There’s simply no denying it, Croatia is crazy expensive when it comes to budget travel in eastern Europe and Dubrovnik seems to top the bill as the most expensive city in this part of the world.
Thanks to its Game of Thrones popularity and the seemingly never-ending stream of cruise ships that dock in this Adriatic city, prices have skyrocketed in recent years and heading here, after travelling in almost any other destination in eastern Europe, can prove a nasty surprise!
But there is hope – this city is absolutely gorgeous (despite the crowds) and with my budget travel hat firmly in place, I’ve been a woman on a mission to discover how you can visit this city for less.
So look no further peeps, here’s the full lowdown on how to see Dubrovnik on the cheap!
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Why Visit Dubrovnik?
I have to admit, when I was travelling in eastern Europe, I almost disregarded Dubrovnik.
I’d heard awful things about crowds for miles and crazy prices as far as the eye could see – neither of which ever make me want to visit a place!
And FYI: I’ve never seen Game of Thrones in my life and give zero f*c*s about it!
And you know what?
I’m a sucker for FOMO – I mean, who knows when you’ll be back in a certain part of the world right?
So rather than miss out, I decided to bite the bullet and swing past Dubrovnik in a flash.
And you know what?
I’m so glad I did.
For while this city is every bit as full of tourist madness as you’d expect, it’s also utterly, incredibly and absolutely stunning.
Honestly, I was blown away by the beauty of this ancient walled city which, perched above the blue Adriatic sea, with views to die for and more instagamability than you can shake a stick at, instantly blew me away.
What a sucker!
But please note, I did not spend a fortune while I was here (I’m not that much of sucker!), so here’s how I visited Dubrovnik for a fraction of the price most people pay…
When to Visit Dubrovnik?
Because I was travelling in eastern Europe in the summer, I ended up hitting Dubrovnik in peak season, which pretty much runs right through from June to September.
For a complete winter-phobe like me, this was literally the only choice, as there is no way I can deal with Europe in the winter. Also, the photos I got as a result of my summer visit to Dubrovnik, also showed the bright, hot sun bouncing off the crystal clear water perfectly – yes please!
I just don’t think you’d have that opportunity outside of the summer months.
That said, if you really want to see Dubrovnik on the cheap, then avoiding summer is a must, when prices literally double!
Hitting up this city during the shoulder seasons of early Spring and late Autumn (but also avoiding any European school holiday weeks!) is going to give you the best prices without you having to wear 50 layers to keep warm!
How Long to Spend in Dubrovnik?
That said, if you’re a normal person and want to see Dubrovnik when the weather is warm (because let’s be honest, half the joy here is enjoying the coastal setting), then the key to seeing this city for less is to get in and get out!
Yes as a walled city, Dubrovnik is quickly navigable on foot (so save yourself a bit more cash by walking everywhere while you are here) and you really can see the whole historic centre in a fairly short period of time.
As such, I’d advise staying just 1 night in the city if you want to equal my record of spending less than 80€ to visit Dubrovnik!
How to Get to Dubrovnik Cheaply?
Travelling to Dubrovnik is actually (and amazingly) pretty cheap – if you want it to be!
There are many budget flights available into Dubrovnik’s international airport and, as always, my go-to for bagging a bargain is to check out Skyscanner, where you can compare hundreds of different airlines (including budget options such as Ryanair) to grab the best deal.
Dubrovnik can also be reached cheaply by bus from other eastern European cities, including Zagreb, Kotor, Mostar and slightly further away Belgrade, Podgorica and Sarajevo if you’re looking for a real adventure!
I travelled to Dubrovnik from Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina and used the excellent website Busbud to book my tickets in advance for peanuts.
If, like me, you set off early in the day from any of these closer cities, you can reach Dubrovnik by lunchtime.
This is a great idea if you want to see this city for less, because you’ll then have time to spend the afternoon and evening looking around the city, only have to pay for 1 night’s accommodation, enjoy the city again the next morning before check out time, and then head off to your next destination.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik on a Budget?
So now we come to the crux – where to sleep in Dubrovnik on a budget?
If you want to visit this city and not spend too much, you’re going to have to limit yourself to just 1 night here, but as I said, that’s totally do-able.
And if you’re only spending 1 night, then I suggest coughing up a bit extra and staying in the Old Town itself.
While this is going to cost you a few euros more – especially in the summer season – it’s going to save you lots of travel hours, which really is key if you’re limited on time.
In my opinion, it’s well worth it.
I stayed in Hostel Angelina – which is perfectly located in the Old Town, meaning you can run down the stairs to the Main Square in just a few minutes – ideal if you want to get some pics early in the morning before the crowds descend!
A dorm room here isn’t cheap – setting you back around 50€ in peak season – but this is pretty standard for Dubrovnik dorms in the summer (told you there were some CRAZZZY prices) and this place does have a guest kitchen and nice terrace which makes it a good option for saving money on drinks and food too.
Free Things to Do in Dubrovnik
So, after having spent half your budget on accommodation what else is left if you want to visit Dubrovnik cheaply?
Well, my number one tip is to ensure you see ALL the free things you can in Dubrovnik.
Top of the list is wandering the Old Town which you can do for nothing and which is amazing.
Check out the Jesuit Church of St Ignatiou of Loyola, which is free to enter and, while you’re at it, snap the Bell Tower and do some people-watching in the plaza.
After you’re sightsee-ed out, I strongly suggest heading to the hidden Buza Bar, which perches out on the cliffs beyond the city walls.
While you can pay for an expensive drink here to enjoy the view, I’d honestly suggest descending the steps to the cliffs below where you can watch mad people jumping into the water, take in the Adriatic views, sunbath and swim for FREE!
And if it’s more of this you’re after, then heading to the nearby Banje Beach, which sits outside the City Walls is another great free thing to do in Dubrovnik.
Top Budget Tips for Dubrovnik
Outside of free things, there are a couple of other bits you should spend the remainder of your budget on when in Dubrovnik…
You’ve got to eat after all right!
I highly suggest buying food at a supermarket outside of the Old Town – possibly when you arrive by bus if that’s your plan – and then cooking up a storm in the Hostel Angelina.
#2 Walking the Walls
This is a Dubrovnik rite of passage and you should definitely splurge on this one attraction if you want to spend money on anything.
My top tip is to avoid going in the daytime – the walls are literally packing with cruise tourists then – and instead head up there after 5pm / 5:30pm and walk them at sunset.
Not only do you get amazing views and colours, but there’s literally half the number of people at this time too!
#3 Fort Lovrijenac
It’s also worth pointing out that with your Dubrovnik walls ticket, you then get free entry to Fort Lovrijenac.
As it’s free, why not head over here to make your budget in Dubrovnik go even further!
#4 Games of Thrones Tours
I don’t care about them, but lots of people do (and fair enough) so check out this top-rated Game of Thrones Tour in Dubrovnik that includes an Outer Walls Ticket for a bargain price and a 100% money-back guarantee.
#5 Tours from Dubrovnik
If you’re looking for tours from Dubrovnik, then check out this great list or, if you want to take a day trip to Montenegro (a really cheap way to see 2 countries in a quick amount of time!) check out this super option.
5 Money-Saving Dubrovnik Packing Items
#1 Good Camera
You will be pretty much snapping non-stop during your time in Dubrovnik and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous destination justice.
I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes
You’re definitely going to want to walk the streets and walls of Dubrovnik a lot, it’s as simple as that! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore (so you can avoid expensive tours) with a pair of New Balance Trainers.
Perfect for stylish city strolling, I love mine.
#3 Good Water Bottle
All the city sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Croatian tap water is drinkable… and free!
#4 Good Backpack
And to carry your water bottle, camera and guidebook, you’re going to need a decent backpack that will help you balance the weight as you walk the city streets. In my opinion, you can’t go past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets too.
#5 Travel Insurance
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Getting a Good Exchange Rate
And finally, when it comes to paying for things in Croatia, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me.
The easy way to spend when travelling, Wise offers real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees – the perfect way to help keep your Dubrovnik trip costs down.
Plus, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold!
Get yours here.
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So there you have it, my guide to seeing Dubrovnik cheaply!
Honestly, if I visited this city for under 80€, so can you!
Have you visited Dubrovnik?
What are your top budget tips?
Let me know in the comments box below…