how to visit Dubrovnik on a budget
Croatia, Europe

Dubrovnik on a Budget

Dubrovnik is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in Croatia, and it’s easy to see why. The walled old town is a maze of cobbled alleyways and red rooftops, perching on a rocky outcrop in the Adriatic Sea on Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coastline. It’s seeped in history, both recent and ancient, and when Game of Thrones started filming here the city’s popularity skyrocketed even higher. (Game of Thrones fans simply can’t get enough of the place.) It can get almightily crowded in the summertime, especially while there are cruise ships in port, but the city is still well worth a visit. And it’s surprisingly easy to visit Dubrovnik on a budget. 

the best time to visit Dubrovnik - autumn
the view fron Fort Lovrijenac

When is the best time to visit Dubrovnik?

Whichever style of accommodation you go for, it will always be cheaper off-season. Autumn is the perfect time to visit Dubrovnik on a budget- with late springtime a close second choice of best time to visit.

By mid September the crowds are starting to thin out but the weather is (save for a few occasional flash thunderstorms), still warm. By mid October in Dubrovnik the streets are almost completely empty, some shops and restaurants are beginning to shut for the winter, and the price of accommodation drops as well. 

Which means not only is the atmosphere more peaceful, but it’s far easier to find cheap accommodation in Dubrovnik. For the tightest of budgets, there are plenty of hostels available; look at Hostel Angelina which is inside the Old Town. For cheaper Airbnbs in Dubrovnik look at The Orange Studio or stay outside of the city walls at Purple Rain (which has a downright wonderful view of the coast). There are plenty of great apartments on, and if your budget isn’t a strict one, look at a smaller hotel like the Royal Neptun. There are several bars and restaurants within the hotel, but it also has access to a beach, and is super-close to the Old Town.

hotels near Dubrovnik old town
lace for sale on a Medieval wall
Kings Landing or Dubrovnik

Explore the Old Town. It’s Free!

The number one thing to do when visiting Dubrovnik on a budget, is without a shadow of a doubt, to get exploring on foot. Walking along the 13th century city walls will set you back around €20, but the cobbled up-and-down pathways form a picturesque (and completely free-of-charge) maze to explore at your own pace.

Make sure you veer off of the main streets and explore the back alleys and staircases; not only do the narrow pathways provide a lovely bit of shade on a hot day, but there are plenty of details to stumble across. Gargoyles, bullet holes and even a basketball court can be found within the walls of this intriguing old city.

(Also cats. Dubrovnik has plenty of cats.)

a cat asleep in the old town of Dubrovnik
a sunny corner in the old town of Dubrovnik
a basketball court inside the walls of Dubrovnik
a gargoyle drain
asian tourists in croatia
pink berry plant in croatia
the red rooftops of the old town

Dubrovnik’s quirkiest museum

Zagreb has the Museum of Broken Relationships; Dubrovnik has the Love Stories Museum. (And for something completely out there, Split has a museum of taxidermy frogs; Croatian museums are nothing if not varied). If you’re a fan of the quirkier things in life, this one’s for you.

The Love Stories Museum is in a house just outside the city walls, and won’t take you more than half an hour to forty five minutes to get around, depending on your level of interest. People from across the world have donated objects significant to their own love stories, and there are also exhibits on famous love stories, and on Dubrovnik’s history. It’s a cute way to spend some time, and as a bonus the owner even throws in a free bottle of water with every ticket purchased! He knows what he’s doing. Bravo sir. 

Adult entry is 50 kuna (around €7).

Dubrovnik's Love Stories Museum

Fort Lovrijenac

Just outside of the city walls is a little cove where a few wooden fishing boats bob gently on the water. Overlooking this cove is a fortress which almost looks as if its carved out of the rocks themselves. (Croatia does castles on rocks very well; check out Klis Fortress, a castle near Split which was also used as a Game of Thrones filming location.) 

This is Lovrijenac Fort, which appeared several times in Game of Thrones as the Red Keep. (Disclaimer: I have never actually seen Game of Thrones, but it’s the kind of info that people appreciate, so make of it what you will.) Climb up the stone steps to the top, and pay 50 kuna to see inside the white walls of the triangular fortress. There’s not a lot to see inside, other than to marvel at how well the building has lasted all these years, but the view of the walled old town and the Adriatic Sea is beautiful. And the feeling of accomplishment at reaching the top on a hot day is the cherry on the cake. 

Every summer, Lovrijenac is also used as a theatre where Shakespeare productions are performed. What a grand location.

how to visit Dubrovnik on a budget
fort lovrijenac or the red keep
view from Fort Lovrijenac
view from Fort Lovrijenac

Swim in the Adriatic Sea

Croatia has some of the best beaches in Europe, and there are plenty of these to be found in and around Dubrovnik.

Banje Beach is just outside of the Ploče Gate- which is the eastern entrance to the old town. This is a traditional beach with bars and restaurants, as well as a view of the outside of the city walls.

Inside the old town, enter a literal hole in the wall and walk down the stone steps to the Buža Bar which is perched on the cliffs between the city and the sea. You can buy drinks here (which are on the pricier side, but the location is great so it’s kind of worth it). Chairs and tables are perched on rocks nearer the walls, but climb down closer to the sea and there are plenty of spots to sunbathe and climb or jump directly into the water from. 

Croatia's Dalmatian coastline
Buza Bar outside the city walls
free beaches near Dubrovnik

Take me to church

There is a slight danger when in Europe of becoming all ‘churched out;’ the entire continent is full of them after all. But there are some really beautiful churches in Dubrovnik which are worth popping into for a poke around, even if you’re not religious.

Dubrovnik Cathedral is probably the most easy to find- right in the centre of the city, on a wide open square near the Old Port. But there are plenty more churches, both tiny and grandiose, tucked into just about every nook and cranny. I’ll be honest, the first time I stumbled into a church in Dubrovnik was to shelter from the torrential rain which was hammering down outside. Myself and approximately 150 other people crammed into the building and stayed there, speaking only when absolutely necessary and in very hushed tones. The inside of the church was absolutely beautiful although the floor was very quickly a large puddle underfoot.

the empty streets of Dubrovnik
a church in Dubrovnik
leaving Europe for a cruise through the Suez Canal
altar inside a croatian church in Dalmatia

My final tip: the best coffee in Dubrovnik

Visiting Dubrovnik on a budget is super easy as long as you stay away from the main tourist spots; steer clear of menus with food photos on the menu and choose your meals out carefully.

But if you’re a regular reader of this little old blog, you’ll know that one thing I rarely scrimp on is coffee. My favourite coffee shop in all of Dubrovnik is Cogito Coffee, located in a shady little corner down a tiny alleyway which gets comparatively less footfall than the busier thoroughfares of the old town. Their cold brew is delicious, and there’s often a cat in the doorway keeping watch. There’s also a bigger Cogito Coffee just outside of Ploče Gate.

Cogito Coffee in the Old Town
a cat in the doorway of Cogito Coffee

Dubrovnik is a massive tourist destination, where it’s easy to spend a lot of money, quickly. However it’s also incredibly easy to visit Dubrovnik on a budget, if you’re prepared to stray from the usual touristy path and take things at a more relaxed pace. Croatia is overall a very affordable country to visit and travel through, and in spite of its popularity, this beautiful city is no exception to that rule.

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