Summer in Dubrovnik
Beaches line the verdant peninsula of Babin Kuk, a short ride from town. The newly renovated sandy beach of Cava has gorgeous views of Daksa island and its own Coral Beach Club, with an extensive bar/restaurant and VIP lounge. Family-friendly Copacabana is the largest of the beaches, with all kinds of sports activities. The Dubrovnik President Hotel has its own Blue Flag beach, Beach Bistro restaurant, bar and watersports centre nearby. Nearby, five Valamar hotels allow you to get the best out of your stay in Dubrovnik, whether you’re swimming in the clear blue Adriatic, sunbathing on the pristine shore or taking in an al-fresco performance of a Shakespeare classic. For a summer-long programme of entertainment, the Valamar Club Dubrovnik Hotel provides a range of games and activities for all ages. Other beaches are only a stroll from the tourist-thronged Old Town. Some play host to the popular series of sea-borne water-polo matches between local teams, the so-called Wild League that starts on the opening day of the Dubrovnik Festival, July 10, and runs for a month. During this time, you can take in the end-to-end thrills of a century-old sports event and a top-notch, site-specific theatre or classical-music performance, all in the same day. The festival, which always stretches over a full six weeks until August 25, not only provides high-brow entertainment. There’s open-air cinema, street performances and all kinds of spontaneous sideshows. For these six weeks, the festival
20 great things to do in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a one-town tourist industry on its own, with endless things to do all year round. As stunning as the clear blue sea around it, the former centre of the independent Republic of Ragusa invites superlatives and attracts the lion's share of Croatia's visitors. Read on for our insider's guide to the best things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik art gallery guide
Dubrovnik is not all about luxury hotels and destination restaurants. Step inside our Dubrovnik art gallery guide to discover where to catch some of Croatia's best modern and contemporary art, and coolest exhibition programmes.
Dubrovnik shopping guide
The Dubrovnik shopping arena is, thankfully, starting to be less dominated by the overpriced tourist shops that once dominated the city, and a few key stores are holding out against these tacky souvenir shops that line the main street of Stradun. Time Out discovers the best places to go shopping in Dubrovnik, from designer boutiques to open-air markets.
The best Dubrovnik bars
By day, Dubrovnik and its overcrowded Old Town seem the perfect place for sandal-wearing coffee-sippers. But by night, Dubrovnik bars spring to life, with a number of atmospheric spots serving up anything from fine Dalmatian wines to fancy cocktails. Dip in to our essential drinking guide.
The best restaurants in Dubrovnik
On a main street, opposite a souvenir shop, sits Azur's terrace. Dishes include fuži pasta with octopus, risotto with nettle and škripavac cheese, ﬁgs in red wine with cinnamon and cloves and are reasonably priced; an appetizer, main course and dessert should cost you between 120-150kn.
For traditional food, served with finesse, and with a reasonable price tag, Dalmatino takes some beating. It's located in an old house that has been renovated to show the original stonework at its exposed best. The menu is as straightforwardly Dalmatian as the name of the restaurant, featuring plenty of local fish and fowl, although a lot of creativity has gone into the details – grilled fish might be served with a colour-coordinated array of Mediterranean vegetables instead of the usual blitva. A lot of effort goes into the desserts – for some, it's the Dalmatino cheesecake that deserves the superlatives; others swear by the chocolate mousse. The place is run by a South African of Korčulan descent, so it's no surprise that the wine list veers enthusiastically towards the fine whites from that island.
Where to drink in Dubrovnik
Old film and beer ads brighten the space; posters promote long-forgottten Olympics and pool-table lightshades of coloured glass advertise Coors beer. Cocktails come in creamy or killer varieties, football or music videos are screened and staff buzz about in daft blue shirts with some bullshit motto on them. Recommended.
The titular sunset view is in full panorama here in the chic surroundings of the five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace. On a clear day you can see Mljet. Afternoons mean happy-hour drinks, evenings a piano player. Cocktails (60kn) comprise 35 standards, there are specialist Perković brandies (carob, fig, nut) and wines run from a basic 20kn to the best local labels rarely found by the glass.
Opened in 2008, Dubrovnik's first real wine bar is presided over by Australian-Croatian Sasha and his friendly and informative team. D'Vino manages to stock more than 100 varieties, 76 available by the glass. Every decent Istrian, Slavonian and Dalmatian label is here, including Grgić Plavac Mali and Zlatan Plavac. The house wine begins at 25kn and the venue lays on wine tours. Savoury meat-and-cheese platters are tailor-made to complement the wine. It's a comfortable, modern, intimate space to enjoy a drink – with a few seats outside in summer.
Best attractions in Dubrovnik
The most historic monument in Dubrovnik, the Rector's Palace was rebuilt twice. The first, by Onofrio della Cava of fountain fame, was in Venetian-Gothic style, visible in the window design once you ascend the grand staircase to the Rector's living quarters. Thereafter Florentine Michelozzo Michelozzi was responsible for the loggia façade. On the ground floor, either side of a courtyard, are the prison and courtrooms of the Ragusa Republic, and a glittering display of medieval church art. Upstairs, where each Rector resided for his month's stint, is a strange assortment of items: sedan chairs, carriages, magistrates' robes and wigs, portraits of local notables and Ivo Rudenjak's beautifully carved bookcase. One curiosity is the clocks, some set at quarter to six, the time in the evening when Napoleon's troops entered in 1806. The same ticket is valid for the Archeological Collection, a small but attractive collection of medieval carvings as the Rector's Palace) right by Ploče gate.
The attractive, 16th-century former customs house and Ragusa mint is used to house the extensive state archives. Several rooms off the arcaded groundfloor courtyard are used to display photocopies of the archives' most treasured historical documents. A small room opposite the ticket office holds the Memorial Room of the Dubrovnik Defenders. Covering the 12 months from October 1991 (although keen to point out that isolated attacks continued until the summer of 1995), the exhibition contains portraits of the 300 defenders and civilians who died during the siege and the tattered remnant of the Croatian flag that flew atop strategic Mount Srđ.
The first thing any visitor should fork out for is entrance up to the City Walls. The main one is by the Pile Gate. Arrowed up towards the Adriatic side, you're soon scaling staircases to allow you a sublime view of the blue, blue sea to one side and people's red-tiled roofs, terraces and washing lines to the other. There are a couple of cafes towards the harbour end, where you turn and head towards the thicker, inland-facing walls. You can also choose to head out here, near the Old Port. As well as giving you a perspective on Dubrovnik, you can see how intricate a job this was. Remember to pack a hat and sun cream.
Between the Sponza Palace and the Ploče Gate, this monastery is best known for its late Gothic cloisters and late 15th-century paintings of the Dubrovnik School in the museum – in particular masterpieces by Nikola Božidarević, including his Our Lady with the Saints. On the walls of the monastery church are a beautiful wooden crucifix by Paolo Veneziano from 1358 and a painting by renowned fin-de-siècle artist Vlaho Bukovac from Cavtat, The Miracle of St Dominic.
The best hotels in Dubrovnik
Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik
For once the slogan is right: this is indulgence on a grand scale. Here in lush Babin kuk is a state-of-the-art hotel with the Ragusa spa and its dizzying array of treatments (free with a minimum fournight stay), pools indoor and out (and separate kids' pool), fine dining Langosto luxury restaurant, cocktails in four bars – plus, of course, the guest rooms, 385 in all, plus 16 suites. There are also any number of conference facilities.
Opened in 2008, this conversion of the Zamanje family villa (1573) is now a five-star hotel of a dozen rooms, one suite, three restaurants and a beautiful outdoor pool with a bar beside it. A speedboat and yacht are on hand for guests' use.
Dubrovnik has more than its fair share of cliff-hugging, sun-trap hotels and this particular feat of engineering is one of the more outstanding examples. The venue, cut into the cliff facing the sea, has been expensively refurbished to feature local woods and granite. All rooms have a sea view, as do the spa and highly rated Vapor restaurant. The Nevera Beach restaurant occupies a man-made cave right beside the private beach.
Hotel Dubrovnik Palace
This ten-floor, 308-room luxury hotel reconfigured in 2004 was conceived in 1972, set in woodland paths at the tip of Lapad, in full view of the Elafiti isles. Today this is what everyone sees from their balcony, from the four bars, three restaurants, four pools and gym. Saunas, massage treatments and beauty procedures are on offer at the energy clinic spa. Also of note are the Lanterna Glorijet poolside bar and the Sunset Lounge cocktail bar.
A €22-million refit of Dubrovnik’s most prestigious hotel was followed by a grand reopening in 2008. Built in 1913 as a private villa, it became the Hotel Excelsior in 1930. Royals, writers, movie stars, they all stayed here. Acquired by Adriatic Luxury Hotels group in 2000, it now features four restaurants, three pools, a piano bar and spa. The adjoining Villa Rustica also contains luxury lodging for six. The Satu sushi bar and the luxuriant wellness centre endow the hotel with additional kudos.