(Much like other Things I Wish I Knew posts, this one’s focused on the lessons learned, in the hopes that they help you on your own trip.)
Dubrovnik and Split are two of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations — and with the high season coming soon, there’s a good chance you’ll be planning a trip here.
Dubrovnik’s airport-to-town shuttle bus is an easy choice.
The shuttle bus is the easiest way get you from the airport to central Dubrovnik (stay on, and it’ll terminate to Dubrovnik’s bus terminal). Buy your tickets just right of the exit from baggage claim, and expect to pay 40 kuna (no euros) per one-way trip to central Dubrovnik.
Bring your passport if taking the bus from Dubrovnik to Split.
The highway passes through Bosnia, and if your trip is anything like ours, you’ll make a rest stop while in Bosnia. It’s a fairly short section, and you’ll need to surrender your passport when you enter Bosnia. All the formalities are handled without needing to leave the bus, and you’ll get it back when you re-enter Croatia.
Expect most things in Dubrovnik and Split to be more expensive than Zagreb.
In retrospect, this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, especially considering how touristy both of these towns are. The most obvious inflated prices are seen at restaurants, bars, museums, and so on — thankfully, prices at grocery stores are pretty similar across the country. Head there for the usual stuff if you’re trying to avoid paying inflated prices.
The best way to save money on accommodation in Dubrovnik is by booking one of their affordable and amazing hostels. Check out my awesome guide to the best hostels in Dubrovnik or the coolest bargain hostels in Split.
(On the other hand, if you’re going for the luxury hotels in Dubrovnik, check out my friend’s post!)
Walking the wall in Dubrovnik is not worth it…
150 kuna (about $23 USD or 20 Euro)?! Are you kidding me?
…but do climb around the back by the ports…
As you’re walking towards the port, you’ll see the boats to the left, some tables and chairs to the right… and some room to meander. Some stairs are obvious enough, but there will come an obvious point where you can’t go any further (unless you’re feeling really adventurous!). Get some great shots of the cityscape here.
…and do try standing on the gargoyle head.
Located just inside the walls and right by the Franciscan Monastery (GPS: 42.641700, 18.107700) for the gargoyle head. While it’s not mentioned on-site, the legend is that if you manage to hop onto the head, keep your balance, and take off your shirt while still standing facing the wall, luck in love will follow you. (I can’t help but wonder how many women try this legend out.)
In Dubrovnik, an Uber is cheaper than the local bus for 2-4 people.
I’m usually keen to use public transportation when we travel, unless it’s unfeasible or impractical in some way. Combine a 15 kuna bus ticket (about 2 Euros or about $2.20 USD) with the reality that even ‘frequent’ buses only come every 15-20 minutes, and it’s easy to waste a fair bit of time at a bus stop. The ticket doesn’t transfer to another bus, either.
The local taxis, as you might expect, are happy to ferry the impatient. While bright yellow signs advertise their rates and they do stick to the meter, a 10 minute taxi ride from bus terminal to rented apartment cost about 65 kuna (8.75 Euro or $9.65 USD). By comparison, our 8-10 minute Uber ride from a bus station to the old town was 23 kuna (3.10 Euro or $3.41 USD).
Give Lokrum a couple hours…
Lokrum is an island worthy of an hour or two, and a short enough ride from the ferry. Some Game of Thrones scenes were filmed here, but the only way you’d know is by perusing the small museum on the island. Get a picture with you in a replica of the Iron Throne / sword chair!
…and make the Roman ruins just outside of Split a must-see.
Bus 37 leaves from Split’s bus terminal and stops within walking distance of the ruins, while most buses going to Trogir should stop at Salona / Solin. This is about 5 kilometers outside of Split, so an Uber or taxi would also work, naturally. Look for a more complete post soon.
The Klis Fortress is spectacular…
…but be ready for a climb! Game of Thrones fans may recognize it as the City of Meereen where Daenerys freed the slaves, but for the rest of us, it’s an epic castle. More coming soon.
…but don’t bother with Froggyland.
It is genuinely unique, I’ll give it that — a rather obsessive creator carefully posed hundreds of frogs in funny situations decades ago, and this is his collection. 35 kuna for a destination you’ll see in 10 minutes and aren’t allowed to take pictures? Pass.
Give yourself a couple of hours to meander around the Old Town of both cities.
This isn’t rocket science, but both ‘Old Towns’ are definitely worth visiting. The Dubrovnik one ends up being sequestered from the rest of the city courtesy of the wall that encircles it, while Split’s Old Town merges nicely with the rest of the city. Accept that it’s about as touristy as you can get.
Over to you
What do you think of Dubrovnik and Split? Comments are open.
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