Is Dubrovnik Overhyped And Overrated?

Dubrovnik in Croatia might be a bucket list destination, but many people come away thinking that Dubrovnik is overrated. Few people would choose to return after visiting, but why is that?

Dubrovnik - Is beauty only skin deep?

Dubrovnik – Pearl of the Adriatic

There is no denying that Dubrovnik is a visually beautiful city. Sometimes though, beauty is only skin deep. Find out what I really thought of Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic.

One of the destinations I was most looking forward to on my 2016 Greece to England bicycle tour, was Dubrovnik. Sometimes referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic, every photo I have seen of it seems amazing.

Indeed, as I approached Dubrovnik on the bike, I was rewarded with amazing views out over the famous walled old town. The scene was set then for a couple of days enjoyment wandering around this UNESCO  heritage site.

Entering Dubrovnik, you have to brave the hordes of tourists at the entrance!

Dubrovnik Reality Check

It wasn't long though, before I started noticing things. The huge cruise ships. The hordes of tourists. All this was to be expected of course (even though it was May and still not peak season).

I think they stood out more though, because the old town of Dubrovnik itself seemed empty of ‘normal' life.

Every business caters to tourists, and there seems to be no ‘local scene' at all. Does the old town of Dubrovnik even have normal residents?

Walking around the walls of Dubrovnik

The more I wandered around, the more noticeable the absence of any local culture became.

Of course, the town has history stretching back hundreds of years. Of course, Dubrovnik suffered terribly in the 1990's conflict.

Yet, it seemed to lack a personality in some way. This was even reflected by the restaurants, that all served the same offerings of seafood, pasta or pizza. In fact, I was left wondering if typical Croatian cuisine is a Margherita Pizza!

A view out over Dubrovnik - The Pearl of the Adriatic

So, my doubts about the place creeped in. It might be one of the must-see bucket list destinations in Europe, but all of my senses were screaming that Dubrovnik was very much overhyped. And that's before we get into…

Dubrovnik is Expensive

Let's also talk about prices. I am a budget traveller at heart for sure, (although that said, budget was not a major priority during this trip).

I also currently live in Greece, an EU country with one of the lowest costs of living. The prices for everything in Dubrovnik came as a bit of a shock to me then!

If you have just arrived form Northern Europe or the USA, perhaps 2 Euro for a small bottle of water in a restaurant sounds reasonable? To me, it definitely does not!

The really irritating thing with this, is that there is no competition – Everyone charges the same prices, because they know they can get away with it.

And of course, I'm just talking about water here… you can imagine the costs for meals, wine, and hotel rooms. I didn't even bother to look at the price of souvenirs in Dubrovnik!

Related: How to use less plastic when you travel

Dave's recommendations for Dubrovnik 

Accommodation and places to eat can really hit the budget. In my opinion, the following places offered the best value for money when staying in Dubrovnik.

Azur Restaurant – Offering an interesting take on Mediterranean food, with an Asian fusion of ingredients, it probably represents the best value for money in terms of restaurants in the old town.

Apartment Family Tokic – A one bedroom apartment located near the port in Dubrovnik, and just 50 metres away from the bus station. By being outside of the old town, the cost is drastically reduced. The kitchen is also useful for anyone who wants to prepare their own meals in order to save a few Euros. There is a supermarket 5 minutes walk away. Great value, costing around 40 euros per night.

Dubrovnik - is beauty only skin deep? Dubrovnik is often known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, and is the most visited destination in Croatia. If you are looking for a unique cultural experience though, you might be disappointed. read on to see what I thought....


Is Dubrovnik Overhyped – Final Thoughts

Don't come away from this article think that Dubrovnik totally sucks though, because it doesn't. It is close though.

Take a walk around the castle walls, and view the old town from unique angles, each one seeming to be better than the last.

Visit some of the churches and cathedrals to admire the interior artwork and decoration. If you are a Game of Thrones fans, you might also enjoy spotting which parts of Dubrovnik feature as King's Landing.

Just don't expect a unique cultural experience that will rock your world. It is more a place to be ticked off a wish-list, than one to soak up the local culture. Once visited, you are unlikely to want to return.

In conclusion then, Dubrovnik looked very pretty on the surface, but beauty is only skin deep, and this place had no soul.

Does that sound harsh? Have you visited Dubrovnik, and if so do you agree or disagree? Please leave a comment below.

Dubrovnik FAQ

Is Dubrovnik worth visiting?

If you expect to see a beautiful city surrounded by impressive walls, yes Dubrovnik is worth going to. If you expect to dive into the local culture and meet the locals, then Dubrovnik is not worth visiting.

Which is better to visit Split or Dubrovnik?

In my opinion Spilt is a much nice city to travel to than Dubrovnik. It has more going for it, and while it does have its fair share of tourists, the numbers don't seem as overwhelming as they do in Dubrovnik.

Is Dubrovnik expensive?

Oh yes! Restaurants and accommodation are all overpriced in Dubrovnik – come prepared with that in mind.


More European City Guides

Planning a trip to Europe? You might find these other city guides to be useful:


16 thoughts on “Is Dubrovnik Overhyped And Overrated?”

  1. Duvrovnik is just another town for tourists in Croatia. And each town I visited in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia rang the same bell – beware of pickpockets! This really spoilt my mood. So draining to sight see n be vigilant at the same time! Nothing spectacular, can miss out from bucket list!!

    • I am a native Slovenian and I am sorry that you had this warning forced on you. The truth is, Slovenia has an extremely low crime rate and if we had a high murder rate, than everything else would seem unimportant, because you would take care of your overall personal safety. But because a potential run in with a pickpocket, which are rigously prosecuted is the only possible flaw in the feeling of safety in Slovenia from the perspective of tourists, you were somewhat unnecessarily warned against them. I have lived in Ljubljana all my life and I literally don’t know anyone that ever had a run in with pickpockets, which is why I took the time to write about this at length. I forgot my things at cafes, clubs & restaurants and always got them back. This stupid warning in a city that really makes its own citizens feel like they are loved by it, just shows how warnings of this type can affect, damage and erode the visitor’s sense of security and the ability to enjoy the atmosphere in a relaxed manner. I hope you will visit us again and have a better experience with Slovenia. Greetings from Ljubljana. 🙂

      • My grandparents were teachers at small international school in Ljubljana for many many years. I visited in the summer from the US and always felt so welcome by the locals people there. Being there in April over Easter with the catholic churches all decorated was truly awe inspiring. I’ve lost touch with many of the people I knew back there but have longed to visit since it’s been years! pogrešam te Ljubljana!

  2. I have to take issue with one part of your article – “Don’t come away from this article think that Dubrovnik totally sucks though”. It does totally suck, don’t be afraid to stand behind your opinion. It blows, like the worst place I’ve been in five months traveling around Europe. For anyone who is a true traveler and likes to walk back alleys of old capitals and find hidden gems, this place will make you want to pack up and leave five minutes after arriving. It’s horrid, worse than I imagined. I was hesitant to come here because I had heard it was cheesy and touristy. I’m so glad we’re only staying two nights and wasting only one entire day here. On the other hand, if you are the kind of traveler (more of a tourist) who likes pre-packaged, all-inclusive, cruise ships, guided tours in big groups, Disney World, or any other kind of crappy, mass-marketed type of vacation, this might be paradise. Had the most overpriced meal with the most exorbitantly-priced wine in five months of European travel. It was a joke. There is no soul to the place, nothing authentic about it. Everything feels fake. Everything is here for tourists. And there are a LOT of them. All with their cameras out at all times taking hundreds of photos and walking extremely slowly in front of you. Did I mention the traffic? Horrible. It’s so noisy with cars and motorcycles and buses outside the gates to the old city that you can barely have a conversation, another surprise. If someone ever tells you they love Dubrovnik and want to give you a restaurant recommendation anywhere, don’t listen to them because they have no taste. So please do come away from this article thinking Dubrovnik totally sucks, because it does. I hope I like the rest of Croatia (islands) better because this is the end of my long trip and I would hate to have the taste of a $22 Dubrovnik hamburger left in my mouth at the end of such a fantastic journey.

    • Yes to all of that!! I went there June 2023.
      [Background: Parents are Bosnian Croats, I was born and raised in Vienna]
      My first impression was that it was really georgeous but that faded rather quickly. It is worth to visit for a few hours or a day, but not more than that. The old City is also much smaller than one would think.
      I hated the traffic. Way too many cars, buses and motorbikes for the size of the city. The sidewalks are barely walkable, very narrow and walking around away from the old center feels like walking beside a freeway on steep hill.
      Also Dubrovnik is extremely hilly and has plenty of stairs (even in the old center) which can be quite a challenge during a heatwave or midsummer.
      Also there’s not too much in near vicinity as it is rather isolated, so you will get bored if you stay there for a week.
      Everything there is a complete rip off and the portions at the restaurants are not the biggest.
      Dubrovnik was a major disappointment, so much so that I had to prove myself that Croatia hasn’t gone to shits since the last time I was was there 7 years ago (been going only to
      Greece lol) so that a couple of months later I went to Split.
      Croatia has changed a bit, in that it became very hyped and a world famous destination. But Croatia is still nice, relatively untouched (compared to other touristy countries) and worth exploring. Thankfully my trip to Split confirmed that.

  3. Scratch the surface and the content is pretty shallow. Alot of shine and little substance is Dubrovnik summed up. Worth visiting for a few days but i would be interested if many people actually go back for a second visit. We certainly wont be

  4. The permanent population of the Old Town has been reduced to about 500 peeps. Apartment rentals are just too lucrative so everything has been sold off to investors. Only on holidays (St Blaise, Christmas) do folks from the region stream into town for the festivities. Otherwise they avoid it. It’s too crowded and too expensive.

  5. Never been to Ragusa ( the historic real name of the actual Dubrovnik) but from your description it seems similiar to Venice.
    Ragusa was an indipendent town and a trusted ally of Venice for centuries. The name changed to Dubrovnik after WW2 when it passed from Italy to Yugoslavia.
    It seems that it shared the same fate of Venice and transformed in a kind of Disneyland.
    There’s no local life probably because the locals who owns apartments in the center rent them to tourist and go living outside of town.
    40 euros per night in May in Croatia is really expensive.

  6. Never been to Ragusa ( the historic real name of the actual Dubrovnik) but from your description it seems similiar to Venice.
    Ragusa was an indipendent town and a trusted ally of Venice for centuries. The name changed to Dubrovnik after WW2 when it passed from Italy to Yugoslavia.
    It seems that it shared the same fate of Venice and transformed in a kind of Disneyland.
    There’s no local life probably because the locals who owns apartments in the center rent them to tourist and go living outside of town.
    40 euros per night in May in Croatia is really expensive.

  7. Exactly what I thought when I visited Dubrovnik 2 years ago. I’m glad that I’ve seen what all the fuss is about (and how beautiful it is), however I’m never, ever returning.

    • Rose, I was there twice – in May and August, which are probably really unfortunate times – and I had the exact same observations. What time of year were you there?

  8. Never visited that part of the world – but your observations are interesting. Maybe to rid themselves of their negative war image of the 1990’s, they’ve gone overboard in the other direction.
    Such a shame. I shall have to visit now to make up my own mind. Thanks for sharing.


Leave a Comment