Which area should you choose in Dubrovnik? Naturally everybody visiting a certain place for the first time wants to stay super close to the main attractions but at the same time enjoy a comfortable stay. Where exactly you want to stay depends on both your budget and how convenient you want your hotel / apartment / hostel placed in the destination. The whole Dubrovnik riviera is actually devided into several parts: Dubrovnik itself, the southern subburb called Župa Dubrovačka, Cavtat together with the Konavle region that strenches all the way to the Montenegrin border, Zaton and Dubrovačko Primorje up north. Unlike most European towns, the whole riviera is located along the narrow coastline, squeezed between the mountains and the Adriatic sea.
If you are searching for the best part of Dubrovnik to stay in, you should know that each neighborhood has its own unique vibe and look and you should choose your favorite depending on your own personal preference, taking into account all pros and cons of each area.
In case of Dubrovnik the very epicenter of the historic area is undisputably the Old town. Do you want to see the old Baroque facades from your window when you wake up? The Old city (Stari Grad) is the one for you. Please note that, surprisingly, in the evening the nightlife might get extermely busy there, however for those looking for a decent area that would be convenient to go out in the evening, have some drinks and go clubbing until the dawn.
The area of the Old town and around gives you access to most visited attractions, while also having countless choices for restaurants, poshy bars and charming cafes. Being right in the heart of the city, this neighborhood is one of the most expensive, so it will be a bit hard to find a cheap place to stay. Stay away from the historical centre if you at all cost want to avoid noise and hords of tourists squeezed on very limited space. It's also very important to mention that lots of stairs practically everywhere might be very painful if you have heavy suitcases or limited walking abilities.
The area of Lapad is definitely one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Dubrovnik. This is a gorgeous residential area where you will find many elegant traditional houses as well as lush Mediterranean vegetation. A perfect place for all hotel lovers by the way: here you can find both mid-range hotels and some great luxurious options. Here you will discover some interesting spots like Mali Stradun and famous „šetnica“ right in the heart of Lapad. This area has tons of nice cafes, restaurants and pubs. You will also appreciate the amazing beaches and plenty of nice and shady walking spots. It will only take you a 15 minutes by bus to get to the Old city and a 15-minute walk to reach the harbour of Gruž.
Speaking of Gruž. Do you only have a limited budget for your accommodation in the city? No problem! Here’s another very good choice located near the Old town. Gruž is the port area and the business centre of Dubrovnik. Walking distance to the Old town, but still very much affordable which is a great advantage. Convenient location if you are planning to do some boat trips to the Dubrovnik archipelago (the Elafiti tour, the island of Mljet).
In case you’re the type of traveler that prefers a totally local atmosphere instead of too touristy spots, Mokošica might be just to your liking. Locals often call this neighborhood a “getto”, but do not let this nickname mislead you: it's no dangerous quarter at all, it just mostly consists of some bigger blocks of flats that gives the place a bit of a „hood“ appeal. Plus Mokošica is rather far away from good beaches, but if you really want to act local and save some money on your accmmodation – might be a good option. In case you want to live like the locals - check out some bars in the evening. Budget friendly, Mokošica has excellent bus connection with Gruž and the Old town, and is becoming quite popular among visitors. If you are on a budget and don't mind taking local transportation – give it a go.
Župa Dubrovačka is probably the most romantic neighborhood. Župa really has it all! In the last several years it has become one of the most popular and cool areas in Dubrovnik, especially among younger people, thanks to very much improved infrastructure, great beaches and aromatic pine trees all along the coast. All shopping lovers will be happy to find a nice mall here, but best thing about Župa is its lovely pedestrian area which provides some great views of the broad Župa bay impressively backed up by mountains. One big disadvantage is that getting to the centre of Dubrovnik might take some time if you do not have a car: in the summer local subburb busses can get really packed. But in fact Župa is really close to everything, including the airport, so if you aprecirate nice and quiet atmosphere with all the good things that modern life has to offer - this is your district!
The town of Cavtat, Dubrovnik's southern satelite, is one of the best places to stay if you’re looking for a true Dubrovnik vibe but away from hustle and bustle of Stradun. Cavtat is charming, romantic and stylish, the mini version of Dubrovnik with all the necessary infrastructure. In case you want to stay as close as possible to the airport because you have a late arrival or a very early flight in the morning – Cavtat is the best recommendation you can find.
Wondering where to stay in Dubrovnik riviera even if you have a smaller budget? Or coming by car? No worries, there is an amazing place to stay some 35 km to the north of Dubrovnik called Slano. All guests staying here will receive the most peaceful holidays literally two steps away from the sea! Probably not the ideal area for your first time in Dubrovnik: you will have to commute to the Old town by bus which goes only several times a day. But for those who desperately search for some isolation Slano is just perfect. Very much in trend right now especially for those travelling by car.
And last but definitely not least – the Elafiti islands. They used to be an important part of the prosperous Dubrovnik Republic and a very popular summer escape for the Dubrovnik nobility. On Lopud and Šipan you will find some hotels and lots of private apartments. Easy access by local ferry, fantastic nature and some great sandy beaches make them a great place to stay!