Dubrovnik has the bad reputation of being one of the most expensive places in Croatia. So you may be tempted to buy your own food and drink. Are you allowed to eat wherever you want? Can you drink alcohol on the street in Dubrovnik? Is smoking allowed?
- NO. You are not allowed to drink alcohol on the street in Dubrovnik (Were you really expecting a different answer?). The fine is 1,000 kuna (130 euros), BTW.
- You are not allowed to drink any kind of beverage or eat any kind of food near a historic monument (oops, I didn’t know that!) or do anything indecent
- Speaking about indecency, you are not allowed to walk around in your swimsuit, take off your T-shirt or spit on the ground. Smoking on the street is (still) allowed, but you cannot drop cigarette butts on the ground.
What Does The Croatian Law Say About Drinking In Public
Croatian Law rather ambiguously prohibits drinking alcohol in public. It can be interpreted as sanctioning ongoing practice of binge drinking (or, in Croatian, “odavanje pijančevanju”) outside of designated areas (restaurants, bars, pubs).
So, who determines if the practice is ongoing or incidental? Do you need to be caught on a number of occasions before being fined? And what if you’re drinking, but you are not drunk (yet)?
Apparently, this vague definition of drinking in public has not been effective enough.
Consequently, LOCAL AUTHORITIES have regulated drinking in public for their respective communities.
One by one, Croatian cities have made more precise decisions concerning drinking outside of bars. They have introduced fines and strict regulations, These are implemented by means of municipal services monitoring officers or wardens (“komunalni redar”), not the police.
As a result, every city in Croatia has its own approach to drinking in public.
Drinking In Public In Dubrovnik
“So far (in 2018)(and this has probably changed in the meantime), our communal wardens have not collected any fines because they always go to the extent of trying to warn first,” says Marijana Aksić, spokeswoman for the City of Dubrovnik.
However, in 2020, the Dubrovnik City authorities decided to fine each person drinking alcohol in public with 1,000 kunas (130 euros).
The communal wardens are greatly assisted by the vigilant inhabitants of Dubrovnik, who will report any disturbance of public peace and order.
Actually, one of the greatest objections locals might have against drinking in public is the NOISE produced by binge drinkers.
One of the most popular alcoholic spirits in Croatia is Pelinkovac (Croatian version of Jägermeister, which is, BTW, also very popular in Croatia).
It’s main ingredient, wormwood (or absinthe) is believed to induce a state of “clear-headed” feeling of inebriation—a form of “lucid drunkenness”.
Unfortunately, as you walk towards the Lovrjenac fortress or the beautiful park Gradac, you may find traces of “drinking in public” along the way.
Other (Expected And Unexpected) DON’Ts In Dubrovnik
Since one-third of Croatians smoke, smoking in public is (still) not prohibited in Dubrovnik. Most cafes have obtained a permission to allow smoking in their premises.
Skull with a Burning Cigarette by Vincent van Gogh, oil on canvas, 1885.
Impressionists like Vincent van Gogh, who was a pipe smoker himself, would also begin to associate smoking with gloom and fin-du-siècle fatalism.
Croatians may have similar associations.
Throwing cigarette butts on the pavement has been prohibited in Dubrovnik, though. If a warden catches you doing that, you may be fined with 2,000 kunas (almost 300 euros)!
The same fine, 300 euros, is reserved for those who:
- behave indecently in the vicinity of a cultural or historical monument (this also includes eating a sandwich on the steps of a Dubrovnik church, like the Church of St. Blaise, or in front of the Rector’s Palace)
- walk without a T-shirt or a skirt or trousers in the Old City, especially down the main street of Dubrovnik, Stradun. Dubrovnik will not be impressed with your physique.
Also, walking through the streets of Dubrovnik old city in your swimsuit is a big NO NO.
The problem is that there are several beaches in the old city itself. Don’t let that fool you.
- free climb on the city walls
(Btw, I know of a man who tried it as a youth. He fell, hit his head and never regained sanity. Until his death he served in the church and collected alms..and shout on those who wouldn’t give anything).
- ride a bike, a moped, a car, motorcycle or a motorised kick scooter in Dubrovnik Old City (unless you’re a child under 7)
By Georges Jansoone (JoJan) – private scootermuseum in Assisi, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4146650
- walk a dog without a leash.
(Surprisingly, if they’re on a leash, dogs and cats are allowed to most Croatian national parks, including the Plitvice Lakes National Park).
The Bottom Line
Are you really going to be fined 300 euros if you do any of these trespasses? Well, I don’t know. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Of course, the communal warden may not even catch you. Or he may be very kind and forgiving. You may well get away with whatever you’re doing.
I took this picture in 2018 at the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
The sign was supposed to prevent tourists from stepping off the beaten path, because of the danger of falling off the cliffs and into the water. Ironically, the sign itself eventually ended up in the water.
In Croatian there’s an idiom “pasti u vodu” (literally, “fall into the water”), and it means “to fail, go bad, to disappoint”
Unfortunately, it appears that many well-intended laws may have “fallen into the water” in Croatia.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that all these regulations are well thought-out and reasonable. Finally, they are there for your good, right?
Dubrovnik is a beautiful city and you certainly want to make your own contribution to its beauty.