Are you planning on exploring Dubrovnik and wondering how to spend 3 days in Dubrovnik? You’ve landed at the right spot! I’m a local from Dubrovnik, and I’ve crafted this simple guide to help you make the most of your short visit.
Whether you’re into exploring ancient fortresses, enjoying the beach, or savoring local cuisine, this itinerary will ensure you experience the essence of our unique city in just 72 hours.
Also, if you’re on a budget, don’t forget to check my guide on visiting Dubrovnik on a budget, and then you can combine it with this guide.
Where Is Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik is nestled on the southernmost tip of Croatia, right on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. Known for its distinctive Old Town encircled by massive stone walls, it offers an enticing blend of past and present, with crystal-clear waters lapping against its medieval walls. It’s positioned across the sea from Italy and is near both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, making it an excellent base for regional explorations.
However, it’s not just about the strategic location. Dubrovnik is a city with a unique story steeped in history and culture.
Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, it invites visitors from all around the globe to wander its limestone streets, explore its magnificent forts and palaces, and soak in the atmosphere of a place where every stone whispers tales of the past.
How Long To Stay in Dubrovnik
How long should you stay in Dubrovnik? Well, it really boils down to your personal preferences and the type of holiday experience you’re after. If you want a quick overview of the city’s top attractions, 3 days can be sufficient.
However, if you truly want to immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural tapestry, savor local cuisine, relax on beautiful beaches, and engage with the warm and welcoming locals, I’d suggest a longer stay of 7 days. This allows you not just to see Dubrovnik but to experience and enjoy it in all its glory.
For a more detailed analysis, read my article How Long Should You Stay in Dubrovnik.
The Best Time To Visit Dubrovnik
Choosing the best time to visit Dubrovnik often depends on what you’re looking to get out of your trip. If you’re seeking milder weather, fewer crowds, and a more relaxed atmosphere, the months from May to June or September to October would be ideal. These periods offer pleasant temperatures perfect for exploring the city’s historical sites and beautiful landscapes.
However, if you’re all about those perfect sunny summers and the vibrant energy of the peak tourist season, this 3-day guide is tailored just for you. Remember, Dubrovnik is charming year-round, and your experience will be unique whenever you choose to visit. For more detailed information, don’t forget to check my specific guide on when to visit Dubrovnik.
1st Day in Dubrovnik
Your first day in Dubrovnik is likely not going to be a full day, especially considering travel times and settling into your hotel or apartment. So, I’ve curated a more relaxed yet equally memorable itinerary for day one. It involves visiting a select few iconic spots, all conveniently located close to each other.
Set Yourself in The Apartment or Hotel
Upon your arrival in Dubrovnik, first things first – get settled into your apartment or hotel. It’s essential to make yourself comfortable, freshen up, and gear up for the exploration that awaits. The excitement is just beginning!
Visit The Old Town
The Old Town of Dubrovnik is an absolute gem filled with historical and cultural attractions. Here are some highlights:
Pucic Palace: This 18th-century baroque palace is a testament to Dubrovnik’s history and houses a luxury hotel and a trio of upmarket restaurants. A must-see for lovers of architecture and history.
Stradun: The main pedestrian thoroughfare in the Old Town, Stradun, is perfect for a leisurely stroll. You’ll find numerous shops, restaurants, and beautiful buildings lining its sides.
Rector’s Palace: An incredible blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the Rector’s Palace is a symbol of the city’s past power. It’s now a museum showcasing artifacts from Dubrovnik’s rich history.
Onofrio’s Fountain: A significant historic landmark, this impressive fountain was built in the 15th century and served as a meeting point for both locals and tourists.
Dubrovnik Cathedral: Immerse yourself in spirituality at the Dubrovnik Cathedral, an elegant piece of Baroque architecture that houses a significant collection of religious art.
Orlando’s Column: Orlando’s Column is a symbol of freedom for Dubrovnik’s residents. It’s a favorite meeting point and an excellent spot for a photo.
Sponza Palace: Another architectural marvel, the Sponza Palace is renowned for its beautifully designed atrium and its important role in the city’s history.
While exploring the Old Town, keep in mind that the attractions listed above are just some of the top popular ones. The beauty of Dubrovnik’s Old Town lies in its wealth of sights and experiences. There’s a wealth of churches, museums, squares, and quaint little shops to discover.
Each corner has a tale to tell, and every path invites exploration. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the beaten path – who knows what hidden treasures you might stumble upon!
Visit City Walls
After visiting the old town, it’ll already be afternoon and temperatures will drop slightly. Walking along the City Walls of Dubrovnik is an experience like no other. With each step, you are walking through centuries of history, marveling at the architectural expertise of the ancient inhabitants of this city.
The walls, which stretch for about 2 km around the city, offer a unique view of the red-tiled roofs of the Old Town, the shimmering Adriatic Sea, and the distant islands.
Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the breathtaking vistas. The journey might be a bit strenuous for some, but the views at the end are worth every step.
Visit Fort Lovrijenac
Fort Lovrijenac, or St. Lawrence Fortress, deserves your attention too. This monumental fort has defended Dubrovnik from maritime invasions for centuries.
When you reach the fort, take a moment to take in the imposing structure, its thick stone walls whispering stories of battles and bravery. Inside, you’ll find a beautiful, often quiet space with stunning views over the Old Town and the sea.
And if you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan, you’ll recognize it as the filming location for the Red Keep, adding an extra layer of excitement to your visit.
Enjoy The Night at Old Town
The charm of Dubrovnik’s Old Town takes on a whole new allure as daylight fades. The cobblestone streets are illuminated by soft, warm light, and the city takes on an even more magical ambiance.
Enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the many restaurants offering local and international cuisines, or grab a drink at a bar to unwind after your day of exploration. You can also experience cultural performances often held in the squares.
And for the nocturnal explorers, try a gentle stroll down the moonlit streets, absorbing the quiet beauty of the city at rest. Remember to try some of the famous local ice cream as you wander!
2nd Day in Dubrovnik
As we embark on the second day in Dubrovnik, we’re taking things a bit slower and moving a little outside the heart of the city. Today’s itinerary will take you to beautiful natural spots and a unique piece of history and end with a relaxed evening in a scenic locale.
Lokrum Island, a haven of tranquility just off the coast of Dubrovnik, is an ideal place to start the day. It’s a nature reserve rich in vegetation, with botanical gardens, olive groves, and even a colony of peacocks. You can spend around three hours here, exploring the ruins of a Benedictine monastery, climbing to the highest point – the Fort Royal Castle, or simply soaking in the serene surroundings.
Getting to Lokrum is a breeze – a ferry departs from the Old Town port every 15 to 30 minutes, and you can return whenever you feel like it. As for lunch, consider one of the charming restaurants on the island. Savoring a meal in this beautiful setting makes for a memorable experience.
Spend a Few Hours on The Beach
After the peaceful sojourn on Lokrum, it’s time to kick back and enjoy some of Dubrovnik’s beautiful beaches. Whether you’re into pebbled beaches, sandy shores, or secluded coves, you’ll find a beach that suits your preference. Dip your toes in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, or simply lounge on the beach soaking up the sun.
For the full low-down on the best beaches in Dubrovnik, make sure to check out my detailed guide. Remember, there’s no rush – take your time, unwind, and enjoy the blissful beach atmosphere.
Visit Ston and Ston Walls
Refreshed from your beach visit and a quick shower back at your accommodation, it’s time to set off for Ston. Known for its lengthy defensive walls, reminiscent of a small-scale Great Wall of China, Ston is a charming town steeply rooted in history. The town’s walls are impressive, with beautiful views of the surrounding area from the top.
Ston is also famous for its oysters and wine. If you’re a seafood lover, tasting Ston’s oysters is a must – they’re considered among the best in the world. Don’t forget to pair them with a glass of local white wine for a complete gastronomic delight.
You can get to Ston by car, local bus, or taxi. While a little further afield, the journey to this unique town is well worth it, adding a distinctive flavor to your Dubrovnik experience. Ston is one of the top locations I suggest that are near Dubrovnik.
Visit River Ombla Source
On your way back from Ston to Dubrovnik, especially if you’re driving, I highly recommend stopping at the source of the River Ombla. It’s one of the shortest rivers in the world, and seeing the source, where Dubrovnik gets its drinking water is quite special.
Surrounded by cliffs and verdant vegetation, the Ombla source is a pleasant spot to pause and admire the natural beauty of the area. This detour provides a unique insight into how Dubrovnik’s water supply comes from this small but mighty river.
Enjoy The Night at Lapad Bay
Cap off your second day in Dubrovnik with a relaxing evening in Lapad Bay. This area is well-known for its vibrant promenade lined with a range of restaurants and bars. You can enjoy a leisurely dinner while overlooking the bay, its calm waters reflecting the twinkling lights from the shoreline.
After dinner, take a stroll along the promenade, enjoy the soft breeze, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. Whether you prefer a quiet evening or a night filled with socializing, Lapad Bay offers the perfect backdrop to conclude your day. Lapad’s blend of relaxation and nightlife makes it a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike.
3rd Day in Dubrovnik
For the third day in Dubrovnik, we are all set to relax and unwind further, this time taking in the maritime beauty of the city.
Take a Tour of the Elaphiti Islands
Your third day in Dubrovnik starts with a tour of the Elaphiti Islands, a group of 13 islands situated to the northwest of Dubrovnik. Of these, only the three largest – Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan – are inhabited. These islands are known for their verdant vegetation, stunning sandy beaches, and historic buildings.
You’ll spend a good part of your day on this tour, around 7-8 hours, exploring the natural beauty, unique charm, and quiet tranquility these islands offer. From the untouched nature of Koločep to the sandy Sunj beach of Lopud and the rich history of Šipan, the Elaphiti Islands promise an unforgettable experience.
Finding a tour of the islands is straightforward. Head over to Gruž port, where you’ll find several agencies offering tours. Alternatively, for a quicker price comparison, check online. Remember, every island has its unique charm, so take your time to soak it all in.
Take Cable Car and Visit Dubrovnik Srdj Hill
Once back from the Elaphiti Islands, you might want to spend some time on the beach. But as the day turns into evening, it’s time to visit Srdj Hill. You can get there by cable car, car, or taxi. The journey is worth it, as Srdj Hill offers one of the best vantage points to witness the spectacular Dubrovnik sunset.
As the sun begins to set, the entire city of Dubrovnik lights up in hues of gold and crimson. Watching this mesmerizing spectacle unfold before your eyes is an experience you won’t forget. Take your time. Let the beauty of the moment sink in.
Besides the breathtaking views, Srdj Hill also houses the Homeland War Museum and the Panorama Restaurant. You can learn about the region’s history at the museum and then savor a meal at the restaurant, all while overlooking the stunning landscape.
Visit Cavtat and Enjoy Your Night There
After witnessing the magnificent sunset, it’s time to head to Cavtat. Located to the south of Dubrovnik, Cavtat is a small town known for its beautiful harbor, ancient Illyrian necropolis, and the magnificent Rector’s Palace. Reach Cavtat via the Libertas local bus line no. 10, that runs regularly.
Cavtat offers an intimate, relaxed vibe, perfect for a leisurely evening. The waterfront promenade, lined with restaurants and cafes, is the town’s centerpiece. Here, you can enjoy a delectable meal while watching the boats gently bob in the harbor.
The town’s rich history also makes for an interesting exploration. The Rector’s Palace, now a museum, offers insights into Cavtat’s past, while the Racic Mausoleum showcases the impressive work of Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
As your night in Cavrat wraps up, you’ll find that this charming town was a fitting conclusion to your three-day adventure in and around Dubrovnik.
What Not To Do on a 3-Day Trip to Dubrovnik
Here are some things that I recommend not doing if you’re coming to Dubrovnik for three days.
Avoid Long Day Trips
When you’re in Dubrovnik for only three days, one thing to remember is to avoid long day trips. Tempting as it may be, excursions to places like Mostar, Kotor, Budva, Korčula, Hvar, or Medjugorje might eat up a considerable chunk of your limited time.
These destinations, while beautiful in their own right, require a full day to experience fully. You might end up spending more time on the road than actually exploring these places.
That’s why I suggest a longer stay of seven days in Dubrovnik if you’re keen on venturing further afield. It allows you ample time to absorb the charm of Dubrovnik and also explore the wonderful places near it.
Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Beaches
While the sun-soaked beaches of Dubrovnik are incredibly inviting, spending too much time on them might not be the best idea during a brief three-day visit. The allure of sunbathing and languid beach hours is undeniable, but remember, the city has so much more to offer!
Balancing your time is key. Yes, enjoy the beaches, and dip in the pristine waters, but also make sure you dedicate enough time to exploring the city’s history, culture, and gastronomy.
In the grand scheme of your three-day itinerary, limit your beach hours so you can take full advantage of everything Dubrovnik has to offer. The city is a tapestry of experiences waiting to be unraveled!
In conclusion, experiencing the magic of Dubrovnik in three days is achievable if you plan carefully. This guide presents an ideal itinerary that enables you to witness the must-see landmarks, relish the local cuisine, soak in the picturesque views, and capture the essence of this wondrous city in a short span of time.
Dubrovnik is a treasure trove of unique experiences and attractions. While a longer visit would give you more leeway to explore the city in greater depth, three days still provide a wonderful glimpse into the heart of this Adriatic pearl.
So if you’re planning a three-day trip to Dubrovnik, this guide will help you make the most out of every moment. Enjoy your journey!