Dubrovnik in Croatia is a wonderful hodgepodge of medieval magic, romantic hideouts, fantasy fripperies and gastronomic delights all wrapped up in a twinkling azure ocean. It is a blooming beautiful city. But, by golly it is EXPENSIVE. Does that mean that it’s impossible to visit Dubrovnik on a budget?
On a recent stay in Dubrovnik, I was really surprised by how high the prices are and decided to set myself a challenge to make my trip as low budget as possible. I managed to enjoy Dubrovnik on a rock bottom budget, spending less than 10 Euros as by daily budget for Dubrovnik!
Here are my top tips for visiting Dubrovnik on a budget:
Where to find cheap accommodation in Dubrovnik?
Looking for budget accommodation in Dubrovnik? Accommodation in the Old Town of Dubrovnik is particularly expensive. Even a hostel here can cost you around 30 Euros per night for a bed in a dorm. If you’re in Dubrovnik for a short weekend, then it may be justified to stay more central, but if you’re visiting for longer, then I’d highly recommend booking accommodation in one of the beautiful coastal suburbs.
Not only will this save you money, but you also get to experience a bit of life outside of the city. To the West of the city, look at options in Vrbica, Zaton, Brescine or even as far as Slano. All of these areas have their own beach, which are far quieter than Dubrovnik. Many have restaurants nearby or within the villages, most are cheaper than Dubrovnik. For example, in restaurants in Slano you can get a Pizza for around 5 Euros (it would be around 15 Euros in Dubrovnik Old Town!)
The best bit is accommodation is vastly cheaper. Apartments with sea views can come in at around 30 Euros Per night. These suburbs are a short hop from the city, overlook the sea and Islands and offer a welcome city/beach trip combo. Libertas buses run regularly and punctually along the Western and Eastern suburbs and are inexpensive. From Zaton to Dubrovnik for example, will take around 25 minutes.
Cheaper attractions in Dubrovnik
Allow me to be a little controversial here, but is it really worth 30 Euros to walk around the city walls of Dubrovnik? Yes, they are spectacular, and I understand that they need to be maintained and have historical importance, but 30 Euros is a little rich for my blood. In the Summer, when tourists are quite literally filling every corner of Dubrovnik, do you really want to spend hours trailing behind slow moving groups of people as you plod around the city walls, having parted with 30 Euros of hard-earned money?
The walls can be enjoyed from the inside of the town and the outside for free. You can also find views to rival those you get from the city walls, from any number of vantage points in Dubrovnik. For me, I’d swerve the city walls!
If you’re on a budget, then why not take yourself around the Churches and Cathedrals of the Old Town? They tend to be much quieter and there is no entrance fee.
Hike Mount Srd Instead of taking the cable car
The Cable Car that takes you from the Old Town to the top of Mount Srd costs approx. 27 Euros. The view from the top is an absolute treat. But there’s another way to get up there that is completely free!
You can hike up Mount Srd following a trail that takes between 45 minutes and 1 hour 15, depending on your walking pace. It takes you to exactly the same spot as the cable car, where you can enjoy the same view without forking out a load of cash. More info here.
Enjoy Dubrovnik’s beautiful public spaces
If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying great weather when you are in Dubrovnik, then what’s better than being outside? My top three public spaces to enjoy in Dubrovnik are:
- Best spot for Swimming in Dubrovnik – my favourite swimming spot is just past the old port (here). It gets a little busier in the afternoon, but in the morning it’s quiet and you can find regulars coming here for an early morning swim. The sea is beautifully clear, and you can gaze back at the city walls from the water. Lower yourself into the water gently using the stairs.
- Best place for Sunbathing in Dubrovnik – if you want to spend a few hours in a good sunbathing spot, head around to Beach Sulic, which sits underneath the towering Lovrijenac Fort. There is a public bathroom and a couple of reasonably priced bars playing some fun music too. Enjoy the vibes!
- Best place for peace and quiet in Dubrovnik – Gradac Park just outside of the Old Town is a lovely park shaded by pine trees with fantastic views over the city and the sea. Despite being a filming location for Game of Thrones (the purple wedding was filmed here apparently?!), it’s incredibly quiet. Stroll around with only cicadas for company.
What walks and hikes can you do in Dubrovnik
This may be controversial again, but I have never watched Game of Thrones. Subsequently, the idea of taking an expensive Game of Thrones walking tour around Dubrovnik leaves me cold. But, even if I was a BIG FAN, I’d choose a free tour walking tour instead. You’re likely to get similar information on a free tour, and if you really want to know where Game of Thrones is filmed, then google it and make your own way around!
Better yet just wander the old town and follow your nose. One of my absolute highlights in Dubrovnik was walking down a quiet alleyway, only to discover a children’s choir practising. I joined another lady who had happily found herself in the same spot and was brought to tears by how magical this moment was. Another was finding a Croatian wedding spilling out of the Cathedral on a Saturday afternoon. Let’s just say, Croatian’s appeared to do wedding parties well!
Does Dubrovnik have public transport?
Dubrovnik has a really efficient and reliable public bus service. Rather than take taxis, use public buses if you want to save money. There’s an intercity bus service, as well as an excellent East and West Coast regional service. This heads out to Cavtat on the East or Ston to the West. The Pile bus stop, just outside the Old Town, serves most lines. Tickets are reasonable, around 12 HRK (1.5 Euros) for a 15-minute journey out of town.
What to drink in Dubrovnik on a budget
Croatia grows wine and brews beer. Apart of Raki, Croatia is not known for making spirits. Therefore, cocktails are going to be expensive in Dubrovnik. If you’re looking for budget drinks in bars, then go for local beer (Pivo) or order the wine. Top tip – many bars, even in central Dubrovnik, will offer bargain 1Litre carafes of local wine. So, find a good drinking buddy and share 1Litre! Prices for a beer around 36 HRK and wine 160 HRK for a Litre.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to this, then hit up the supermarkets and buy a local bottle of wine for around 19 HRK (less than 3 Euros) or a can of beer for 7 HRK (less than 1 Euro). There’s a Konzum supermarket in the centre of the Old Town with cold beers ready and waiting for you! In my experience, you can still enjoy some wonderful drinks whilst visiting Dubrovnik on a budget.
What to eat in Dubrovnik on a budget
Dubrovnik budget restaurants are few and far between, although deals can be found. Dubrovnik’s “take out” game is also pretty poor compared to other European cities. Pizza slices are (in my view) still quite overpriced and lack the quality that you’d find in neighbouring Montenegro. However, one thing Dubrovnik does exceptionally well is bakeries!
Personally, I’d avoid the Milnar chain bakeries in the Old Town and the slightly touristic “Holy Burek”. Instead, head to one just outside of Old Town. There are a few, but the one I’d recommend is Galeta. Here you can get a huge Burek (pastry filled with cheese or meat) for 15 HRK (around 2 Euro). The filo pastry is crispy, the filling plentiful and the staff are friendly. It’s conveniently located next to a Supermarket, where you can get takeout coffee for 6 HRK.
If you don’t fancy baked goods, then pop into one of the supermarkets or outdoor food markets in the Old Town. They are reasonably priced, and you could easily rustle up a picnic of local ham and cheese to enjoy as you gaze out to the sea.
When to visit Dubrovnik, try out of season
This year from December 2022 to January 2023 Dubrovnik is hosting a winter festival which promises special events and entertainment. Christmas decorations will cover the city and you can expect to hear many a Christmas carol. The number of tourists out of season is far less, meaning that you can move around much more freely, and it’s easier to get deals on accommodation to enjoy Dubrovnik on a budget. According to The Dubrovnik Times Newspaper, car park charges and even coffee prices reduce over Winter. Cheap coffee in Dubrovnik? It must be Christmas!
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