Ahh Dubrovnik. Home to King’s Landing, the Lannister’s and the many epic scenes we’ve enjoyed on Game of Thrones.
This beautifully modern city sends you back in time; filled with marble floors and impressive architecture, surrounded by inhabitable islands and home to the best seafood I’ve ever tasted (dear God the fish!). It was worth the visit but not worth an extended stay.
While we loved visiting Dubrovnik, unless you are willing to spend top dollar and appreciate the sounds and sights of thousands of tourists on an hourly basis, you can see and do all you need within 3-4 days. Then get the hell out of there before another cruise ship arrives. Now, bear in mind we did travel to Croatia during peak tourist season (August) so you could find it even cheaper (and quieter) when researching this must-see city.
Trust us when we say that Dubrovnik needs your attention. Stick it on the list as it’s somewhere you need to visit, you have to see and you will enjoy. Here are a few tips to help you plan a fun few days on a budget.
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Disclaimer: Prices vary depending on seasons. We visited the first week of August, the busiest, highest, most peak season imaginable (of course!)
Fly Dublin to Dubrovnik:
My favourite site to shop for flights is JetCost.ie. It searches for the likes of eDreams, Sky Scanner, and international and regional airlines; guaranteeing low-cost flights and lots of options. While you can bag yourself a cheap direct flight, it also gives you the option of catching connecting flights and although it may take you an extra hour or so to get there, you’ll get there for a third of the price.
We planned to travel the Dalmatian Coast but had not decided on a route, so we had the freedom to fly into any Croatian airport and Croatia has a lot of airports! At just €222 (€111 each) for one-way flights from Dublin; Dubrovnik was the cheapest option.
To book your transport online, check out Bookaway.com
Accommodation in Dubrovnik:
We had hoped to stay in the city and after many searches on Airbnb and other booking sites, the high prices told us otherwise. So, we opted for a beautiful hostel about 2 km outside the city and yes, it was the best choice we made.
- We stayed at Pupo Rooms (cue immature laughter), a beautiful, simple, private room with a large balcony, in the area of Gruž. First of all, there is a direct shuttle bus from Dubrovnik airport to Gruz port which was ideal and the hostel was less than a 2-minute walk from the port/bus stop.
- It is a 10-minute bus journey into the old town Dubrovnik or a 20-minute walk (a beautiful scenic walk) yet half the price as other accommodation options. For three nights we spent €112 and the hostel was perfect; once you oversaw the 200+ steps and the line of cats up to it. Welcome to Dubrovnik a.k.a step city! The balcony views were worth it and man, did our bums look great!
- Our hostel was located across from Gruz port which is a main bus terminal meaning regular buses into the old town, and bus routes to the whole of Croatia on your doorstep. We were surrounded by family-run restaurants which were half the price compared to the old town and a large supermarket Konzum, which saved us so much on lunches and daily snacks/water. The area itself had a very relaxed and “local” *atmosphere.
*The only warning we have to mention is the music heard from all the cruise ships docked at Gruz port, but we embraced having a soundtrack to our evenings. However, this might not be ideal if you have young children.
Local Bus in Dubrovnik:
One thing to remember about Dubrovnik or Croatia in general is that buses are now your best friend. Say goodbye to subways, undergrounds, the DART, and any fast mode of transport you can think of. We stuck to public transport, which provided a lot of fun and the chance to ‘fit in’ with the locals. We were also highly entertained by the many tourists. From Americans, Australians and Asians to the Irish, we had a lot of fun and had memorable stories from a simple, daily 10-minute bus journey.
- From Gruz, there are around 4-5 buses that bring you directly into the old town, so you won’t find yourself waiting longer than 5 minutes on a bus. If you are Irish, this is such a turn-on; since our buses don’t seem to stick to their timetable. You can purchase different price tickets to suit your needs, from either the ticket booth or the driver himself, we discovered that buying at the ticket booth is cheaper.
- A one-way ticket is 12 Kuna (€1.60) and valid for 60 minutes, should you only want to pop up to Dubrovnik for a half hour or so.
- Thankfully, we discovered a daily travel ticket for 30 Kuna (€4.00) which suited us as we would usually travel into the city up to four times a day. Meaning we saved up to €3 a day.
- You can also buy a Dubrovnik Card which gives you discounted access to tourist attractions including the Dubrovnik City Walls and it includes a bus card. You can purchase a one-day Dubrovnik Card for €20 (24-hour use of buses), a weekly for €46 (10 bus rides in total) or our favourite the 3-day Dubrovnik Card for €33 (6 bus journeys in total).
Things To Do in Dubrovnik:
Dubrovnik has plenty to offer in terms of tours, attractions and daily activities. You certainly won’t find yourself bored! But with almost too many options you could find the wallet high and dry and begging you to do nothing but walk around the Old Town for the day. This is when the Dubrovnik Card becomes your best friend. Since Dubrovnik was our first stop on our Croatians & Dalmatians tour, we kept it low-key but would highly recommend the following:
Game of Thrones Walking Tour:
For avid fans, like us, we wanted to see the city from behind the scenes. With a little help from Tripadvisor we found the Game of Thrones Dubrovnik Tour, and booked it in advance of arriving in Dubrovnik.
At €54pp, you could say it was a splurge and I am almost certain there are cheaper options out there. In fact, as you walk into the Pile Gate of Old Town, you will see nothing but sellers dressed to the nines and offering low deals on walking tours.
When we met our hilariously charming and informative guide, Robert, realised the tour was no more than a party of four, and headed away from the hustle and bustle of Old Town, to climb a mountain of stairs to what was the Red Keep, We had comfort in knowing that €54 was going to be worth it. And that it was.
It was a great way to see the city as we had access to areas that were not open to the public. Robert was a fantastic guide; answering all of our questions whether related to the HBO series or not. Overall, it was a well-spent three hours, topped off when I was handed Arya Starks’ sword Needle and enjoyed a duel before Luke teasingly chanted “SHAME” while I recreated Cersei Lannister’s walk of atonement (clothes remained on, by order of Robert).
You can find all the info you need about the tour details HERE
The most picturesque group of islands surrounds Dubrovnik, and yes all are just a hop skip and a boat away. Our favourite is Lokrum Island. Go. Trust us; just go spend the day here.
It takes about 15 minutes on a water taxi from the Old Town port for €6 return. We bought and brought a lot of food, departed before midday and returned around 8 p.m. There is a shop and a restaurant there but we would highly recommend picnicking, especially since you will eat a few times while there.
Take a walk around the island (yes, you can walk the entire island!), visit the Game of Thrones production room (yes the Game of Thrones Iron Throne is there!), take a swim in the Dead Sea (a beautiful closed-off salt lake) or follow the hundreds of rabbits and peacocks on an adventure and find old monasteries or botanical gardens. Better yet tick another one off ‘The Bucket List’ and visit the FKK nudist beach. Is it weird we loved this part? It’s a costless, fun day out and a break from the overcrowded Old Town. You can thank us later.
The Dubrovnik City Walls:
Again, hello the Dubrovnik Card, or you will be faced with the €16 entrance fee. The walk takes a few hours, around three for us but we did stop to take some pictures, take in the sights, and catch our breath. Just remember before you tackle the heavy-bricked exercise, to swim in sunscreen and please for the love of all things, don’t walk it in the midday sun! Unless you want to leave on a trolley and in a helicopter, please hold off until closer to sundown.
We realised the family-run restaurants beside our hostel were far cheaper and more delicious, offering local and homemade dishes. It’s another reason why Gruz was a good choice. The meat and fish platters for two sent us into a satisfying food coma, and all for €20-€25 euro. This was ideal as the prices in the Old Town, for the same dish, were around €30-€70.
We kept it cheap by visiting reasonably priced supermarkets, snacking throughout the day and eating in Gruz at night.
Although, after savaging a meat platter, fit to feed four, you could say we “paid for it” every night. That is when we tackled the 200+ steps and the line of (judgemental) cats up to our hostel. But hey, our bums look great!
Whatever you decide to do while in Dubrovnik, enjoy it. Feel free to share your stories or thoughts with us.“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what’s on the other side?” – George R.R. Martin.