Have you ever wanted to visit the magical world of Game of Thrones, fight some dragons and become the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms? Well, you definitely visit the gorgeous place where it was filmed – Croatia, specifically Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, we can’t promise dragons or thrones, but we can guarantee a lovely time.
With its newfound popularity, Dubrovnik is no longer Eastern Europe’s hidden gem. A modern metropolitan city, with a plethora of shops and restaurants to enjoy, Dubrovnik also has a magnificent Old Town, and of course the picturesque Dalmatian coast. But there’s many more adventures to discover beyond Dubrovnik’s walls – a plethora of islands, peninsulas, beaches, ancient towns and much more.
Here are our recommendations for the 15 best day trips from Dubrovnik.
For years, Croatia has been a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful islands. There’s hundreds of them, however Korcula is by far the biggest one.
It’s about two hours’ away from Dubrovnik with a combination of car and ferry. It’s full of gorgeous historic villages and pebble beaches, ideal for a relaxing walk at sunrise.
Furthermore, the azure waters look like a fairytale come true. Korcula also has some of the freshest seafood in all of Croatia.
With its winding cobbled streets, it’s very easy to get around and perfect for an afternoon stroll. It’s even said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.
2. Peljesac Peninsula
If you’ve decided to go to Korcula first, then the best way to reach Peljesac Peninsula is by ferry – it only takes a few minutes.
Or if you prefer, take the one-hour drive from Dubrovnik and then an extra hour to see everything this gorgeous place has to offer.
The Peljesac Peninsula sticks out far into the Adriatic Sea.
The only thing connecting it to Croatian mainland is a thin, narrow bridge – and it’s wonderful to drive on it, feeling like you’re gliding on the sea itself.
Peljesac is famous for its picturesque valleys and villages and some excellent wineries, too.
It’s also known to be one of the friendliest places in Croatia.
3. Mljet National Park
In the same area as the above two destinations is Mljet National Park, one of the biggest natural treasures of Croatia.
There’s a legend to go with it as well – it’s said that in a cave on Miljet is where the nymph Calypso held Odysseus hostage.
Other must-see natural attractions are Saplunara beach and the two salt lakes.
Nowadays, the area retains some of its ancient mysticism, inviting visitors to explore its secrets via multiple hiking and walking trails.
Another highlight is the 12th century Benedictine monastery, which is on the Islet of Saint Mary, right in the middle of the Great Lake.
Some people might think that crossing a whole country for a day trip sounds a bit extreme but not when it’s somewhere as close as Bosnia-Herzegovina is to Croatia.
Now, you can get to legendary Mostar either by bus or your own car, just make sure your car is allowed across the border, as you’re technically exiting the European Union.
Mostar is nestled on the Neretva River and its most famous for its Old Bridge (Stari Most), which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Founded all the way back in the Middle Ages, Mostar has retained some of its Ottoman features – its picturesque old town is buzzing with cafes, mosques and little Turkish-style bazaars.
Time to hop country again, only this time to the east into Montenegro, all the way to the scenic bay of Kotor.
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kotor is somewhat of a hidden gem among the coastal areas of Southern Europe.
Its high coast reminds more of the Norwegian fjords than it does of the small, scattered land structures of the Dalmatian coast.
Take the two-hour drive from Dubrovnik and enjoy the gorgeous landscapes along the way as you enter Montenegro.
Nearby the bay of Kotor are also the two towns of Perast and Kotor, lovely for an afternoon walk and oversaturated with scenic views.
6. Trsteno and Ston
Just a short drive from the high walls of Dubrovnik is the small seaside village of Trsteno.
A real paradise on the shore, Trsteno has everything that you can need for a serene day out.
Make sure to visit the village’s summer residence, dating all the way back to the 15th century.
Once done with Trsteno, head over to the nearby Ston to continue your medieval exploration of Croatia.
The stone walls of Ston go on for three and a half miles and are truly a sight to behold.
After a walk on the famous fortification, make sure to try the area’s famous wine, too, as well as some oysters and mussels – guaranteed to be absolutely fresh.
7. Lokrum Island
Lokrum Island is the perfect place to visit if you’re only in Dubrovnik for a very short while, because it’s ridiculously easy and quick to get to and definitely worth seeing.
It only takes 15 minutes on the boat from Dubrovnik’s old harbor to get you to the island.
There’s many things to see and visit, but we recommend going for a swim in the saltwater lake and a visit to the impressive Benedictine abbey and monastery.
The island also has a lot of exotic gardens that have over 500 different species of plants from the whole world.
If you’re feeling adventurous, ask the locals to show you the best place for cliff-jumping – and take your own leap in the azure sea below!
If Dubrovnik’s influx of tourists is a bit too much for you, then Cavtat offers a very welcome escape.
Only a 30-minute drive away, Cavtat’s location makes it unique – it’s nestled right between an imposing mountain range and a gorgeous, quiet harbor.
A good place to start exploring is the quaint Old Town, with meandering, cobbled streets and classic Croatian buildings with bright red roofs.
Other highlights include the Rector’s Palace and the Racic Mausoleum.
You can also visit the house of famous Croatian painter Vlaho Bukovac and enjoy lots of his gorgeous art.
Or, if you’re just looking for some rest and relaxation, make sure to check out the peaceful, pebbly beach.
Just a very short drive from Dubrovnik is a country so tiny that many overlook it in their travel plans.
Montenegro is only as big as Connecticut – and after successfully gaining independence in 2006 has had its own booming tourist industry.
Drive past beautiful sandy beaches and azure seas, watching the cliffs fall all the way down to the Adriatic Sea.
Montenegro has a very rich history and you can see that as you drive past gorgeous little villages, nestled in the river canyons.
A must-see in Montenegro is the walled city of Kotor, and its famous St. John’s Fortress.
Another beautiful medieval town is Budva, if you’re feeling adventurous and you’re starting to miss the outdoors, head over to the Durmitor national park, or visit Kotor Bay, the most southern fjord in Europe.
10. Elafiti Islands
If you love hopping between islands and gorgeous sapphire waters, then a trip to the Elafiti Islands is perfect for you.
It’s a whole archipelago of 13 islands, very close to Dubrovnik’s old port.
We recommend getting on a boat that gives you a whole tour around all the islands, simply because that way you get to take in all the natural beauty of the area.
When you decide to set down, do so in Koločep, by far the most popular of the islands.
You’re guaranteed to fall in love with the scent of pine trees and oranges, as well as with the gorgeous rocky beaches.
The Basilica ruins are always a good choice for things to see, as well as the Chapel of St. Anton.
Another island to consider is Šipan, the largest in the archipelago, known for its gorgeous bays and beaches.
Putting Split on this list probably constitutes cheating, because it’s a whole 230 kilometers away from Dubrovnik.
However, if you have the chance to visit, you must definitely grab it.
The second largest city in Croatia, after capital city Zagreb, Split’s city center is overtaken by the Diocletian’s Palace.
Commissioned by its namesake Roman emperor all the way back in the 3rd century AD, the palace is also another popular shooting location for Game of Thrones.
There’s a whole living museum there now, complete with shops, galleries and restaurants.
Another highlight is Splits UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Town, as well as the Peristyle, the Palace’s central square.
If you have the time, hop over to the Temple of Jupiter as well, as it’s just a very impressive structure to see.
It’s very easy to get to Konavle, also sometimes called the “belly of Dubrovnik” – it’s a very short drive or, if you prefer, there’s some excellent hiking tours there.
Konavle’s rich landscape is fantastic for any hiking and walking, or just a relaxing picnic if the weather permits it.
The small coastal town has a plethora of winding little streets, all for the keen explorer to enjoy.
If you’re there for the outdoors experience, you’re spoiled for choice.
There’s lots of hiking and cycling routes and some local organizations even offer horseback and ATV riding.
Finally, round off your day in Konavle with some excellent olive oil and wine tasting.
13. Kravica Waterfalls
The low-key Kravica Waterfalls are, once again, across the border to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Located near the small village of Studenci, an easy drive from Dubrovnik, the Kravica Waterfalls are often overlooked by tourists.
They’re situated right next to the Trebizat river, which is bountiful in underground waters, steams, rapids and other waterfalls, too.
Kravica gives you the perfect opportunity for hiking, walking or just a relaxing picnic.
There’s a nearby cafe as well, with a terrace overlooking the waterfall, so if you want to have lunch and a view to die for, that’s the place to go.
Finally, for all the meat lovers out there, the Mandica Jaz restaurant is an excellent choice, with lots of cheap local options for meat dishes.
14. Neretva River Safari
Located only about 70 km north of Dubrovnik is the Neretva River valley.
It’s a fantastic choice for all the outdoor enthusiasts, who want to have a break from the city.
There’s plenty of opportunities for all sorts of activities, organized or not.
Take a beautiful hike along the valleys and marvel at their natural beauty, or cycle along the well-maintained paths.
You can even try kite and windsurfing, as well as several safari tours on the traditional ladja and trupa boats.
You can also try harvesting your own mandarins, as they are absolutely delicious! Finally, settle down in one of the many restaurants where, along with the usual dishes, you can also try some local specialties such as frog and eel stew.
15. Vjetrenica Cave
Found in the neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vjetrenica Cave is the largest cave in this region.
It’s only an hours’ drive away from Dubrovnik and you get to see some beautiful scenery on the way there.
Interestingly enough, no one knows how long the cave actually is, however research has found substance that could also be seen on the coast of the Sipan island, so one can only guess! It’s open to the public and you can take a good long walk around the stone corridors and enjoy the gorgeous rock formations.
There’s 6,000 m of passages, so you won’t be bored – just watch out for the bats!