Ten Things You Should Know About Visiting Dubrovnik

Chasing the Donkey may include affiliate links - if you decide to make a purchase through these links, we receive a commission without any additional cost to you. Disclaimer & privacy policy.
Post author Ana

Written by our local expert Ana

Croatian born Ana is an avid traveler who is always looking for the next travel story from the Balkans to share. Her passion is creating travel itineraries and in-depth guides.

We’ve got the lowdown on the top ten things you should know before visiting Dubrovnik, written by Katherine Frangos of Kate’s Explorations.

Like most foreign cities, travelers are never fully prepared for the unusual nuances or cultural details that guidebooks never mention or overlook.

Unless travelers experience trial and error or stay for an extended period in the city, they will often miss the depth a city has to offer. Here are ten essential observations and things I’ve discovered while exploring Dubrovnik.

1. Dubrovnik Is Fiercely Independent And Has A Resilient Past

Dubrovnik in the Morning (1)

Most recently, the city has accomplished a significant recovery since the war and fall of Ex-Yugoslavia. Although there were horrifying atrocities and devastation, Dubrovnik’s scars are healing.

If you take a climb up her 14th-century fortified city wall, you can gaze upon the new red-tiled rooftops, which were reconstructed in the mid- 90s. It shows that they’ve made great efforts to preserve and rebuild their city.

Stradun, (main street) Dubrovnik
Stradun, (main street) Dubrovnik

Going further into the past, Dubrovnik went through a series of foreign invasions and different rulers, starting with the Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Ottomans, Venetians, Hungarians, French, etc.

But her impervious glory sums up to one badass motto, “Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro” (Latin for “Liberty is not well sold for all the gold”). In other words, no matter how much gold you try to bribe or impose, the people of Dubrovnik won’t have it! Freedom above all, even gold. The Dubrovnik people are proud of their independence, liberty, and unique culture.

Their dialect, food, and wine are just a few of the many distinctive attributes they’ve contributed to the world.

Dubrovnik Photo 4

2. Two Essential Words You Should Know

Traditional music of Dubrovnik
The traditional music of Dubrovnik

Although it may not seem worth it to learn Croatian in just a few days, knowing these two powerful words, “Hvala,” meaning thank you, and “doviđenja,” meaning goodbye, can make a big difference. Sometimes we surprised cashiers and service workers with these simple yet meaningful words.

In any language, being polite goes a long way.


Brands We Use And Trust


3. Cover It Up

Old Harbor
Old Harbor

Croatia is an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Although masses of bikini-bottomed beachgoers flock to the streets, one should cover up before entering a store.

Even if it’s a small convenience shop or supermarket, modesty counts, so cover up after a beach swim. I know, having experienced a bit of an awkward situation when I walked into our local convenience market with a towel wrapped around my hips and my bikini top exposed.

So, throw on a sundress or T-shirt while stopping in a market or store. We were coming from the beach into the PEMO market for a quick snack. Heading over to the stacks of fresh yogurt, a young employee stopped by, asking me to cover up my chest.

4. Never Underestimate A Sailor

Ready for takeoff, VIP style
Ready for takeoff, VIP style

We took a boat tour of the Elaphite (Elafitski) Islands, and our crew was warm and hospitable. Some of the most interesting characters I’ve met while traveling were sailors. I don’t know why sailors get such a bad rap for being obscene, rude, or inappropriate.

Some of the best highlights of our trip were shared with a group of Italians and Englishmen as we piled up on the front of the boat. Maybe it wasn’t the safest to sit up front, but we felt like special VIPs with our captain hooking us up with white wine, cookies, and a fresh fish lunch during a stop-over to Lopud Island.

A chit chat with our Captain
A chit-chat with our captain

Our captain talked it up, sharing some of his travels worldwide, and even opened up over the painful memories during the war. As a token of fun, he joined us for a jump-off of his boat and swim in the majestic waters of Koločep.


Slurp Down An Oyster

Istrian Food Oysters Croatia Travel Blog - 1

Not everyone is into them, but if you want to be like a local, do as a local. The Dubrovnik people are proud of their fresh catch, and nothing can come between them and their slippery, salty little friends, the fresh pearls of the sea. Squeeze a little lemon on one and slurp up the goodness. They taste like the sea, only better.

Not everyone is into them, but if you want to be like a local, do as a local. The Dubrovnik people are proud of their fresh catch, and nothing can come between them and their slippery, salty little friends, the fresh pearls of the sea. Squeeze a little lemon on one and slurp up the goodness. They taste like the sea, only better.

As an alternative, please don’t shy away from their mussels either. They come swimming in the sauce of the gods, I tell you! Prepared like ancient Romans and Greeks, these are best served in a breadcrumb broth, simmered in fresh garlic, tomato, white wine, and sea salt. Yum! Simple is always better.

6. Relaxed Vibes And Pedestrian’s Right Of Way

Elaphite Islands in distance
Elaphite Islands in distance

First, the old city of Dubrovnik (within the castle walls) is a UNESCO site, so that you won’t see any cars. Secondly, maybe it’s just me, but I noticed the suburban Dubrovnik drivers have rare patience I’ve never seen in a Mediterranean country.

Typically in Italy or Greece, I’ve encountered hot-heads to the max. Nobody stops for you to cross. Sometimes cars are parked on sidewalks, and they will run you over if you’re not looking. Even the cutest old ladies don’t stand a chance in a crosswalk intersection! Rules? What rules?

It was strange at first, but quite refreshing not to fear for my life crossing! On the contrary, I don’t know what it is like in Dubrovnik, but maybe it’s the summer heat or the fact that we are tourists; they always stop and allow you the right of away. Likewise, the bus drivers always drove in a very safe way. Jaw-dropping views and cliffs overlook the sea, so you definitely want a safe and sensible bus driver!

7. Exchange Rates Do Vary


There may be an attractive exchange rate between the European euro (EUR) and the American dollar (USD) right now, but that can change. 

If you pass through the city market tents, don’t be intimidated to do a little bargaining. As a tourist, don’t be fooled; play fair. There’s plenty of competition and pressure among vendors, so they know the guy next door might sell to you instead. This goes the same with taxis. Pretty much everywhere in the world, you can easily get ripped.

Ask to see the meter first and ensure they’re not ripping you off on an absurd scale. On our first day, we also made a mistake by not asking our driver to start the meter on the correct amount. But what other choice did we have when we were lost finding our apartment? Sometimes you have to bite the bullet.


Pebbly Beaches (A Few Sandy Ones)

Best Dubrovnik Beaches - Uvala Lapad Beach Dubrovnik

Ok, beach lovers, let’s see how much you love the sea. Does Dubrovnik have beautiful water? Yes. A vivid emerald green, in fact, check. Remote coves and caves to dive and explore?

Yes! Check. Loads of sunshine? Yep. Check. Beautiful harbors and sailing? Check. Sand? Mmm..not always. Worth it? YES! If you’re like me, you may find the stones and pebbles a bit abrasive to the feet, so pack some flip-flops or swimming shoes, which should do the trick.

9. Airport Pickup/Drop Off Is Different

Dubrovnik Cable car

Remember, the drop-off and pick-up spots from and to the airport are in different locations. The drop-off (arrival) is at Ploče gate Gate, the main gate of the city.

If you want to return to the airport, you must depart from the bus station next to the cable car. Don’t mess up and miss your flight. Prepare in advance. 

10. Speaking Of The Cable Car, GO

Cable Car in Dubrovnik

It’s the perfect way to wind down after a long day of hard work lounging on the beach and eating delicious seafood. Tough life, isn’t it? Well, the pictures do justice. I’m a panoramic freak and can’t conclude a trip without an excellent birds-eye view of the city. Are these photos convincing enough?


What To Do In Dubrovnik

Are you not sure what to do in Dubrovnik? Your holiday in Dubrovnik has so many choices; there are so many Dubrovnik sights, not even we’ve experienced all that Dubrovnik has on offer. Key highlights include:

Photo credits Lena @Lea.pie on Instagram 

Comments (4)

  1. It’s not flat! If you stay at a holiday apartment, you’ll likely have a decent hike down to the city and UPHILL back home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Move This Adventure To Your Inbox & Get An Instant Freebie

Subscribe To Unlock Your FREE Customizable Travel Packing List & All Our Best Tips!