Highlights in the surroundings of Dubrovnik
You have extra days but do not want to drive too far from Dubrovnik? Then visit the following sights at least:
Less than 15 minutes by boat from Dubrovnik harbour is the islet of Lokrum. It is completely covered with pine trees, cypresses, olive trees and other subtropical vegetation. This vegetation provides welcome shade and cooling, especially in the summer. Even at the beaches! But there are more reasons why the island is so popular among locals and tourists.
There is a botanical garden full of tropical and subtropical vegetation on Lokrum. Although not large, this botanical garden, built in the 19th century, is wonderfully peaceful. A perfect place to recover from the hustle and bustle of the old town of Dubrovnik. In the garden, you will find a hundred different species of trees and plants as well as a number of peacocks. This species of bird was brought to the island more than a hundred years ago. Furthermore, there is Lake Mrtvo, a small lagoon where it is lovely to hang out. You can swim, lie in the sun or read. We didn’t do it ourselves but it looked relaxing.
Instead, we went for a walk. There is a surprising amount to see on the island. For example, the Royal Fortress. This fort is located at the highest point of the island. The French built it at the beginning of the 19th century. It offers a beautiful view of, among others, Dubrovnik. Also on the island is an old, medieval Benedictine monastery with a beautiful courtyard. In addition to a café and restaurant, there are several exhibitions. We found the Crusades exhibition particularly interesting. The origin of the exhibition goes back to the 12th century. King Richard the Lionheart found a refuge there on his return journey from the Third Crusade.
Some practical tips for your visit to Lokrum
From Porporela, Dubrovnik’s old harbour, a boat leaves for Lokrum every half hour. At least, in the high season. A return ticket costs about 200 kuna with the official ferry. This includes access to the island. This may seem pricey, but for that money, they also maintain the island. And you get a fantastic day trip for it! You can also go to the island by boat taxi or kayak. Once at the Lokrum pier, you still have to pay an entrance fee for the island.
Beaches in the vicinity of Dubrovnik
The breathtakingly beautiful beaches around Dubrovnik are a highlight in Croatia. Near the old town itself, you can find some excellent beaches. Are you there in the busy high season? Then head out to one of the possibly even more beautiful beaches in the area. Moreover, you will get to see more of the spectacular coastal landscape of South Dalmatia! But which are the most beautiful beaches that you really should not miss?
In the immediate vicinity of Dubrovnik
The most famous beach in Dubrovnik is without doubt Banje beach. It is a pebble beach with hardly any natural shade. Yet, because of its location, this is a very popular beach. The turquoise-blue sea water contrasts beautifully with the red roofs of the old town, but the view of the city walls themselves and the island Lokrum are also fantastic.
One and a half kilometres further than Banje is the beach of Sveti Jakov. Personally, we find this a much nicer and prettier beach. It was chosen by several magazines as one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. It is a bit quieter and the sand is much better. The view of Dubrovnik is also beautiful here. At the beach, you can find a cosy beach bar and a good restaurant. You can hire a parasol and sun bed on the spot!
During our city trip to Dubrovnik, we stayed on the Lapad peninsula. This relatively large peninsula is at walking distance from the old town. There are several beaches. Perhaps the most famous is the beach at Hotel Bellevue. This beach is situated on an incredibly beautiful bay with a view of the old city. The disadvantage is that it is very small and you have to walk a lot of stairs to get there. On Lapad, we therefore prefer the Uvala beach that is two kilometres away. This beach is situated in an elongated bay with many more good swimming possibilities. There is also a promenade, many restaurants and cafes, and many beach activities such as supping. And the most beautiful sunsets!
Some more distant beaches in the vicinity of Dubrovnik
One of the most beautiful beaches in the vicinity of Dubrovnik is Sunj on the island of Lopud. Unlike most beaches in Croatia, this is a real sandy beach that slopes very gradually into the warm sea. There is almost no shade but luckily you can rent a parasol and sun bed. Sunj is easily reached by ferry from Dubrovnik. Another interesting option is a day trip where you visit two more islands besides Lopud.
Along the Dubrovnik Riviera, there are many more beautiful beaches. Especially popular are the beaches in Mlini, Plat and Cavtat. These are respectively 10, 13 and 20 kilometres away from Dubrovnik. You can easily get there by car, bus or boat. Want something different? Then you must see the beaches of Betina and Pasjača!
Betina beach is located just north of Dubrovnik. It can only be reached by kayak or boat. The beach is located on a small, beautiful natural bay near a sort of cave. The sea water here shines in the most beautiful colours and there are many interesting things to discover underwater. Beach shoes are not an unnecessary luxury. Also bring your own food and drink.
Pasjača Beach is located approximately 25 kilometres east of Dubrovnik. You can get there by car. From the parking area there is a paved path along a steep cliff all the way down. The beach itself is not very special but the high, red cliffs around the bay are. Spectacular!
Cavtat is a charming small seaside village ideally located between Dubrovnik and the airport. Cavtat was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC. Nowadays, it is a touristic, yet quiet village where you can easily spend a day. Especially if you just want to relax a day and swim in the sea. It does not have nearly as many sights to offer as Dubrovnik. But it does have many fine beaches and cosy terraces and restaurants. Ideal if you want to escape the bustle of Dubrovnik in the high season.
We particularly liked our walk along the promenade of Cavtat. The route starts at the harbour and then goes all the way around the hill. You will pass many small beaches where young and old will find the necessary coolness. At the bay with the harbour, you will find terraces and restaurants. We were positively surprised by the extensive menu and the good quality of the food. A lot cheaper than in Dubrovnik in any case.
We can also recommend a visit to the house of painter Vlaho Bukovac. There is a permanent exhibition of his entire oeuvre. The house itself with its beautiful garden is worth a visit. You can still see all his painting tools. In one of the rooms, it is as though the painter left his house only the day before.
Cavtat is easy to reach from Dubrovnik by bus or car. With the “3-DAY DUBROVNIK CARD“, the bus trip is even free (once). You can also take the ferry. At the kiosks in the old port, you buy your ticket and get on.
When driving to/from Cavtat or Pasjača, make a small diversion in the direction of Gruda. Near the three-way point of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, you will find a very impressive fortress: Sokol grad, or the Hawk’s Nest. In the 14th century, the fortress was partly built on a cliff. From here, there was an excellent view of the entire area.
First, the citadel was built on the highest part of the cliff. This is where the most important parts of the fortress were located: a large water reservoir, the storage of grain, food and weapons, the commander’s residence, blacksmith’s shop and bread oven. This was followed by the construction of the somewhat lower ramparts on the south side. There you had the fortified main entrance, kitchen, food storage, a small water reservoir and quarters for the mercenary army. Half a century later, a wall was erected even lower down. This wall was there to provide emergency accommodation for the population living in the vicinity.
In the 18th century, the fortress was abandoned but thoroughly restored in 2013. Since then, it is open to the public and definitely worth a visit. In the fortress you will find some interesting exhibitions. You can also take a look in the commander’s house, the barracks and several other rooms. And if you are not afraid of heights, don’t miss the dazzling view from the top.
Some other practical things: the fort has a limited number of parking spaces. Visit the fort preferably early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon. This is especially true in the busy high season when it can get very hot here. And be sure to bring your ‘3-DAY DUBROVNIK CARD‘, because admission is free then.
Practical information for a mini holiday in the Dubrovnik area
All the highlights described in this blog are easily accessible by bus, ferry or water taxi. Even more ideal is when you have a (rented) car. You are then free to go wherever you want. In addition, places like Sokol Grad can only be reached by car. By the way, take into account a lot of travel time if you travel by bus or car. On the map, distances are minimal, but your average speed in the villages is low. In this respect, travelling by boat is ideal. The trip is usually non-stop, and also very beautiful.
Do you have enough time to explore not only Dubrovnik but also the surrounding area? Then consider staying outside the city. There are plenty of nice, idyllic villages along the coast where you can stay. Usually, it is a lot cheaper and especially quieter than in Dubrovnik. In Cavtat alone, there are more than 300 accommodations but in Mlini and the surrounding coastal towns, there is also an extensive range.