum Island: used to represent the city of Qarth, located on the southeast coast of Westeros
  • Trsteno Arboretum: serving as the gardens of King’s Landing, where many of the plotting scenes took place
  • Rector’s Palace: used for scenes involving the Spice King of Qarth
  • Ethnographic Museum (Rupe Museum): doubled as Littlefinger’s brothel in King’s Landing

Whether you’re captivated by Lokrum’s natural beauty, the formidable fortresses, or the allure of the Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik in the afternoon is an adventure for the heart and soul.

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Your Final Hours In Dubrovnik

Is Dubrovnik expensive -

As the sun dips below the horizon, your ideal itinerary unfolds into a gorgeous evening. The Adriatic Sea glimmers under the fading light and the terracotta rooftops of Dubrovnik’s Old Town reflect the sun’s final rays. Here’s how I would maximize these twilight hours.

Sunset By The Adriatic

Ending the day, I would find a prime spot by the sea to watch the sunset. Banje Beach is a convenient location, offering panoramic views of the Adriatic and the island of Lokrum.

Whether seated on the beach or at a nearby café, watching the sky turn vivid hues of orange and pink is a tranquil experience. Armed with a camera, I’d capture the moment when the sinking sun kisses the horizon.

Dinner & Croatian Cuisine

How To Make Croatian Crni Rizot - Black Risotto

For dinner, I’d delve into the local flavors. I lean towards Proto, reputed for its fresh seafood, or Azur, known for combining Croatian with Asian influences.

It’s essential to try traditional dishes like black risotto or peka, baked under a bell-like dome. I would opt for terrace seating to enjoy both my meal and the ambiance of Dubrovnik at night.

  • Starter: Octopus Salad
  • Main: Black Risotto or Peka (24 hours notice is sometimes required to eat this)
  • Dessert: Rožata

Night Stroll On Stradun

Stradun, (main street) Dubrovnik
Stradun, (main street) Dubrovnik

I’d end your night with a leisurely stroll along Stradun, the town’s main thoroughfare. The limestone street gleams under the streetlights and the buzz of the night market fills the air. 

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Alternative Options For How To See Dubrovnik In One Day

Exploring Dubrovnik in a day can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible to get a good taste of the city with a bit of planning. I’ll walk through a couple of alternative options that will show you a different side of Dubrovnik in case you did not quite fancy my one day Dubrovnik itinerary above. 

1. Dubrovnik From The Sea

Game Of Thrones Dubrovnik Locations (1)

  • Morning: hire a kayak or join a sea kayaking tour to paddle along the Adriatic’s crystal waters
  • Midday: visit a local beach for a swim and some sunbathing
  • Afternoon: take a boat tour around the Lokrum island or to other nearby islands

2. Cultural Deep-Dive

  • Morning: visit the Rector’s Palace and Dubrovnik’s Cultural History Museum
  • Afternoon: attend a local cooking class to learn about Croatian cuisine

3. Local Life Itinerary

People on the food market in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

  • Morning: start the day with coffee at Gundulićeva Poljana Market
  • Afternoon: Explore the Lapad area and enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the restaurants
  • Evening: take a stroll along the Stradun to see Dubrovnik’s main street come alive at night

4. Active Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Cable Car - Dubrovnik Travel Blog Pic

  • Morning: hike up Srd Hill for panoramic views of the city
  • Afternoon: Explore the Fort Imperial and learn about Dubrovnik’s history
  • Evening: wind down with a leisurely walk in the Old Town

Each of these itineraries offers a unique perspective of Dubrovnik. Whether you choose to experience the city from the sea, delve into its rich cultural scene, live like a local for a day, or stay active while soaking up the history, Dubrovnik has plenty to offer for your one-day adventure.

Remember, the key to enjoying Dubrovnik in a single day is to select activities that interest you the most and to plan your time wisely.

Practical Tips For Visiting Dubrovnik

Mother of Donkeys Dubrovnik

When planning a swift trip to Dubrovnik, a little insider knowledge goes a long way. These practical tips will help streamline your experience, ensuring every hour is well spent in this gem of Croatia.

Best Times And Travel Tips

The ideal time to visit Dubrovnik is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). You’ll avoid the summer crowds and still enjoy pleasant weather. 

Mornings are typically less crowded, so aim for an early start.

Pack comfortable shoes as Dubrovnik’s Old Town is laid out over cobblestone streets, which can get slippery, and there’s plenty of walking to be done.

 To traverse the city efficiently, the following points are paramount:

  • Start Early: beat the crowds to attractions by getting there at opening times
  • Stay Hydrated: keep a bottle of water on hand, and drink regularly
  • Ticket Purchases: buy tickets ahead of time when possible to save waiting in line
  • Rest Periods: take breaks in cafes to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere
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Dubrovnik Card And Savings

Getting the Dubrovnik Card is a smart move. This pass offers:

  • Free entry to numerous museums and the City Walls.
  • Discounts at a variety of restaurants, shops, and even on some transportation.

1-Day Dubrovnik Card

Adult Price: €26.00

Child Price (under 18): €13.00

3-Day Dubrovnik Card

Adult Price: €32.50

Child Price (under 18): €16.25

7-Day Dubrovnik Card:

Adult Price: €45.50

Child Price (under 18): €22.75

You can purchase the card online or at tourist information centers throughout the city. Not only does this card help save money, but it also adds efficiency to your day, letting you pack in more without the hassle of purchasing individual tickets. Remember, the card also often provides discount vouchers, so keep an eye out for those additional savings.


Conclusion

Early morning in Dubrovnik

In wrapping up my run through of Dubrovnik’s highlights for those with just one day, it’s clear this city packs a punch even in a short timeframe. I’ve walked you through the must-see spots, from the historic walls offering panoramic views to the charming streets of the Old Town, all manageable within 24 hours in Dubrovnik.

Remember, Dubrovnik’s beauty isn’t just in its landmarks; it’s also in the vibe you get wandering around. So, while I’ve suggested a tight itinerary, don’t be afraid to stray a bit and explore areas that catch your eye.

Lastly, while a single day here can seem limiting, it’s more than enough time to fall in love with the city’s charm. And let’s face it, Dubrovnik isn’t just a stopover—it’s a standout destination that’ll tempt you to return. If there’s one takeaway from my brief but jam-packed itinerary, it’s that Dubrovnik deserves a spot on your travel wishlist, even if it’s just for 24 hours.

Comments (13)

  1. Great tips! We were there in winter, so no kayaking, but we did walk the city walls. It’s such a beautiful city!

  2. With just one day I might opt for the experience of lunch at Buza bar rather than kayaking, but maybe cruises give one an urge to play in the water?

  3. Oh, I loved Dubrovnik (and luckily was there for almost a week!). Tip: if you want some great discounts the Dubrovnik Card is very helpful.
    Esther.

  4. Ashley, did you see any kids in kayaks on your tour? :) I’m thinking our crew of under 7’s will be too little for such an adventure this time around. But I have heard from many that kayaking is a great way to see the cities of Dubrovnik and Split.

    1. There were a few kids with us…almost everyone had double kayaks so a parent or an older child could easily go with a smaller child :)

  5. With each post I read on various blogs about Croatia and Dubrovnik, I want to visit more and more, so I’m planning to get there in 2016, or sooner if I can manage it! In the meantime I’ll be saving and planning, and as you seem to like doing similar things to myself, I’m getting a good feel of what to do over there! Especially kayaking. Thanks for the great post!

  6. I’ll be there in June!! Can’t wait to use these tips. Based on what I’ve read elsewhere this is the exact itinerary that I will be following. Since we’ll be stationed in Split and only making Dubrovnik a short visit this is perfect. Thanks!

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