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Updated: July 16, 2021
The Best Areas to Stay in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a rather spread-out city, with different neighborhoods having their own distinctive character, so your choice of where to stay will depend on the experience you want. There is no single best neighborhood for tourists; the main attractions are concentrated in the historic Old Town, which is a pleasure to stroll around, but there are beaches, islands, and other attractions further away that make it worthwhile to take the bus and boat, and public transport links are good as well.
The Old Town is where you’ll find the biggest concentration of the most characterful boutique hotels and guesthouses that mostly fall into the mid-range category, while more luxurious options are spread along the coast in Ploče and Pile and scattered around Lapad and the Babin Kuk peninsula. Look out for good mid-range and budget options in the port area of Gruž.
The pedestrianized Old Town is Dubrovnik’s picture-perfect historic center, surrounded by mighty medieval stone walls and located on a peninsula that is sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea and the hills. With its narrow lanes, picturesque little squares, baroque churches, and stone palazzi dating back centuries, it’s the most characterful part of Dubrovnik. It’s packed full of attractions, bars, and restaurants, and throngs with crowds between April and October. There are good bus links to other parts of the city from just outside Pile Gate.
Stretching between central Dubrovnik’s most accessible strip of sand, Banje beach, and the Sveti Jakob pebble cove, Ploče lies just outside the Old Town’s southern entrance, Ploče Gate. Frano Supilo street stretches along the coast, lined with some of Dubrovnik’s oldest and grandest hotels as well as luxury villas, and attractions include the Museum of Modern Art and the cable car up to the summit of Mount Srđ, with fantastic views of the coast from above.
Just outside Pile Gate, the northern entrance to Old Town, Pile offers fantastic views of the medieval walls and comes with a few attractions of its own, including an 11th-century fort and three beaches. There’s a good mix of accommodations to suit all budgets here, plus a decent smattering of seafront restaurants, either on or just off ul. Branitelja Dubrovnika, the main drag. Buses depart from in front of Pile Gate to every part of town.
Lapad, part of the Lapad Peninsula about a mile north of Old Town, is a leafy residential neighborhood with a good mix of restaurants and bars frequented by locals and tourists alike. Apart from the longest beach in Dubrovnik, Lapad has some excellent, family-friendly seafront hotels, giving you easy access to both, beach life and Old Town’s cultural draws. Buses 4, 5, and 6 connect you to Old Town.
Just north of Lapad and around 2 miles north of Old Town, Babin Kuk is the tranquil, forested end of the Lapad Peninsula, ideal for an exclusive getaway or a beach holiday. Some of the city’s most luxurious and secluded hotels are located here, with decent water sports facilities. Buses 5, 6, and 7 run here from Old Town.
Some 2 miles north of Old Town (and to the east of Lapad and Babin Kuk), the neighborhood of Gruž centers on the busy port. Cruise ships dock here and ferries depart for the nearby islands; visiting them is a popular tourist pastime. Its combination of inexpensive accommodations, good public transport links to other parts of town, and a tranquil yachting marina attracts budget travelers and sailing enthusiasts alike. Buses 1A and 1B connect you to Old Town.
The Best Places to Stay in Dubrovnik
- Best Luxury Hotels in Dubrovnik
Villa Orsula • Hotel Dubrovnik Palace • Hilton Imperial
- Best Boutique Hotels in Dubrovnik
Hotel Stari Grad • St Joseph’s • Pucic Palace
- Best Cheap & Midrange Hotels in Dubrovnik
Fresh* Sheets Kathedral Dubrovnik • Guesthouse Vicelic • Apartments Franka Old Town
Best Areas in Dubrovnik for…
- Best Area in Dubrovnik for Sightseeing: Old Town
Sightseeing in Dubrovnik is a matter of simply wandering the pedestrianized streets and turning the corner to admire more of the medieval and Gothic architecture that makes it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides the beautiful monasteries and palace, there is also a sobering museum dedicated to the wars of former Yugoslavia and a wonderfully photogenic walk along the city walls.
- Best Areas in Dubrovnik for Nightlife: Old Town, Gruž, Lapad
Great places for going out at night are mostly concentrated in the Old Town, where you’ll find anything from wine bars specializing in Croatian tipples to craft beer bars, Irish pubs, and cocktail bars. There are also a couple of bars on the cliffs below the medieval wall, better known for their sunset views than the drinks. There are several lively bars in Gruž, near the cruise ship port and along Stjepana Radica street, while in Lapad, there is an atmospheric cave bar, More, near Uvala Lapad beach.
- Best Area in Dubrovnik for Food and Restaurants: Old Town
Dubrovnik is proud of its food and rightly so. Old Town has the greatest concentration of restaurants, many featuring excellent Dalmatian cuisine that’s heavy on fresh seafood, though there are also casual burger joints, sushi spots, Asian-fusion, Indian and Bosnian restaurants, and more. There is something to suit all budgets, and there are fine dining places that are well worth booking ahead, including Nautika, just outside the Old Town walls in Pile. Several excellent wine bars found in the maze of tiny lanes in Old Town give you a crash course in Croatian wine and craft beer.
- Best Areas in Dubrovnik for Families: Lapad, Ploče, Pile
Lapad, Ploče, and Pile are all good, family-friendly choices. Leafy and tranquil Lapad has numerous hotels with swimming pools and other amenities, as well as access to a beach with calm, shallow waters. Staying in either Ploče or Pile means you’re within easy walking distance to all Old Town attractions but away from the worst of the crowds. In both neighborhoods, there is easy access to pebble beaches with tranquil waters and family-friendly accommodations. A boat trip to Lokrum island from the Old Town marina makes for a fun half-day trip.
- Best Area in Dubrovnik to Stay for First Timers: Old Town
You can’t go wrong if you base yourself in Old Town – it’s as central as it gets, features stunning architecture, is packed with sights, and feels like you’ve been transported back in time (or to King’s Landing, if you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan – you’ll recognize many locations around Old Town). The dining and nightlife scenes are second to none and there are easy transport links to the rest of the city from outside Pile Gate. Also, you can find accommodations here to suit any budget.
- Most Romantic Areas in Dubrovnik: Old Town, Babin Kuk, Ploče
Old Town is hard to beat, with its beautiful buildings, narrow medieval streets that are atmospherically lit after dark, and elegant dining to boot. There are also giddy views from the top of the medieval wall and several boutique hotels for romancing your partner. Babin Kuk represents a different sort of romance – tranquility, seclusion, sea views, and 5-star comfort. The latter two can also be found in elegant villas along the coast in Ploče.
- Best Area in Dubrovnik for a Local Vibe: Gruž
Defined by its harbor, Gruž is much more geared towards locals than tourists, has its share of independent cafes and restaurants, and hosts a lively farmers’ market (7 am-noon Mon-Sat). The presence of the yachting marina has led to a certain amount of gentrification, with several wine bars opening up.
- Best Area in Dubrovnik for Walking: Old Town
Much of Dubrovnik is a pleasure to walk around, though it’s hard to beat the fully pedestrianized, historic Old Town, whose narrow sandstone-paved streets practically demand that you get lost in them. If you’re feeling active, you can hike up to the top of Mt Srd along the Way of the Cross in Ploče rather than taking the cable car up. The main seafront streets in Pile and Ploče are also very walkable.
- Safest Areas of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a very safe city and most neighborhoods are fine for walking around in at any time of day.
- Unsafe Areas of Dubrovnik
The area around the port in Gruž can be sketchy at night. It’s a good idea to apply sensible precautions in Old Town during the height of tourist season since pickpocketing can be a problem. If hiking in the hills above Dubrovnik, watch out for the horned viper, a shy yet highly venomous snake.
The 6 Best Neighborhoods in Dubrovnik for Tourists
1. Old Town
Surrounded by formidable medieval walls and bisected by the Stradun, the main pedestrian thoroughfare, the UNESCO-protected heart of Dubrovnik sits pretty on a peninsula that’s hemmed in between the hills and the Adriatic Sea. Its wonderfully picturesque streets are entirely pedestrianized and dotted with historic palazzi, Baroque churches, monasteries, restaurants, and bars, and its maze of narrow alleyways is a joy to explore. The vast majority of historical attractions are located here, including the cathedral, Sponza Palace, Rector’s Palace, and the Dominican and Franciscan monasteries, with the War Photo Ltd museum offering a sobering perspective on the wars of former Yugoslavia. The most popular attraction is the walk along the mighty walls, with wonderful 360-degree views from the top. After dark, the candlelit restaurants and plazas have a beguiling, romantic air to them, and while Old Town attracts crowds in the warmer months, you can still lose yourself in the quiet back streets. Accommodations fall largely into the mid-range, boutique category.
Just outside its namesake south gate to Old Town, this neighborhood stretches south for about a mile along the waterfront to the pebbly Sveti Jakov cove and Park Orsula on a promontory, with wonderful views of Lokrum Island and Old Town’s fortifications which are floodlit at night. There are only a couple of streets here, parallel to each other, and Highway 8 that runs south along the coast to the airport. The waterfront is lined with some of the city’s classiest (and priciest) hotels, luxury villas, and apartments, with some moderate options higher up from the beach. In terms of attractions, Ploče features Dubrovnik’s most accessible beach, Banje, as well as the Museum of Modern Art, a cluster of cafes and restaurants near the city gate, and access to Mount Srđ that looms above Old Town. You can either take the cable car or hike up the Way of the Cross trail.
Stretching for about a mile north from Old Town’s Pile Gate, this long and narrow neighborhood leads to the Lapad Peninsula and blends into the Gruž neighborhood at its north end. The main seafront street – ul. Branitelja Dubrovnika – buzzes with cafes and restaurants, including some of the city’s finest dining. Besides a couple of popular pebble beaches right near Old Town’s walls, Dance and Sulic, Pile’s focal point is the imposing 11th-century Lovrjenac (Fort Lawrence, or the Red Keep to Game of Thrones Fans) fortress that sits on a promontory overlooking Dubrovnik’s west harbor. Accommodations to suit all budgets can be found in this part of town.
Abutting Lapad Bay, this neighborhood is part of the leafy Lapad Peninsula a mile north of Old Town, with excellent public transport connections to other parts of Dubrovnik. There are no historic attractions here; the draw is the tranquil residential neighborhood itself, its relative proximity to Old Town (but without the summer crowds), and the long stretch of the pebble-and-sand Uvala Lapad Beach with its calm waters that are popular with families and water sports enthusiasts. The beachfront hotels here – some left over from the first tourist boom of the 1970s, while others are thoroughly contemporary – tend to be family-friendly and very reasonably priced compared to the luxury hotels in Ploče and Old Town. Lapad is dominated by the vast green space of Petka Hill, and its restaurants and cafes are frequented by locals and visitors alike, giving them a less touristy vibe than Old Town offerings.
5. Babin Kuk
At the far (north) end of the Lapad Peninsula, Babin Kuk is the quietest part of the city – tranquil and green, with several sand-and-pebble beaches and coves, and ample opportunities for water sports. Of the Lapad Peninsula’s hotels, the best (and priciest) are located here, with some geared towards romantic getaways and others towards welcoming families. The Old Town is easily reachable by public transport.
A radical departure from the historic center, Gruž is a bustling neighborhood that encompasses Dubrovnik’s harbor and port. It may not be as picturesque as Dubrovnik’s other neighborhoods, but it’s extremely wallet-friendly as far as accommodations, cafés, and local restaurants are concerned, and has excellent local transport connections to other parts of the city. Gruž is known for its lively farmers’ market, while the port is the jumping-off point for nearby islands such as Mljet, Korčula, and Elaphiti. It’s also home to the Orsan yachting marina, which makes it an ideal base for sailing enthusiasts since yachts are not allowed in the small marina in Old Town. Dubrovnik’s main bus station is also located in Gruž, making for easy day trips to the likes of Split, Croatia, Kotor in Montenegro, and Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina.