If you're going to Dubrovnik, chances are you're wondering where you should stay to make the most of your trip.
Depending on how long you've got, you could experience Dubrovnik's fascinating history and rich culture first-hand, or perhaps spend the bulk of your time relaxing with a leisurely break by the sea. You might want a sumptuous hotel, or you might be perfectly happy with something more basic. Our guide to the sights and accommodations in each of Dubrovnik's neighborhoods can help you choose what's right for your visit.
1. Old Town
Best neighborhood for sightseeing
Most people's main reason for visiting Dubrovnik is to explore the lovely Unesco-listed old town, enclosed within the medieval City Walls. Here you'll find the top cultural attractions – historic beauties such as the splendid Baroque cathedral, the folksy open-air market on Gundulićeva Poljana, and the thought-provoking War Photo Ltd gallery. The old town is also home to many of Dubrovnik's top restaurants, including Michelin-starred Restaurant 360, and plenty of romantic (but pricey) candle-lit bars and cafes.
There are several small luxury boutique hotels, such as Hotel Stari Grad, and dozens of rooms and apartments to rent. But note that the pedestrian-only old town does get crowded and noisy with tourists in summer. You'll have to walk the final stretch to your lodgings, and if you stay on the north side of the Stradun, you'll have to climb up steep stone stairways too. Sadly very few locals live in the old town anymore, having moved to the modern apartment blocks on Lapad, so it feels almost abandoned in winter.
Best neighborhood for transport links
Named after the main entrance to the old town, the magnificent 16th-century Pile Gate, the Pile neighborhood lies immediately west of the city walls. A busy traffic hub with bus stops and taxi ranks, it also has a useful Dubrovnik Tourist Board information center. Due to its convenience for visiting the old town, this is where Dubrovnik's first purpose-built hotel was erected (the present-day Hilton Imperial) back in 1897.
Nowadays there are also lots of rooms and apartments to rent here. The main attraction is the impressive 13th-century Fort Lawrence (the Red Keep, for Game of Thrones fans) guarding Pile Cove (the film location for Blackwater Bay). West from here, high above the sea, you might stroll through Gradac Park, one of the best green spaces in the city, and also check out an after-dark movie at the open-air Slavica Cinema.
Best neighborhood for luxury hotels
Lying immediately east of the city walls, the Ploče neighborhood is named after the second arched entrance to the old town, Ploče Gate. Here, below the rugged heights of Mt Srđ, are a string of charming old villas set in terraced waterside gardens, planted with palms and wisteria. There are also several upmarket hotels, popular with couples, complete with lush spas and gorgeous views of Dubrovnik's city walls across the water. Favorites include the Grand Villa Argentina and Villa Dubrovnik. Nearby you have the trendy Banje Beach, the Museum of Modern Art, and restful views of Lokrum island.
Best neighborhood for mid-range hotels
Lapad peninsular lies approximately 2 miles (3km) west of Dubrovnik old town – it’s a pleasant walk and is also served by regular buses. It may not be as romantic as Pile or Ploče, but it offers space to breathe and some respite from the crowds. It centers on Lapad Bay, home to Sunset Beach, and further along the coast you also have Copacabana beach and the Coral Beach Club.
Largely covered by pine forests until the 1960s, when the first apartment blocks were built, Lapad is now a residential neighborhood, complete with supermarkets and cafes. This is also where you'll find most of Dubrovnik's big modern resort hotels, ideal for families, with sea views and extensive sports facilities. These include the luxurious Hotel Dubrovnik Palace and the mid-range Hotel Kompas.
5. Srebreno and Mlini
Best for beaches
Backed by rugged mountains, the lovely Srebreno Bay lies six miles (10km) southeast of Dubrovnik's old town. From here, a meandering coastal path, shaded by pine trees and dotted with cafes and informal eateries, leads to the village of Mlini. Along the way is a string of fine pebble beaches that give way to the clean shallow sea.
Srebreno and Mlini have an easy-going out-of-town atmosphere and offer several hotels, including the mid-range waterside Hotel Mlini, and the funky One Suite Hotel, plus rooms and apartments to rent. Best of all, a regular shuttle boat runs down the coast from Dubrovnik's old harbor to Cavtat, stopping at Srebreno and Mlini en route. The boat ride is a joy in itself.
Best neighborhood for a local experience
For a taste of Dubrovnik's alternative arts and culture scene, head to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Gruž. The recently-opened Red History Museum has put this area on the map for its counter-culture appeal as has the TUP, a former factory that now hosts alternative concerts, exhibitions, and art workshops. Don't miss the Dubrovnik Beer Company, the city's best brewery.
Home to the city's main bus station, Gruž is also where the ferry port is located, making it a good base if you want to take trips to the nearby islands. Also worth checking out is Gruž Market for fresh local seasonal fruit and vegetables. Gruž lies approximately two miles (3km) northwest of the old town and has several inexpensive hotels and dozens of rooms and apartments to rent.