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Dubrovnik Budget Tips: Hotel reservations, ferries, and neighborhoods

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The port of Dubrovnik. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.
The port of Dubrovnik. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.

Ask any beach-savvy European and they’ll wax on about Croatia being the new, and more affordable, Mediterranean paradise. Dubrovnik especially emits a feeling of romance as its Old Town walls pair with the Adriatic like some majestic dream.

But like every beach diamond vacation, Dubrovnik is beginning to saturate itself with tourist traps and overpriced snags. To stay within the local cost range, here are some helpful tips:

1. Book (or don’t book) your hotel accordingly

Like many Mediterranean destinations, there are three ways to book accommodation: online, at the tourist offices, or from the hotel owners who linger at airports and bus stations. Heading to the tourist office is the least favorable, as it’s a hassle to locate and rates are rarely appealing. While booking online guarantees a reservation and a variety of room rates, it also lacks the real deals that owners are willing to offer upon your arrival.

That’s why the third option is your best bet for a great deal, if your stomach can stand arriving in town sans reservation. Most hotel owners are like a gentle, friendly mob waiting to greet the tourists. Take time to observe the brochures being displayed, especially as names might match up with ones in online guides and travel books.

Get a few quotes on prices before making a final choice; ask around to find a hotel that offers airport drop-offs, internet, breakfast, a good location, etc. The whole experience might seem a bit unusual and disorganized, but this advertising method is much more effective for mom-and-pop pensions.

2. Ferry and bus transport prices vary

Day trips out of Dubrovnik to nearby islands and small towns vary in price depending on time, day, and company. Simply expecting a list of options to be given at the ticket counter isn’t going to happen, so be prepared to ask. Workers generally speak enough English to answer inquiries about timetables and prices, so quiz the ferry port and bus station ticket desks with a paper and pen in hand.

Get a few quotes on midweek and weekend prices, as well as morning, midday, and evening departures. Another important thing to note is the return time. Off-season transport runs on a more sporadic schedule than the popular summertime, so get the round trip info figured out before setting sail.

3. Buy out of Dubrovnik’s “Old Town”

This advice may seem obvious, but it’s surprisingly intimidating to venture out of the picture-perfect walled city. For the best deals, however, strap on your adventure boots and get out of the tourist area for the real local gifts and wallet-friendly prices.

The district of Lapad is a beautiful neighborhood outside the Old City to stroll around. Shops and restaurants around the beach area streets of Šetaliste Kralja Zvonimira and Šetaliste Nika i Meda Pucica will carry a higher price tag than ones off the beaten path, but Lapad’s greenery and admirable architecture will make exploration a pleasantly satisfying one. Rentals for beach fun like snorkels and fishing are at a lower price than Old Town, so planning a day in the sand along Lapad is also worthwhile.

Just like any knowledgeable traveler will know, doing a little research before arrival will really help you out. However, having the confidence to interact with locals and venture away from the masses can be just as helpful and cost-effective, especially in budding tourist towns.

About the author

About the author: Audrey Sykes hopped across the pond from the US eight years ago for a Masters degree in global journalism. Since then, she’s lived all over Europe, reporting and editing for music sites, snowboard mags, and travel media. She’s also the Amsterdam author for Party Earth, a guide to nightlife across Europe.

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