The Croatian city of Dubrovnik is one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations among tourists. The city receives about 1.4 million tourists per year, making it the city with one of the highest ratios of tourists per residents in Europe.
Many people are drawn to Dubrovnik because its medieval walls were used as a set in the world-famous series Game of Thrones, but Dubrovnik has plenty to offer even for people who aren’t TV fans.
Walk the imposing medieval city walls, take in the local atmosphere in the medieval city core called the Stradun, or get out of the city to the island of Lokrum for some excellent beaches.
A quick look at photos of Dubrovnik makes you see that this city is a destination for lovers of beaches and beautiful Mediterranean cities. Although Croatia has a reputation as a safe country, you might be wondering how much this reputation is based on truth?
Here is a detailed travel guide that will help put your mind at ease when taking a trip to this picturesque city — keep reading for a detailed insight into any safety concerns that might come up.
Is Dubrovnik Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Dubrovnik is one of the safest destinations on the Mediterranean. Millions of people wouldn’t visit each year if it wasn’t a safe destination.
Although you might encounter some petty theft or other minor crimes, you won’t encounter any other threats to your safety. To get a feeling for how safe Dubrovnik is, start by researching the safety of the country that is in Croatia.
As long as you take basic, common sense precautions, you should have a good time in any part of Croatia, including Dubrovnik. Most incidents that you might experience are petty in nature.
Common problems include:
- Bag snatching
- Tourist scams
- Sexual harassment
Violent incidents in Dubrovnik, whether directed at locals or visitors, are extremely rare. Other safety threats are also rare. You don’t have to worry about terrorists or civil unrest.
Some governments such as Australia warn in their travel advisories for Croatia that the country has been hit with a string of bomb threats affecting public places such as shopping malls and government buildings.
Dubrovnik has been affected by those incidents as well. However, all the bomb threats so far have been false, and police quickly arrested the perpetrators.
Some people are worried about visiting Croatia, including Dubrovnik, because of the past. Croatia was embroiled in a brutal war of independence from 1991 to 1995.
The city was hit hard during this war as it was besieged by the Yugoslav People’s Army as well as Serbian and Montenegrin paramilitary groups for nine months. The siege devastated the city, and many locals still have traumatic memories of that time.
However, the war ended nearly 30 years ago (and the siege ended before that). The city has recovered marvelously and almost all of the buildings were lovingly restored.
Today, there is no danger of war or the remnants of war. In fact, the city is so safe it doesn’t even experience natural disasters!
Visitors in the winter may experience rain and the region’s famous bura, a strong wind found only in the Adriatic. However, disasters such as strong storms and flooding are very rare.
Crime in Dubrovnik
Crime is a primary concern for people going abroad. Nobody wants to be the victim of a crime while they’re just trying to relax. The good news is that crime is not something that you need to worry about.
Dubrovnik is one of the safest cities not just in Croatia but in all of Europe. According to local crime information, It also has one of the lowest rates of property crime in Croatia.
The violent crime rate is also much lower than the violent crime rate in other cities. The property crime rate is about 6.92 incidents per 1,000 people. The violent crime rate is about 0.64 incidents per 1,000 people.
Locals and visitors agree that Dubrovnik is a very safe city. According to Numbeo, the city scores a 17.75 out of 100 on the crime index, which is a very low value.
The city has low rates of minor crimes such as drug abuse, vandalism, and petty theft, and very low rates of violent crime. The only crime that people report worrying about is corruption and bribery.
Dubrovnik scores a 73.75 out of 100 on the crime index for corruption, which is a very high value.
The problem of corruption frustrates locals in many Croatian cities, including Dubrovnik, but as a visitor this problem will not affect you unless you have to interact with officials in some capacity.
The crime statistics for Dubrovnik are becoming even more optimistic. The crime rate dropped by 9% according to the local government, which shows that Dubrovnik is growing even more safe.
There are a few reasons why Dubrovnik is so safe. The main reason is that the city is small, and residents form a close-knit community, making it impossible to get away with a crime without a neighbor catching on to what you are doing.
The rise in mass tourism in Dubrovnik caused somewhat of an increase in petty crime. Tourists provide a lot of opportunity for pickpockets, and many thieves come in with the crowds posing as fellow visitors.
However, the rate of crime is not nearly as bad as in many popular European destinations such as Venice or Barcelona.
If you do encounter a crime in Dubrovnik, you will probably encounter petty theft. Petty theft such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is common in tourist destinations around the world, including Dubrovnik.
Although the petty theft rate is not nearly as high as it is in many other cities, it is still a good idea to keep an eye out.
Thieves can operate at any time, but they often take advantage of peak times such as the summer, local festivals, and whenever cruise ships dock. Then, the large crowds provide the perfect cover for crime.
Thieves often operate around popular tourist attractions such as the Stradun, the Dubrovnik walls, and the local beaches such as Banje. Buses to popular tourist destinations or the cable car are also sometimes targets.
Basic street smarts are enough to deter thieves. Make sure that you never leave your things unattended. Thieves sometimes rifle through things on the beach while people are swimming or bags hanging off the backs of restaurant chairs while people are paying.
Try to put your valuables in a place that is harder to access. Wear a cross-body bag instead of a shoulder bag that is easy to snatch.
Men should never put their wallets in back pockets as that makes them easy to steal, especially in Dubrovnik’s dense crowds. Try to only take what you need for the day with you and leave most of your things in your hotel room.
The city has common scams you might encounter anywhere you go in Europe, such as thieves spilling items on you or making a ruckus to distract you.
Overcharging is very common, so much so that people complaining about Dubrovnik prices make local Croatian news every summer. Be careful in taxis and in restaurants and cafes close to popular tourist areas.
Some scammers target visitors before they even show up in the city. Some accommodation hosts take your money, then cancel at the last minute, leaving you stranded.
Even worse, “ghost accommodations” are becoming more common in Croatia — people that list accommodation, take money, then ignore all messages and calls when visitors show up and realize their hotel doesn’t exist.
Always research your potential accommodation ahead of time and make sure there are reviews.
While the city is mostly a safe place for women, some unpleasant incidents do occur. Female travelers may experience sexual harassment in the form of catcalling.
This can come from local men, as men from coastal cities such as Dubrovnik have a bit of a reputation within Croatia for being rowdy (local women sometimes call them seagulls).
However, harassment can come from your fellow travelers as well, especially as Croatia attracts more of a party-oriented crowd. The city is not as popular among nightlife-oriented young travelers as some nearby cities such as Split.
However, many people do like to check out the local bars and clubs while in town. If you do so, make sure that you take appropriate precautions.
Although Dubrovnik is very safe, all kinds of things can happen when people are drinking. Make sure that you never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers as drink spiking has happened before.
When getting back to your accommodation, it is safe to walk at night, but avoid dark alleyways and poorly lit side streets.
There have been serious incidents in Dubrovnik in the past, such as the still-unsolved drowning of backpacker Britt Lapthorne after she went clubbing in the city in 2008.
Although these incidents are very rare, take precautions such as only going partying with friends and not leaving with new acquaintances.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Dubrovnik doesn’t have many dangerous areas. Locals often tell people to avoid some neighborhoods such as Mokošica and Gruž.
The good news is that these neighborhoods are towards the edges of the city, and you are unlikely to wind up in them by accident. Avoid Lapad Boulevard during soccer games as that is where many Croatian soccer hooligans clash.
Avoid deserted areas at night such as viewpoints or side streets. Although most of the city is safe at night, still take some precautions.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for Dubrovnik:
- Respect the locals. Many locals have an antagonistic relationship with tourism as overtourism has affected the city. Don’t wear beachwear in the city center and make sure that you cover up when visiting Catholic sites. Drinking is fine, but make sure you act respectful at all times.
- Beware of the weather. Dubrovnik is a popular summer destination, but the crowds and hot weather can make you sick. The temperature can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit so take precautions to avoid heatstroke. Drink water, wear (and reapply) sunscreen, and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day.
- Be careful when swimming. The waters are mostly safe, but prickly sea urchins and the rocky shores can hurt your feet. Many visitors wear water shoes. If you decide to try cliff diving, ask locals about the safest places to do so. People have been seriously injured by cliff diving before.
- Wear sturdy shoes. Dubrovnik’s medieval streets are famously slippery even after a light drizzle and it’s common for tourists to fall and injure themselves. Don’t put yourself in situations where you might slip — some tourists have gotten seriously injured after climbing over safety rails on the walls to take photos.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions you might want to ask about Dubrovnik:
How safe is Croatia for tourists?
All of Croatia is very safe for tourists. The crime rate is low and the risk of other problems such as terrorism is practically non-existent.
Is Dubrovnik safe for solo female travelers?
Dubrovnik is one of the safest destinations for solo female travelers. Just make sure that you exercise common sense precautions such as sticking to well-lit streets at night and not going home from clubs with new acquaintances.
Is it safe to walk in Dubrovnik at night?
Dubrovnik is very safe to walk at night! Just make sure that you avoid potentially dangerous areas such as some of the city suburbs and poorly lit streets in the center.
Is Split or Dubrovnik better?
Dubrovnik is a better destination for lovers of history and architecture, as well as Game of Thrones fans. Split is a better destination for beaches and for nightlife.
Can you walk around Dubrovnik?
Yes, you can walk around Dubrovnik as the city center is very compact and walkable. However, don’t do much walking in the middle of the day in summer to prevent heatstroke.
So, Is Dubrovnik Safe to Visit?
Dubrovnik is very safe to visit, no matter who you are! Just take some precautions to protect your valuables and try to be respectful of the locals.
So, with so much to see and do and an extremely safe environment, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Dubrovnik has to offer. Happy travels!