Dubrovnik, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia, is a city in southern Croatia on the Adriatic coast. It is known for its distinctive Old Town that is surrounded by massive stone walls completed in the 16th century. Its well-preserved buildings range from baroque St. Blaise Church to Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace, now a history museum. The city is paved with limestone and the pedestrianized Stradun (or Placa) is lined with shops and restaurants.
On a recent Norwegian Greek Isle Cruise, we were lucky to stop in Dubrovnik for a day. The most popular day tour was Game of Thrones Dubrovnik Tour, even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, anyone would appreciate the sights. If you are lucky enough to spend more than a day in this magical city then you may be looking for day trips from Dubrovnik to explore some other regions. Although I have been visiting Croatia almost every summer as a kid, this was my first time visiting Dubrovnik. I did not have time to visit all of these locations so I collaborated with other travel writers for their top day trips from Dubrovnik.
Great Day Trips from Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik to Elaphiti Islands
Visiting the Elaphiti Islands is a great day trip from Dubrovnik. Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep are the three main islands, that are habited. You can either book a private charter with a skipper and visit the islands at your own pace or book an organized package tour there. The third and probably cheapest option is to just take the ferry. They are quite regular in high season, but you should check the timetable before you go.
Kolocep Island is the closest to Dubrovnik and is most famous for its Blue Cave. You won’t be able to see this from the ferry, so go on a boat tour if you are keen to experience it. Lopud Island has a lovely shallow sandy beach which is perfect for families. Both islands are car-free. You can rent golf carts for a small fee, but everything is accessible by walking. Sipan is the biggest island out of the three. Its beach is rocky and has great snorkelling possibilities with plenty of fishes. If you want to experience something truly unique, go kayaking around the Elaphiti Islands. It is a great way to explore the islands, go cliff jumping and discover hidden bays and caves. There is an underwater cave on Sipan island, which is only accessible by kayak. Don’t miss it if you love adventure!
Dubrovnik to Trebinje
If you want to escape crowds of Dubrovnik and would like to visit a low-key town in Bosnia and Herzegovina then Trebinje is your answer. Located only 35 km away (around an hour driving, including border crossing), Trebinje is one of the most interesting places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The town is known for its 18th-century old town with the Ottoman architecture and the Arslangic Bridge (originally built in 1574 but removed to the current place in the second half of the 20th century).
Don’t miss Hercegovacka Gracanica too – the monastery is a copy of Gracanica monastery from Kosovo and is built on the hill offering the best view of Trebinje and the surrounding area. Trebinje is often called the city of the sun with 260 sunny days per year, as a result, you can taste here some of the tasty local wines. Be sure to try the typical Bosnian dishes, such as cevapi too – you can do it for the fraction of prices in Dubrovnik! The best way to get to Trebinje is by car but it is doable by public transport too. There are at least 2 bus connections per day, making it a perfect day trip destination from Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik to Korčula
The gorgeous island of Korčula is an easy day trip from Dubrovnik as it’s only a 1.5-hour ferry ride from the port.
Why should you make the trip? Simply put, Korčula is just beautiful. One of the real highlights of any Croatia itinerary – the island is the perfect contrast to the bustling and busy Dubrovnik.
The ferry drops you in the main town (which is also confusingly called Korčula). I’d recommend spending your day, or at least most of your day here. Korčula is a deceptively large island, so it’s impossible to see it all in a day. Focus on Korcula town and take it easy – or hire a private water taxi to explore some of the island’s coastline.
Korčula town is often compared to Dubrovnik, thanks to its also being built out of stone with terracotta roofs. That’s really where the comparison ends – where Dubrovnik is heaving with tourists, Korčula town rarely does, even in the peak season.
Korčula town is not packed with things to do – but that’s part of the appeal. Spend some time walking through the gorgeous narrow streets in the old town – be sure to climb to the top of the St Mark’s Cathedral bell tower for fabulous views out to the mainland and across Korcula. You might also want to pop into the Korcula Town Museum and the alleged birthplace of Marco Polo. Whatever you do, be sure to while away a few hours in one of the gorgeous waterside restaurants before hopping on the ferry home. The food here is spectacular and inexpensive to eat well.
Getting back, it’s just a simple matter of hopping back on the ferry – book ahead though. Places do fill up.
Dubrovnik to Mostar
Mostar is a popular day trip from Dubrovnik, and for a good reason. Just a few hours away, one can experience a place where east truly meets the west. This can be seen in the culture, people, food. Mostar is often talked about as the gateway to East and West since the history and every day is strongly affected by the Ottoman Empire, yet people from Bosnia and Hercegovina are Europeans and have a lot in common with Croatians.
This is definitely interesting if you like to experience different cultures. Mostar is not all happy vibes though, there’s a gruesome history that can still be seen today, from the Balkan war.
There are bullet holes in many of the houses still standing, and next to the famous bridge, you can visit a photography museum, showing what life was like during the war.
The easiest way to get from Dubrovnik to Mostar is to join a day trip tour, where you will be transported in a minibus from door to door. However, it’s also easy to rent a car and do the trip on your own. Just remember to make sure that your rental car is insured in Bosnia and Hercegovina as well.
Dubrovnik to Cavtat
Almost 20 km south of Dubrovnik there is a small town that has plenty to offer. Several museums, galleries, natural treasures, numerous gorgeous beaches, rich in cultural and historical heritage and more. This is Cavtat, one of the best beaches near Dubrovnik.
This charming town is an amazing option for a day trip from Dubrovnik and is very easy to reach – by bus or by boat. Cavtat is also very close to Dubrovnik airport, only 6 km away.
The town had its ancient Greek beginnings, therefore, you will find many archaeological findings, preserved monuments, and historical data there. The most interesting is The Memorial home of Vlaho Bukovac, one of the greatest Croatian painters. The home was transformed into a gallery, displaying portraits of his family members, in other rooms are personal belongings and Bukovic’s furniture.
There is also Rector’s palace, a place of the library and archives of Baltazar Bogošić, Cavtat born doctor of philosophy and law.
Beautiful beaches, crystal clear and unpolluted water are also the reasons why Cavtat is a desirable summer destination.
Those searching for active holidays, there are many sports possibilities, such as diving, sailing, fishing, jet-ski.
Additionally, the town has rich nightlife events, from music and theatre festivals to carnival held in July.
Dubrovnik to Kotor
A two-hour drive from Dubrovnik will bring you to the Bay of Kotor, a beautiful bay in Montenegro. At the end of it, you will find the cute town Kotor. You will need to pass the border, so try to plan this outside of a weekend or go early to avoid waiting long while crossing the border. It also means you need to bring your passport or ID card to be allowed in Montenegro. Because Croatia and Montenegro are both not part of Schengen everyone needs to be checked, which might take a while.
Kotor has many things to offer. Wander around the cute alleys in Stari Grad, the old town. Kotor is famous for its cats, which you can find everywhere in the streets. Do you want to learn a bit more about the old harbour town? Visit one of the museums in Stari Grad. After, you can enjoy a few of the many churches or take a stroll on the city walls to see the alleys from above or have a glimpse of the laundry hanging outside in the sun.
Feeling more active? Climb up the upper town walls for an amazing view over the Bay of Kotor. You can see the whole road leading back to Dubrovnik next to the water. Enjoy a day in Kotor or maybe combine it with another town in Montenegro if you are curious to see more of the beautiful country.
Dubrovnik to Stari Bar
Skip the modern town of Bar, which is of little interest, and head straight to the enchanting and evocative ruins of Stari Bar (Old Bar).
The site is a microcosm of the history of the Balkan region over the past 3,000 years. It dates back as far as 800 BC, but was abandoned by the Romans before being refortified by Emperor Justinian. Most of what remains dates from the Ottoman era, but there are some churches there as well that were built after the Montenegrin takeover in 1878.
What you see today is the very personification of wild beauty: the ruins and towers are completely overgrown with ivy, and you might even see a snake slithering through the grass. There’s a small museum on site, inside an old customs building, that explains the site and its history.
There are a couple of bus companies that run the Dubrovnik-Bar route, but the schedule is not convenient for a day trip, so you will need to have a car to do this trip in a single day. Inform your car rental company in Dubrovnik that you are planning to cross the border to Montenegro, and they will supply all the documents you need.
Dubrovnik to Lokrum island
If you look out to sea from Dubrovnik’s city walls, you’ll see an island, shaped a little like a figure of eight, just off the coast. This is Lokrum island, and it makes the perfect day trip from Dubrovnik.
There are as many reasons to go to Lokrum as there are to go to Dubrovnik itself; history buffs will enjoy visiting the monastery that dates back to the 11th century, or the ruins of 19th century Fort Royale which also offer spectacular views back towards Dubrovnik. The island also provided refuge to King Richard the Lionheart when he was shipwrecked nearby.
Game of Thrones fans will find lots to interest them on Lokrum as well. Many of the scenes in the city of Qarth were filmed here in the monastery and beautiful botanical gardens, and Fort Royale provided the setting for the House of the Undying.
If you’re looking for beach relaxation and a quiet swim, you’ll also find it on Lokrum. There are a number of coves where you can spread out your towel, as well as a naturist beach at the southern end of the island. There’s also a mini version of the Dead Sea – a salt lake where you can float to your heart’s content.
If it’s peace and quiet you’re after, Lokrum provides a welcome contrast to the crowds of Dubrovnik. The whole island is a nature reserve, and the only overnight residents are peacocks.
Getting to Lokrum from Dubrovnik couldn’t be easier. During the summer holiday season, boats leave Dubrovnik’s old Port regularly for the short crossing to Lokrum. All you have to do is pack a picnic and your swimsuit.
Dubrovnik to Kupari’s “Bay of Abandoned Hotels”
Just 10 kilometres southeast of Dubrovnik is a little village named Kupari. There is not much going on there today, but it used to be the site of a bustling beachside hotel complex for the Yugoslavian military elite. Today, the resorts are crumbling down. If overgrown concrete is your aesthetic and urban exploration your hobby, make sure to visit Kupari as a half-day trip from Dubrovnik.
You can stroll along the boulevard, watch the Adriatic sea hug the bay, observe the buildings from a safe distance and relish in the place’s history. Though president Tito once had his own holiday home in the bay, it’s hard to imagine that the place was once bespoke enough for presidents. It’s often possible to peek through the broken windows into the (largely looted) interiors, or even walk in if you’re daring enough. Definitely check out the beautiful Grand Hotel and the Goričine complex, as both give off very different vibes.
I hitchhiked to Kupari – which works really well in Croatia – but there are other options. Kupari is halfway to Dubrovnik Airport (DBV), so one tip would be to hop on an airport bus from the central bus station and kindly ask to be let out in the village. If you’re many people, it might make sense to share an Uber or regular taxi. Make sure to pack a hat for the sunshine and your camera for the captures.
Dubrovnik to Ston
From Dubrovnik, you can easily drive to Ston in under an hour. The drive is pleasant and will take you on a scenic coastal road – though it’s one lane, so leave early to beat the scores of summer tourists heading north from Dubrovnik.
While in Ston, I suggest that you make it a point to stop at Konoba Bakus. This family restaurant is a local favourite, and you’ll soon see why when you arrive. On offer are all things seafood – and you can’t go wrong with anything you order. That said, I’d suggest you get the one kilo of mussels that are served over a bed of garlicky risotto – it’s served up at the ridiculously low price of around 10 euros!
Ston is more famous though for its stone wall. Ston proudly is home to the second longest stone wall in the world. Visible from all around these defensive stone walls were once more than 7 kilometres in length. Construction on the city walls began in 1358! You can climb the walls for a small fee – just be careful as some parts are not yet renovated.
Whether you’re into giant walls or not, Ston is definitely worth a visit, especially as it is located on the Pelješac Peninsula, right next to Mali Ston which is most famous for its delicious oysters and the Ston cake – which made from penne pasta if you can believe that!
Longer Trips From Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik to Split
Croatia really is a beautiful country and one that we had a wonderful time driving through and experiencing in 2018. If you’re basing yourself in Dubrovnik, then you’re perfectly placed for a day trip to the equally famous city of Split. It is roughly a 3-hour drive away and it really is a wonderful road trip. You get to see so much more of Croatia’s stunning coastline and it is the drive alone that helps make this day trip so wonderful.
Once there, you can take time to enjoy wandering through the old cobbled streets and discovering artisanal stores and cafes. The beach in mainland Split is quite nice and you can relax either there or in one of the bars and restaurants that line the front. A quirky place you can also visit is the Frog Museum which houses strangely stuffed frogs all in different outfits and partaking in human activities.
If you leave early enough in the morning then, after arriving in Split you can catch the ferry over to the island of Brac. This island truly is spectacular and on the far side, you have perhaps the nicest beach anywhere in Croatia. You can find out more about what we got up to in Split here. If you don’t have your own car, then there are plenty of tour operators who do day trips from Dubrovnik to Split. Here is a great one day Split itinerary you may enjoy.
Dubrovnik to Trogir
Just a very short drive from Split is the small island of Trogir a beautiful island that practically on the outskirts of Split. Although there is public transportation to the island, it’s so much nicer taking a rental and discover Trogir and the surrounding coastal areas on your own. The historic island city has so much striking architecture that spans many timeframes from different rulers especially the Venetians who made significant contributions to the island and region.
You can easily DIY a tour on your own or take a guided tour to see all the major attractions in the area, it really is small and easy to see everything in a day trip. Do try to allocate time to enjoy a nice lunch with a view practically in most of the seafood and local restaurants dotting the island. For more inspirations and images, check out my visit to Trogir here for more details in visiting on a short day trip.
Dubrovnik to Zadar
Zadar is around four hours along the coast from Dubrovnik, so a slightly longer day trip. Don’t worry though, the drive is absolutely exquisite and will have you captivated from start to finish with secluded bays, striking headlands and turquoise water gleaming in the sun.
Zadar is set on its own peninsula, making it quite small, so easy to investigate. The defence system of Zadar is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The giant walls have kept the modern world at bay and preserved the small city like a time capsule. Amongst the crumbling churches, ageing buildings and Roman pillars though are two more modern attractions. The sea organ – which allows the waves to play hypnotic tunes- and sun salutation – custom solar panels which play a nighttime light show, and power the seafront lights – were designed by Croatian artist Nikola Bašić.
If you’re there in the evening, then Zadar is the perfect place to watch the sun go down. We loved hanging out at Tramonto Restaurant, eating seafood and enjoying a glass of wine, whilst the sky changed colour. Perfection!
Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes
If you’re in Croatia, you MUST find a way to get to Plitvice lakes. Northeast of Zadar is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. This wonder boasts some of the bluest waters you will ever see! The beauty that this park holds is nothing shy of astounding. However, given that this place is so spectacular, it does come with the possibility for crowds in the park. Thus, I advise if you are paying a visit during high season that you get to the park before it opens. Therefore, if coming from Dubrovnik, I recommend driving up the day before your visit and staying in an Airbnb close to the park, that way you can get in line to get tickets first thing the next morning! This will allow you entry into the park before the masses take over.
Once in the park, be sure to plan out your path so you make sure that you get to see all of the amazing sites. There are multiple routes that will accommodate all time schedule and fitness levels. Aside from the above, make sure to bring your camera and tripod to catch some stunning pictures of what could be land from a fairytale! Here are some things you need to know to explore Plitvice Lakes.
Croatia is such a beautiful country to explore. Are there any day trips you would recommend?
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