Less than 30 years ago, Dubrovnik was under siege during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Now, it is a booming tourist destination that attracts 1.2 million visitors annually.
With its ancient churches and monasteries, this medieval walled city next to the Adriatic Sea is incredibly photogenic. No wonder it has been chosen as a key stage for the television show Game Of Thrones (which caused a stampede of fans).
But can you visit this mega-popular World Heritage Site of Unesco at low prices?
Where to stay
Perfect image: the famous old town of Dubrovnik with its ancient churches and monasteries
Hotels within the city walls are very expensive, but Ivka is a 30-minute walk from Pile Gate, one of the main entrances. It is a pleasant walk to this quiet hotel located on a quiet side street in the Lapad district, and has comfortable rooms (ask for one with a balcony). In addition there is a small and relaxing terrace at the bar. B & B doubles from £ 64 (ivkahoteldubrovnik.com)
Also in Lapad, a bus trip or a 40-minute walk from the city, is for those who wish to enjoy the old town and the sea (in the picture on the right). It's on a hill from Sunset Beach in a pretty cove. Do not expect an elegantly designed hotel: the rooms are basic, but immaculate. B & B doubles from £ 73 (hotel-sumratin.com)
The last of our Lapad trio has fluctuating prices. During the summer, rooms here can cost around £ 200 per night. But get an agreement before the crowd arrives, or early fall, when it's still hot, and rates can be as low as £ 73. There's a terrace with loungers and steps to the crystal clear Adriatic, plus an infinity pool. The rooms are elegant and modern. B & B doubles from £ 73 (hotelneptundubrovnik.com)
If you ever made a city for Airbnb, it's Dubrovnik. Summer prices for Old Town are generally from £ 120 to £ 150. But prices go down in places like Room Ella, a quiet flat 15 minutes away on foot. Rooms from £ 68 in the room Ella (airbnb.co.uk); prices may fluctuate
Where to eat
Near the Dominican monastery, Rozario (pictured above on the right) is an affordable and practical restaurant run by Marina and Marin Vuletic. Enjoy several seafood and meat dishes, either on the small terrace or in the cozy dining room. Oysters and grilled calamari are especially good; Three courses from £ 25. Address: 1 Prijeko, konoba-rozario.hr
Delicious: Dubravka 1836 is where locals congregate to enjoy spectacular ocean views.
This restaurant, popular with locals, is located outside the city walls by the Pile Gate, with spectacular views of the sea (in the image above on the left). It is the sister restaurant of Nautika, which is on the other side of a square (one of the best in the city). But here you can eat swordfish carpaccio, seafood risotto and octopus salad for much less, around £ 25 for three courses. The citrus rozata pudding is a delight. nautikarestaurants.com
Located in the corridor towards the cable car station that takes you to the ridge that dominates the city, Barba is a small fast food restaurant famous for its tasty octopus burgers (£ 8.50). Tuna burgers (£ 8.80) and sardine burgers (£ 7.30) are also offered. It's a perfect pit stop. Address: 5 Ulica Boskoviceva.
For a sandwich to go, look no further than Buffet Skola. In an alley near the Franciscan monastery, this jewel serves homemade focaccia style bread with Dalmatian ham, local cheese and tomatoes. It costs around £ 3.50 for a sandwich. Address: 1 Ulica Antuninska.
The pizzas are very popular here. Pizzeria Baracuda, in an alley off the main road of the old town (Stradun), is a good choice, as is Pizzeria Tabasco, located next to the cable car station. The pizzas cost around £ 10.50 in each. For a bargain, head to the Kavana Teatar atmosphere in Lapad, where older men play cards and a good margherita costs £ 3.70. Address: 72 Iva Vojnovica.
What to see and do
Climb the hill
OK, do you feel in shape? It is a one-hour walk to the top of the cable car station (405 m high) on a charming zig-zag route with wildflowers and pine trees, as well as fantastic views. You'll save £ 20, doing some exercise and avoiding the crowds of cruisers that can overwhelm the old town. In the superior part there is a museum that invites to the reflection dedicated to the War of Patria from 1991 to 1995; Entry £ 3.50.
DIY game of thrones
Game of Thrones tours that last 90 minutes cost around £ 15, and many are on offer. Instead, visit www.kingslandingdubrovnik.com, which explains the locations of the series so you can see them at your own pace. The website also shows which spots have appeared in each series.
Buy a city pass
The cost of walking along the walls of the city walls is £ 23 (compared to £ 17.50 last year). This is a brilliant experience, but buying a Dubrovnik Card for the same price also gives you access to monasteries, several museums and bus trips. Buy one in advance online and you will save an additional 10 percent (dubrovnikcard.com).
Tom Chesshyre of the Daily Mail recommends buying a Dubrovnik card, which gives you access to monasteries, several museums and bus trips.
As you walk through the walls, stop at Caffe Bar Sv Petar, the first coffee on the anti-clockwise route. On the battlements, it is a glorious place for coffee (£ 2.30), fresh juice (£ 4) or ice cream (£ 1.75).
The Fortress of San Lorenzo overlooks the Pile Gate, and your ticket to the city walls or the Dubrovnik Card allows you to enter (which many do not realize). The views of the old city are particularly good here. Before entering, there is a small park with benches that is ideal for picnics.
Go for a drink
The cool place to have a drink is Buza, which dominates the sea at the base of the city walls, but a glass of wine costs around £ 5.50. Libertina is a small pub near the Dominican monastery with black and white images and local people holding the bar. It is an experience of real local life, but be sure to check the time before you go, as it is only open from 10:00 to 14:00. A glass of wine costs £ 1.20. Address: 3 Zlatarska
British Airways has return flights from Gatwick from £ 126 (ba.com); Airport buses to the city center depart every 15 minutes and cost £ 4.65, taking half an hour. For more information, go to croatia.hr.