Why I was Wrong on Dubrovnik

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Before visiting, I was convinced I would dislike Dubrovnik (Croatia). Not that it wasn’t going to be spectacularly beautiful or impress me with its city walls or ancient architecture. In my mind, it was going to be a wretched combination of too many tourists and a city tailored to meet the needs of all these tourists. A city uncomfortably full of day-trippers from cruise ships. 

But I was wrong. And I’m glad I was.

Why I was Wrong on Dubrovnik
The Old City Walls of Dubrovnik are a great vantage point for looking out over the rooftops.

Even after the past decade’s heavy influx of tourism, Dubrovnik has managed to keep its integrity. Sure, a lot of apartments have been turned into “sobe” rooms for rent, but there are still a lot of locals that live in the old city. And I didn’t even see any hotels inside the city walls.

There are certainly loads of tourists, but if you go in the shoulder or off-season, you can experience Dubrovnik with fewer visitors (which still means a lot). But also understand this is a city at a crossroads and was historically busy with people coming and going. Additionally, you can try to time your visit when there are no cruise ships docked in the harbor. That eliminates a lot of foot traffic.

Why I was Wrong on Dubrovnik
The Stradun, a limestone-paved pedestrian street running some 300 meters through the Old Town, has been the city’s main thoroughfare since the 13th century.

What to do in Dubrovnik

Besides walking through the streets of the old city, trekking atop the city walls are the highlight of experiencing Dubrovnik. This gives you a spectacular vantage point above all the buildings and out to the sea. But this experience comes at a price. Its $30 USD price tag is expensive but in my opinion, still worth it. 

For a better value, buy a Dubrovnik card for about $7 USD more which gets you into a bunch of museums. The included grain storage building and the Franciscan monastery are worth checking out. And the St Lawrence Tower comes with admission to the city walls (keep your ticket). 

Overall, the narrow streets and main boulevard of Dubrovnik are nice to walk around and have some lovely cafes which allow you to sit out and enjoy the ambiance of this special city. Take in the atmosphere, knowing this is one of Europe’s architectural and historical treasures.

Even though I enjoyed my visit to Dubrovnik, I don’t think I feel the need to ever visit again. One trip to Dubrovnik was good enough for me. Although I would never criticize anyone for going back multiple times. It is certainly an intriguing place.

Why I was Wrong on Dubrovnik
Climbing up the St Lawrence Tower gives you views like this over the Old City.

I had visited Zagreb, Croatia as well as Ljubljana, Slovenia on this and previous trips but this was my first time to Dubrovnik.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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