Last Updated on 7 November 2022
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What are the must-know travel tips for Dubrovnik, Croatia?
It’s not hard to see why Dubrovnik is such a popular European city break destination. Encased in historic walls, it’s perched as pretty as a postcard high above the Adriatic sea with a backdrop of luscious mountains and views over distant islands. It’s a sparkly-clean pedestrianized paradise with a bustling atmosphere where the streets are paved with marble and riddled with narrow backstreets, and iconic burnt orange-roofed buildings and the sound of music fills the Old Town air. But as charming as it sounds (and is), there are certain travel tips for Dubrovnik you must know before you go which will make your visit easier, cheaper and more pleasant!
1. Do your Dubrovnik sightseeing later in the day
The first of the travel tips for Dubrovnik is to do your Dubrovnik sightseeing later in the day. Dubrovnik is a hotspot for Mediterranean cruise ships to dock, but I noticed that when late afternoon started to fall over the Old Town, the crowds started to fizzle out – I can only guess this is because the cruise ship passengers had returned to their cabins. If you do your sightseeing during the day and are in Dubrovnik during any kind of peak month, you’ll be faced with a sea of people inside the Old Town, marching in pursuit of their umbrella-wielding tour guides with selfie sticks waving uncontrollably through the air, which leads on to the second piece of Dubrovnik travel advice…
2. Avoid peak season
I travelled to Dubrovnik in October as part of a 10 day itinerary for Croatia, and I thought it would be a little less busy. And it probably was in comparison to the summertime, but the cruise ships and thousands of visitors they brought were still coming in thick and fast, along with tourists from all across the world! The best time to visit Croatia for warm weather is from May-October, with June, July and August being the pinnacle of peak season in Dubrovnik. During peak months, crowds of tour groups swarm the narrow streets of the Old Town and prices can be inflated. So if you want to avoid these inconveniences, think carefully about when you plan to visit Dubrovnik!
3. Head down the side streets
Dubrovnik can be beautifully calm in the evenings, which gives you the perfect opportunity to wander the charming narrow lanes and sit with a glass (or two) of wine. But I found that the restaurants and bars can be expensive in Dubrovnik! So the third of the Dubrovnik travel tips you need to know is: If you fancy a drink to soak up the Dalmatian atmosphere on a warm summer’s eve, then head off of the main streets and find somewhere tucked out of the way, as it might well be a little cheaper. I found a little bar tucked in a quiet square in the Old Town, and paid prices similar to those in the United Kingdom for a glass of wine.
4. There are a lot of steps in Dubrovnik
Now, something I never knew before I visited Dubrovnik is that the areas surrounding the Old Town are very hilly and have a LOT of steep steps (the Old Town has its own fair share of these too). This is perhaps not so much of a problem if you’re staying inside the Old Town or somewhere directly outside of its walls (or if you’re a mountain goat). But if you’re staying further afield, there could be a monstrous climb involved just to get to your bed…
I stayed in the most charming little apartment ~1km away from Pile Gate on Gornji Kono, which should have been a 15 minute walk to the Old Town. But it turns out that this walk was actually an upward hike, and involved ascending an endless amount of steps, all that way up to the apartment door. So if you don’t want to have to tackle hundreds of steep steps or pay for a taxi when you want to visit the Old Town, research where in Dubrovnik you’re staying. Read the reviews on your accommodation to look for hints as to whether there is a trek involved, and don’t trust Google Maps just because it looks flat!
5. Use the airport shuttle bus
You might be wondering how to get from Dubrovnik airport to the Old Town? Well there’s no need to get a taxi. In fact, one of the best budget tips for Dubrovnik is to use the airport shuttle bus, as taxis and private transfers in comparison are expensive. Taking ~30 minutes and stopping at Pile Gate in the Old Town, the airport shuttle bus is affordable and efficient, and gets you from A to B at a fraction of the price! If you’re wondering, the airport shuttle bus is operated by Platanus Agency and you can buy tickets from the driver, at the airport or online!
6. Book an apartment instead of a hotel
If you’re travelling to Dubrovnik on a budget, then one of the best travel tips I can give you is to book an apartment instead of a hotel. You might have got the gist by now that Dubrovnik is expensive, but having an apartment can help you to save a lot of expense on eating out! Head to Konzum (Croatian supermarket chain) and grab all of your essentials to conjure up something yummy! By all means eat out occasionally during your trip because you’re on holiday and all that jazz, but you’d be amazed at just how much you can save by preparing your own meals. And apartments can often be found just as cheaply as hotels, making it one of the best ways to travel cheaper in Europe!
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