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Dubrovnik on a budget: 6 tips for your trip

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Dubrovnik – the Pearl of the Adriatic – is Croatia’s most visited city. Each summer season, the city sees record-breaking crowds – and as the number of tourists increase, so does the cost of visiting Dubrovnik. But, no need to worry: there are plenty of things to do in Dubrovnik on a budget. Even as budget-conscious travelers, we have made several trips to the city – and have always been able to keep our budget in check.

The Stradun pedestrian street at night, Dubrovnik, Croatia JetSettingFools.com

6 Tips for Visiting Dubrovnik on a Budget

#1 Wander the Old Town

Within the confines of the historic defensive walls is Dubrovnik’s beautifully preserved Old Town. Create your own self-guided walking tour to the sights along the Stradun and up the steep alleys to hidden churches {or follow our Dubrovnik Sights Self-Guided Tour}. There is no cost to enter the Old Town, but you might be tempted to purchase an ice cream while you enjoy your stroll.


#2 Explore the coastline

It’s easy to get lost in the architecture and beauty of the Old Town, but getting out of it is equally stunning…if not more so. Escape the crowds and breathe in the fresh air. Follow the coastline trails to the east or west of the Old Town for captivating views of the city from afar – keep walking and you’ll find your way down to the water. {Read about our Dubrovnik nature walk to the west and about our walk to an insanely awesome Dubrovnik viewpoint to the east}


#3 Take a swim

Banje Beach is Dubrovnik’s pebbly beach just outside the Ploce Gate and the Old Port. There is a beach club that charges for chairs, but it’s free to spread your towel on the sand, soak up the sun and cool yourself with a swim in the sea. Keen on a more adventurous swim? Head to the pier of the Old Port and follow the path to the right to the outside of the city walls. Use the ladders bolted to rocks to lower yourself into the water or jump right in!

Banje Beach, Dubrovnik, Croatia JetSettingFools.com


#4 Pack a picnic and BYOB

Eating and drinking in Dubrovnik’s restaurants and bars can be budget busters. For a meal that doesn’t break the bank, head to the local market or Konzum grocery store (located on the same square as the market) and buy picnic items – like meat, cheese, bread, olives and wine – and find a picturesque spot on the coast to dine with a view.

Dubrovnik’s famous buzas – bars clinging to the rocks overlooking the sea and accessed through narrow ‘holes in the wall’ – are hard to resist, especially at sunset. However, the steep upcharge for less than mediocre beer is difficult to justify (about $7 USD for a bottle of beer). Instead, grab a few beers from the grocery store or corner market and walk through the bar to the lower platforms (without tables or chairs) for a BYOB sunset. (Note: arrive early to get a good spot, but keep in mind that toilets are for paying customers only.)

JetSetting Fools watching sunset with BYOB drinks, Dubrovnik, Croatia JetSettingFools.com

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#5 Stay in an apartment

There is a wide range of accommodations in Dubrovnik, from expensive luxury hotels to affordable guesthouses. However, we have found the best deals by renting holiday apartments through Airbnb. Not only do Airbnb apartments tend to be less expensive, but we have saved money by having our own kitchen and making money-saving meals at home. There are many Airbnb apartments to choose from – both inside and outside the city walls. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, read our tips for Airbnb before booking – and use this link to create your account and save money on your first stay!

Airbnb Apartment, Dubrovnik, Croatia JetSettingFools.com

Bonus Accommodation Tip: Visit in the off-season. Dubrovnik is still a very seasonal city. At the height of summer, the city is crushed with crowds and prices for hotels and apartments skyrocket. Prices dip lower in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) and hit rock bottom in the winter. {Read our interview from The Dubrovnik Times regarding visiting Dubrovnik in the off-season}


#6 Choose activities wisely

Like most destination cities, Dubrovnik has plenty of tourist attractions that are certain to leave your wallet a little bit lighter. Among the most popular activities in Dubrovnik are walking the ancient city walls, riding the cable car to Mt. Srd and joining a Game of Thrones tour – all of which cost a small bundle. Other activities, like visiting museums and hopping on a boat ride to Lokrum Island aren’t exactly cheap either. While travelers visiting Dubrovnik on a budget might choose to pass on all paid-for activities, we have a few money-saving tips that might help experience the city without going broke.

  • Prioritize – Don’t aim to tackle all of Dubrovnik’s attractions. Pick the one – just one – that is most appealing and skip the rest. Or, at the very least, combine top sights with a single ticket, like the Dubrovnik Cable Car, City Walls and Walking Tour combo.
  • Alternatives – Seek out cost-saving alternatives to popular activities. Instead of paying for a Game of Thrones tour ($30 USD), find the sights on your own with a Game of Thrones self-guided tour. Rather than take the roundtrip cable car ride ($17 USD), hike to the top of Mt. Srd for free (or take the cable car up ($10 USD) and hike down, like we did).
  • Dubrovnik Card – If walking the walls ($17 USD) and museums are top of your list, consider purchasing a Dubrovnik Card, available for 1, 3 or 7 days ($22, $32 or $45 USD, if purchased online). To save money, we highly recommend purchasing a 1-day card and visiting all sights of interest in one day. The Dubrovnik Card also includes public transportation, which would otherwise cost about $1.50 USD per ride, but we only ever used public transportation to travel between the new port (on arrival by boat and by bus) and the city center.  
  • A note on Walking the Walls – Walking the Walls in Dubrovnik is an expensive activity, no doubt…but it is a truly unique experience in Dubrovnik. In order to get the most for your money, we recommend getting an early start before the crowds arrive and allowing plenty of time (3+ hours) to walk on top of the walls around the city. Bring a good guidebook or map that will help locate sights as you walk – and if you’re a history buff, consider splurging for a Dubrovnik City Walls Tour. It’s also important to bring plenty of water and maybe a snack.  


Our Top Tips for your Trip to Dubrovnik on a Budget

Where To Stay

During our visit to Dubrovnik, we stayed in two awesome Airbnb Apartments – a studio apartment inside the Old Town and a 2-bedroom apartment just outside the Ploce Gate. We have also stayed in a wonderful apartment in Lapad (3.8km from Old Town). (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Dubrovnik holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner

However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Dubrovnik hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Or, find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline

Budget travelers can also search for Dubrovnik Hostels, like Hostel EuroAdria, Hostel 365 for U and Hostel Angelina Old Town.  For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free


Getting There

Dubrovnik can be reached by plane, bus, boat or car. Flights to the international Dubrovnik Airport are quite seasonal, with few flights in the winter. There are two main ferry companies that service Dubrovnik – connecting the city to other Croatian port cities, as well as Italy. Check for ferry schedules online with Jadrolinija and Krilo.

Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). However, due to our unique circumstances (flight benefits earned from years of service with a major airline), we rarely buy airline tickets. That being said, when we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.

To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and, in Croatia, that means buses.  Our preferred bus company is FlixBus – as it is economical, clean and comfortable with on-board wifi, seat-back entertainment, refreshments and a toilet – and they are currently expanding to more locations in Croatia. Otherwise, we search for bus routes on BusCroatia, but always confirm routes and times at the bus station.

In other countries in Europe, we use Rail Europe to find train ticketsWe aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.  


Before You Go

  • Dubrovnik is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
  • It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.

Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!


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11 thoughts on “Dubrovnik on a budget: 6 tips for your trip

    • Hello Elice – We were in Dubrovnik the last week of February. There were no crowds, but there were also a lot of restuarants closed. We had a couple of rainy days, but warm, sunshine, too!

  1. Anonymous

    The pics of you and Kris are great! It’s wonderful that you are able to have a terrific time together without spending a whole lot of money……very impressive!

  2. Anonymous

    It must be true that “the best things in life are free” — it looks you like you found a lot of the “best things” in Dubrovnik!!!

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