With pristine beaches, historic stone walls and appearances in Game of Thrones, it’s easy to see why Dubrovnik is the most popular destination in Croatia. Dubrovnik’s Old Town remains suspended in time, with well-preserved buildings and limestone-paved streets adding to the allure of this buzzing Mediterranean city. With an ever-increasing number of tourists flocking to the city year after year, the cost of visiting is also on the rise. However, that doesn’t mean that Dubrovnik isn’t suitable for budget travel.
Ready to find out how you can see Dubrovnik on the cheap? This travel guide will provide you with a ton of Dubrovnik travel tips and help you explore as much as possible without completely draining your bank account.
This guide is perfect for those who are travelling to Dubrovnik on a budget. We will show you what to do in Dubrovnik, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether it’s a weekend in Dubrovnik or a long term stay.
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Table of Contents
The best time to visit Dubrovnik
Autumn is the best time to see Dubrovnik on a budget. While the city is definitely a summer vacation hotspot, prices increase a lot during the middle of the year, as does the amount of tourists. With so many fellow travellers around, you’re likely to spend a lot of time in busy crowds and queues, meaning you won’t really get your money’s worth during the summer.
In September and October, the water remains warm enough to classify your trip as a beach vacation. The cruise ships and the majority of tourists have all left, making your time in Dubrovnik more peaceful.
Hotels and tourist attractions can shut down over the cold and rainy winter, so it’s not recommended you book a trip between November and April.
How to get around Dubrovnik on a budget
Fortunately, Dubrovnik Old Town is very walkable and you can avoid overspending on taxis. There are no trains or trams within Dubrovnik, but there are a few buses that are popular with tourists. Libertas runs routes 1A, 1B and 1C from Gruž station to the Pile Gate. You can pick up a daily ticket that lasts 24 hours from the first use, or a single-use, one-hour ticket upon boarding.
To get to and from Dubrovnik Airport (also known as Čilipi Airport), you can catch a shuttle bus. The shuttle service provided by Atlas Agency takes between 30 to 45 minutes and costs 45 kn one way. Buses heading towards the city meet all incoming flights, so you won’t ever have to wait too long. Likewise, there are always buses leaving from Gruž to get you to your departing flight on time. A taxi from the airport could cost you up to 250 kn, so the savings are pretty significant!
The Cable Car is a beautiful and convenient way to reach Mount Srđ, but the round trip can be costly (of around $24). Save some money by buying a one-way ticket, then spend 45 minutes hiking either up or down the mountain.
What to expect in Dubrovnik
Croatian is spoken by most in Dubrovnik, but there’s no need to feel intimidated. You won’t have a problem speaking English with anyone along the coastline of Croatia, as most people will understand you.
The currency in Dubrovnik, Croatia is kuna (kn), divided into 100 lipa. At some point in the future, Croatia will transition to the euro, but the kuna remains for now. Of course, the exchange rate fluctuates, but you can expect one euro to equal between seven and eight kn. Kuna comes in both banknotes and coins, though debit and credit cards are commonly accepted.
Throughout Dubrovnik, you are expected to leave at least a 10% tip at restaurants. Tipping isn’t necessary at cafes and bars, though even locals tend to round up to the nearest five or 10 kn to make paying easier.
Budget things to do in Dubrovnik
There are so many things to do in Dubrovnik, and if you’re on a budget, it’ll be difficult to do them all. Prioritize the activities you most want to do and the sights you really want to see. Keeping costs down may also mean seeing the bulk of attractions in one or two days. You can save money by purchasing a one-day Dubrovnik Card and packing in as much as you can during that day, rather than buying the more expensive three or seven-day cards.
Here are some of the top things to do and the best places to visit in Dubrovnik while sticking to a budget.
Swim along the coastline
There’s a reason Dubrovnik is so popular during the warmer weather, and that’s because of its picturesque beaches. While you’re here, you’ll want to enjoy that crystal-clear water for yourself.
Danče Beach is a 10-minute walk from the Old Town. It happens to be one of the oldest and most authentic rocky beaches in Dubrovnik. Thanks to its somewhat hidden location, you’ll find more locals than tourists here. There aren’t any sunbathing spots or beach chairs to hire, but it’s the perfect place for a secluded swim.
Take a 20-minute walk from the centre of the Old Town and you’ll reach Uvala Lapad Beach. This pebbled beach is one of the most popular spots in Dubrovnik, so if you find it a bit crowded, follow the walking paths that will lead you to some smaller coves. There are always families, couples and groups of friends here, making it easy to meet some fellow travellers.
See the churches and monasteries
Dubrovnik Cathedral, officially called the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Cathedral, is a 17th-century Baroque beauty in the Old Town. Built upon the remains of former cathedrals, the building is notable for its four Corinthian columns and marble altar. Inside the cathedral is a marvellous collection of religious relics and art pieces, including a polyptych by Titian. The cathedral itself is free to enter, though you’ll have to pay a fee to see the relics inside the treasury.
The Dominican Monastery is an expansive religious complex dating back to the 14th century. The site comprises a Gothic-style church and a modern-day museum. Inside the museum are a variety of paintings, artefacts and Romanesque statues that will teach you about Dubrovnik’s history.
Construction of the monastery began in 1315 against the Old City walls to strengthen the northeast corner. The peaceful and charming courtyard in the centre is richly decorated and features a stone cistern. The small admission fee for the museum is 30 kn per adult.
The Church of Saint Blaise is a magnificently intricate church with free admission. It is dedicated to Saint Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, making it one of the most beloved churches in the city. Built in 1715, it is modeled after the San Maurizio church in Venice and incorporates Baroque style. The silver-gilt statue of Saint Blaise, crafted in the 15th-century, was the only statue to survive the church’s fire in the early 18th century.
Explore some more ancient structures
Large Onofrio’s Fountain – You likely wouldn’t expect a water-supply system to be one of the city’s best attractions, but Large Onofrio’s Fountain is much more than it sounds. Constructed in 1438 near Pile Gate, this large, circular fountain supplies fresh water to citizens from a river 12 kilometres away.
16 stone carved masks embellish the fountain’s walls, making it a unique spot to stop, rest and rehydrate during your sightseeing. Rather than continuously spending your money on plastic water bottles, stop by and fill up for free here.
Sponza Palace is a 16th-century gem that combines Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles. Built between 1516 and 1522, it features a stunning rectangular inner courtyard and arched loggia. Since its founding, the palace has served as an office, a warehouse, an armoury, a treasury, a bank, a school, a mint, and a performance venue. Today, it houses archives and manuscripts dating back to the 12th century.
Pile Gate, or Vrata od Pila in Croatian, is a key part of Dubrovnik’s historic city walls. The stone gate features a drawbridge and is considered the main entrance into the Old Town. Right above the gate is a statue of Sveti Vlaho (Saint Blaise). If you’ve purchased a Dubrovnik Day Card, you can see this site for free. As you pass through the gate along the western wall, you’ll find a useful poster map of the Old Town.
Walk the wall
After entering the Old Town through Pile Gate, it’s time to start the wall walk. The defensive stone walls circle two kilometres around the city and reach a maximum height of 25 metres. Considered the best fortification system of the Middle Ages, the walls remain an integral part of Dubrovnik and gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979.
Bring your most comfortable shoes, as this iconic Dubrovnik experience will keep you on your feet for at least two hours.The Dubrovnik wall walk hours change depending on the time of year, so don’t start too late in the afternoon. Assuming you’re not visiting during the winter, you can start the walk as early as eight in the morning.
Take in the views at Orsula Park
The 350-seat amphitheatre known as Orsula Park is found atop a cliff 200 metres above sea level. It’s used as an open-air live music venue but is often visited for the amazing views of the city and nearby Lokrum Island. Catch the 10 bus or take a 25-minute walk from the Old Town to reach this incredible lookout.
Visit the museums
With the Dubrovnik Card, you can visit a ton of great museums and galleries for free. Perhaps the most visited is the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik (MoMAD). Designed by renowned Croatian architects Harold Bilinić and Lavoslav Horvat, the neo-Renaissance and Gothic building features a large terrace overlooking the sea. Throughout nine exhibition rooms, you can admire some impressive sculptures and paintings by the country’s best-known artists.
Sailing and shipbuilding are important aspects of Dubrovnik’s evolution. If the city’s maritime history is something you’re interested in, head to the Maritime Museum in the first and second floors of Saint John’s Fortress. Ship models and other relics are on display, and educational exhibitions will give you a brief overview of the city’s navigation history.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik on a budget
Accommodation tends to be a big expense in Dubrovnik. Staying at a hostel is the only choice as a backpacker on a budget, but there are a couple of fantastic ones to stay at. To save you the trouble of looking them up, here are the lowest-cost hostels with the best value, Airbnb is also another great budget option. We have written an extensive guide on where to stay in Dubrovnik.
Old Town Hostel: As you’d expect from the name, the Old Town Hostel is right in the heart of the city centre. The recently-renovated 400-year-old building is full of charm, with exposed brick walls and polished floorboards. Best of all, it’s a mere 15 metres from Stradun, the main street in Dubrovnik. Prices start at about €35 per night.
Hostel EuroAdria: If you’re looking to stay outside of the Old City, don’t go past Hostel EuroAdria in Gruž. Staying here ensures you’ll be close to the main bus station, making it perfect for day trips relying on public transport. It’s also opposite Louis Šoletić Park, Gruž Market, and the beautiful harbour. Grab a dorm bed for as low as €30.
Budget eats in Dubrovnik
You don’t need to dine out at the fanciest restaurants to enjoy your trip. Eating in Dubrovnik on a budget is easier than you’d think, so long as you plan ahead and don’t fall into any of the tourist traps. Walk past a restaurant and see a lot of locals inside? Odds are, the food is both affordable and delicious!
Ala Mizerija on Ulica od Tabakarije is one of the top cheap restaurants in Dubrovnik Old Town. This cafe and bar sits cliffside, so you’ll have a beautiful view of the ocean while you eat some bruschetta and sip your cocktail. Prices are very reasonable considering the unbeatable atmosphere.
Barba along Boškovićeva ulica is the place to go for the best cheap eats in Dubrovnik Old Town. Here you can taste gourmet yet affordable Croatian seafood in an ambient setting. Their specialities are the octopus and shrimp hamburgers, and really, where else in the world could you try one of these?
For a local fast food fare, head to Preša on Đorđićeva ulica. You’ll find the traditional burger and fries, as well as sandwiches, salads and tortillas. With filling options for all types of eaters, you can’t go wrong here.
Cheap tours to do in Dubrovnik on a budget
While it’s easy to pay for a guided Game of Thrones tour, there are plenty of resources online to help you see all the sights for free. Some of the filming locations on your self-guided tour can include Saint Dominika Street, Ploce Gate, Rector’s Palace, Bokar Fortress and Minčeta Tower.
One tour that’s definitely worth paying for is a sea kayak tour. Swim, snorkel and kayak your morning away while exploring the gorgeous Adriatic coast. Paddle to Lokrum Island on a kayak provided for you and take in the breathtaking views. You’ll receive full instruction, so beginners are welcome!
Recommend budget tours in Dubrovnik
- Viator Exclusive: ‘Game of Thrones’ Walking Tour of Dubrovnik
- Dubrovnik Ancient City Walls Historical Walking Tour
- Dubrovnik Sea Kayak and Snorkeling Small-Group Tour
- Dubrovnik Old Town 1.5 Hour Discovery Tour
- Game of Thrones Tour with Karaka Cruise and Dubrovnik Walking Tour
- Montenegro Day Trip from Dubrovnik
- Medjugorje and Mostar Day Trip from Dubrovnik
- 8-Day Croatia Cruise from Dubrovnik to the Dalmatian Coast
- Buggy Safari in Dubrovnik
- Peljesac Peninsula Day Trip from Dubrovnik: Wine Tasting and Ston Village Tour
- Welcome to Dubrovnik Walking Tour
- Croatian Traditional Cuisine: Peka Cooking Lesson
- Dubrovnik Food & Drink Walking Tour with a Local Guide
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