Dubrovnik is the most famous and the most popular city in Croatia. However, is Dubrovnik a safe place? Is Dubrovnik safe at night?
- YES. Croatia is safe to begin with, and Dubrovnik is possibly the safest city in Croatia, even at night!
- There are several reasons why Dubrovnik is so safe, including its isolation, history and inhabitants
- At daytime, the only real threat to safety might be pickpockets, heatstrokes, sea urchins and, of course, the ominous pigeons.
Croatia Is Safe
Global Finance has made a list of the safest countries in the world in 2019.
Factors that influenced the ranking on this list are: War and Peace, personal safety and the risk of natural disasters.
At the top of the list are mostly European countries. The first is, somewhat surprisingly, Iceland, followed by Switzerland, Finland, Portugal, Austria, Norway …
Of the non-European countries, Qatar, Singapore, New Zealand and Canada are among the top 20.
Croatia ranks 22nd on the list of safest countries in the world.World Economic Forum, The Global Institute For Peace
Bosnia and Herzegovina is 56th, Serbia 58th, while Slovenia, Croatia’s western neighbour, ranks high 12th.
The United Kingdom ranks 38th, United States ranks 65th (because of the high homicide rate), and the only two European countries behind the United States are Russia and Ukraine.
The full list can be found here.
Dubrovnik Is Safe
I was born and raised in Dubrovnik. And it has always been safe. (well, except in the 1990’s War).
Children happily play on the streets, walk to school and back alone. People go to the beach even at night and dry their laundry within the reach of passers-by. Because they know nothing is going to happen.
According to the last reliable census (2017), there are 1557 permanent inhabitants in the old town (my aunt is one of them). Even if that number has dropped in the meantime (and it probably has), it’s still a considerable number of people.
If you knock on someone’s door in Dubrovnik Old City, an elderly lady (she may or may not be dressed in black) would shout down at you from her attic window: “What do you want?!” Even before you say why you’re there, you can be sure that she knows who you are. Her neighbours know that, too. They know your name, your parent’s name, your shoe size and your marital status.
Even the shutters In Dubrovnik are specially designed to allow the agents of the Croatian Secret Police, disguised as elderly ladies, to watch you without being seen.
There’s, of course, a downside to this. You have no privacy. But there is an upside: Dubrovnik is safe.
Is Dubrovnik Safe At Night?
I believe it’s even safer at night that at daytime.
There are less people on the streets, so it’s easy to tell what’s happening. Dubrovnik is very calm, so any unusual noise cannot go unnoticed.
Dubrovnik, unlike Split, is rather …I wouldn’t say boring.. but… peaceful. So even tourists eventually adapt to Dubrovnik’s biorhythm. In other words, behave decently.
Why Is Dubrovnik So Safe?
Well, I already explained the first, and probably the foremost reason: Dubrovnik is a small place where everybody knows each other. As if there’s a constant neighbourhood watch.
Another reason Dubrovnik could be described as a safe place are the borders. You have to cross the border to come to Dubrovnik. The same goes for leaving. There will be a police check-up at the border.
An acquaintance of mine had a car with the broken lock. And she didn’t have it fixed. She didn’t need to. I have never heard about a car being stolen in Dubrovnik. (Looking back now, the real reason why her car was never stolen was that it was a YUGO!*)
*YUGO: A car that was proudly produced in Yugoslavia and even presumptuously exported to the USA. Eventually, it became a laughingstock.
A word of caution. There are pickpockets in Dubrovnik. There are pickpockets in Split, too. As well as at the Plitvice Lakes National Park. And the Krka National Park.
This is one of the blessings we’ve had since we joined the EU. Pickpockets from other countries of the EU would happily browse through your backpacks here in Croatia, too. Beware of any decent looking person with a hat on!
And, BTW, always wear a hat. The sun can be relentless in Dubrovnik, especially if you’re doing the City Walls.
Also, another thing to keep in mind are sea urchins. Although they are indicative of clean water, stepping on them can be really unpleasant. Hence, always be extra careful when swimming away from designated public beaches.
Accessibility of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has always been “hard to get”. They didn’t built those impressive ramparts for no reason. They made sure that it stays like that. Dubrovnik turned itself into an island. It was a matter of life and death back then.
This frame of mind can still be discerned in the Dubrovnik mentality. Of course, they’ll be nice to you and all, but generally speaking, Dubrovnik has always expressed distrust in foreigners.
A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock
I am an island
I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock
I am an island
Don’t talk of love
But I’ve heard the word before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock
I am an island
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock feels no painSimon & Garfunkel, I Am A Rock, 1966
And an island never cries
Why Do You Have To Pass Through Bosnia And Herzegovina To Reach Dubrovnik?
Many are surprised to find out that there is a little portion of the Bosnian territory cutting Croatia in half just outside of Dubrovnik.
The only seaside resort of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city of Neum, is very popular with tourists, especially from Bosnia itself, because no visas or passports are needed for them, and the prices are lower.
But what is this territory all about?
In 1699 Dubrovnik gave a portion of its territory to the Ottoman Empire as a buffer zone between themselves and the Venetian province of Dalmatia.
It eventually became part of a different country, Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is why you need a passport if you travel to Dubrovnik by road.
The New Bridge
However, a building of the new bridge may mark the beginning of the new era for Dubrovnik.
In order to bypass the Bosnian territory and join Dubrovnik to the rest of the country, a super expensive bridge is being built just before the Neum stretch. It is expected to be completed in 2022.
There will be no more border controls. Would that be detrimental to the safety of Dubrovnik? Only the time will show.
Pro’s And Con’s Of Being Safe
However, for the time being, there still is no bridge out there. This confinement is both a blessing and a curse to Dubrovnik. Being effectively an island, Dubrovnik is rather safe. On the other hand, it’s quite isolated.
Dubrovnik is far. The A1 motorway stops some 100 kilometres away. Hence, Dubrovnik depends on airline traffic. That is why, unlike other parts of the Croatian coastline, its tourism was so negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Nevertheless, if you literary went an extra mile to come to Dubrovnik in 2020, you were probably so blessed. You could have Dubrovnik just for yourself. What a delight!
PS. I forgot to mention one of the most imminent threats you can encounter in Dubrovnik:
Every day, at noon, pigeons are being fed at the market square in Dubrovnik (Gundulićeva poljana).
Just before noon, Dubrovnik looks like Alfred Hitchcock’s film.
Always walk AWAY from the houses and AWAY from the street lamps. I think you know why!