Croatia has taken off as a tourist destination, and more and more tourists visit Dubrovnik every year. It’s famous, of course, as the filming location for Game of Thrones, and beautiful images of this seaside castle town are everywhere.
Dubrovnik is certainly picturesque. There’s no denying that. But, as a vacation destination, think Disneyland rather than quaint historic city.
We visited Dubrovnik in April, which is not the height of tourist season, and not even close to the height of cruise season. Nonetheless, the city was jam-packed with visitors. In fact, the only people we saw were visitors. There were tourists eating ice cream. There were tourists snapping at their children. There were tourists taking selfies. Then, of course, there were the people who worked in the city to cater to the tourists. We also saw one older woman who appeared to be a resident; she glared at us as we walked up her quiet, narrow street, and who could blame her? We were just two more tourists, invading her city.
On our second day in the city, we went on a lovely private wine tour of the region, and our guide explained that almost all of the locals have been priced out of the historic city. He said that a few holdouts remain, but that Dubrovnik has mostly lost its residents and its culture.
The inundation of foreign visitors has, of course, driven up prices as well. We found many tourist-trap style restaurants (think, sidewalk placards in English peddling “authentic Croatian food!”) that were about twice the price of anything we ate elsewhere in Croatia. We had to walk far outside of the city to get reasonably-priced, tasty, HUGE pizza at Vita Bella.
So, is it worth it to visit Dubrovnik? The old city is beautiful, but really only requires a day or less. We were grateful that we had our wine tour to fill the majority of the second day that we had planned in Dubrovnik. And, really, you might have a better experience in Croatia if you skip Dubrovnik altogether. Zadar and Split are beautiful and far less crowded, and there are national parks to be seen and islands to be hopped!
Have you been to Dubrovnik? Share your thoughts with us below!