Backpacking Dubrovnik is every traveler’s dream. It’s hard to think of a better place to spend a summer in Europe. Dubrovnik is increasingly becoming more popular for European holidaymakers, and it’s easy to see why! It is a city with rich and interesting history, and there is so much to see and do here! Although Dubrovnik has a reputation as being the most expensive city in Croatia, I’m going to show you how you can visit on a budget and make the most of your trip here.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik for Backpackers
By far the best hostel in Dubrovnik is Angelina’s. It’s right in the old town and has a gorgeous terrace where you can sit out and relax, and it’s filled with other backpackers! The hostel is super social, and they have daily events where you can make friends and try new things. Dubrovnik is one of the more expensive places in Croatia, so be warned that this will be a bit pricier than other hostels in Croatia.
Things to do in Dubrovnik
Walk the City Walls
This is a must-do when visiting Dubrovnik. The city walls will give you a panoramic view of Dubrovnik and the Port and are an amazing way to spend a morning. The walk around the walls should take between 1.5 to 2 hours, and I’d recommend doing it in the morning when it’s not so crowded. I did warn you that Dubrovnik is expensive, and this will cost you over €35. If you have a student card, I highly recommend bringing it with you as the cost is reduced to only €9 for students! You can purchase tickets for the walls and other attractions here.
Included in your city walls ticket is the entrance fee to Lovrijenac. This is an old fortress on the west harbor of Dubrovnik. This is also a famous filming location for the series Game of Thrones. The only problem with the city walls is that you can’t see the walls from them! For this reason, I highly recommend taking a trip to Lovrijenac and getting a new perspective of the walls of Dubrovnik.
Just off Dubrovnik, you’ll find a small island called Lokrum. This island is like one big nature reserve, filled with plants, peacocks, and even a botanical garden. It’s a gorgeous place to relax for the day and explore. You’ll find a great viewpoint at Fort Royal, which is about a 20-minute walk uphill. There are also a lot of great places to go swimming on the island.
To get here, you’ll need to take a ferry from the East Pier in Dubrovnik Old Town. If you are a student, the boat costs €3. If you’re an adult, it costs around €20. Although this is a little more expensive, I think this is one of the most relaxing and peaceful places to be in Dubrovnik, and it’s definitely worth a trip!
Nestled away on the edge of the Old Town, Buza Bar is the perfect place to grab a beer and watch the sun go down. The bar faces onto the ocean, and you’ll find loads of people swimming and cliff jumping! This has become a bit of a hot spot and it has a famous reputation for being impossible to find, so keep your eyes peeled and head through the tiny hole in the wall!
At the top of Mount Srd you’ll get a beautiful view of Dubrovnik Town on one side, and the surrounding mountains on the other. At the top, you’ll find the panoramic restaurant. This would be the most romantic setting in Dubrovnik, where you can watch the sun go down while you enjoy a glass of wine. There are a few ways to reach this beautiful viewpoint, with something to suit every budget and timeframe. For those of you who are a bit more adventurous, you can also zip line down part of the mountain with a great view of Dubrovnik.
Option One – Take the Cable Car
The cable car was built back in 1969 and is a great way to get up Srd Mountain. The views along the way are breathtaking. If you take the cable car, you’ll also have access to a special viewing platform as well as a bar and restaurant at the top. The cable car costs 200kn (€26) for an adult round trip and 110kn (€14.50) one way. This is a little expensive, but if you have the budget I think it’s worth it! It’s ranked as the second most popular activity in Dubrovnik, just after the city walls. If you’re on a budget don’t worry, I have two other options for you. You can buy tickets at the Dubrovnik Cable Car station outside the Old Town.
Option Two – Uber
Our second option is to take an Uber to the top of Srd Mountain. This is a great budget-friendly option if you don’t have a lot of time! The Uber cost about €15 roundtrip, which you can of course split with other travellers. If you’re looking to save some money, you can also hike down which takes about 45 minutes.
Option Three – Hike
This is one of the best activities to get some exercise and enjoy the views over Dubrovnik. The hike to the top of Mount Srd is strenuous, but the view is incredibly rewarding. The hike starts here, about a 15-minute walk from the Old Town. It should take you between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many photos/water stops you take!
The trail starts in the forest which provides some great shade. Once the forest clears, you’ll have a great view of the Adriatic sea and the trail will switch from a dirt path to a gravel track. The hike isn’t too difficult, but you will have to be careful of the loose stones. You’ll now come across a series of 14 hairpin turns which are the stations of the cross. This path is also used for pilgrimages for religious celebrations to the white church at the top.
For this hike, you should bring good shoes, plenty of water, and some sun cream. The hike is easy to moderately difficult and gives some of the best views of Dubrovnik.
Walk Around the Old Town
With beautiful white limestone streets, incredible architecture, and narrow stairs on every corner, wandering around the Old Town is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Grab a coffee or a gelato and get lost in this historic center. Start your trip at the Pile Gate, the beautiful entrance to the old city which is lined with orange trees. You’ll then be facing the Onofrio Fountain, where you can grab some free drinking water. You now find yourself on Stradun, the main street in Dubrovnik. This is the best place to pick up some souvenirs or grab a coffee. There are also plenty of side streets off of Stradun which have amazing restaurants perched on the steps.
As you walk to the end of Stradun, you’ll find a square with some of the most important monuments in Dubrovnik. The most impressive and eye-catching of these is the City Cathedral. You’ll also find the Church of St. Ignatius, with its large staircase made famous by Game of Thrones.
Nearby the square there is a small market that has some more specialty items that can’t be found in the stores. When you’re content that you’ve soaked in enough of the amazing architecture, head up the steps behind the church to explore the area and finish off at Buza Bar.
Guided Tours of the Old Town
If you’re looking for more history and insight into the city, you can’t go wrong with a free walking tour. There are many to choose from, including the history of the town, game of thrones tours, and local insights. You can find a full list of the available tours here. Although these tours are “free”, you are expected to tip your guide somewhere between €10-€15. If you’re on a stricter budget you can do your own walking tour using the GPS My City app.
To get a completely unique view of Dubrovnik you should rent a kayak and explore the city from the water. There are a few different tours you can choose from, with the most expensive tours happening at sunset. Tours can cost anywhere between €35 and €60 euro. On the tour you’ll kayak around the old town, getting close to Lokrum Island and stopping off at a small cave nearby. This was really an incredible experience and one of the best things you can do here!
To save money, you can ask at the pier what the cost would be to rent a kayak for a few hours. This will of course be a lot cheaper than a guided tour and will allow you to explore at your own pace. We rented kayaks for two hours at the West Harbour to head out to see Lokrum Island, and it cost €25 per person.
The Hotel Belvedere, a 5-star hotel in Dubrovnik, was only six years old when it was destroyed by Serbian forces during the Croatian war for independence. The hotel is huge, with over 18 floors and 200 rooms, and there are several different sections to explore. Most of the rooms are filled with debris, but if you stand out on the balcony and soak in the sun you’ll get a feel for what this hotel once was. An eery place with a sad history, but definitely something different and interesting to do in Dubrovnik!
Take a day trip to Montenegro
Montenegro is a really accessible day tour from Dubrovnik, and it’s also pretty cheap! For only €55, you can do a full-day tour of Kotor. This town is nestled in Europe’s most southern Fjord and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Enjoy a guided tour to Kotor, visit the neighbouring towns of Budva and Perast, soak in the blue water of the Adriatic Sea, and take an optional boat tour across the bay. You can choose from a range of full-day and half-day tours, and if you have a lot of time in Dubrovnik this is a great day trip! I highly recommend booking a tour, you can find lots on Get Your Guide to suit different budgets and durations.
Relax at the Beach
Banje beach is one of the most popular beaches in Dubrovnik, made famous for its incredible views of the old town. This beach can get very crowded in the summer months, but it is very big and there is plenty of space for everyone! The beach is free, but you can also rent an umbrella and a sun lounger if you would like. You’ll also find some bars and restaurants nearby, so you can spend the whole day relaxing here.
Where to Eat in Dubrovnik
Croatia is one of the best countries in Europe for amazing food and wine. If you’re looking for a good meal with an amazing view, you can’t get better than the Panorama Restaurant at the top of Mount Srd. You can take the cable car or an uber to the top to enjoy a view of the Old City and the Adriatic Sea whilst you enjoy your dinner.
Moskar is one of the best places to eat in Dubrovnik. The food here is incredible, all local specialty dishes. Main dishes will cost you about €15, so this isn’t great for a budget meal but perfect for a treat. This restaurant serves some extremely fresh seafood, and they are famous for their grilled Octopus.
Azur serves a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. It’s one of the most popular places in town, and the food is delicious. If you’re not into seafood, you’ll find a lot more options here. The restaurant is often booked up, so you’ll need to make a reservation online before you go!
Nestled in the heart of the Old Town, Barba serves delicious fish burgers which are perfect for travellers on a budget. This is a no-fuss restaurant serving great food, and the fish comes straight from the boat to their restaurant. Great spot to grab a quick lunch in Dubrovnik.
What’s the best time to visit Dubrovnik?
Undoubtedly, the best month to visit is September. At this time, it won’t be as crowded but you will still have very pleasant weather and warm waters. Prices for accommodation are also a bit cheaper if you arrive in the shoulder season. The weather is the hottest from June to August, but this is also when you’ll find the most tourists.
Dubrovnik is one of my favourite cities in Europe, and one of the most beautiful places in Croatia. I really hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and that you have the best time exploring Dubrovnik! If you’re spending some time in Croatia, be sure to check out my Split and Istria guides too!