Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik, on the Mediterranean coast of Croatia, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in recent years. And when you first set foot in Dubrovnik and place your peepers on its stunning waters and gorgeous buildings, you’ll see why! Dubrovnik is surely one of the most charming places in the world, as long as you can stay away from the crowds. And that’s what this guide is here to help you with! Let’s not waste any more time!
24 Hours in Dubrovnik
Where to Stay?
Have I got a wonderful place to stay during your 24 hours in Dubrovnik. How would you like to rest your head in an adorable family-run establishment with excellent views of Dubrovnik, a pool, free drinks on the patio, and a delicious breakfast spread every morning? Then the Villa Klaic is just the place for you! I can’t imagine staying anywhere else in Dubrovnik.
24 Hours in Dubrovnik
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today on our 24 hours in Dubrovnik. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
The Balkans are hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, if you’re American, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with American plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
24 Hours in Dubrovnik
Morning: Explore Dubrovnik
In my experience, Dubrovnik is most crowded when the cruise ships are in port, which means between 10 and 3. That’s why I suggest finding the hidden nooks and crannies of the city during this time, and waiting until later to explore the Walls of Dubrovnik, which are probably the most popular part of the city. If you are anything like me, getting smushed to death by hordes of tourists is not your idea of fun, so I’ll show you a better way to live with…
Approximately Top 5: Dubrovnik
1) Franciscan Monastery and Museum
For such a small city, Dubrovnik has a staggering number of churches–basically all Catholic that I could see. Anyone of them makes a great place to go for some Sunshine and Crowd Avoidance. But this Franciscan Monastery is the best place I have found in the entire city of Dubrovnik for avoiding crowds. It’s gorgeous and historic and shady–what more could you want?
While you’re inside, admire the treasures of the monastery like this historic map of Dubrovnik…
Or this extremely confusing painting…
Why is half of this mural one thing and the other half a completely different thing? Come back as a ghost and tell us why, Franciscan monk who painted this! Surely no one could be frightened of a Ghost Monk.
24 Hour Treasure
Don’t miss the chance to shop at the pharmacy attached to the monastery, which is supposedly the third oldest pharmacy in the world. Their face creams are lovely. When people ask me how I keep my skin so young and smooth even though I am Extremely Old, I always say I use the blood of virgins. But really it’s the rose skin cream from this pharmacy.
Yup, even though I was born in 1982, my skin remains dewier than the top of Phil Collins’ head, thanks to medieval rose cream.
2) Play Avoid the Tourists!
Now’s the time to play my favorite game in Dubrovnik: avoid the tourists! Just wander around the little side streets, trying to find the least crowded ones. You’ll know you found a good street if you find this cat waiting for you.
Along the way, you can do some more shopping. I recommend the lovely Clara Stones, which sells jewelry using coral from the Adriatic. They’ll give you a certificate of authenticity which is important because sadly some stores in Dubrovnik do not sell The Real Thing. The most you can hope from them is Chamel or Gucchi coral.
Also keep an eye out for hidden carvings and things written in the stones. This message above was supposedly from a monk to some kids who were annoying him by playing with a ball. It says Memento Mori, which means remember you will die. I’m just doing to assume this was the same monk who painted that insane Two Face painting back at the Franciscan monastery. I like for all my blog posts to have a theme, and the theme of this one is obviously Crazy Monk Tales.
3) Dubrovnik Port
Don’t spend your entire time in Dubrovnik trapped inside claustrophobic streets! It’s right on the water, so please take advantage. Dubrovnik’s port was crucial to the city during medieval times. This is when Dubrovnik was independent and relied on trade for income.
But back then, there was a Very Serious Plague going around, so you had to quarantine off the coast of Dubrovnik for 40 days before you were allowed in. You can see we’ve progressed a lot since then because nowadays quarantine is only 14 days long.
It’s that time in our 24 hours in Dubrovnik when we will be ready for lunch. Are you ready for Dalmatian seafood? Relax, Dalmatian here refers to the region where Dubrovnik is located. It has nothing to do with Cruella de Vil or puppies. Kamenice is a local spot famous for its local seafood. (Kamenice means oysters in Croatian.)
I suggest lunching upon some succulent octopus. Octopi can be so rubbery and chewy. But this famous octopus salad is tender and refreshing, like bathing your skin in medieval rose cream and Definitely Not the blood of virgins. But if you are less adventurous, try some of the other seafood instead. And do wash the whole thing down with some Croatian white wine. Memento Mori and indulge in a little day drinking.
5) Peppino’s Gelato
I always like to get dessert and my main course in different places, for the sake of variety. So stand on line at Peppino’s for some exquisite flavors of the frozen stuff. I chose the Game of Thrones flavor because I wanted it to turn me into the mother of dragons. It did no such thing, but it was very delicious. I have absolutely no idea what was in it, but it tasted like chocolate eggnog, so nothing to hate there.
Does anyone out there know why this is called Game of Thrones gelato? Will it remind you that All Men Must Die? Does it use sexposition? I really must know.
24 Hours in Dubrovnik
Afternoon: Walk the Walls of Dubrovnik
The Walls of Dubrovnik are the most Can’t Miss Attraction in the city. I mean, if you get to spend time in a perfectly walled-in medieval city, you gotta walk the walls, right? Even a Ghost Monk knows that. Save a good chunk of time for the walk because there are so many fabulous things to see, and you don’t want to have to rush through any of it.
I know you are mostly curious to see my pictures, but of course I also have to share with you…
Three Fun Facts: Walls of Dubrovnik
1) Any Tips for Visiting the Walls?
The best tip is to wait to go up until the cruise ship crowds have started to disperse. You’ll know they are gone because you will start to notice that you are no longer jammed into Dubrovnik like a sad sardine. This will make it much more pleasant to visit the walls.
Another tip is to get the Dubrovnik Card instead of buying admission to the Walls separately. When I visited, if you went to just one museum, like the Franciscan Monastery Museum, and the walls, it would be worth it to get the card. And we are going to the Cultural Historical Museum tomorrow, so you’ll definitely save money!
2) What is the history behind these walls?
As you might expect, the walls were built during Medieval Times. They were originally meant to keep out the invading Saracens, and they were a success! Unlike many other parts of the Balkans, Dubrovnik was never captured by the Ottoman Empire. Instead it got rich trading with both the Ottomans and other European countries. The walls continue to make money for Dubrovnik today because people come from all over the world to walk on them.
But how do you get into a city that is surrounded by walls? Glad you asked, Internet Stranger! There are four gates leading into the city, each with a different name. Look out for a statue of St. Blaise placed above some of the walls. He is believed to be the protector of the city because he came to a resident in a dream and warned him Venice was about to attack. That’s very lucky because my dreams are never that coherent. In the last dream I had, I stole a lizard from the Bronx Zoo and then it broke into a million pieces. I’d like to think that dream could save my hometown NYC, but I’m not sure how.
3) What is there to do on the walls?
The main thing to do is take photos of these disgustingly beautiful views. Climb up every single weird little tower and nook and cranny you find to take them! Just don’t climb on anything dangerous that you’re not allowed to climb on. Falling off the walls of Dubrovnik will turn you into a Ghost Monk really quickly.
There are a couple of little cafes on the walls where you can stop and get a drink. You can choose anything from an iced tea to a beer. I vote beer. Memento Mori, Internet Stranger!
Just remember actual people live near the walls, so be respectful. There was one local who leaned out his window shirtless to take in his laundry and a bunch of tourists started taking pictures of him. That’s not nice, IMO! Leave the Live! Nude! Croats! alone!
24 Hours in Dubrovnik
Evening: Dinner at Nautika
Dubrovnik just might be the best city in the world for combining fine dining and sick nasty views. So let’s finish up our 24 hours in Dubrovnik with dinner at Nautika. The waiter showed me to this table and I complained about the “disgusting view”, which you can see in my photo above. He laughed and said, “Welcome to my office!” But sometimes when the view is this good, the food suffers in comparison. That’s not the case at Nautika!
Up first we have a flawless beef carpaccio. There can be no flaw in a piece of meat when you are eating it raw like this, and this dish was like a gymnastics routine from Nadia Comaneci: a perfect 10. My favorite thing about the dinner was that each dish came with a drizzle of a different Croatian olive oil on top. Croatia is justly proud of its olive oil, wine, and cheese, and we’ll get to experience all in this meal.
Up next was a lovely shrimp tempura with bisque on top. The bisque was poured over at the last minute so the tempura did lose any crunch, which I appreciated.
Our third course is this colorful beauty: cuttlefish with a perfectly salty squid ink crunch on top. Observant readers will be sensing a seafood theme to this menu and you’d be right! But we’re not done yet!
This is tuna served with fennel prepared three ways: cooked, creamy, and crunchy. I am always a sucker for ingredients served several ways in one dish because it shows off the ingredient so well. And look at the sear on that tuna! It’s almost as pretty as the view.
It’s time for the main course and a spot of juicy tender meat, in case we are a Macho Man who doesn’t think you can call it a complete meal if you’re only eating fish.
And it’s also time to say goodbye to all the olive oils I consumed during this meal–I think I’ll miss you most of all.
For dessert I had the world’s most glamorous carrot cake. It surprised me to find this in Dubrovnik because I associate carrot cake with American cafeterias. But my waiter told me it was very traditional in Croatia. “Traditional enough for a Ghost Monk to eat?” I asked. Then he just started backing away from me.
And no glamorous Croatian meal is complete without the award-winning Pag cheese. This delicacy is made from the milk of sheep that eat a ton of salt, so it has a unique flavor that can only come from natural and not added salt. I would eat this stuff every day if only I could find it! Why didn’t I try to smuggle a bunch into the United States? Oh well, better luck next time.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Dubrovnik!
What would you do with 24 hours in Dubrovnik? Do you think I could meet the Ghost Monk if I just tried a little harder? And is it rude to photograph Live! Nude! Croats!? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Dubrovnik.