I thought long and hard about writing this post because I was so disappointed with my stay in Dubrovnik. I was there for 3 nights based on what I had read, but I really should have only allowed one night. That’s why I decided to write that you could easily see Dubrovnik in 1 day.

I am not sure why but for some reason, I expected a much bigger town. Perhaps it had something to do with fact that every second person I spoke to LOVED Dubrovnik made me think that I too would love it. I think that I felt cheated that it did not live up to my expectations and that clouded my stay.

Dubrovnik is also known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and there is no doubt that it is charming. It is on CNN’s list of the 10 Best Medieval Walled Cities and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and the focus of major restoration work by UNESCO. To their credit, they have done an awesome job.

I arrived early in the morning. I was impressed by the imposing walls. Entering the walled city through an old gate had a wow factor and I was excited about exploring the town. I made my way to my accommodation which was also quaint, so no complaints about that either. I wandering around enthralled, but not for long!

 

Dubrovnik City Gate
Dubrovnik City Gate

 

Dubrovnik is on the tourist trail for cruise liners. It was soon was heaving with tour groups that had been bussed in. There were so many people that I felt like I was in Harrods on the first day of the sales. I could not find anywhere to relax and enjoy the town, so I went back to my room much to my irritation to plan what to do with the time I had left in town.

I subsequently found out that they allow 8000 people a day into the city. No wonder I felt a bit like a sardine in a can. I was delighted to read late last year that the new mayor has recognized that it is too many people and wants to cap the number at 4000 per day so that you are able to enjoy the city. I hope that he succeeds as it will be a much more pleasant experience.

 

Crowded street in Dubrovnik
Crowded street in Dubrovnik

When I ventured out at around 6 pm, normality had returned and the town once again oozed charm. Dinner was average, not particularly memorable and overpriced. That was my next complaint. I really have no problem spending money, but I hate the feeling that because I am a tourist I can be ripped off. Almost everything is Dubrovnik was far more expensive than the rest of Croatia.  Stradun street is filled with restaurants, bars and shops. It also has the reputation as the most expensive street in the country with rentals of 6 000 – 10 000 euros per sq metre. I would hate to pay this rental bill!

 

How to see Dubrovnik in 1 day

 

Pile Gate

This was where the bus from the airport dropped me.It is busy with loads of people just milling around. The gate dates from 1537 and was the entrance to the old town. It is impressive and I felt dwarfed by its grandeur. It is also really beautiful when it is lit up at night.

 

Pile gate Dubrovnik
Pile gate

 

City Walls

The most obvious place to start is with the city walls. The first walls were built in the 9th century. In the 14th century, 15 square forts were added. With the threat of the Turks attacking the walls were strengthened yet again and new ones were added. The old town was now inside a 2 km barrier with walls that were up to 6m thick on the land side.

Dubrovnik was under siege for the period October 1991 – May 1992. I remember watching the story unfold, along with the rest of the world,  on television. I never dreamed that I would one day visit Dubrovnik. The two-toned roof tiles that have been lovingly restored bear testament to this sad chapter in the country’s history. If you look carefully you will see the two different coloured tiles.

You are required to walk in an anti-clockwise direction. Don’t underestimate just how hot it can be, so have an early start. There are a couple of vendors selling overpriced drinks so take your own with you.

 

Dubrovnik city walls
Dubrovnik city walls

 

Franciscan Monastery

The main reason for stopping here, unless you love Romanesque architecture, is to see the pharmacy. It is the third oldest in Europe and has been operating since 1391. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take any photographs. Take a quick look at the cloisters and the beautiful carvings on the top of the columns. There is also a museum and a library, but this will take too much of your time if you are planning on seeing Dubrovnik in 1 day.

 

Monastery arches Dubrovnik
Monastery arches

Stradun (Placa)

You have no real choice other than to stroll along the Stradun as it is the main road. There is an old world charm about it, so make the most of it if it is not swamped. I enjoyed it early in the morning and towards sunset when all the day trippers had left and the sky changed colour giving the limestone buildings a warm glow. The clock tower at the end of the road is particularly appealing at this time of day as a silhouette against the evening sky.

 

Stradun at night in Dubrovnik
Stradun at night

 

Onofrio’s Fountain

This is one of Dubrovnik’s landmarks. It is actually made up of 2 fountains. The larger fountain is the first that you see as you walk into the Stradun from the Pile Gate. If you look closely, you will see a sculpture of a dog on the top. I can’t imagine why it’s there, but I think its fabulous! There is also a smaller fountain is at the bottom of the road that was to supply the market on Luza Square.

 

Onofrio's Fountain Dubrovnik
Onofrio’s Fountain

 

The Market

I discovered this by accident but was extremely happy that I did. It was set back a little bit, off the main drag, in Gundulic Square.  Here I felt like I had space to breathe. The vendors have interesting items to buy. I love the way the spices were packaged in test tubes making for a colourful display. The air was heavy with the perfume of the dried lavender for sale on many of the stalls. The selection of jams, jellies, olive oil and dried fruit all looked inviting and were beautifully packaged for gifts. The square is also a nice place for lunch or a drink while you watch the world go by.

 

Gundulic Square Market Dubrovnik
Gundulic Square Market

 

Mount Srd

A good way of seeing the city is from above and the best way of doing this is in the cable car. The views are spectacular and as you can imagine it is particularly popular at sunset when you can enjoy a sundowner in the restaurant. There is also the museum of the Croatian War of Independence if you want to delve into some history.

The opening times vary at different times of the year so check the website for details.

 

Dubrovnik from Mt Srd
Dubrovnik from Mt Srd

 

The Dubrovnik Cathedral

Its official name is the Church of Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is the seat of the Diocese of Dubrovnik. The Cathedral Treasury can be visited to see beautiful silver and gold items dating from the 11th – 17th centuries. Whether it is fact or legend I am not sure, but the first cathedral was supposedly funded by Richard the Lionheart when he was shipwrecked and rescued in Dubrovnik.

 

Dubrovnik cathedral
Dubrovnik Cathedral

 

Church of St Ignatius of Loyola

Located in the heart of the old town the church is filled with baroque décor. It was built in the 18th century, but the bell tower dates from the 14th century. It looks gorgeous at night when the light shines through the stained glass windows.

 

Church of St Ignatius of Loyola Dubrovnik
Church of St Ignatius of Loyola Dubrovnik

 

Best time to visit

Summer is packed.  Peak season is July and August so avoid it then. The days are still sunny and mild in May and September which is when I visited, but these days Dubrovnik is considered to be a year-round destination so you will just have to take your chances!

 

Street in Dubrovnik
Street in Dubrovnik

 

Dubrovnik is undoubtedly pretty. It has a rich architectural and cultural heritage. The coastline is beautiful and the water is crystal clear. Don’t pay a premium to stay in the old town but rather stay outside the walls and arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to make the most of the city.

I am pleased that I visited, but honestly, I don’t think that I would go back. If you have always wanted to see the old town and it is on your bucket list then visit Dubrovnik in 1 day. Spend the rest of your time exploring the islands, enjoying the water and the beaches.  It will be a far more pleasant experience, in my opinion, and you may well fall in love with the city.

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Dubrovnik in one day
Dubrovnik in one day

 

Dubrovnik in 1 day
Visiting Dubrovnik in 1 day
What to see in Dubrovnik
What to see in Dubrovnik
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13 COMMENTS

  1. I have to say I am pretty excited about Croatia in general and about Dubrovnik. But reading your article I can get why maybe over talking about a destination can make you expect maybe more. Still I am 100% looking for a visit, but maybe taking more time to research will decide on how long to stay.

    • Croatia, as a country is lovely. I had a wonderful time in Split and Zagreb and would recommend spending some time exploring both of these cities. The scenery is beautiful and the people are really friendly and I am sure that you will enjoy your trip.

  2. I’m glad that you wrote this post in spite of it not living up to your expectations. I think it’s really important to include honest information because that is helpful to travelers. The city looks beautiful, but I know the feeling of having crowds and cruise ships ruin a place. No matter how beautiful the city, if there are too many people it just spoils it for me. Glad that they’ll be regulating how many people can visit per day, I think that’s smart.

    Really enjoyed reading this informative and honest post about your time in Dubrovnik!

    • I am so glad that you enjoyed reading my post. While I accept that as a tourist you have to go with the flow of things Dubrovnik was full on. I liked the town, but I think that it is probably a much better place in the middle of winter! 🙂

  3. I actually appreciate when people are being honest about their experience. Everything CAN’T just be delight and rainbows. What time did you visit? I find that some people can love and hate cities and the only difference being the time when visited. I for one, didn’t like Rome at all, but maybe because I visited in the peak season of July.
    On the other hand, it is actually a problem that some of the cities in Europe are becoming overcrowded with tourists. If it was so bad for you, who is just there for a few days, can you imagine what it’s like for the locals?

    • It must be a nightmare for the locals. I visited off season so the mind boggles what it must be like when its peak season. It must be a nightmare. I always try to be fair and it is not that I did not like Dubrovnik, I did, but I could have seen it in a day!

  4. I love your honesty. It can be hard when something is so hyped for it to match our expectations. I visited Dubrovnik before it became hip and it was much more affordable – still full of cruise ship passengers mind you. Love your ideas for what to do in one day though – gives you more time for the beach haha

    • Thanks, Jayne! I have a feeling that this might be a bit of a controversial post. I did enjoy Dubrovnik, but I think it probably was a much better place to visit before it became popular.

  5. I have never heard of this city before, I am sure it is somewhere that my husband would love to visit this city. He is such a history buff. I would definitely want to visit for the culture too. It looks so unique.

    • If you love history then this is the perfect town to visit. The reconstruction and the comparison of the old and new that has been so well matched are quite interesting.

  6. I loved the realistic approach of your article. So often I find blog posts full of overrated destinations with a lot of that “carpe diem” philosophy that blinds the writer from the realities of a place. The truth is that travelling is amazing, but sometimes you find stuff that you need to be aware of. Thanks for all the useful tips. I haven’t been to Dubrovnik, but I did go to Rijeka last summer and I can relate with a bunch of these points. The city was adorable and I could have walked around it for ages, but food and accommodation were overpriced and not so great, everything was packed and tourist-focused. Anyways, great read!

    • Thanks so much. You are so right about people not seeing the downside and writing only about the glitz and glamour of a destination. I promised myself that I would not candy coat my posts but by the same token, I did not want to trash Dubrovnik either as it is worth a visit.

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