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Dazzling Dubrovnik
To the very south of Croatia, giving out into the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik's thick walls hold a small town of almost matchless beauty and charm. A hive of narrow streets running between picturesque red-roofed houses, baroque palaces, churches, and a couple of stunning monasteries, few places inspire quite such a dedicated following as Dubrovnik.

You know when a town counts John Malkovich amongst its devotees that it's not necessarily going to be the cheapest European destination. But for those of us who aren't Hollywood A-listers, there are deals to be had if you do your research and are prepared to be a little imaginative when you get there. As is the case with budget travel everywhere, you can make savings on some things, so you can afford to splash out elsewhere.

Accommodation, particularly, is not as cheap as in many other parts of Central and Eastern Europe, but there are still a couple of fairly temptingly priced Dubrovnik hostels. Of these, the Dubrovnik Backpackers Club is probably the best bet for real budget travelers, but there are also a number of affordable apartments and cheap hotels available.

An Old Town Full of Historical Treasures

Having checked in, the town is waiting to be explored. The entire Old Town of Stari Grad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Key sights include the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which was built on the remains of an existing Romanesque chapel and a lovely old Franciscan Monastery.

Scattered around town, and partially obscured by the inevitable tourist tat shops, there are a few jewelers and silversmiths (for which the town is famous). A small cluster of such places can be found to the south of the town.

The Gradske Zidine, the robust limestone city walls, also make for an affordable way to while away some time. The entrance fee of 30kn is unlikely to stretch even the tightest of budgets, and early evenings are particularly beautiful with sensational views of the sun setting across the ocean.

A Stroll Down Stradun

After the sun's set, the entire Old Town is lit up, making for a spectacular backdrop to an evening out. An evening's stroll down Stradun, (the city's familiar main drag) is free, but the shops and bars that line it are not. It's worth bearing in mind that, as with most major tourist areas, a drink here can be quite a bit more expensive than elsewhere in town.

As for what to do later on: Dubrovnik's a fairly quiet town, and atmospheric little bars are more the order of the day than large clubs. One such is the spectacularly situated "Buza", which is located in the shadow of the walls looking out to sea.

During the Summer Festival (which runs annually from early July to late August) things get slightly more raucous than usual. For the rest of the year, the scene goes back to being pretty sedate with locals and visitors alike crammed into a couple of pleasant little places tucked away in the Old Town.

Don't Break the Budget: Bask on a Beach

Dubrovnik's a small town, which, despite having a number of fascinating sights of cultural and historical interest, need only take a day or two to see everything there is to see. And once you've done that, there's little else to do but enjoy the town for what it is: a scenic and thoroughly relaxing little place.

A short stroll from the city brings you to the beach at Lazareti, a pleasant enough place to spend an afternoon sunning yourself. But journeying just a little further afield can yield even better results. The whole of Croatia's coastline is lined with some of the most pristinely unspoilt (and practically deserted) beaches to be found anywhere in the Mediterranean.

Secluded coves are held in by rocky outcrops jutting out into the cobalt blue waters. A little further back from the shore, leads in turn to forests of pine trees whispering in the warm summer breezes.

One slight downside is that the whole of the Dalmatian coastline is lined with pebble beaches... Empty pebble beaches, but pebble beaches nevertheless. A short boat journey and a nice daytrip from the city are the islands Lopud and Lokrum. The former even has, in Plaza Sunj, that rarest of Croatian commodities – a beach of sparkling white sand.

Prepare a pack lunch, board the ferry and enjoy a day of lounging in the sun soaking up the rays. By the end of the day – having spent next to nothing – you should have saved up enough to indulge in some of the city's famous seafood dishes... A classic case of making savings in some areas, so you can afford to splash out on the little luxuries.
About the Author
Ben Cooper is a copywriter for HostelBookers.com. On his last trip to the Adriatic, he cut down on costs by comparing a range of Dubrovnik hostels online.
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