Dubrovnik, or the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ as it’s also fondly known, has no shortage of amazing sights to visit and explore. This stunning walled city on Croatia’s spectacular coastline is ranked as one of the most popular cities in Europe and it is easy to see why.
Game of Thrones fans have been flocking to the city since it featured in the series as King’s Landing and there’s no shortage of mentions of this claim to fame throughout the city. With beautiful beaches and with its own fantastic architecture, history and entertainment, it would be easy to spend a whole holiday just enjoying everything that Dubrovnik itself has to offer.
However, if you want to venture outside the historic stone walls then there are endless possibilities just a stone’s throw away from this enchanting European city.
Hop on a ferry for 15 minutes and travel the short distance to the nearby island of Lokrum. This beautiful spot is easily accessible from the port of Dubrovnik and boasts some stunning tourist attractions including a monastery, beautiful gardens and some fantastic sunbathing spots. It’s perfect on a hot day thanks to its shaded areas. There are also some small restaurants where you can buy basic things for lunch, whilst a picnic under the trees is also a wonderful choice. Be sure to look back towards Dubrovnik for a stunning view of the city.
Mljet National Park
The Mljet National Park is one of eight national parks in Croatia and takes about 1.5 hours to reach by boat from Dubrovnik. Nestled on one of Croatia’s largest islands, this beautiful, tranquil spot is definitely on the list of ‘must-sees’. With two stunning saltwater lakes, endless hiking and biking trails and its own mini island – home to an historic monastery – you can easily fill a day at this picturesque spot. There are also three beautiful villages on the island meaning there’s something for every type of traveller.
Korcula is one of Croatia’s six biggest islands and its main town (with the same name) is often known as “little Dubrovnik”. Its main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Marco Polo and of course you’ll find many galleries and museums carrying his name. Enjoy lively squares, great restaurants and some brilliant medieval architecture. You can happily spend a day (or two!) on this beautiful island exploring its beaches, history and fantastic landscape.
A must-visit destination for Game of Thrones fans who have made the pilgrimage to Dubrovnik is Trsteno, a small village which is an easy 20km drive or bus ride from the city. Here you will find the stunning Trsteno Arboretum, which features in the epic HBO series as the Red Keep palace gardens.
Constructed by the Gozze, a noble family of the Republic of Ragusa, Trsteno Arboretum dates back to the 15th century, making it the oldest landscape architecture monument in Croatia. A hike, bike ride or drive through the hills above Trsteno to the north would also be well worthwhile, with spectacular views from the hilltops.
If you fancy escaping from the noise and buzz of city life in Dubrovnik then a trip to the Elafiti Islands could be just what you’re looking for. These six small islands are completely car free and can be found just north west of Dubrovnik. The journey takes about 30 minutes by ferry from the city. Only three of the six islands are inhabited so you’ll most likely only visit these – Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep. Here you can explore the historic sites, enjoy the quieter, more tranquil beaches or enjoy gentle walks around the beautiful coastline.
Kravice Waterfalls (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
A trip to the stunning Kravice waterfalls from Dubrovnik will take about 2.5 hours and it’s a worthwhile journey to make. The falls are amongst Bosnia-Herzegovina’s most popular tourist attractions and it’s easy to see why. In the summer months you can enjoy swimming in their crystal clear, blue waters and enjoy shade under the nearby leafy green trees. There are more than 20 waterfalls pouring into the same lake which never reaches a temperature of more than 20°C, making it the perfect place to cool off! It can get busy in peak season and you probably won’t want to swim there in the cooler months, but the waterfalls are spectacular to view nevertheless.
Also in Bosnia-Herzegovina is the ancient city of Mostar. If you do decide to visit the famous Kravice waterfalls, it could be worth tying that in with a trip to this beautiful city. It’s famous for its ancient bridge and traditional buildings and also takes about 2.5 hours by car from Dubrovnik. Mostar is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is a truly spectacular place to visit.
The pretty harbour town of Cavtat is only 17km south of Dubrovnik and is easily accessible by bus or boat. It has a wealth of things to enjoy, including museums and galleries, pebble beaches and plenty of pretty waterfront bars and restaurants. There are many traces of the past in Cavtat and a number of remnants of ancient settlements are still visible today. Old streets and buildings offer a tapestry of explorational possibilities, such as the ruins of an old amphitheatre close to a beautiful Franciscan monastery.
The magic of Croatia
Although you’ll have a fantastic time enjoying the enchanting city of Dubrovnik if you do fancy a trip beyond its historic walls, there really is plenty for you to choose from. We’ve selected just eight to get you started but there are many more available to explore. Croatia itself boasts miles and miles of coastline and beaches, historic cities and beautiful villages, whilst the countries of Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia are well within reach. You’ll have the holiday of a lifetime visiting this fantastic gem of the Adriatic.
For more tips on visiting Europe, check out our guide to eating like a local on the old continent.