When Marissa Sutera published her blog on Dubrovnik the social media world exploded. Entitled “The Budget Traveller’s Guide to Dubrovnik,” the blog post giving advice on how to make the cash in your pocket last longer received a “standing ovation,” from the online community. Sutera is the founder of “Little Things Travel,” a blog where she shares tips and stories of her travels while ultimately focusing on appreciating the little things in life. She is a Chicago native but is currently based in Boulder, Colorado where she seeks out any adventures she can in between her travels. She visited Dubrovnik in August 2015 during her journey around Croatia, exploring her Croatian heritage and the country's beauty and history. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with Sutera to reveal her inside tips on Dubrovnik, why bloggers are so important and why you should walk up Srd and not take the cable car!
Firstly why did you decide to travel to Dubrovnik and what were your first impressions of the city?
It started out as a family trip. I have Croatian heritage, so my family decided to take a trip to Croatia. While they didn't have enough time to make it down to Dubrovnik, I had an extra week to spend travelling around the country so I took the bus down from Split on my own after they left. I had heard of the beauty of Dubrovnik and had seen photos, so I knew I couldn't miss the opportunity to experience that for myself. I was in awe during the bus ride along the coast from Split to Dubrovnik. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we pulled into town and I was stunned by the sheer beauty of this coastal city -- more than any photo could convey. To think that just over a decade ago this city was ravished by war blew my mind. While the memory is still fresh, I was impressed at the city's resilience to push forward to create the Dubrovnik I was greeted with that day.
You have written an article for your blog entitled “The Budget Traveller’s Guide to Dubrovnik,” is this because you found the city expensive?
I wouldn't say expensive, as the prices seemed to be comparable to those in the United States. However, I did find Dubrovnik to be pricier than other parts of Croatia like Split and Zagreb where I had been travelling prior to Dubrovnik, so I wanted to share how it was still possible to see Dubrovnik even on a tight budget.
How important, in your opinion, is the role of bloggers in promoting a destination?
Incredibly important! I think it's becoming even more crucial every day, especially among younger consumers. According to Research Now, blogs are the #1 information source used when making a purchasing decision for 18-34 year olds. That means they turn to blogs more than their friends and family! Especially when promoting a destination, blogs tend to share personalized tips and suggestions based on their own experiences that make them more trustworthy for consumers who want an honest perception of the experience.
Apart from the attractions that you mentioned in your blog which other sights would you recommend visitors to Dubrovnik to explore?
One thing I didn't mention much in my guide to Dubrovnik is the nearby islands. Especially in Old City, Dubrovnik can get quite crowded during the summers. I loved exploring the island of Lokrum to escape the crowds, and I even went on an Island Hopping Tour around Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan, the only Elaphite Islands that are inhabited. I'd recommend a visit to any one (or more) of these for peaceful relaxation!
What would you recommend tourists to avoid in Dubrovnik?
I would recommend avoiding the big tourist beaches. There are so many small beaches and bathing areas that there is no need to squeeze into a spot on an overcrowded beach. I would also suggest skipping the cable car and hiking up to the top of Mount Srd instead, unless you are physically unable to. It will take extra time and effort, but you will also get to enjoy more breathtaking views along the journey to the top.
How did Dubrovnik compare to other destinations that you have visited and would you come again?
Dubrovnik was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I would absolutely return to Dubrovnik! It has certainly earned its name as the "Pearl of the Adriatic".
How pleased were you with the level of service that you received in the city?
I loved it! In the United States, we are so used to rushing all the time and sitting down for a good meal is rarely enjoyed the way it should be. In Croatia (and generally all of Europe), meals are taken at a much slower pace. The servers let you take your time, which is a quality I strive to do more often back home.
Can you sum up Dubrovnik in three words?
Impressive historical gem.