Are you finally visiting Dubrovnik, but have only one day to spend in this magnificent city? Don't worry, whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for a day on a cruise ship or as a part of your tour of Croatia, one day in Dubrovnik is still enough time to see the main attractions.
While it would be better to stay at least 2 or 3 days, 24 hours in Dubrovnik is still enough time to make you feel the pulse of the city, visit the major landmarks, and enjoy the scenic views.
Dubrovnik is a beautifully preserved medieval town. Built on a rocky peninsula, surrounded by sea and centuries-old town walls, this fortified town is one of the most popular places in Croatia.
Its 2-km long city walls, narrow cobbled streets, charming cafes, historical buildings, terracotta rooftops, stunning views, and blu Adriatic Sea every year draw visitors from all over the world to Dubrovnik.
The majority of Dubrovnik landmarks are located within the old town, or in the vicinity and within easy reach. So you will be able to experience a lot of what Dubrovnik has to offer.
In Dubrovnik, I feel at home. I have been to Dubrovnik so many times before. We visit it at least three times a year, every year. But I have never visited Dubrovnik as a tourist. Until recently. I spent a full day in Dubrovnik with a group of six people who visited the town for the first time. We had a day packed with activities and sightseeing.
I share here a first-hand experience of what to do in Dubrovnik for a day!
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What to do in Dubrovnik for a day?
Follow our one-day Dubrovnik itinerary and make sure you don't miss out on any important sights while visiting this magnificent town.
Enter the old town through Pile Gate
The Pile Gate is the main entrance to the old town. The majority of visitors to Dubrovnik enter the old town through this gate. It is a very busy place!
The Pile Gate dates back to the 10th century but has been rebuilt and extended throughout later centuries. The stone bridge that connects the outer walls with the outside road has been constructed in the 15th century, while the old medieval gate was replaced with the new outer entrance door in Renaissance style in 1573.
A statue of Dubrovnik saint patron, Saint Blaise, proudly stands above the Pile Gate, overlooking the visitors.
Walk Dubrovnik City Walls
Early morning is the best time to walk Dubrovnik City Walls. The entrance to the city walls, as well as a ticket booth for the walls, is to the left, just after you enter the old town through the inner Pile Gate.
The 2 km long city walls are Dubrovnik's main attraction and the must-visit site. The climb is not too bad as the majority of the climbing is done at the first shot. There are some more climbs as you walk along, but nothing to worry about. The heat might be a bigger problem – that's why it is a good idea to go there as early in the morning as possible and bring some water with you. The views from the walls over the town, red roofs, sea, and walls themselves are stunning. You'll love it! It is also a great starting point to get to know the town as you will actually see all the landmarks from the top of the walls.
An admission fee applies for a visit to the city walls. The price depends on the time of the year. From March to October, the ticket costs 35 € for adults and 15 € for kids up to 18 years. Sightseeing of the fortress Lovrjenac is included in the price. You can buy tickets in the city or through the official Dubrovnik City Walls website.
Stroll along Stradun
Once you make a full round of the walls and come down the stairs at the same place where you enter, you'll be at the beginning of Stradun, or Placa as locals call it, the old town's main street.
Stradun is the longest and widest street in the old town. It is full of historical buildings on both sides, many of them housing bars and souvenir shops. It connects two squares on each end of the street.
Walk along Stradun! At the beginning of Stradun, you will find a small square featuring Onorfio's Fountain and on the opposite end is Loggia Square (Luza Square) with the Church of Saint Blaise and Orlando's Column, all important Dubrovnik landmarks.
Visit Franciscan Church and Monastery
As you make your way through Stradun, stop for a visit to the Franciscan Church and Monastery located right on Stradun Street.
The complex is easy to miss as it blends with the rest of the buildings, but behind the facade, you'll find real wonders: a wonderful cloister, the oldest operating pharmacy in the world, and an amazing library. The Church is also interesting with its 6 ornated altars. It was destroyed in the earthquake of 1667 and later rebuilt.
A cloister consisting of 120 columns encircles a lovely garden. The pharmacy is small but worth a visit as it has been in continuous operation since 1317. The library contains over 75.000 works including 20.000 books, 10.000 song notes, and many manuscripts.
The entrance to the Franciscan Monastery is included in the Dubrovnik Card. Otherwise, it costs 5.4€ (5.8 $, 4.8 £).
Have a drink, or a bite at Gradska Kavana Arsenal
Have a coffee in Gradska Kavana Arsenal, one of the iconic cafes in Dubrovnik that first opened in the mid-19th century. This elegant cafe-cum-restaurant is a perfect place for a morning coffee, a brunch, or an afternoon cake.
The outdoor terrace giving over the Church of St. Blaise, and Orlando's Column is the best place for watching the people go by.
Visit Rector's Palace
Rector's Palace is one of the most important historical buildings in Dubrovnik. It was the seat of the Rector, a minor council, and other administrative bodies during the times of the Dubrovnik Republic. It also featured Rector's private quarters. The inscription above the main entrance proudly reads Obliti Privatorum Publica Curate (meaning Forget your private business, concern yourself with public affairs).
Today it houses an interesting albeit small museum. If you like period architecture and to see the way people used to live, you will love Rector's Palace. The interior court is beautiful featuring an impressive staircase, and arched terraces. Rector's private quarters on the first floor are as interesting.
Admission is free with the Dubrovnik Card. Otherwise, it costs 15 € per person, and 8 € for students.
Walk in the Old Harbor
After you visit the Rector's Palace, continue to the old harbor through a passage near the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
An old harbor is one of our favorite spots in the old town. Here people come for a walk along the harbor all the way to Porporela, a breakwater behind St. John Fortress. People also come to Porporela for a quick swim.
Lots of tourist and taxi boats depart from the old harbor, as well as line boats to the nearby Lokrum Island. Add to that a couple of outdoor terraces of nearby restaurants and bars, and you will get a pretty interesting, hectic, and lively scene throughout the day. We love it!
Visit Dominican Monastery
Constructed in the 14th century, the Dominican monastery features a nice cloister, an interesting library, a museum, and the adjacent Church of St. Dominic. The cloister showcases splendid stonework, and it encircles a lovely landscaped garden. The Dominican Monastery and its steps served as a filming location for the Games of Thrones series.
On the stairs (Skalini od Ruzarija) leading to the western entrance of the Dominican Monastery, you will meet Kate. She is dressed in traditional clothes from the Konavle region. She is making souvenirs and beautiful pieces of traditional Konavle embroidery. Stop, chat, and buy this original souvenir.
These stairs are interesting because the lower part of the stairs is completely enclosed so the men, standing on the street below the stairs, couldn't look at the women’s ankles while they climbed the stairs toward the church. Showing female ankles at the time was considered morally unacceptable.
The admission fee for the Dominican Monastery is 5.4 € (5.8 $, 4.8 £).
Pass through Ploce Gate
Once you finish your visit to the Dominican Monastery, keep walking east along St. Dominic Street, past the Revelin Fortress, and you will arrive at Ploce Gate, the eastern entrance to the old town.
Similar to the Pile Gate, Ploce Gate consists of inner and outer walls and gates and a stone bridge for more security. The gate was constructed at the end of the 14th century. Above the gate is a stone statue of St. Blaise, the town's patron saint.
Have lunch at one of many restaurants in the old town
There are numerous restaurants in Dubrovnik's old town. They are pricey, but many offer great food. Our favorite place to eat in the old town is Oyster and Sushi Bar Bota. The owners have their own oyster farm in the town of Ston, but all the seafood is fresh and top-notch.
For classic Croatian fish and seafood fare, head to Proto, a fine dining establishment on the side street off Stradun with a lovely first-floor terrace for al fresco eating. If in search of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Dubrovnik, head to Restaurant 360, with the terrace literally on the city walls, the location, and the scenery don't get any better.
Here is our full post on the best restaurants in Dubrovnik!
Take a cable car to the Srd Hill
Maquis shrub-surfaced Srd Hill stands 400 m above Dubrovnik. It can be reached by car (15 minutes), on foot (90 minutes walk), or by cable car (3 minutes). If you are visiting Dubrovnik only for a day, then a cable car ride is the best way to reach the top. Some of the best views over Dubrovnik, the sea, and the islands are from Srd Hill. Don't miss it!
A Panorama Cafe offers a good section of drinks and food to have while chilling and enjoying the view. There is also a homeland war museum. You can have a glimpse into the destruction that the city endured during the 90s war. Also, there is a photo display of the history of the cable car itself.
And here you have it, an attractions-packed day in Dubrovnik! All those things can easily be done in a day. However, if you plan to stay in Dubrovnik for more than a day, the town has so many things to offer. Check out our post on all the best things to do in Dubrovnik, including the most popular day trips from Dubrovnik.
Have you visited Dubrovnik? What have you enjoyed the most? Let us know in the comments below.