Dubrovnik is not the only gem you’ll find in this part of the world. I’m here to guide you through some of the best places near Dubrovnik that you simply must visit.
Packed with fascinating historical sites, awe-inspiring landscapes, and the charm of undiscovered towns, each offers a unique slice of the Balkan experience.
10. Kravica Waterfalls (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Only about 130 km (approximately 81 miles) away from the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, there’s a natural wonder that’s bound to take your breath away – the Kravica Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This waterfall, towering over 25 meters high, is one of the largest in the country and has been enchanting visitors for millions of years. Not to be missed, this spectacle was birthed from tectonic shifts and the upheaval of the limestone plateau through which the river Trebizat flows. You’ll find it at its majestic best in the summer when the water level is high, and the weather is warm.
When you arrive at Kravica Nature Park, you’ll be met with an array of facilities to make your visit comfortable and memorable. The park is open every day, with varying hours between summer and winter. After you’ve parked your car or disembarked from your tour group, you can venture towards the breathtaking waterfall.
The site offers a variety of well-marked trails suitable for everyone, leading you to view platforms for admiring the waterfall before you get up close. Just remember to be careful during the last stretch, as it can be a bit steep and slippery.
On reaching the base of the waterfall, you’ll be met with a mesmerizing sight. A serene lake, formed in a depression at the base, presents a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing. You’ll also find handy facilities nearby, such as changing rooms and toilets. A wooden bridge will take you to the other side of the lake, where the cascade tumbles into the water, creating a captivating spectacle.
If you’re a fan of nature, Kravica Nature Park has got you covered. Spread across 9 square kilometers, the park is a thriving habitat for various animals and plant species. In addition to taking in the beauty of the waterfall, you can enjoy a leisurely walk, hike, or even rent a canoe. There’s something for everyone here, making Kravica Waterfalls a must-visit for those exploring the best places near Dubrovnik.
9. Kotor (Montenegro)
Approximately 90km (or about 56 miles) from Dubrovnik lies a jewel of Montenegro, Kotor. Nestled between the gray mountains and the sea, Kotor is a fortified town with a dramatic backdrop. As if an eternal artwork, the city walls seem to grow like tendrils along the hill, reaching up to the old fortress that keeps a watchful eye over the town.
Kotor is a city where the present thrives amidst the labyrinth of medieval structures – churches, cathedrals, and Venetian palaces stand tall in all their glory. The city is a charming blend of contrasts, where old squares are bustling with modern cafes, and the sounds of serenades and live music echo along narrow, cobblestone alleys.
In the evenings, the walls of Kotor light up as if in a ritual, providing a spectacular sight to behold. And when the carnival season arrives, the entire city transforms into a vibrant, sparkling spectacle.
This city is an embodiment of its past, bearing the markers of Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Austro-Hungarians, and Venetians who once ruled here. These rulers left behind a wealth of cultural and artistic monuments, including Renaissance palaces and baroque towers. Perhaps the most monumental testament is the Cathedral of St. Tripun, a structure more than three centuries older than America itself. Such an abundance of heritage has led UNESCO to designate Kotor as a protected cultural site.
Kotor’s attractions are plentiful and varied. The Old Town, Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast, San Giovanni Fortress, Church of Saint Luke, Saint Tryphon Cathedral, and the Kotor Maritime Museum each offer unique experiences and insights into the city’s rich history. For those seeking adventure and unparalleled views, the climb to St John’s Fortress is a must, albeit via 1350 steps.
Kotor is a city for everyone – history buffs, nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those simply looking to unwind in a charming, historic town. It beckons you to uncover its legends, admire its architecture, and immerse yourself in its vibrant, contrasting culture.
8. Trebinje (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Trebinje, the southernmost city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, situated in the entity of Republika Srpska, is just about 30 kilometers (or 18.6 miles) from the famous city of Dubrovnik. Often overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbors, Trebinje is a hidden gem, lying in the less traversed European region of Herzegovina.
Boasting a Mediterranean climate, Trebinje experiences about 260 sunny days a year, characterized by warm summers and mild winters. This climate and its unique geographical location make it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding regions of Croatia, Montenegro, and western Herzegovina. With Dubrovnik just 30 km away, and places like Herceg Novi, Kotor, Budva, Mostar, and Medjugorije within reach, Trebinje offers a cost-effective and serene stay for travelers.
Trebinje is an ideal place for those who seek to avoid the hustle and bustle of more tourist-laden locales. Not only can you save 30-50% of your vacation money owing to the more affordable accommodation, restaurants, and transport, but it also offers a chance to truly slow down. You can explore the town at a leisurely pace, savor the local cuisine, and engage with the local culture and traditions.
What sets Trebinje apart, however, is its hidden treasure – its wine. Unlike well-known wine regions like Napa Valley, Bordeaux, or Tuscany, the Herzegovina region is a unique and largely undiscovered wine destination.
So, if you’re a lover of delicious Balkan food, want to enjoy it on a budget, and fancy a quiet riverside meal, Trebinje offers just the place. The Studenac restaurant, situated by a river, is an excellent spot for enjoying good food on hot summer days. The town might not yet be on every tourist’s map, but for those seeking a tranquil retreat that doesn’t break the bank, is steeped in history, and offers some delightful culinary experiences, Trebinje could be your undiscovered gem.
7. Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Mostar, a captivating city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is approximately 150 kilometers (or about 93 miles) from the city of Dubrovnik. As a destination, Mostar is known for its rich history and cultural heritage and for being a point of convergence for diverse civilizations. When planning a day trip from Dubrovnik, Mostar can be conveniently coupled with a visit to the enchanting Kravica Waterfalls and the renowned pilgrimage site of Medjugorje, making for a truly fulfilling journey.
Steeped in history, Mostar’s Old Town is an absolute must-visit. A showcase of the city’s architectural prowess, the cobblestone streets are lined with well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture that houses lively shops, cafes, and restaurants.
The heart of the Old Town, however, is the iconic Stari Most or Old Bridge. This reconstructed 16th-century Ottoman bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its exemplary blend of man-made technical skill and natural beauty. It is here that courageous cliff divers plunge into the jade-green Neretva River, a spectacle that has become a celebrated tradition in Mostar.
Mostar is a place for everyone. Whether you are a history enthusiast interested in the city’s fascinating past, an architecture lover eager to explore the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian structures or a thrill-seeker who finds joy in the adrenaline rush of cliff diving, Mostar has something for all. The city is also a haven for photographers and artists, the beauty of the Old Bridge against the backdrop of the Neretva River serving as a timeless muse. Its diverse culture, intriguing traditions, and vibrant city life make Mostar a destination that engages all senses.
Aside from its historical and architectural allure, Mostar is also celebrated for its cuisine. The city offers an excellent gastronomic experience, with a special mention of ćevapi, a beloved Balkan dish. These small grilled meat sausages typically served with flatbread, onions, and a creamy cheese called kajmak, are a real treat for food lovers. Paired with a local beer or Bosnian coffee, it encapsulates the essence of Mostar’s culinary culture. The city is dotted with charming eateries where you can sample not just ćevapi but a variety of local delicacies, further enriching your visit to this unforgettable Bosnian city.
6. Medjugorje (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Nestled in the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, around 130 kilometers (or roughly 80 miles) from Dubrovnik, lies the tranquil town of Medjugorje. This relatively small town has gained international fame as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the Catholic world. Since 1981, it has been reported to be the site of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, attracting millions of pilgrims from around the globe each year.
Medjugorje, meaning “between the hills”, is enveloped by the scenic beauty of its natural surroundings. The town radiates a sense of serenity and peace that harmoniously blends with the spiritual atmosphere. The pilgrimage site centers around the St. James Church, with its soaring spire and tranquil garden. The statue of the Queen of Peace, located at the back of the church, is a key point of interest and devotion.
A place of profound spirituality, Medjugorje appeals to those in search of religious enlightenment and a deeper connection with their faith. However, even for those not driven by religious purposes, the town offers an atmosphere of peace and tranquility that can be soul-soothing.
Visitors often climb the two hills that flank the town – Apparition Hill, where the Virgin Mary is said to have first appeared, and Cross Mountain, marked by a massive concrete cross. Both hills provide breathtaking panoramic views of the town and the verdant countryside beyond.
A visit to Medjugorje is an experience that goes beyond the usual tourist activity. It’s a journey of reflection, introspection, and spiritual rejuvenation. While there, visitors can participate in various religious activities such as daily Mass, confession, prayer meetings, adoration, Stations of the Cross, and rosary making. Whether you seek spiritual fulfillment, a peaceful retreat, or simply a different travel experience, Medjugorje extends a warm welcome and an unforgettable encounter.
Cavtat, a charming seaside town nestled on the Adriatic Sea, is approximately 20 kilometers (around 12.4 miles) south of Dubrovnik. The town’s history is rich and varied, dating back to ancient times when it was known as Epidaurus, an influential Greek sea colony. Over the centuries, Cavtat has seen the influence of various civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantines, and the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), all of which have left an indelible mark on the town’s cultural and architectural landscape.
Today, Cavtat is a haven for those seeking a mix of history, nature, and gastronomy. It boasts a wealth of historical monuments, such as the Rector’s Palace, St. Nicholas’ Church, and the Franciscan Monastery, all standing testament to its illustrious past. Natural beauty abounds in Cavtat, with its pristine beaches, tranquil coves, and dense forests. Hiking trails meander through pine woods, offering stunning views of the town and the glittering Adriatic Sea.
Cavtat is an excellent destination for a variety of travelers. History buffs will relish the opportunity to delve into the town’s ancient roots and explore its many archaeological sites. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy numerous outdoor activities such as sailing, diving, or simply strolling along the picturesque promenade, absorbing the stunning sea views.
Food lovers are in for a treat with an array of seafood restaurants serving fresh fish caught daily from the Adriatic. The small Riva, or seafront, is dotted with charming cafes and eateries, where one can enjoy the local cuisine while watching the world go by.
In terms of cuisine, Cavtat is a seafood lover’s paradise. With a long-standing tradition of fishing, the town boasts numerous fish restaurants offering fresh, locally caught seafood. Whether you prefer simple grilled fish, extravagant shellfish platters, or rich seafood stews, you’re bound to find a dish to tantalize your taste buds. The seafront, lined with restaurants and cafes, is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely meal while taking in stunning coastal views. Cavtat is more than just a destination—it’s a blend of rich history, stunning natural beauty, and culinary delight that offers an enriching and relaxing experience for all.
Ston, a picturesque and historically significant town, lies approximately 56 kilometers (around 35 miles) north of Dubrovnik, along Croatia’s beautiful Dalmatian Coast. This small, idyllic place has a long and rich history dating back to ancient times, but it’s best known for its impressive stone fortifications.
Often referred to as the “Great Wall of Europe,” Ston’s walls stretch over 5 kilometers, making them the second-longest preserved fortification system in the world after the Great Wall of China. The walls, built in the 14th century, once served as a defense for the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), and today, they offer stunning panoramic views of the town and its surroundings.
Ston is a fantastic place for history enthusiasts who love to explore well-preserved medieval architecture. A walk along the stone walls provides a glimpse into the past while offering a scenic hike with breathtaking views. The town itself is a charming, quiet place with old stone houses, narrow streets, and beautiful churches. The Parish Church of Saint Blaise and the Church of Saint Michael are must-visits for their historic significance and architectural beauty.
Seafood lovers will find Ston to be a culinary paradise, particularly famous for its seafood, especially oysters and mussels, which are grown in the clean, mineral-rich waters of Mali Ston Bay. Just a few kilometers away in the village of Mali Ston, Bota Šare, a well-known seafood restaurant, is a must-visit. Renowned for its exquisite seafood dishes, Bota Šare offers a delightful dining experience. The grilled squids here are a highlight, earning rave reviews for their fresh, tender quality and delicious flavors. Paired with a glass of local white wine, it’s a culinary experience you won’t want to miss.
The town’s combination of history, scenery, and gastronomy makes it an irresistible destination for travelers seeking an authentic taste of Croatia’s past and present.
3. Elaphiti Islands
The Elaphiti Islands, also known as the Elafiti Islands, offer a picturesque and refreshing escape from the mainland. A short distance northwest of Dubrovnik, this archipelago is an idyllic destination for day-trippers. With its crystal-clear waters, lush Mediterranean vegetation, charming villages, and historical monuments, each island offers a unique flavor of Dalmatian life.
A tour to the Elaphiti Islands is a memorable journey that is best experienced on a day-long boat trip. Many local travel agencies offer such tours, often including lunch, making for a full, leisurely day of exploration and relaxation.
The Elaphiti Islands comprise several islands, but the main ones that are often included in these tours are Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan. Each island has its unique appeal. Koločep is the closest to Dubrovnik and is known for its dramatic cliffs, pine forests, and tranquil bays. Lopud, the middle island, is known for its sandy beaches, particularly Sunj Beach, one of the rare sandy beaches in the region. The largest island, Šipan, boasts of vineyards, olive groves, and a charming old port town with historic mansions and churches.
Visitors to the Elaphiti Islands can expect a wide array of activities. Besides swimming in the stunningly clear sea, you can explore the islands’ walking trails, discover ancient chapels and ruins, or simply relax on the beach. The local cuisine is another highlight of the trip. As part of the tour, a traditional lunch is typically included. Expect fresh seafood, locally produced olive oil, and Croatian wines – an authentic taste of Dalmatian culinary culture.
A trip to the Elaphiti Islands offers a full day of relaxation, discovery, and immersion into Croatian island life. With their charming atmosphere, natural beauty, and historical sights, these islands encapsulate the essence of the Dalmatian coast. Whether you’re sunbathing on Lopud’s sandy beach, exploring the medieval buildings on Šipan, or enjoying lunch on the boat while cruising the stunning Adriatic Sea, the Elaphiti Islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience. It’s a must-do for anyone visiting the Dubrovnik region, providing an excellent contrast to the bustling city life.
2. Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park, a haven of tranquility and natural beauty, is situated on the island of Mljet, one of the larger islands off the coast of Southern Croatia. This oasis of clear turquoise waters, thick Mediterranean vegetation, and rich cultural heritage is a must-visit for those seeking a serene getaway. The park covers the western part of the island, offering visitors an unparalleled retreat into nature.
The main attractions of the park are the two saltwater lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake). Their crystal-clear, warm waters create a unique setting for a swim or kayak trip. The larger lake also hosts the tiny islet of St. Mary, home to an enchanting 12th-century Benedictine monastery. A boat ride to this secluded spot amidst the shimmering waters is an experience not to be missed.
The park’s diverse ecosystems are its other key highlight. Mljet is a haven for a variety of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic species. The lush Aleppo pine and evergreen oak forests offer shade and seclusion, making the park a paradise for nature lovers. The numerous walking and cycling trails allow visitors to explore this rich biodiversity, offering numerous spots for peaceful contemplation or a secluded picnic.
Mljet National Park is easily reached from Dubrovnik, with a number of tour operators offering day trips to the island. This convenience, combined with the park’s stunning natural beauty, tranquility, and rich cultural heritage, make it a must-visit. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Mljet offers a unique and rewarding experience.
1. Pelješac Peninsula
The Pelješac Peninsula, renowned for its enchanting landscapes, world-class wines, and idyllic villages, is one of Croatia’s hidden gems. Stretching approximately 65 km, it is the second-largest peninsula in Croatia.
With its rolling hills, fertile vineyards, crystal-clear seas, and quaint settlements, it offers an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of more crowded tourist destinations. The peninsula is located just north of Dubrovnik and is a short drive away, especially with the recent construction of the Pelješac Bridge improving access.
The peninsula’s claim to fame is its vibrant wine culture. Pelješac is renowned for its exceptional wineries, offering some of the finest examples of Croatian wines, particularly its robust reds like Dingač and Postup, made from the native Plavac Mali grape. Many vineyards are open for tours and tastings, providing an intimate look into the region’s rich viticultural tradition. Coupled with the local gastronomy, characterized by fresh seafood and Mediterranean flavors, a visit to Pelješac guarantees a veritable feast for the senses.
The settlements dotting the peninsula, like Orebić, Lovište, and Trstenik, are charming in their own right, with their cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and tranquil atmospheres. The town of Orebić, in particular, known as the maritime center of Pelješac, is worth visiting for its maritime museum and a 15th-century Franciscan monastery that offers stunning views of the sea and nearby islands. These towns provide an authentic experience of Dalmatian life, steeped in history and local tradition.
While on Pelješac, the proximity to Korčula island makes it an excellent base for a quick ferry trip across the channel. The medieval town of Korčula, often referred to as “Little Dubrovnik,” boasts stunning architecture and spectacular views and is reputed to be the birthplace of the famous explorer Marco Polo.
For the adventurous, the peninsula also offers ample opportunities for hiking, cycling, and water sports. Whether you are a nature lover, a history buff, a wine connoisseur, or a foodie, the Pelješac Peninsula promises an unforgettable experience, combining the beauty of the Croatian coast, rich cultural heritage, and unrivaled gastronomy.
Southern Dalmatia’s charm is as vast as the azure Adriatic Sea that hugs its shores. Every location we’ve explored, from the historic streets of Kotor to the peaceful sanctity of Medjugorje, the striking beauty of Mljet National Park to the tranquil Elaphiti Islands, each holds a unique allure waiting to be discovered. The vicinity of Dubrovnik makes these gems easily accessible, ensuring that your journey is filled with unforgettable experiences.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a wine connoisseur, a nature lover, or a foodie, these destinations offer something for everyone. So, make sure to take a day or two to venture beyond the confines of Dubrovnik and immerse yourself in the diversity of experiences that the surrounding region offers. Safe travels!