It’s been what feels like forever since I even contemplated writing a blog post, never mind actually sitting down and doing it but a lot of you were really interested in learning more about Dubrovnik having followed our holiday last week so I said I’d put a little guide together for anyone who’s heading there soon or is thinking of booking a trip! We decided to visit Dubrovnik as it seemed quite exotic, in comparison to the usual sun holidays to Spain and Portugal – minus the cost of transatlantic flights to Bali or The Maldives. I think it’s important that I mention – we definitely didn’t go over with massive amounts of € to spend – so in a sense, I guess this post is guide on how to make the most of Dubrovnik on a budget, which is certainly not an attribute it’s known for..
Yes, It’s Expensive..
The most common question I received by a mile was “is it expensive over there?” and to put it simply, yes it is. I’ve been to quite a few European cities over the past few years and Dubrovnik is definitely up there alongside Copenhagen in relation to pricing. Of course, the currency difference (1 Euro = 7.4 Croatian Kuna) alone makes everything seem dear but when we actually broke it down, it is definitely quite expensive in contrast to Ireland, especially eating out.
How We Got There
We flew from Dublin to Dubrovnik in mid July which is obviously peak and from what I can remember, the flights worked out around €120 each one way (as we then flew from Dubrovnik onto Rome instead of Dublin). My top tip regarding booking flights (to anywhere, not just Dubrovnik) is to check Skyscanner regularly as fares change daily. You can also refine your search to the cheapest month to travel and choose your dates from there. We chose the early morning flight as it was cheapest and it was just over 3.5 hrs in duration so we arrived in Dubrovnik Airport just after midday. The accommodation we chose was in the Old Town so we took the airport shuttle as far as Pile Gate, the main entrance to the Old Town. I booked the airport shuttle online a few days in advance though Atlas and got us return tickets for €8.90 each, which was great! The bus journey took about 30 minutes and on arrival at Pile Gate, we had a quick 5 minute walk to our apartment. Because the Old Town is a UNESCO protected heritage site, there are no cars, buses or taxis allowed within the walls but because the Old Town is so small, it really doesn’t pose an issue.
Where We Stayed
The accommodation we chose for our 4 night stay was called Apartment Amorozo, a 1 bedroom apartment located right in the heart of the Old Town. It was so easy to find and Alex, the agent, was there to greet us and gave us loads of information to help us during our visit. The apartment consisted of a bedroom, bathroom and a little kitchenette with fridge, cooker and eating area. The cost of the apartment worked out at €130/night for the two of us, which in comparison to the hotels, was reasonable. I’d highly recommend this particular apartment for stay duration similar to ours as it was ideally situated, very clean and had powerful AC which was vital given the average daily temperature during our stay was 32C! We booked through Booking.com and didn’t need to pay anything until we arrived. Alex was also kind enough to store our luggage on the last day as we weren’t flying to Rome until later that evening.
Where We Ate
Before we even arrived in Dubrovnik, we had a fair idea that it’s not exactly known for its cuisine and we were right. Finding somewhere gorgeous to eat is difficult if you’re on a budget, for the most part anyway. Food is definitely over-priced so if you’re someone who places a big emphasis on dining while travelling, be prepared to spend some €€€! On the first night, we visited an Italian restaurant called Segreto that was tasty but ‘meh’ in comparison to my beloved Scoozi (Cork followers, you know!) but set us back over €80 for a shared antipasti, x2 main dishes and x2 small beers – not worth it. The most you’ll find in any cafe by means of a breakfast is a croissant or toast and jam, which will set you back about a fiver (that’s without coffee..). On our third night we found a burger restaurant called Burger Tiger that did a burger of your choice, chips and a beer for approximately €12 which was great but seating was limited and you were pressured to eat your food quickly because of this. One eatery I advise you to stay well clear of is Arka, which was a waste of money, in my opinion. Just very basic, bland food and an eating area with a fly problem. We ended up leaving hungry and dinner 2.0 consisted of a pizza slice from a kiosk near our apartment. On the other hand, one place to eat you should definitely try while in Dubrovnik is Barba, a quirky, casual little seafood restaurant located down one of the side streets. It has amazing reviews on TripAdvisor so we both got a tuna burger and it was honestly one of the nicest things I’ve tasted in years, as well as being really affordable. All in all, the food in Dubrovnik was a let down for me and it’s safe to say I was drooling for carbs by the time we set down in Rome!
What We Did
As were arrived in the PM on our first day, we took our time exploring the Old Town, began planning the next few days and got an early night (I must be getting old..). The following morning, we headed to the local supermarket, bought some beer, crusty bread and crisps and got the public bus from the Old Town to Lapad, where we were advised you should get off if you want to visit the best beaches. We spent about 6 hours between Copacabana beach and a number of other smaller ones and it was a gorgeous day! Even though the majority of beaches here are totally rocky, the views more than made up for the lack of sand. The photo above was taken at a tiny little beach we found and had all to ourselves, bar the company of a single baby seagull. The following day, we headed off on a boat trip to Lokrum Island, located 15 mins off the coast from Dubrovnik Port. The boat trip cost us the equivalent equivalent of €20 return each, which we felt was worth it as we could spend the day out there. We arrived on the island around 11am and spent a good few hours exploring the nature reserve and the ruins, with peacocks and rabbits being the main inhabitants. There’s an area of the island called the Dead Sea where you can dive off the rocks and long by the water which was amazing. We also managed to climb out onto some rocks right by the sea and just take in the incredible views (the photo below was taken here). On our third day, there was heavy rain and some thunder/lightening which prevented us from going on the cable car which many of you had recommended. Because of the weather, we pretty much just spent the day relaxing before heading for food and drinks later on in the evening. On our last day, we had a few hours to kill before catching the shuttle bus back to the airport for our flight to Rome so we wandered around the Walls and the Port one last time and grabbed lunch.
The Dubrovnik leg of our holiday was definitely one of the most relaxed trips I’ve went on and it was really nice to just take it all in. The city is simply stunning – the ruins are like nothing I’ve ever seen before and the landscape is breathtaking. As a whole, and despite my feelings towards the food, I really enjoyed visiting Dubrovnik and would recommend it to you guys. If I was to change anything or return there, I’d make sure I had more money to freely spend as it is difficult to totally enjoy somewhere like Dubrovnik on a budget, but by no means is it impossible! Just do your research before you go, decide which sights/activities are most important to you and create a budget around these – just take the time to absorb the history and beauty of the place, it really is something else! If there’s anything else you’d like to know that I haven’t mentioned in this post, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram and I’ll be happy to answer it.
Thanks for reading,