One of the most perfectly preserved walled towns in Europe, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s single biggest tourist destination, and it’s not difficult to see why. A medieval town reshaped by Baroque planners after the earthquake of 1667, the city seems to have been suspended in time ever since. Plus, it's also close to several of the 10 best beaches in Croatia. Here's our guide on where to stay in Dubrovnik.
To many, Stradun – also known as Placa – is Dubrovnik, that glistening marble-paved thoroughfare that runs between Pile and Ploče Gates. This route takes a leisurely tour along this main artery and off to the many museums, galleries and squares within the walls of the old town, all of which is pedestrianised.
With its cavalcade of historical buildings, maze-like alleyways and imposing town walls, the Old Town is by far the most beguiling part in where to stay in Dubrovnik. Almost all the available accommodation is in historic houses of considerable vintage, so expect an evocative whiff of history wherever you choose to stay. One word of warning: the Old Town is full of steps and will not suit those with baby buggies or mobility issues.
Not sure where to start exploring the city? Use our guide on the best things to do in Dubrovnik and make your own programme.
The walk from Ploče Gate leads northeast along a quiet coast road, visiting the Museum of Modern Art and ending at a secluded cove, with an optional trip to Mount Srd.
In the height of summer, it can be oppressively busy within the City Walls when the cruise ships dock and passengers descend on the Old Town. Escaping the crowds with a stroll along the shore road gives you a different perspective on the city. And a trip up to Mount Srđ rewards you with sweeping views of the coast.
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This is also the site of the city’s most evocative cemetery – filled with funerary sculpture and subtropical plants – and the Slavica open-air cinema. The latter is the perfect place to catch cult movies on balmy summer nights.
The long-distance bus station (Autobusni Kolodvor) is a short way from the harbour. If you have time, though, it is worth a wander, especially in the morning when the area bustles with local life and gives a very different impression of Dubrovnik from the one you will get in the Old Town.
Like Lapad, Gruž is opening more restaurants and cafés that cater for residents as much as for tourists. Amfora is worth seeking out.
A walk around the peninsula takes you to the heart of Dubrovnik’s summertime playground and some of its most popular beaches. Out of season, the sea views are just as spectacular.
The great majority of Dubrovnik’s hotels are to be found on the Lapad peninsula, just a short bus ride from the Old City, and close to Gruž harbour. Although many new developments are changing the face of these suburbs, they remain pleasant, family-friendly, tree-filled areas with delightful bays. This route is a great introduction to the area and encompasses a delightful walk past Lapad Bay.
This is the start of a pleasant walk around the Babin Kuk peninsula, with pine trees framing crystal-clear waters, oleanders drooping from gardens, people fishing from the rocks, cats dozing in the sun and plenty of opportunities to swim from the rocks.
Although ladders have been conveniently placed to help you in and out, many of the rocky paths leading to the sea need a certain amount of surefootedness, particularly on the way down.
Sprawling across a knobbly promontory 5km west of the Old Town, Babin Kduk tourist settlement was built in the 1970s to attract well-heeled western tourists. Top American architect Edward Durell Stone was drafted in to handle design duties, creating a mixture of manicured gardens and untamed maquis.
The peninsula also boasts well-tended family beaches, seaside walks and a range of activities for kids. The #6 bus runs down to the Old Town every ten minutes, so you never feel cut off.
Pile is an important transport hub for the city so it is well known for frequent traffic jams. Keep in mind that tourists peak in the summer months and this part of the city is quite busy at these times. There are many restaurants, cafes and shops and businesses, all of that makes Pile a great place where to stay in Dubrovnik.
There is usually a bit of a scrum outside the Pile Gate as passengers are disgorged from tour group buses. Above it all, a figure of Sveti Vlaho (St Blaise), the city’s patron, holding a model of Dubrovnik, looks down with a benign expression. Through the gate and down a few steps is the inner gate, and immediately to the left, inside the fortifications, is one of the three entrances to the City Walls.
Dubrovnik is one of the reasons why Croatia is a perfect honeymoon destination.
Ready for a trip to Croatia? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Croatia. If you travel further in Croatia, read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Croatia and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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Top image: Aerial view of Dubrovnik, Croatia © Ihor Pasternak / Shutterstock.