Being a city that lives primarily from tourism, Dubrovnik's nightlife fluctuates with the seasons – summer sees the opening of outdoor cocktail bars and glamorous clubs in the Old Town, while winter is a time for cosy low-key wine bars and early nights.
Most people's favourite is Buža (Od Margarite; +385 91 589 4936; www.cafebuza.com; open May-Oct), an informal bar with tables and big white umbrellas on a series of terraces on the rocks above the sea. It's not easy to find – aim for the seaward walls in the Old Town, close to Konoba Ekvinocijo , then look out for a 'Cold Drinks' sign and a little arched doorway opening onto a spectacular sea view. It's lovely at sunset and stays open well after midnight with flickering candles.
Another long-standing venue is the Hard Jazz Café Trubadur (Bunićeva Poljana 2; +385 20 323476; open all year), owned by the Van Bloemen family, who also founded London's Troubadour Café in Earl’s Court back in the 1950s. The tiny interior has old wooden furniture and walls covered with signed photos of well-known former customers, and there's a small stage out front for concerts in summer.
Nearby, opposite the Rector’s Palace, Nonenina (Pred Dvorom 4, +385 98 9159909, www.nonenina.com) is a great spot for watching the world pass by over an early-evening aperitif or an after dinner nightcap. They do great cocktails too. Note that it’s still often referred to by locals by its old name, Hemingway bar.
A relative newcomer to the Dubrovnik nightlife scene, D'Vino (Palmaticeva 4a; +385 20 321130; www.dvino.net; open all year) is a welcoming little wine bar in a narrow side street just off Placa. With fairy lights and several tables outside, plus a cosy stonewall interior, it stocks an impressive selection of Croatian wines, served both by the glass and by the bottle.
On the coast just outside the Old Town, close to Ploče Gate, EastWest (Frana Supila bb; +385 20 412220; www.ew-dubrovnik.com; daily Jun-Sep) is a beach club by day and a ultra-cool bar-restaurant cum dance club by night. You can expect a smattering of celebrities from the worlds of football and cinema, pricey cocktails and Champagne, and stunning views onto the floodlit medieval town walls across the water.
Within the battlements of the medieval walls, only Gil’s Pop Lounge (Svetog Dominika bb; +385 20 322221, www.gilsdubrovnik.com; open evenings May-Oct) can compete with EastWest in terms of glamour and name-dropping - Beyonce was seen here in summer 2009. Cocktails and finger food are served on a series of stone terraces, furnished with white leather sofas and pink and purple poufs, affording magnificent views onto the old harbour.
For more high-brow after-dark entertainment, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (www.dubrovnik-festival.hr) runs from mid-July to mid-August, staging open-air classical music concerts, theatre, opera and dance at various locations in the Old Town. Past performers include American jazz trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, and British actor Daniel Day Lewis.
For more information on nightlife on the Dalmatian Coast, read my Dalmatian Coast nightlife page.