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How to split time between Dubrovnik and Split?

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Hello all,
We have to decide how to split 5 nights between Dubrovnik and Split in May (2 nights in one destination and 3 in the other). For those that have been to both places, which would do and why?

We enjoy strolling, cafes, and sightseeing, but are less interested in time on the beach and too many museums.


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    Not accounting for arrival and departure days, I'd choose three days in Dubrovnik and two in Split if I could choose only those two places.

    Dubrovnik's old town is small and gets very touristy during the day with cruise ship tour groups - it can be obnoxiously crowded. So you might consider at least one day trip to get out of town for the day. Dubrovnik is really lovely in the evening when the crowds have mostly left. The town kind of sparkles at night when everything is lit up - the polished stone streets reflect the evening light. Taking in the sunset from the Buza Bar is something you should do at least once.

    Split is far less of a tourist town and more of a real city and port town. (The Riva along the waterfront is definitely a bit touristy but much of the rest of the town isn't.) Some people love it. I found it...OK. The town center is partly built in the ruins of Diocletian's Palace, some of which is now occupied by trendy shops and restaurants.

    I'd probably consider the day trips possible from each city and make my choice that way. From Dubrovnik you can day trip to Mostar, Kotor, or even Korcula, among other places. From Split you can visit Trogir, Krka National Park, and Hvar.

    You could also do two nights in each city and stop overnight in Mostar in between.

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    If it would me, I would spend all 5 in Dubrovnik. Split was quite underwhelming for me after Diocletian's Palace. Andrew is spot on with his assessment of how terribly crowded Dubrovnik is during the day with cruise ship day trippers. I spent my mornings and evenings in town and then took wonderful day trips each day. There are fantastic places to visit, I could have spent much more time there. As it was, I spent 6 nights in the most wonderful apartment with expansive terrace looking down on old town Dubrovnik. Watching the lights come on in the evening with a glass of wine in hand was magical. I also second Buza Bar! Wonderful! I have very fond memories of Dubrovnik and long to return.

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    Dubrovnik and Split are incredibly different, so it really depends on YOUR interests. The sites of Dubrovnik can be seen in about a day. The sites of Split -- my favorite city in Croatia -- can take days to see, but they don't appeal to everyone. I think you would do well to consult a few guidebooks to learn what these cities offer and how they differ and then make a decision.

    Andrew's ideas to consider day trips when you make your decision is, I think, a great idea.

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    Andrew, Dee Dee, and KJA,

    Thank you all for your suggestions. I think we will lean toward more nights in Dubrovnik and perhaps a day trip to avoid the crowds. I am adding Buza Bar to the list too! I always do my homework (guidebooks, tripadvisor, fodors forum search) before asking questions on the forum. In this case, the decision was unclear and the guidebooks seemed to be missing the intangibles such as taking into consideration the impact of cruise ship visitors and charm differential. I liken it to Stonehenge. Guidebooks have the most amazing, solitary-type pictures, and never quite mention how crowds and the adjacent major highways that may lead to disappointment. Dee's comments about watching the lights come on with a glass of wine spoke to us as did Andrew's comments about how the streets reflect light (which spoke to my husband - a professional photographer).

    Thanks you folks once again for your helpful insight.

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    The fact that your husband is a photographer (I am too) most definitely sways my advice in favor of the extra night in Dubrovnik. He'll never run out of things to photograph and may wish for even more time. On both of my visits to Dubrovnik, I had my tripod out there several nights in the middle of the old town, taking pictures in the beautiful light reflected on the streets - just magical.

    (Click on my name to see links to my trip reports and photos if you like.)

    I also shot the sunset a couple of times in Dubrovnik. The Buza Bar is in fact a great place to photograph the sunset, though it can get busy. (There is more than one "Buza Bar" but I think the original one has the best views.) I also hiked up above Dubrovnik to get good viewpoints down on the town. There's a funicular that will take you up the mountain above Dubrovnik for a good view too, but I didn't take it in 2015 because it stopped running before I'd be done taking pictures at sunset. There's also a great viewpoint back on Dubrovnik just south of town, not really walking distance but maybe by taxi, off the main road, that I discovered when driving to Kotor.

    Speaking of Kotor, the scenery along the Bay of Kotor is breathtaking. You might consider a day trip down there. Mostar would make an interesting day trip too, just because it's so different from Split and Dubrovnik. I was glad I had a car when driving along the Bay of Kotor just so I could stop and take pictures numerous times. Kotor itself as a town wasn't so amazing to me, though the hiking up the "walls" above the town gives amazing views down on the bay. There are excursions from Dubrovnik to Kotor if you don't have a car.

    In Dubrovnik, I recommend walking the walls (almost a mandatory activity) first thing in the morning when they open (9am?) to avoid the crowds and the heat.

    And if you like cats, be prepared to see a lot of stray cats in Dubrovnik especially. I sort of adopted a calico kitten I met at the Pile Gate in 2009 and fed her for a few days...and was gratified to see her still there (but apparently thriving!) 5.5 years later when I went back last year. But it can be heartbreaking to see all the strays there. People do seem to feed them, though, and obviously that calico survived a long time...

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    I'm glad you found the information you needed to make a decision, and I don't think there's a bad one to be made here. Charm is, of course, in the eye of the beholder; I found charm in both Dubrovnik and Split and would not have been able to choose between them on that basis alone. JMO!

    As Andrew has noted, there are TWO Buza Bars in Dubrovnik. The one I prefer is the one that you reach through a hole in the city wall at the back, higher part of the walls, marked by a sign that says, "Cold Drinks."

    I, too, loved the way the streets of Dubrovnik reflect light. But beware: If they get even slightly wet, they can be extremely slippery! Something I learned the hard -- VERY hard! -- way. ;-)

    Of course, the cruise ships in Dubrovnik are a major problem, and visit to the Buza Bar is well worth considering when there. And both are covered in just about every thread on Dubrovnik that I've seen on this board for many, many years -- too bad you missed that info on your initial research. The good news is that you have that info now!

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