To discover Dubrovnik beyond the Old Town, take to the sea.
Dubrovnik, a medieval jewel among a dreamy constellation of islands and islets, is an ideal place for boat trips. These sea ventures are not only a tribute to the town’s history as a mighty shipbuilding and seafaring force, they are also a chance to discover its majestic seascapes that often play second fiddle to the iconic Old Town. Whether you opt for a full-day cruise or a simple boat transfer, time on the sea is a classic Dubrovnik experience.
Hop between the Elaphite islands
If you’re looking to pack the islands of Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan into a day of cruising, sunbathing, and sightseeing, the Three Islands Cruise is an easy way to experience the highlights of the Elaphite Islands west of the city. Depart from the Port of Gruž and admire the Dubrovnik Riviera before stopping at each island. The sandy beaches of Koločep are ideal for a quick dip. ,Lopud usually the longest stop, is perfect for seafront wanders between the 15th century Franciscan monastery and the serene Đorđić-Mayneri Park. Afterwards, you’ll end the day at Suđurađ on Šipan Island by sipping coffee and soaking up the fishing village atmosphere.
Insider tip: Three Island Cruises (which typically include fun commentary about each island, as well as a grilled Dalmatian lunch) offers daytrips on a variety of vessels, including traditional fishing boats, modern vessels, and replicas of historic merchant ships.
Feast and swim at BOWA restaurant
A foodie castaway’s heaven, BOWA sits secluded in the dazzling Konoba Vrbova on Šipan island’s thickly forested shores. It’s accessible only by boat and you can either come on your own or catch a ride on their shuttle from the mainland village of Brsečine. The menu pays tribute to the owners’ nostalgia for their grandparents’ cooking and features all things fresh and seasonal from the catch of the day to organic vegetables and herbs from the restaurant’s garden.
Insider tip: Seating is available on the shaded terrace, but booking a private cabana for the day comes with the added value of the chef’s tasting menu—an exclusive range of delicacies available only to those who choose this experience.
Relax or get active in Mljet National Park
Blanketed in lush pine forests, Mljet island is a getaway that will soothe the soul. If you venture here on an organized tour or by catamaran lines, you’ll most likely visit the island’s western tip, which is protected as a national park. Cycle, hike, snorkel, kayak, or stroll around the park’s centerpiece: its connected lakes. Hop on a small boat to visit the tranquil islet of St Mary, which is home to a 12th century Benedictine monastery, or simply tune into the chirping of crickets and take in the pristine nature.
Insider tip: Visiting by car and coming on a ferry from Prapratno on the Pelješac Peninsula makes it easy to extend this day trip into a longer retreat. Venture beyond the park to fairy tale villages such as Okuklje, the mystical Odysseus Cave, and sandy beaches like Saplunara.
Soak up the verdant scenery of Lokrum Island
If you’re keen to visit an island, but prefer a short boat trip, look no further than Lokrum, as it’s located directly in front of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Boats depart frequently from the harbor, and the 15-minute ride features lovely panoramas of the ancient city walls and rooftops, as well as the nearby string of five-star hotels. Lushly green, uninhabited, and possessing an almost magical atmosphere, Lokrum offers nature at its finest. Sunbathe between the majestic pines, dive off rocks, wander the botanical garden with its many exotic cacti, explore the historic Benedictine monastery, and snap a photo of the throne from Game of Thrones, parts of which were filmed here.
Insider tip: Hike to Lokrum’s Napoleonic fort for breathtaking panoramas of the Old Town.
Explore by private boat
Each gorgeous but busy beach on Dubrovnik’s mainland has a serene doppelganger somewhere on the islands. Renting a private boat for the day is a fantastic way of finding your own slice of Adriatic heaven. Explore islands and islets that are inaccessible by public ferry, such as St. Andrew’s with its lighthouse or the mystical Daksa. Swim in turquoise coves beneath the majestic cliffs of Lopud and explore the Blue Cave on Koločep or the Green Cave on Šipan.
Insider tip: Choose between a romantic wind-powered ride by sailboat and an adrenaline-drenched, far-reaching speedboat adventure.
Nature, culture, and great dining in Cavtat
The town of Cavtat is the embodiment of an ideal day trip, with pine-shaded promenades and pebbly beaches, the Račić Mausoleum built by world-renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović, and a seafront lined with palm trees and seafood restaurants. Arriving here on an hour-long boat transfer from Dubrovnik’s Old Town Harbor, one is rewarded with vistas of Croatia’s far-flung islands of Mrkan and Bobara, and the Cavtat seafront.
Insider tip: If you prefer to stick to firm ground, this charming little town east of Dubrovnik can also be reached by a 20-minute drive, as well as by public bus routes.