Given its recent rise in popularity (and prices), most travelers assume that it's impossible to visit Dubrovnik on a budget. But while there's no shortage of opportunities for luxury travelers, cruise ship passengers, and Game of Thrones superfans to spend their life savings here, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy this picturesque city without going broke.
From the indescribable beauty of its idyllic coastline to the charming old-world feel inside its towering fortress walls, here are the best ways to enjoy Dubrovnik on a budget.
Dubrovnik on a budget: Know before you go
The best time to visit Dubrovnik
The best time to visit Dubrovnik is from September to mid-October when many of the cruise ships and summer crowds have left but the water is still warm enough to swim. The weather is best during the summer high season, but that's also the time when tourists and cruise ships flood the city, causing extremely crowded attractions and massively inflated prices.
It's one of the most expensive cities in the Balkans
Though Croatia is a cheaper destination than Western Europe hotspots like London or Paris, it’s still a bit more expensive than neighboring countries like Hungary or Serbia. Dubrovnik, in particular, is easily the most expensive of the major Croatian destinations. Be sure to adjust your travel budget accordingly before visiting.
Bring your passport if you're driving
Dubrovnik and the southern tip of Croatia are separated from the rest of the country by a 3-mile stretch of coastline belonging to Bosnia & Herzegovina. If you plan on driving from cities like Split or Zadar, be sure to pack your passport and rental car papers for the brief border crossings.
Consider cooking your own meals
While you can find fast food joints serving affordable burgers or ćevapi, food and drink prices are high in Dubrovnik. If you’re traveling on an extreme budget, save money by choosing accommodation that has a kitchen and cooking your own meals.
Free and cheap things to do in Dubrovnik
Stroll down Stradun and get lost in the Old Town
Stradun is the main street of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Starting at the base of Pile gate at one end, Stradun is lined with shops, bakeries, and picturesque cafes with outdoor seating that’s just begging you to sit down for an afternoon espresso. It's also home to many of Dubrovnik's most famous churches and religious sites, including the Franciscan Monastery, Rector's Palace, Dubrovnik Cathedral, and Dubrovnik Synagogue.
If it’s not the right time for coffee, grab some ice cream at one of the Old Town's countless shops (our personal favorite is Peppino’s) and let yourself get lost among the narrow alleys, hidden churches, and seemingly endless flights of stairs.
Take a self-guided Game of Thrones tour
While Dubrovnik has long been a regionally famous destination, it’s probably fair to give Game of Thrones some credit for making the city so popular with Americans. The city and surrounding areas were a shooting location for some of the show’s most famous scenes and you can go check them out for free.
Organized Game of Thrones themed tours start at around $30 per person. If you want to save a few bucks, try taking a self-guided Game of Thrones tour like this one from Croatia Traveller.
Hit the beach and soak up the sun
With all the incredible history and architecture, it’s easy to forget that Dubrovnik is also a beach town. Which is great because once you see how clear the water is, you’ll be dying for the chance to get in.
Banje beach is a free public beach and probably the most popular beach among tourists because it’s close to the old town. But things like umbrella and chair rentals here can be pretty expensive.
If you want to do as the locals do, they typically prefer to head across to the small island of Lokrum or to the Lapad peninsula for their beach days.
Hike up Mount Srđ for the city’s best view
One of the city’s top attractions is the Dubrovnik Cable Car that takes you to the top of Mount Srđ. But if you’re feeling adventurous or just want to enjoy sweeping panoramic views without paying for a ticket, you can just hike up.
The trailhead is located just outside the Old Town near Pile gate. It takes about an hour and though it’s fairly easy, it is a bit rocky so be sure to wear proper footwear (no sandals). Try to leave in the morning to beat the heat, as most of the trail isn’t protected from the sun.
Walk the Walls of Dubrovnik
At a tough-to-swallow 200 Kuna (about $30), this is admittedly not a budget friendly activity but the views here are simply too spectacular and priceless to pass up. Dubrovnik's ancient city walls are arguably its most iconic and noteworthy feature and now that they're no longer used to protect against invaders, they've become a must-stop on any Dubrovnik itinerary. From atop these towering walls, reaching up to 82 feet at some points, you get stunning views across the sea and down at the Old Town below. You can even stop for a drink or snack at a small cafe about halfway around the walls.
Where to stay on a budget in Dubrovnik
Old Town Hostel
Conveniently located right off of Stradun (the main Old Town street) in a building from the 1500s, Old Town Hostel is as charming as the place it’s named after. Stone walls and ceilings painted with frescos constantly remind you that you’re in a place of rich history, while the modern amenities and incredibly welcoming staff ensure that your stay is as enjoyable as possible.
Old Town Hostel offers free breakfast. And if you’re trying to save money by cooking, they also have a shared kitchen with cooking equipment and spices.
Berkely Hotel & Spa
This small, family-run spot is for the traveler that wants a quieter location without sacrificing convenience. Because the Berkley Hotel & Spa overlooks the Gruž Harbor and the Adriatic Sea, guests can enjoy premium views from their private patio or balcony without the premium price tag. Plus, it’s convenient if you need to be near the port for an early morning ferry.
Though it’s a 30-minute walk into the Old Town from the hotel, the Berkeley is located just steps from the local bus stop that can take you there in about 10 minutes.
Hostel Villa Angelina Old Town
Hostel Villa Angelina Old Town is another charming hostel situated in a historic 400-year-old building. The rooms here may be casual and a bit plain, but the facilities are extremely clean and comfortable. As for the location, it simply doesn’t get any better. Hostel Villa Angelina is located just steps from some of the Old Town’s top bars, restaurants, and attractions.
The hostel has a fully equipped kitchen for travelers who prefer to make their own meals, as well as a terrace with a breathtaking view of the Old Town.
Cheap flights to Dubrovnik
Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Dubrovnik. On average, our members spent $515 on their tickets and saved over $300 per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
New York City (EWR) to Dubrovnik (DBV)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $490
Average Price: $930
Washington, D.C. (IAH) to Dubrovnik (DBV)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $505
Average Price: $1,250
Los Angeles (LAX) to Dubrovnik (DBV)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $519
Average Price: $950
Best cheap eats in Dubrovnik
Again, food and drinks in Dubrovnik are by far going to be your biggest expense. But for the times when you just want to enjoy a meal within the city walls or get some takeaway food for a make-shift picnic along the water, these spots will be a little bit easier on your wallet.
Mlinar Bakery – You'll find this chain all over Croatia and the Balkans.
Start planning your trip to Dubrovnik
One reason that Dubrovnik remains an immensely popular destination is that it truly has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture nerd, Game of Thrones superfan, or total beach bum, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy Dubrovnik – even on a budget.
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.