Dubrovnik on a Budget
By Sydney Tong on October 15, 2016. Read time: 4 min.
Dubrovnik caters to the cruise ship vacationer which causes the prices of meals and activities to soar. All is not lost, fellow traveler. With some creativity and efficient planning, a backpacker can maximize their fun time in this amazing port city without the premium price tag. Here are some free and inexpensive things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik is an out-of-this-world beautiful city situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is best known for its towering colossal walls constructed during the 12th century. This ancient city is one of the most well-preserved, and oldest cities in Europe. The 25 meter high walls offer spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding city, ocean, and mountains. It sounds way too good to be true right; there has to be a catch? It is also a port for many cruise ships and caters to thousands of vacationers that come to port daily.
Entrance to the old city
Cool old people lounging around the city
Explore the city
Get lost in the city and explore all the quirks that make it unique. The city is incredibly well-kept as locals are always on top of the necessary repairs. Many locals still live in the old city and hang their laundry out to dry above the streets.
Walking around at different times of the day give different vibes and experiences. Waking up early before cruise-shippers enter the city to experience empty streets. Walking on the city walls costs 120 Kuna. This ticket must be paid in Kuna; Euro will not be accepted.
Dubrovnik is easily walkable, and the bus is inexpensive. A one-way ticket will cost 15 Kuna and comes with a 1-hour transfer window. Keep this in mind when planning accommodations.
Restaurant dining in a historic city
Tourists hanging out on steps inbetween excursions
Visit a museum
For the history buffs, there are many museums to visit that explain the history of Dubrovnik or explain the Yugoslav war. These are helpful if you are visiting other countries that were involved in the war. There are also several art museums that you can visit. A Picasso museum was on display while we were there.
Take a tour
Walking tours are one of my favorite ways to get to know the city. They give an overview of the city and a good reference for other activities in the city. Organize a walking tour with your hostel or your host; they may be able to recommend a tour that is the best for an inexpensive price. Dubrovnik is famous for Game of Thrones, and there is an assortment of walking tours that are based on the TV series. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones but being in the city enticed me to go on a binge-watching frenzy.
Letting the laundry dry
The aqua teal colors of the ocean are insanely beautiful, and the shore is perfect for swimming and lounging. We went in October, and it was too cold and rainy to go swimming. The majority of the activities are done outdoors so try to plan to go during the summer months otherwise you will spend a lot of the time waiting for the rain to let up or for it to become warm.
Many of these boats are for hire.
A couple eating lunch and looking out over the ocean
Hiking to the top of the mountain overlooking the city is an excellent way to stretch your legs and get an unforgettable view for free. It takes about 90 minutes to finish the hike. Make sure to bring a lot of water as there is not much shade. There is a cable car that goes to the mountain for a fee (120 Kuna roundtrip, 70 Kuna for one-way), purchase it on-sight (cash only).
There are several bars in Old City with stunning ocean views. Buy a drink and sit back and relax. Sunset is a great time to enjoy a beverage at these locations.
Drinking and relaxing with an ocean view
Rent a scooter
If you are feeling especially adventurous, there is a tour company located outside of the city walls that rent scooters (220 Kuna/day). Rent one and take it up and down the coast. The freedom gives the opportunity to get away from the congested city and enjoy the coast on your terms. If the weather were better, we would have done this without hesitation. Montenegro is a short drive away, remember to bring your passport.
The restaurants in Old City are finer-dining restaurants and backpackers will be hard pressed to find a meal that is typical Croatian cuisine for a fair price. Spending $20-$30 per meal for three days is not an option for us at this point. While the restaurants in Dubrovnik are obscenely expensive the markets are affordable and a good alternative when traveling on a budget. We made some pasta at our home (4 Euro for two people) and treated ourselves to some homemade gelato (around 2 Euro). Prioritize so you can maximize your experience in this beautiful city.
The grocery stores close early and many are not open on Sundays. Keep this in mind when planning your meals.
Traveling to Dubrovnik as a backpacker is not a lost cause and requires more creativity to stretch the budget. Pick and choose what you will do and make some like-minded friends to split the cost. It can all be a good experience if you look at it with a positive attitude. Do not let the high prices and large crowds take the charm out of the city. Take it with a grain of salt and enjoy this magical city.
Getting lost in this city was my absolute favorite
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