Digital Nomads

Dubrovnik Showcases Its Credentials, as Nomad Trails Head East in Europe

By 13 May 2022
Dubrovnik Showcases Its Credentials, as Nomad Trails Head East in Europe
Connecting in Dubrovnik: Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepsic (left) and Tourist Board Director Ana Hrnic, right, with 3 of LinkedIn's top 10 voices on remote work - Rowena Hennigan, Mandy Fransz and Sarah Hawley

May 13, 2022 - Continuing our look at last week's Dubrovnik conference - and conference locations - at Work. Place. Culture. Day 2 and a focus on Dubrovnik, nomad trails, nomad destinations, and a voyage on the high seas. 

The first time I sat at a conference in Lazareti, the picturesque former quarantine quarters just outside the historic old walls of Dubrovnik, was just over 18 months ago, in October 2020. Together with Saltwater Nomads, the City of Dubrovnik, and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. TCN organised the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads. 

I remember at the time how eyebrows were raised. Dubrovnik?!? Famous for its overtourism, and hardly the cheapest destination on the Adriatic. 

Some 18 months later, on Day 2 of last week's excellent Work. Place. Culture. conference, as I settled into the fourth panel of this absorbing conference, I afforded myself a smile.

The panel, Eyes on Croatia, featured Dubrovnik Deputy Mayor, Jelka Tepsic, Dubrovnik Tourist Board director, Ana Hrnic, digital nomad  Steve Tsentserensky in Florida, Sara Dyson of Expat in Croatia, and moderator, Han Talbot of the Remote Life Podcast. Around me in the room were 3 of LinkedIn's top 10 voices for remote work (and all keynote speakers), the Tourist Board of Estonia, a country which is pioneering digital transformation, and a host of other significant voices and names in the remote work movement. 

How had Dubrovnik gone from zero to this in just 18 months?


(Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepsic and Tourist Board Director Ana Hrnic have been instrumental in pushing forward Dubrovnik's digital nomad story.)

The answer lay largely in two of the ladies in the panel, Jelka Tepsic and Ana Hrnic, who have not only enthusiastically embraced the digital nomad opportunity in search of a more sustainable future for the city's tourism, but have gone above and beyond to implement recommendations, so that I can truly say that in many ways Dubrovnik is at the cutting edge of this new type of tourism. 

After supporting the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program in April 2021 - the first of its kind in the world - Dubrovnik has been working hard to implement the recommendations of the 10 international resident nomads, and together with the momentum of Croatia in general in this sector, the region is becoming noticeably more interesting for digital nomads. One speaker commented that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of nomads heading east from Western and Central Europe. 


Hrnic and Tepsic explained that in addition to the conferences and co-working spaces, Dubrovnik is also introducing two co-living spaces, a dedicated website for digital nomads and longer-term visitors (  is due to go live later this month), a digital nomad concierge point at the main tourist board office by Pile Gate, and a digital nomad card where registered nomads will be able to enjoy discounts from participating businesses. Coupled with the recent introduction of Croatia's digital nomad hotline (a global first), the public-private partnership and some innovative approaches, is making Croatia - and Dubrovnik - increasingly noticed. 


18 months ago, the Digital Nomad Association was launched at that inaugural conference, again the first in the world, an initiative which is being replicated around the world - DNA Italy, DNA Bulgaria, and DNA USA were all presenting at this conference, as well as Turkey and and Jon from Sun & Co - an award winning coliving space in Spain which is on everyone’s trail.. 

The concept of regional nomad trails is evolving in the region, and they also proved to be a focus on Day 2.  Last year, Hrnic and Tepsic travelled to Budva for the Cross Border Co-Working Conference, where they presented the best practices of Dubrovnik. This cross-border collaboration was highlighted in the session Nomad Trails - Regional Spotlight (Balkans and Mediterranean) with Tanja Polegubic, and Making Digital Nomad Destinations, with an introduction by Anna Maria Kochanska. In addition to the Budva initiative, this conference had plenty of evidence of the development of a regional trail. In addition to participation from all over Croatia, there was also representation from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and a strong presence from Albania. The 6-strong delegation had come to learn and network ahead of their inaugural Tirana Nomad Festival in September, the latest expansion in the regional digital nomad story. 

And it is not just a 'Balkan' trail, but also the emergence of a Mediterranean Trail as well. The participation of the Venice team from Venywhere is a destination with much in common with Dubrovnik.  


(Scotland warmed up proceedings ahead of its presentation with a complimentary wee dram of whisky.)

One of the most interesting presentations for me was Destinations - both in-person and virtual from destinations at various stages of their remote work destination offer. They included experienced superstars, such as Estonia, as well as less developed destinations such as Scotland, who had come to learn and network. In all, there were presentations from Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Scotland, Mostar, Estonia, Venice, Lithuania, Serbia, Bansko, Central Istria, Valencia, Tirana, Split, and Ukraine. 

There was plenty of diverse content away from the region on the second day, which began with some relaxing meditation from Yvette Pelgrom of Lifebook, which was followed by Jakob Knutzen of Butter on the subject of Remote Facilitation and how we believe facilitation is a must-have skill for remote people and project managers. 

This was followed by the final keynote of the 3 top 10 LinkedIn voices of remote work, who attended Work. Place. Culture. in person. One of the stars of the conference, Rowena Hennigan of RoRemotely, was clearly delighted to be doing her first in-person presentation in some time, and her dulcet Irish tones were appreciated by all. 


Rowena presented on the topic of Community and it being the glue that binds and connects and culture. She argued that each individual has a part to play in community, where they work, when they are in a destination and as part of the local culture.  Community is everyone's responsibility! She described various ways we can contribute, by saying yes to invitations, being supportive and "carrying the torch" and running the events that keep a community alive. Rowena also gave a very insightful overview of the presentations of the previous day. You can view her entire presentation in the video above (please note - other presentations will be added to this article as they become available). 


(Open fishbowl)

The tempo of the conference worked well, especially with the mixing up of formats, from individual presentations to panel discussions. A very popular and lively addition was the Open Fishbowl, focusing on Communities, Associations, and Platforms, where participants in question and answer mode swapped places regularly, allowing others to participate on certain topics. 

But this, being Dubrovnik, there was much more to explore... And what more popular destination setting than Kings Landing itself? With Lazareti located close to the infamous Game of Thrones Wall of Shame, the afternoon programme offered either sea kayaking from Banje Beach or a Game of Thrones tour, before an early evening cruise on the imperious wooden boat, Karaka. 


In mild weather and calm seas, Karaka, a beautiful replica of a 16th-century wooden merchant ship of the Dubrovnik Republic. is yet one more spectacular option for a conference agenda, and it was chosen at the location to present the initial findings of last year's Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. 


(Tanja Polegubic and Erin Maxwell presenting the findings of the Digital Nomads-in-Residence program on board Karaka in May 2021)

The one-hour cruise, accompanied by wine and music, departs from the main harbour in Gruz, before its majestic arrival at the old harbour in the old town, just metres from Lazareti. 

An evening of fine food, wine and music at the Arsenal restaurant ensued. 


To learn more about the Work. Place. Culture. conference, visit the official website

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

For an overview of the opening party, click here.

For an overview of Day 1, click here