There’s no getting around it, Dubrovnik is hands-down the most expensive of Croatia’s seaside resorts. Over the peak season, costs soar with the incoming stream of tourists. That said, Dubrovnik has enough reasonably priced attractions to ensure a budget experience here is fulfilling. There are a number of low-cost hostels and Airbnb-style private lettings to offer a decent counter-balance to the expensive holiday resorts. So, rest assured, there are ways to visit this iconic city on the cheap. Here’s how to do it.
The best things in life are free, right? Well, most of the time. Dubrovnik’s city beach Banje charges premium prices for deck chair rentals and trips to the toilet. So instead, explore the swathes of craggy coastline just outside the city. Sveti Jakov, for instance, is just a twenty-minute walk away along a pretty pine-studded boulevard, and attracts a less mainstream crowd. There are plenty more rocky bays and tiny shingle beaches along the Lapad peninsula, which is the stretch between Hotel Splendid and Hotel Kompas.
As you’d expect, Dubrovnik teems with tourist-facing restaurants which charge a pretty penny for fairly basic cuisine. Save your cash for a couple of great splash-out meals, and instead make a morning pilgrimage to Gundulićeva Poljana, the morning market bang in the centre of the Old Town. Here you’ll find seasonal fruit and veg, nuts, olive oil and homemade preserves. Better still, take a trip to Gruz market. A short journey out of town, this is where the locals go, and the prices are significantly cheaper. There’s a cornucopia of startlingly fresh produce hailing from Herzegovina and the Elafiti islands, including fresh fish and some vegetables you may not even recognise. Self-caterers should stock up here.
Dubrovnik offers a plethora of great attractions and antiquities, many of which are free. The City Walls are a must-see, and every visitor should fork out the price of admittance. In the Old Town, The Franciscan Monastery and Pharmacy is well worth the modest entrance fee. Decorated with beautiful cloisters, the monastery houses one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, a museum with pharmacy artefacts and an excellent collection of medieval artworks. Also in town, the Dubrovnik Natural History Museum is free, as are Dubrovnik’s smattering of fabulous Medieval churches. Mount Srd is one of Dubrovnik’s prettiest promontories to take your Instagrammable shot of the city and its iconic fortresses. Instead of splurging your cash on the expensive cable-car ride, set aside an hour or so to climb the tiny mountain instead. Avid budgeters should steer clear of Restaurant Panorama at its peak, and bring a picnic or refreshments instead.