Dubrovnik in Croatia is one of the finest walled cities in the world. For centuries it was renowned for its power and elegance. Now, thanks to Game of Thrones, it has a new kind of fame as a TV star. And the crowds in high season are getting famous too. But Dubrovnik in June has quieter streets and warm seas. Here are our essential things to do including kayaking in Dubrovnik and best islands near Dubrovnik. Updated 2023
- beautiful UNESCO medieval walled city in Croatia
- pristine sea, saltwater lakes
- Kayaking, swimming, walking
- Islands to explore
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Dubrovnik in June
As soon as my son, Nick, finished his university term in June he and a friend hopped on a plane to Dubrovnik. So this is not strictly a ‘family travel’ review. But they came back full of enthusiasm for this beautiful and historic city and with lots of tips that are perfect for families planning a holiday with teens or older.
June is generally school term-time and public exam season in Britain. But it’s still an option for families with uni students or sixth formers who’ve finished exams. Equally some school half terms fall at the beginning of June.
May, June, September and October are the ‘shoulder seasons’ in Dubrovnik. They can still be busy but not compared to the peak season of mid-summer. Dubrovnik is a popular destination for cruise ships and the impact of several thousand people disembarking in this small walled city can’t be under-estimated. However, in mid-June Nick says they walked the city walls and rode the Dubrovnik cable car without too many queues.
Dubrovnik weather in June
They had great weather too in Dubrovnik in June. As a Mediterranean town Dubrovnik enjoys a pretty stable summer climate whilst June and July stats show they are the driest months of the year. Daily temperatures in June average 22°C. Nick says that the sun shone every day on the beaches and offshore islands and the sea was calm for kayaking. They swam as well (it wasn’t too cold).
Read on for their must-dos which include a fab sea kayaking tour, a trip on the Dubrovnik cable car for spectacular views and their favourite Dubrovnik beaches and islands. They’ve some important tips to avoid crowds too. To check the seasonal averages for weather in Dubrovnik, click here.
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Dubrovnik Things to Do
What to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia? There really is something here for everyone. From history and culture to island-hopping, days at the beach or boat rides you’ll find plenty to keep you busy whether you’re visiting for a couple of days or a week. Here are our 10 essential things to do in Dubrovnik, though we’re sure you’ll find more.
1. Explore the Old City
Nick says: “We arrived in the evening and walked across the drawbridge at Pile Gate into the medieval streets of Dubrovnik Old Town. It’s a grand entrance! There aren’t any cars inside the city walls and the polished limestone paving shines in the lamplight. It feels like walking into a film set.
On our first day we just wandered and got a feel for the city. It reminded me of Venice with its narrow medieval streets, palaces and grand churches. No surprise to hear that it has hardly altered since the 13th century.
Dubrovnik was a city republic for 700 years and has a long history as a wealthy and cultured seaport with trade links to the East and Africa. In the 16th century little Dubrovnik had a fleet of 180 ships.
We began by exploring the Old Harbour. Nowadays instead of shipbuilders the old port is a place to eat, drink and watch the world go by. You can also catch taxi boats here to nearby islands. The port was bombed heavily in the 1990s war. It’s been restored but you can see how much was damaged by the new roof tiles.”
Take a guided walk through the Old Town
It’s a great way to hear some of the stories that these ancient paved streets can tell. This tour reveals 1400 years of Dubrovnik’s fascinating and dramatic history. Click here for more info and to book.
Spot the Game of Thrones locations in Dubrovnik
Nick says: “Dubrovnik is famous for its role as King’s Landing in the TV series Game of Thrones so obviously we recognised a few locations as we walked around the Old Town.
A key one to look out for is the Jesuit Staircase. This is a sweeping flight of stone steps that’s used as the approach for the Sept of Baelor and also the scene of Cersei’s walk of atonement.
We also looked into the Renaissance Rector’s Palace. Its beautiful open-air atrium and staircase doubles as the Palace of Qarth. It’s also home to Dubrovnik’s Cultural History Museum.
Fort Lovrijenac aka The Red Keep, is outside the city walls, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. For centuries it was hugely important for the defence of Dubrovnik. We visited at lunchtime and it was quite quiet, perhaps because it’s slightly off the beaten track. Prepare for a steepish climb, about 200 steps, but worth it for the amazing views. From here you can see West Pier which doubled as Blackwater Bay and also Pile Bay (King’s Landing harbour).
Stradun is the main thoroughfare in Dubrovnik and crosses the city to link the two main gates. Pile Gate is on the west side and Ploce Gate, with its balustraded stone bridge, is on the east. It was used to film Cersei’s walk too.
Off-screen present day Stradun is lined with shops and cafe tables. So we embraced cafe culture on a Sunday morning and walked its length, stopping off for ice-creams, coffees and window-shopping.
At one end of Stradun is the pretty baroque Church of St. Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint.”
Game of Throne fans will love a tour of ‘King’s Landing’ that immerses you in the world of GoT with locations and stories from the filming. Click here for more info, reviews and to book the Ultimate Game of Thrones Tour.
2. Walk the City Walls
Nick says: “If you only do one thing in Dubrovnik, then walk the city walls. These monumental barricades have kept the city safe for hundreds of years. It’s a 2km walk as the walls encircle and protect the whole of the medieval city.
In some places the walls are 6m wide and 22m high and the walk includes towers and fortresses too. Plus the views over the narrow streets and terracotta rooftops of the city, as well as the Adriatic, are stunning. We took an hour or two to walk the full circuit, starting at Pile Gate. The walls have a one-way system so everyone needs to walk anti-clockwise.
It only cost 50kn* with an international student card to explore the Fort and City Walls. Both are must sees and the views are incredible. We waited until late afternoon to walk the city walls as there isn’t much shade up there and the crowds thin out later in the day. You’ll need to bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.”
Beat the crowds on the city walls
If you’re planning to walk the walls get smart and check ahead to find out which day of the week has the fewest cruise ship arrivals. You can find a timetable on this site. As mornings tend to be busy with new arrivals you could also try as soon as the walls open or later in the afternoon.
This city walls walking tour gets great reviews. As well as the amazing views you’ll learn the history of the walls over 1400 years from a knowledgeable and engaging local guide. Check the reviews and book the Walls and Wars walking tour here.
3. Sunset in Dubrovnik in June
Don’t miss an opportunity to watch the Dubrovnik sunset over the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
For sunset drinks the justly famous cliff-side Buza Bar, overlooking the sea, is a must-do. It is literally a hole-in-the-city-wall in the Old Town. Very small and also hidden it’s worth seeking out but you’ll need to get there early as it’s very popular. Funnily enough, despite its fame you can’t actually see the sun as it sets from Buza Bar, since it doesn’t face due west. But you’ll still see the sky colouring up beautifully.
To see an actual sunset you can’t beat taking to the water in Dubrovnik. Go back in time to the 16th century by boarding a replica wooden sailing galleon, or Karaka. You can view the city walls and surrounding islands and toast the sunset with sparkling wine. Click here to see pictures, read reviews, check availability and book a Sunset Cruise by Karaka.
Or charter a private boat and skipper to see the city sights from the water and hear many of its stories. You can explore the caves of Lokrum and even go snorkelling, then celebrate the sunset with a choice of drinks. A great way to celebrate a special occasion or a romantic trip. Click here for more info about a Private Boat Cruise at Sunset.
And of course you can enjoy the Dubrovnik sunset from a kayak, click for more info.
A sunset guided walk is a great way to see the sunset from dry land. It will get you to the right place on the city walls at the right time to see the sun drop. As well as fabulous views you’ll learn fascinating insights into the city then and now. To read reviews and book a City Walls guided tour, click here.
Possibly the most spectacular way to enjoy the sunset in Dubrovnik in June is from the top of Mount Srd, a low mountain with panoramic views of the Old Town and Elafiti islands. You can walk, taxi or catch the cable car to the top.
4. Kayaking in Dubrovnik
Nick says: “On the second day we went sea kayaking. We took the Adventure Dubrovnik sea kayaking tour and set off at 10am in a group of around 20. First of all our guide took us to explore a couple of caves on Lokrum island.
Then we turned back to a beach on mainland Dubrovnik that’s only accessible by kayak. It was the perfect place for a spot of lunch.
The water was incredibly clear and the paddling wasn’t too taxing as there was no wind. The only real danger for us was the sun.
We spent around three hours on the water, paddling over to Lokrum and visiting the Dubrovnik beaches.
The tour company provided us with water, lunch and waterproof barrels for our valuables. We’d definitely recommend it.”
THIS IS THE SEA KAYAKING TOUR WE RECOMMEND:
Click here to book a sea kayaking tour from Dubrovnik to Lokrum.
You can choose a morning, afternoon or evening trip. They all include swimming, snorkelling and snacks. In the evening you get the chance to see the sunset too with a bonus glass of wine! Best to book ahead as these tours are popular and likely to sell out.
Islands near Dubrovnik
Several beautiful islands lie within easy reach of Dubrovnik. It’s simple to catch a ferry to pop over for half a day or more. The closest and most popular are Lokrum, only 600m offshore followed by the Elaphiti islands: Kolocep, Lopud and Šipan. Mljet is a little further away, but you can still do a round trip from Dubrovnik in a day. From Mljet, if you aren’t staying in Dubrovnik, you could hop on to Korcula, Hvar and Brac.
5. Lokrum island
Nick says: “Lokrum is the closest of the Dubrovnik islands, in fact it is only 600m offshore. It’s a lushly forested nature reserve with lots of places to swim from the rocks. We went over a couple of times, catching the Lokrum island ferry from the Old Harbour which takes about 15 minutes.
Game of Thrones fans will recognise it as the city of Qarth and both the botanical gardens and old monastery appear on screen. You can also find a replica Iron Throne to sit on in the visitor centre! We took a picnic and wandered around, taking in a number of phenomenal views.
We rambled round the old abandoned monastery and finally settling at the saltwater Mrtvo More or Dead Sea lake. It’s fairly busy and fairly touristy, but the lake is a must see! The water is clear and warm and although there isn’t any sand there are rocks to sunbathe on.
The lake feels quite secret with an overhanging cliff to one side and lush vegetation all around. Get your cameras out for this and watch out for some cheeky peacocks in the trees.
After lunch, we gallivanted across to The Rocks, a huge array of flat rocks looking out towards the Adriatic. It’s a brilliant spot to catch the rays, and a bit less touristy than the lake. However, there is no shade, so careful of the sun. We did a spot of cliff jumping here too – it’s a lot higher than it looks when you get up there!
Ferry to Lokrum island
Lokrum island is very close to Dubrovnik and the journey by ferry only takes 15 minutes from the Old Harbour. The island is open from April to November and the ferries run once or twice an hour, less in low season. You can only stay until sunset since Lokrum is uninhabited!
6. Visit Lopud island
Nick says: Lopud is the second of the Elaphiti Islands near Dubrovnik and is famous for its beach. We caught a ferry from Dubrovnik ferry port for the hour long journey. Lopud itself is a beautiful little island. The promenade has restaurants, ice cream booths and small shops but we wanted to visit Sunj beach which is about half an hour’s walk away. Since Lopud is car-free the only other transport options we found were rickety bikes at 70kn each or electric buggies with drivers, 45kn each way. We took the bikes, and although quite fun, we recommend you get the golf buggy. There are hills in Lopud, something we hadn’t bargained for!
Sunj is one of the few sandy beaches in the Dalmatian region of Croatia, and it’s beautiful. It’s a long shallow sweep of sand and there were at most 150 people on the beach when we were there. Two sunloungers and an umbrella were a steep 150kn, but we stayed for hours enjoying the beautiful views and pristine sea.
How to get to Lopud from Dubrovnik
We grabbed a bus from Pile Gate to Port Gruz, which is the main Dubrovnik ferry port. From here we took a Jadrolinija ferry to Lopud. Our return tickets cost an absurdly cheap 46kn per person, not bad for an hour long ferry journey. Some companies in the Old Harbour offer cruises which visit all three Elaphiti islands in a day.”
7. Take a boat tour of the Elaphiti islands
You can explore the chain of islands that make up the Elaphiti archipelago by ferry if you’re happy to study the timetables and work out your own routes. Or choose a tour if you’re short of time or prefer a custom-made itinerary.
You can cruise on a replica galleon to celebrate the days when Dubrovnik was at the height of its maritime power. Click here for more info and to book. The day trip includes lunch on board and visits to Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud.
Or choose a private boat tour with a skipper who will take you to hidden beaches and seaside villages. You can tailor your own itinerary with the help of your skipper to take in swimming, snorkelling, cliff-jumping or exploring historic villages. Click here for reviews and to book this 4 hour private boat tour to the Elaphiti islands.
Or spend a full day exploring the islands with your own private skipper and speedboat, suitable for a group of up to 6. Click for more information
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Nick says: “We stayed in a cute AirBnB in the old town of Dubrovnik on Prijeko. It’s secret charm was that the bedrooms overlooked a side street so it was actually very quiet. You can’t beat staying within the city walls for atmosphere and convenience. But, we did visit Dubrovnik in June and so we can’t vouch for the experience during the busiest months of July and August. Cruise ships dock regularly so the town was quietest and nicest in the early mornings and evenings. If you’re actually staying in the old town you do get the chance to enjoy it when the crowds have dispersed.”
Where to stay in Dubrovnik Old Town
Click here for a selection of hotels and apartments in Dubrovnik with Booking.com . Set your filters then scroll through the images, descriptions and reviews to choose the best accommodation for your stay. Here are some that are highly recommended, click the links for reviews and prices:
Apartment Beatrice – a two bedroom apartment with balcony plus sea and city views. Handy for the beach and the Old Town.
Prijeko Palace – a glamorous boutique hotel in the historic centre of Dubrovnik and close to a pebble beach. Apartments also available. It has a Michelin-recommended restaurant too.
Grand Villa Argentina – an historic villa in Ploce, with outdoor pool and direct beach access, 5 mins walk from the Old Town. Some rooms facing the sea have classic stone balconies. Great views of the sea and city walls.
Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik – a grand old hotel, apparently King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson danced in the garden in 1936! Very convenient for Pile Gate and the cable car with lovely views of the Old Town too.
8. Take a day trip to Mljet island
Nick says: “On our final day we headed to Mljet, one of the larger islands that’s accessible from Dubrovnik. It is thickly wooded with pine trees and very quiet and beautiful. A Greek legend says that Odysseus was shipwrecked here and stayed for seven years. We took the catamaran from Port Gruz to the port of Polace, on the western side of the island which is nearest the National Park.
Once we landed at Mljet, we bought a ticket for the National Park. Free minibuses run from Polace to a drop-off point near the little settlement of Babine Kuce.
From here we walked to Mali Most, a point where two saltwater lakes meet. It’s a brilliant vantage point and was quiet when we were there. The water is incredibly clear and much warmer than the sea. After swimming we hired a canoe to paddle out to get a closer look at the beautiful 12th century Benedictine monastery on an island in the middle of the lake.
How to get to Mljet from Dubrovnik
Mljet has three ports but we took the Nova Ana catamaran from Dubrovnik’s Port Gruz to Polace, so we could visit the National Park. At 140kn each it cost a lot more than the ferry to Lopud, but it’s further and the boat is faster. On that day we were able to set off at 9.15am and catch a 5pm ferry to return. The timetable varies by day and season so it’s important to check the times in advance. The journey takes about 1hr 40.
9. Swim at the foot of the city walls
Some days we stayed close to home inside Dubrovnik’s city walls and did our sunbathing and swimming from the rocks around the corner from the Old Harbour. It wasn’t touristy but there were enough locals there for us to not feel too isolated. Again the water is incredibly clear and not too cold. Beware of rocks though, the shores are stony and we’d recommend wet shoes or swimming in flip-flops. The light there was lovely in the evening with reflections of the sunset across the sky.
10. Catch the Dubrovnik Cable Car for an Aerial View
Nick says: One afternoon we took the Zicara cable car to the top of Srd hill. It sets off from the northernmost point of the city walls and climbs steeply to a vantage point overlooking the city and sea.
We walked to the cable car station from Pile gate and bought one way tickets, there wasn’t a queue and we didn’t have to wait long. The ride only takes a few minutes and at the top the views of the islands are amazing, you can see up to 60km on a clear day.
Napoleon realised that the top of the mountain was a good place to put a fortress. In the 19th century he built Fort Imperijal, to take advantage of the long panoramic views. This was also the site of the heroic Dubrovnik resistance against the Yugoslav People’s Army in the 1990s.”
Take an e-Tuk Tuk tour
You can get fab views from Srd and it’s worth the visit either by walking up, taking a taxi or hopping on the cable car. Or you can take an E-Tuk Tuk tour! This one gets great reviews and takes you to some lesser known viewpoints too for perfect photo opportunities. Click here to read reviews, check availability and book an E-Tuk Tuk tour in Dubrovnik.
Visit the Homeland War Museum
Nick says: Inside the fortress on Srd is the Homeland War Museum. It’s dedicated to the Siege of Dubrovnik and the efforts of the Croatian fighters to retain their city in the early 1990s. The historical context is set out brilliantly and we spent an hour here wandering round the exhibits.
Walking down Srd hill from the Dubrovnik cable carAlso highly recommended is the walk back down Srd hill, along winding paths, stopping to take in the brilliant views of the Old City, Lokrum and surrounding islands. It takes 30 to 40 minutes to walk down from the Dubrovnik cable car, but it’s definitely worth it. Check here for current ticket prices and timetable.”
By the way, if you’re interested in Dubrovnik’s recent history, the newly opened Red History Museum has great reviews. Visitors experience what everyday life was like in communist Yugoslavia through interactive displays. You can sit in a car, try a typewriter and pick some music to listen to whilst gaining insights into Croatia’s socialist past. Sounds like another must-see!
HERE’S A SELECTION OF TOURS AND OUTINGS FROM GET YOUR GUIDE:
Eating out in Dubrovnik
Nick says: “Be wary, and check Trip Advisor before you pick a restaurant. There are hundreds of places catering for tourists, many with expensive menus but fairly lacklustre food. Our top tips are to choose somewhere with a short menu, and to avoid the ones with annoying waiters asking if you want a table outside.
One evening we found a beautiful little restaurant called Stara Loza, at Prijeko 24, just down the road from our apartment. We ordered locally caught mullet and a vegetarian dish. I’ll be honest, vegetarian isn’t really a thing in Croatia, but the hazelnut and vegetable gnocchi was incredible. Both of us would recommend this place in a heartbeat.
NB Stara Loza is attached to a boutique hotel called Prijeko Palace. It looked fancy and it’s in a great location!
Nishta, which is also on Prijeko is the vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Dubrovnik. This is a must-go! We ate pasticida, a local Dalmatia stew with polenta squares and greens, and tasty falafel with homemade flatbreads and hummus. Definitely recommend, along with the local, organic San Servolo Blond beer.”
Dubrovnik in June
Nancy: Nick thinks Dubrovnik is a good choice for families, particularly if you can visit a month either side of the peak busyness of July and August. He reckons they struck it lucky: the weather in Dubrovnik in June was lovely, the sun was hot, the sea was warm enough to swim and it wasn’t too crowded.
His verdict is that it’s a stunning city irrespective of the Game of Thrones connections. Like Venice, click here to read about our trip with teens, there’s a real sense of history and drama, and it really helps that it’s car-free. Plus after sightseeing you can jump straight into the sea to cool off!
*Currently there are 8.78 kuna (kn) to £1
If you’d like to explore further afield on a day trip from Dubrovnik, here are some tours to consider:
Please note that all visitor information here is for guidance only. Please check the venues’ websites for the most up to date information on tickets, entrance requirements, opening times etc.
Dubrovnik Things to Do
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WHAT TO READ NEXT
For more cities by the sea that combine culture, sightseeing and fun you could try:
BARCELONA, the Spanish city with mind-blowing architecture and fabulous food, things to do in Barcelona here.
BRIGHTON, just an hour or two from London this hip and lively seaside city has Royal connections, 2 days in Brighton here.
VENICE, the Italian gem that needs no introduction. 3 Days in Venice, here for our tips on where to stay, getting around and tours to take.
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Rachel Spencer says
Ooh this looks fab! I really fancy Dubrovnik! Love the photos too!
Map & Family says
Thanks Rachel! It’s the most beautiful city and I hadn’t realised how close the islands are too.
Hannah Hargrave says
Can’t believe how beautiful and blue the sea is. I’ve been considering visiting Croatia for a holiday and now I really want to go. Would you recommend it even with young kids? Mine are only 2 and 4.
Map & Family says
Nick says he didn’t see many small children but then it was term time. There’s one sandy beach just outside the city walls or otherwise it’s a ferry ride to Lopud so on that basis not ideal for a bucket and spade hols – although if anyone has more info it would be great to hear! And the old city is car-free which has to be a plus!
Lyndsey Gilmour says
Husband went on a stag do (eye rolls). It was wasted on them, I could tell from his pics. I can tell even more from yours. He has promised to take us back but we are bound by term times now…
Map & Family says
Haha! It’s a shame about the busy summer hols but I’ve been told it can work to stay outside the town or to visit the islands – worth researching a bit.
I loved reading this piece! I try to do two brand new countries a year. Croatia is now definitely on my list! Thank you for sharing. Also, I had no idea peacocks lived in trees?!
Map & Family says
Thank you Helen! Really glad you enjoyed it and love the idea of two new countries a year. The peacocks on Lokrum are quite tame apparently, as are the rabbits!
Tanja (the Red phone box travels) says
I’m glad they liked it:) if you want crowd free city visit in spring or autumn:) it might still be warm enough for a dip:)
Map & Family says
Thanks Tanja, I’m sure that’s the answer for avoiding the crowds and a bonus if the sea is warm enough for swimming too!
Great post. We had a visit this year, late Aug. it was busy and I agree with your son. The restaurants are fairly drab and expensive. Catering to the cruse-ship crowd. Nevertheless a beautiful city!
Map & Family says
Hi Angelina, thanks so much, it’s great to hear about other people’s experiences. I’ve read that Dubrovnik is planning to make major cuts to the numbers of people who visit each day during peak season to preserve the quality of life in the city. Sounds like a good idea to save a wonderful place.
How lovely is this article jointly done with your son and friend! Love all their activities and pictures, that’s exactly what I have in mind with my boys when they get there! Dubrovnik is so lovely and I’ve been years ago from Venice but the Unesco gems, gorgeous heritage and so many islands are luring us back with the kids soon. Thanks so much for linking on to #CulturedKids!
Map & Family says
Thank you! Yes both my boys are great contributors now. I love that they pack so much into their trips and enjoy the heritage as well as the cliff jumping!
Scarlett Roitman says
Another place I have yet to visit. Not sure how foodie friendly it is for vegetarians, so thank goodness for Nishta! Dubrovnik certainly looks glorious. Your guides are always so comprehensive, Nancy – wouldn’t travel there without them! #CULTUREDKIDS
Map & Family says
Thanks so much – that’s lovely to hear! Yes it’s not an obvious place for vegetarians but they made a point of looking and were pleased with what they found!
Vyki from Museum Mum says
Such a stunning place – I know me and Museum Dad would enjoy the Game of Thrones locations, even if the kids didn’t get them! It sounds like a great holiday with teens in particular, with the mix of outdoor activities and heritage. Definitely one for the travel wishlist – thanks for the inspiration! #CulturedKids
Obviously you have taught your son to love travel. Awesome that he plans his own adventures.
Map & Family says
I think we’ve taught each other! They’re both in their 20s now and we still like doing a lot of the same things if we go to explore a new place together.
I loved exploring Dubrovnik! The Old City is great and there’s so much to see and do! Definitely needed more time to see some of these other places!
Map & Family says
I’ve heard such great things about the islands, I’ve friends who’ve combined boats and bicycles to go island hopping!
I can’t believe I still haven’t been to Croatia! Thank you for this perfect guide, I’m saving it for this summer!
Map & Family says
Thank you Marina, definitely keep Croatia in mind!