Croatia has been one of our favorite countries. It holds so many memories and is usually a country we find ourselves looking to go back and visit. We’ve vacationed like ballers there, and also like paupers. Both times we had a blast! Because both ends of the financial spectrum there were so great, we decided to go through a baller’s guide to Dubrovnik, and a budget guide to Dubrovnik. We are covering where to stay in Dubrovnik, where to eat in Dubrovnik, and what to do in Dubrovnik. You get the benefit of checking out what poor people do there, as well as rich people. Pick and choose your itinerary to get the best of both worlds!
Dubrovnik, Croatia Background
Before we dive into the guide of Dubrovnik, we wanted to give you a little background information. First of all, Dubrovnik is a fascinating city. It is full of history, but with a mix of modern and contemporary architecture. There is a walled part of the city known as Old Town, which is where we spend most of our time. With so many streets & alleys full of restaurants, shops, apartments, and other hidden treasures it’s the best place in town. Just a few miles up the road from Old Town, a new marina was built. This is to accommodate more yachts and cruise liners. Old Town has been the perfect place for filming blockbusters like Star Wars and Game of Thrones. This is leading to an increase in tourists over the past few years.
The fact that Dubrovnik had a walled city where no cars were allowed was one of the allures for us when we initially picked our honeymoon destination. Renting a car in a foreign city on our honeymoon sounded like more of a chore that we didn’t care to participate in on our relaxing stay. Hell, even on vacation, I would rather just walk or use public transportation to get around town.
Baller’s Guide To Dubrovnik
Hotel Excelsior is hands down the best hotel to stay in during a trip to Dubrovnik. We felt like royalty when we stayed here. The location, amenities, and views drew us to Hotel Excelsior for our stay in Dubrovnik. Needless to say, our stay at Hotel Excelsior is one I will always remember.
The hotel’s location and walkability to Old Town and restaurants are alluring to many guests, including ourselves. Hotel Excelsior is just outside of Old Town, right on the water. Because of its location, you get incredible views of the sunset behind the Old Town. The hotel also has great views of the island of Lokrum right in the bay.
While we booked a Classic Double Room, we did receive a complimentary upgrade to an Executive Suite with a Balcony and Sea View (Thanks Hotel Excelsior!) We arrived at the suite with a bottle of champagne on ice and views that left us breathless. The room itself was immaculate with windows everywhere to capture all the views of the gorgeous settings all around.
The hotel offers several top-notch amenities like an indoor and outdoor pool, gym, sauna and spa, and laundering services. While we were visiting we wanted to keep up our daily exercise routine. We would exercise in the hotel gym overlooking the elaborate indoor pool, and then enjoy the wide array of foods that were offered at breakfast. The balcony view at breakfast in Hotel Excelsior of the Old Town does not disappoint. The ‘beach’ in front of the hotel is concrete, and you can dive right into the Adriatic. Swimming with an incredible view of Old Town and Lokrum Island. That is why this 5-star hotel makes it to the top of our list for a stay you’ll never forget, especially if high-quality accommodations are high on your priority list.
Guide to Dubrovnik Restaurants
Dubrovnik has so many great options for food. Especially fancy, make reservations and don’t look at the price, type restaurants. Admittedly, we have spent an absurd amount of money on restaurants in Dubrovnik. However, this gives us an intimate knowledge of what to include in our guide to Dubrovnik.
Restaurant 360 is located on top of the city walls. Yes, you read that right. They converted a section of the wall that overlooks the old marina into a fine dining restaurant. There you’ll find everything from squid ink risotto, to tender octopus, and perfectly paired wine, courtesy of the well-versed Sommelier. You’ll want to call or email the restaurant ahead of time to make reservations because it’s a popular restaurant. Try to schedule a dinner there just before sunset, I promise the views are 10x better at sunset. Don’t forget to dress nicely. Also, don’t order the carrot prepared 5 different ways as an appetizer because you’ll be sorely disappointed. Otherwise, the atmosphere, the food, and the wine are great.
One of the many traditions in Croatian cooking is cooking ‘under the bell’. This restaurant tucked away up on the hill specializes in this kind of cooking. They serve wonderful meat with potatoes, homemade bread, and house wine. If you have a long afternoon, you can go to this restaurant early and watch your food being prepared. If you have a tight schedule and want to keep exploring, call and place your order ahead of time, at least 4 hours in advance, so it can be ready when you arrive. Great authentic cuisine in an authentic Croatian setting.
Located at the top of the mountain overlooking Dubrovnik, this is a ‘can’t miss’ view. You can pay to ride up to the top of the mountain, and restaurant in a cable car. Or you can make this more of a budget-friendly meal by saving the money you’d spend on the cable car and working up an appetite by hiking up the hill. This is another restaurant where you want to make reservations, so you can get a table with the best views. Although, we’ve had good luck walking in at lunch and requesting a good spot. Don’t forget to bring along a sweater! Since this restaurant is located on the mountain, the wind can get quite cold. The restaurant does offer blankets in case you forget to bring something a little warmer.
Exploring Guide in Dubrovnik
No guide to Dubrovnik can be complete without some exploration and excursions. The sea kayaking tour with snorkeling is highly recommended. Although, on a baller’s budget, you’ll probably pay for a private boat ride instead of self-propelling your way around the bay and island. For us, being active is more important, so if it was the same price, we’d still choose the kayaking tour. The Old Town walking tour that is available to buy as a package with the sea kayaking tour is also very entertaining and informative.
If Game of Thrones is your thing, then you’ll want to get a guided tour of all the filming locations in Dubrovnik. It’s great walking through Old Town and seeing the Sept of Baelor, the locations of Cersei’s Walk of Shame, where Myrcella gets shipped off to Dorne, and much more! Also, don’t miss an opportunity to go to Lokrum, where the Iron Throne is located. This is also where they filmed Daenerys in the city of Quarth. If you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan, the island houses the botanical garden and a monastery, so it’s not just for book and tv show nerds.
Budget Guide To Dubrovnik
Airbnb is a great way to get to see a city and area while also cutting costs on the accommodations. Our criteria for Airbnb’s were: in Old Town, budget-friendly, and a rooftop terrace. The apartment we booked was located up a few blocks from the main strip in Old Town, making it a perfect central location. With two rooms, a decent kitchen, and a large (for Dubrovnik) roof-top terrace with amazing views, it was all we needed for a great stay. It was situated beside a music school, and at the perfect times, the students would practice their music, serenading us on the terrace. Great location, great views, great hosts, all for a great value. Here’s a link to the apartment we booked, and if you haven’t used Airbnb yet, be sure to use this Link to get $40 off your first stay!
Dubrovnik Food Guide
Farmer’s Markets & Bakeries
Our guide to Dubrovnik includes a mixture of spending money at restaurants but also finding opportunities to save money, like eating breakfast in our Airbnb or skipping it altogether. We stumbled upon a bakery on our first day in Dubrovnik and bought a large loaf of bread. We also found that every morning, the square in Old Town held a farmer’s market with fresh fruit and vegetables, pastries, and goodies like dried fruit and Croatian sweets. A few days while we were there, we picked out some of our favorite fruits. These fruits paired with the bread from the bakery made for a perfect breakfast on the terrace. Beautiful views, light tasty food, strong coffee, and music from the school next door. It was a hell of a way to start the day.
Taj Mahal Bosnian
Bosnian food reminds me of Greek food. From the meat and similar cheeses to the bread. Because of this, we enjoyed this Bosnian restaurant. We went there the first time because we wanted to try Cevape. However, they also have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Not the cheapest place to grab a bite in Old Town, but the amount of food and quality is hard to beat at this price. You can sit outside in a streetside booth and enjoy your meal with a mix of history and people watching.
Dubravka 1836 is located right outside the city walls. It’s the right mix of fancy and cheap eats. Since it’s located right outside the walls, it has a perfect view of the walls, sea and historic fortress. This place is great because it not only has cheap wine and pizza, but they have other signature dishes for those wanting to splurge. Once again, this is one of those places where you need to have an early dinner or make reservations for a seat with a view close to the edge.
Exploring Dubrovnik Guide
Walking the city walls is a must on our guide to Dubrovnik. You get views that are out of this world, and you get to soak up so much while walking along walls. I would suggest walking along the walls pretty early in the morning because it can get really crowded and really hot during the day. The walkways aren’t that wide, so it can frustrating when there is a lot of people milling around. During the middle of the day and at sunset, there are ridiculous bottle-necks on the path due to the selfie-taking. Do yourself a favor and avoid that. Don’t forget to make note of the Game of Thrones filming locations before you go so you can visit those and take pictures! Also, don’t forget to bring water and snacks! There are little kiosks along the wall, but they’re overpriced and have limited stock.
Pro tip: Hang onto your ticket for added fun later!
This is the fortress you can see from the city walls and Dubravka 1836. It’s a cool fortress because there’s not only a lot of history, but it’s where Cersei’s bedchambers and a couple of tournaments were on Game of Thrones. It’s a bit of a climb up some stairs to the fortress so be sure to wear good shoes. There’s lots of history along with beautiful views of Old Town, the bay below, and the ocean.
Pro tip: Remember the ticket from the city walls? Use that ticket on the same day for free entrance into the fortress.
How adventurous and borderline rebellious are you? Well, if you identify with both of those adjectives, I have the ultimate suggestion for you! Hotel Belvedere was a luxurious 5-star hotel that was the nicest in Dubrovnik. Sadly, it was abandoned and partially destroyed as a result of the Homeland War in 1991. Now, it’s a shell of what it was once was. It’s been neglected and abandoned, resulting in a perfect opportunity for you to visit. It feels very post-apocalyptic. It’s located about 2.3 km from Old Town, making it about a 30-minute walk. If you have an afternoon or several hours of free time, Hotel Belvedere should be added to your list of places to explore. It is private property, so you’d technically be trespassing if you’re worried about that sort of thing.
Dubrovnik, Croatia is a must-visit city. A trip to Dubrovnik can either be incredibly expensive, moderately priced, or fairly cheap. You can jump around from meals at fancy restaurants to food from a farmer’s market and still get a taste of the city. We suggest going to this city during the shoulder season. We have gone in May and September, and while it wasn’t full-blown tourist season, it was still pretty crowded.
Just like any other trip to a different city though, it will take research and planning to find what best suits your budget and needs. Hopefully, this article will give you a little insight into what to expect, what places to explore and what restaurants to try. Each experience will be different, depending on the time of year, who you go with, and what you do. I genuinely hope that if you ever visit this city, you will love it as much as we do. Read how we survive for two weeks abroad with only carry-on’s.