It’s easy to lose your head with all the things to do in Dubrovnik, the famous Croatian seaside town boasting a medieval walled-in ‘old city’. Busloads, or should I say cruise-loads, of tourists make a day-or-two stop here, causing it to be flooded with people for a big portion of the year. My girlfriend Claire and I visited Dubrovnik early June, and since we were (not surprisingly) on a budget we looked at what to do in Dubrovnik without spending a ton of money.
To give some perspective, all of the activities below can be done in a single day. I, therefore, wouldn’t recommend to stay in Dubrovnik for longer than a full day and to only spend a night there if your transport schedule doesn’t permit otherwise. Here are our recommendations on what to do in Dubrovnik:
What not to do in Dubrovnik: Don’t take the cable car to the top of the hill
Does 15 euro sound like a reasonable price to be stuffed in a tourist-filled air-bucket that takes you up a hill in a couple of minutes? Of course not. It’s so packed, you might not even be able to look out of the window! A better option is to walk up the hill. There is a beautiful and not too hard path leading all the way to the top, with spectacular views of the old city at every bend.
What to do in Dubrovnik: Do hike to the top of the hill on this not so well-known pathway
As this path is mostly not covered by trees, you might want to start early or late in the day. The pathway is well kept, and you’ll meet some friendly fellow hikers on the way. As a bonus, there are tablets of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion at every bend, telling the story from start to finish.
You can find the entry to the pathway here:
Since this is next to the main road with no pedestrian paths, it is best accessed via Pera Bakića road. Simply take the stairs going up from the point shown on the map below. It’s quite a couple of steps, but you will eventually reach the main road and the entrance of the path.
Don’t get lured into any romantic looking restaurants in the old town
If it’s on your bucket list, go for it. If you’re not on a budget and time it right, go for it. In any other case, it’s better to get your food outside the old town. Sure, a lot of the restaurants might look like the most romantic places you’re ever seen, but that quickly wears off after you’ve seen the menu prices and noticed the ignorance of your fellow diners.
Do stroll around in the old town at day or night time
I can honestly say that seeing Dubrovnik’s old town for the first time certainly wowed me. The vast and well-preserved structures have something truly magical to it. If it weren’t for the pesky tourists, of course. Strolling inside the old town is enjoyable, but make sure you don’t just follow the hordes. There are plenty of cute alleyways and cobbled streets where you’ll feel equally medieval, just with fewer people (or even none!) around you. Some of the restaurants mentioned in the previous paragraph have live music, which can be just as pleasantly enjoyed from a fountain or doorstep nearby, for free.
Don’t go on any expensive Game of Thrones tours (or buy any merchandise)
Nothing screams tourist more than going on a Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik. For those who have been living in a dark abyss for the past few years: Game of Thrones is an HBO series about tits, horses, and some other stuff in medieval times. One of its settings, King’s Landing, is largely filmed in Dubrovnik, making it a huge tourist attraction with souvenirs, living statues, and tours to visit the filming locations. Neat, but not for €25 (or even up to €100!). Especially when there is an easy way to do it yourself, thanks to the efforts of a fellow blogger.
Do hum the Game of Thrones theme tune when you walk through “King’s Landing”
“Nuuuhh nuuuuh nuh nuh nuuuuuh nuuuuuh nuh nuh nuh”. I think we all know the lyrics. One of the funniest things I encountered was when I peeked through the window of one of the houses in Dubrovnik’s old town, only to see that the person was watching Game of Thrones. Inception much?
Anyway, thanks to blogger Erik you can find a few of the most-known film sets used in the Game of Thrones episodes yourself and therefore create your own private tour.
With this, a dilemma arises: to climb the ancient city walls or not? It’s a pricy 100kn (14 euro) to get up there, and you can see most of the old town, and the scenery from the ground level or the pathway up the hill (see the earlier point about hiking up the hill). Since I decided not to climb the wall, I can’t say if it’s worth it. I would love to hear your opinion though!
Don’t book an expensive hostel or hotel room
In a touristic place such as Dubrovnik, you can expect the worst when it comes to hotel prices. Supply and demand, and all that. Even hostels start at about €20 per person per night. A better option would be to try Couchsurfing or to find a place with Airbnb.
Do try Couchsurfing or Airbnb in Dubrovnik
Although you have to be very lucky to get accepted as a couchsurfer in Dubrovnik (locals will get over 30 requests per day), it’s worth a try. If you’re out of luck, go for the next best thing: Airbnb. I found a double room for 19 euro (total) which had an amazing view and was walking distance from the old town.