There is no doubt that Dubrovnik is one of the most stunning medieval cities in Europe. But unfortunately, it also is one of the most crowded, attracting nearly 1.5 million tourists each year. And while it’s a must-see for travelers (or Game of Thrones fans), it’s not the only destination you should visit during your trip to Croatia. The country is flooded with so much beauty that it’s worth taking at least one day trip to see something else outside of Dubrovnik.
Between the lush islands, sun-soaked beaches, and charming century-old villages, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to visit. And you don’t have to travel far – most of the destinations on this list can be easily reached by car or ferry in just a few hours.
What is the Best Day Trip from Dubrovnik?
For a quick getaway around Dubrovnik, visiting the nearby island of Lokrum is a no brainer. Despite being just 15 minutes away by ferry, it’s a tranquil paradise compared to the cramped sidewalks and squares of the city.
You can also visit Mljet or the Elfiti Islands if you want a more remote island experience. If culture is what you seek, then wandering through the winding streets of Cavtat or Mostar (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) is also a fascinating way to spend the day.
There’s something on the Peljesac Peninsula for every type of traveler. Known for its pebble beaches, sleepy coastal villages, and gourmet food culture, the Peljesac Peninsula is a laid-back destination where you can experience authentic Croatian culture.
And it’s only a 60 to 90-minute drive from Dubrovnik!
Visit the fortified walls of Ston, admire the captain villas in Orebić, or swim in the sparkling blue waters of Trstenicia Beach.
Mali Ston is the best place to have a quick stop for lunch if you’re craving fresh seafood.
Otherwise, there are numerous wineries in the area (the peninsula has more than 7,400 acres of vineyards) where you can enjoy a glass of red with your meal.
Escape the bustle of chaotic Dubrovnik for the lush, natural landscape of Mljet Island. Not only is the entire northwest part of the island a national park, but nearly 85% of the island is covered in green forest.
As such, it’s a popular day trip for hikers, although Mljet also attracts kayakers, swimmers, and beachgoers.
A passenger ferry goes directly from the Dubrovnik harbor to Mljet in the summer.
If you’re visiting outside of the high season, then you’ll need to drive to Prapratno (1 hour) and then take the car ferry (45 minutes) to the island.
If you’re looking for a quick island getaway, look no further than the Elafiti Islands. This archipelago can be easily reached by ferry from downtown Dubrovnik, making it a worthwhile day trip for those interested in nature.
In addition, only three of the islands are inhabited (the largest only has a population of around 400 people), so there’s plenty of untouched natural beauty to explore.
The closest island and smallest inhabited island is Koločep. Known for its rocky coves, it’s an excellent place for swimming or snorkeling.
Next is Lopud, which is more developed for tourism
with several restaurants, shops, and hotels.
You can also visit Koločep (the furthest inhabited island) to see a historic fortress, monastery, and church. To make the most of your trip, I recommend booking an organized boat tour to visit each of the three islands.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar is arguably one of the prettiest towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina and lies just across the border, 2.5 hours away from Dubrovnik.
Perched on the Neretva River, Mostar is easily recognizable by its stone bridge, which dates back around 500 years to the Ottoman Empire. The Old Town of Mostar is equally as picturesque, with colorful market stalls, tea shops, and outdoor restaurants.
However, Mostar hasn’t always been a buzzing tourist destination. Much of the city was destroyed during the Croat-Bosniak war.
And while the town has since been rebuilt, reminders of this treacherous time are still visible.
To learn more about the war’s impact, visit the Museum of War and Genocide Victims 1992-1995 in the Old Town.
The beautiful gardens at the Trsteno Arboretum date back to the 15th century, making it the oldest Renaissance garden in the country.
As you meander around the park, you’ll find lush palms, lily ponds, aromatic flowers, and citrus trees offering shade from the humid Croatian heat.
At the center of the garden is a stone villa, which was used as the summer residence of the founding Gucetic-Gozze family.
The Trsteno Arboretum is a quick day trip from Dubrovnik, as it’s just a 25-minute drive up the coast. It’s also a must-see film location for Game of Thrones fans, as the arboretum was used as the Red Keep’s palace gardens in the show.
If you’re walking around Dubrovnik’s old city walls, you’ll notice a tree-covered island just 600 yards from the coast. That’s Lokrum, an uninhabited island with beautiful gardens and historic ruins.
It also boasts one of the best views over Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian coast from the Fort Royal fortress – the highest peak of Lokrum.
Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, as you can go swimming in a saltwater lake appropriately named the Dead Sea.
And before you head back to the mainland (which is just a 15-minute ferry ride away), make a stop at the Lokrum Botanical Garden.
In addition to the numerous native and exotic plants, the garden is also home to local group of resident peacocks.
While there are many historic towns along the Dalmatian coast, few are as charming as Cavtat. The seaside promenade is the center of life, with numerous cafes, ice cream parlors, and during the summer, small sunbathing beaches.
However, Cavtat’s best beaches (Rat Beach, Zal Beach, and Obod Beach) are within a short walking distance from the town center.
And if you’re interested in sightseeing, you can visit several historical landmarks in town, such as the St. Nicholas Church, Rector’s Palace, or the mausoleum of the Račić family. From Dubrovnik, Cavet is just 12 miles away, so it’s easily reachable by car, bus, or water taxi.
Korčula is the second-most populated island in the Adriatic (after Krk), although, with its laid-back island atmosphere, it’s far less touristy compared to bigger cities on the coast.
It’s a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with ample snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and cycling opportunities.
The Old Town is also brimming with historical attractions, from the Gothic-Renaissance St Mark’s Cathedral to the medieval stone towers guarding the coastline.
Korčula is also believed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, although many historians have disputed this over the years.
Visit his home in the Old Town or take a Marco Polo tour and decide for yourself!
If you’re desperate to escape the crowds (or to experience another part of Croatia), then you can’t go wrong with any of these day trips.
And while it may be hard to beat the allure of Dubrovnik, each and every place on this list could easily give the city a run for its money.