Yes, Dubrovnik is really expensive and crowded, but it is worth every penny and it’s one of my favorite places in Europe. It has everything you could want in a destination. Natural beauty, history, excellent food, beaches, and beautiful sunsets spots. Before arriving, I was afraid of the prices and my fears came true when I ordered water at the first restaurant I went to and it cost 35 HRK. But, once you get past the cost of visiting you will love Dubrovnik. You just have to accept you’re going to spend a lot of money here.
How to Get There
You can reach Dubrovnik by bus or ferry from any of Croatia’s popular destinations within a couple of hours. It’s best to book your ticket in advance because ferries and buses do sell out well in advance.
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What to Do
Walk the Old Town Walls – This is a must for any visit to Dubrovnik, even though it costs 250 HRK. You will get fantastic views of the old town and have the opportunity to take some great pictures.
Hike up Mount Srd – This hilltop is one of my favorite places in Dubrovnik. The hike is an hour from the old town (or take the cable car for 200 HRK), and the views are totally worth it. It’s the perfect place to take a bottle of wine and enjoy the sunset.
Lokrum Island – This beautiful island is just a short ferry ride from the Old Town. It has a botanical garden, a fortress to hike up to for views of the Old Town, a monastery, and the Lokrum Rocks, where you can take a swim and go cliff jumping. I highly recommend spending 4-6 hours on the island. The roundtrip ferry costs 200 HRK, but everything on the island is free.
Visit an abandoned 5-star hotel – During the Croatian War of Independence, the Montenegrin Navy attacked Dubrovnik and bombarded the Hotel Belvedere. The hotel has been abandoned ever since and what you will find on the inside is absolutely fascinating.
I came across documents from the 1980s, old newspapers, an old-fashioned car, and boxes full of wine glasses with the hotel logo. It’s amazing how much is still intact 30 years later. Stopping here is a must when visiting Dubrovnik, and it’s one of the only attractions that is still off-the-radar.
Go cliff jumping at Buža Bar – A fantastic place to watch the sunset, have a few beers, and cliff jump. The highest jump is 12 meters, and trust me it is very painful if you don’t land correctly. The drinks here are very expensive, but you can bring your own as long as you sit down on the rocks.
Bay of Kotor day trip – This is hands down one of the most beautiful places in Europe. The surrounding mountains create a stunning landscape and this was one of the highlights of my 3 weeks in the Balkans.
Lovrjenac – A seaside fortress with great views just outside the Old Town. Keep your ticket from walking the walls because it gives you free entrance.
Red History Museum – This interactive museum shows what life was like for Croats under communism. It’s located outside the old town near the ferry ports. I spent an hour here before my ferry left, and the staff was kind enough to guard my luggage during the visit. The entrance is 65 HRK.
Where to Eat
Pizzeria Tabasco – I ate here a few times while visiting Dubrovnik. They have delicious pizza, a nice patio, and good prices.
Mama’s Pot Tavern – One of the only affordable restaurants in the old town is a great spot for traditional Croatian breakfast.
Vita Bella – It’s 20 minutes from the old town, but the pasta is fantastic and the prices are fair.
Where to Stay
Hostel Angelina – Of all the hostels I’ve stayed in, this one has the nicest amenities and it feels more like a hotel in that regard. It’s inside the old town, and it’s easy to meet other travelers because they organize activities every night.
Hostel Lina – A family-run budget hostel that’s a 20-minute walk to the old town. The owners are very friendly and the patio has fantastic views of Dubrovnik.
How Long to Stay
5 days is the perfect amount of time for visiting Dubrovnik before heading elsewhere in Croatia. This will leave you 3 days to see the attractions, a day for the beach, and a day trip to Kotor.
Where to Next
Zagreb – The laidback capital is full of history and nightlife, and it’s also very budget-friendly.