Croatia was country #6 on our digital nomad journey living in Europe. The first time we visited Croatia was back in 2017, but we missed Dubrovnik then, so we decided to spend a few days in the city that gets so much tourism hype. Though beautiful, I have to be honest that we were quite put off by Dubrovnik, a city that has become one of (if not the most) over-priced cities in Europe. Even though we visited during off season in mid-September, there were still plenty of tourists because of the weird year Croatia has had with tourism this year.
Prior to Croatia, we had just come from 9 days in Montenegro (we drove across the border), so we were especially shocked by the prices, as Montenegro is relatively inexpensive. (For more on Montenegro, read my Top 12 Highlights in Montenegro.)
Our overall experience in Dubrovnik was both salty and sweet. Sweet because we had plenty of wonderful experiences with friendly servers and nice dining; we even took a walking tour to learn about the convoluted history with many rulers over the years. And salty because the entire city is grossly over-priced because of extremely high demand in tourism. Because of the influx of tourism during peak season, the city gets trampled. And because Croatia is a seasonal tourist destination, they rely on the summer months (May – September) to make all their money. By September, they are exhausted, and because of this, some locals tend to have a negative and unwelcoming attitude towards tourists. I have to say, I don’t blame them. We saw the same thing in Venice; a city that has been completely taken over by tourists, forcing locals who once lived there peacefully, out of their own city. I come from Hawaii, where I worked in the tourism industry in downtown Waikiki for over 10 years, so I totally understand the frustration of over-tourism. What really turned us off, however, were the prices.
We have spent a cumulative total of 5 weeks in the beautiful country of Croatia, and after visiting Dubrovnik, my recommendation is to either skip it entirely and head out to the other parts of Croatia North of Dubrovnik, or if you’re dying to see Dubrovnik, spend only one day passing through.
IS DUBROVNIK EXPENSIVE?
“Expensive” is a subjective word, but we came from Montenegro prior to Croatia, and prior to that, we spent nearly one month in Istanbul, Turkey – the cheapest European city we’ve ever visited. I should also preface this with the fact that I grew up in Hawaii and we live half the year in Seattle – two of the most expensive cities in the United States, and we found Dubrovnik to be exorbitant. So much so, that every time we paid for something, we felt like we were being robbed. Our wallets felt threatened. Was it worth it? Well, that depends; if you’ve never been to a Balkan country or walked around a walled city, it’s going to be pretty darn cool. But if you’ve spent 5 months living in Europe and just came from Kotor Bay in Montenegro with their own incredible walled city, where the prices are half of what Dubrovnik charges, then no, it’s not worth it. For us, Dubrovnik was a one-and-done visit.
To give you an idea of what prices are like here, I’ll list out some of our expenses (I’ve converted Croatian Kuna to USD):
- Cable car to Srd: $25 per person
- Rector’s Palace: $20 per person
- Five-minute taxi ride to the old town: $14 (to compare this with Split, just North of Croatia, a five-minute taxi ride in Split was $4 USD)
- Walk the walls: $33 per person
If you do choose to visit Croatia, so long as you go in with the right set of expectations, I’m sure you will have a lovely visit. If you only spend one day, you can fit all of the following activities into your visit:
- Walk the walls (keep your ticket, as it also gets you into the fortress)
- Take a cable car to Srd for sunset
- Visit Rector’s Palace
Be sure to stick around the walled city in the evening, as that’s when it comes to life!
I recommend taking the cable car to the top of Srd Mountain for sunset. It was pretty epic on the night we went!
NOTABLE RESTAURANTS IN DUBROVNIK
Forty Four – delicious fresh seafood with attention to detail, located inside the walled city
Gianni – artisan ice cream and coffee inside the walled city
Cogito – for specialty coffee
Taj Mahal – Serbian food (strange name for Serbian food, but it’s outstanding!) They have two locations; one inside the walled city, and one just outside the walled city
Though Dubrovnik may not be for everybody, there’s no denying that it’s a stunningly beautiful place to visit. If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, just remember that there are many other equally as beautiful, cultural and historically rich and interesting cities to visit, that shouldn’t be overlooked.
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