Visiting Dubrovnik on board the cruise ship: Insider’s Advice

For over 165 years, Dubrovnik has been a popular port for cruise ships. With the invention of steamships, and thanks to its geographical position, liners have been visiting Dubrovnik since the early 19th century.

Les navires au mouillage devant Dubrovnik utilisent les navettes pour arriver dans la ville
Dubrovnik’s old port

The history of the port of Dubrovnik

The port of Dubrovnik was also known as a cargo port, thanks to its railroad connection with the interior of the country. From the 1980s to the present day, Dubrovnik has been a major tourist destination for cruise ships.

After the internal war, the port of Dubrovnik focused its development exclusively on passenger traffic. In 1998, a greater number of cruise ships appeared and since then, with the exception of 1999 (Kosovo crisis), the trend has been one of constant growth, with cruise ship passenger numbers already reaching one million.

Dubrovnik, as the main cruise destination in the Croatian part of the Adriatic, is at the top of the Mediterranean in terms of visitor numbers, and is currently undergoing a phase of progressive growth and development.

In the years leading up to the pandemic crisis, Dubrovnik unfortunately received the epithet of overcrowded city, and countless articles advised against visiting Dubrovnik.

Cruise lines have started calling at Dubrovnik

Thanks to agreements between the city of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Port Authority with all cruise lines operating to and from Dubrovnik, the crowds were considerably reduced. Today, ten years later, the daily number of cruises has been reduced to a maximum of four ships.

While this number may not seem small, given Dubrovnik’s size, the boats often run alternating morning and afternoon departures, so crowds are hardly ever felt.

What ports are in Dubrovnik?

Dubrovnik has two ports. The port of Gruž, where the larger ships arrive, and the old port in front of the old town. Smaller ships, accommodating up to 200 passengers, sail into the Old Town harbor. Ships carrying up to 2,500 passengers sail into the Port of Gruž.

When planning your stay in Dubrovnik, you can check the number of arrivals and ship arrival times on the website.
On days when the maximum number of ships is announced in Dubrovnik, you can expect traffic jams earlier in the morning, i.e. around 08:30 when the excursions begin. Slightly longer queues may also form around 12.45 pm, when buses carrying passengers return to Gruž from the old town.

Les croisières qu'arrivent à Dubrovnik peuvent arriver dans le port de Gruz ou le port dans la vieille ville
Cruises to the port of Gruž

Thanks to good coordination between the agencies organizing the excursions, and the skill of the drivers and guides, crowds were kept to a minimum.

Information for cruisers

If you’re coming to Dubrovnik by boat, here’s some information on how to make the most of your day in Dubrovnik.

Arrivals in the port of the old town

If your boat is sailing in the Old Town harbor, this is the easiest option. As the Old Town harbor is still too small for the ship to be moored there, ships stay at anchor in front of the city. The first privilege of this anchorage is undoubtedly the view of Dubrovnik’s ramparts.

Les navires de la capacité de max 200 passagers accostent au mouillage devant la vieille ville
Ships at anchor off Dubrovnik

The Old Town harbor is a short 5-minute dinghy ride away. The boats organize tenders with departures every half-hour from or to the ship. Please note that groups who have booked an excursion start disembarking at the first tenders, around 8am. If you’ve got all day, I’d advise you to have a coffee on deck, enjoy the view and start exploring Dubrovnik around 9.00 am.

Arrange for the guide to meet you at the boarding point, so you don’t waste time walking to the Pile Gate, for example, which is the usual meeting point for the walking tour.

If you want to book a tour guide, don’t forget to indicate the name of the boat. If you already know exactly which port the boat will be sailing into, that’s fine. If you don’t, send the guide the name of the ship so that he can check where it will be and what’s the best place for you to meet.

Whether or not you’ve confirmed that the ship will be anchored in front of the Old Town harbor, read the rest of the blog. In case of bad weather, when the use of the dinghy is impossible, ships will be diverted to the port of Gruž.

Arrivals in the port of Gruž

The port of Gruž is located 3 km from the old town. It’s an easy 45-minute walk. If you want to discover other parts of Dubrovnik, I recommend this walk. On the way from Gruž to Pile, you’ll pass the local market and fish market, Gruž Bay and Boninovo Cemetery.

In the port of Gruž, you’ll also find cabs with which you can arrange a trip to Pile, as well as a trip to the panorama above Dubrovnik. The one-way trip from Gruž to Pile costs around EUR 12. The price of the trip to the panorama depends on the agreement made with the driver and the time agreed.

Shuttles: many cruise companies organize bus transport for their passengers on the Gruž – Pile route. Ticket prices vary from company to company. Some companies offer a free shuttle service, while others charge a fee, so it’s best to check on the ship’s board.

The main bus station is just outside the port of Gruž. Here you can take a local bus to the old town. Bus lines 1A, 1B and 3 run on this route.

You can find information on bus fares and departure times on our blog: https: //