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While massive hordes of day-trippers, cruisers, and beach-goers flock to Dubrovnik in the summer season, smart travelers will consider winter in Dubrovnik as arguably the best time to visit this gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage-listed city, one of the top destinations in the Balkans.
Any time of year is, of course, suitable for visiting such an iconic Mediterranean city. Yet, winter has a lot going for it—may be surprisingly more so than you might think – and the Dubrovnik winter weather isn’t what you may think!
Croatia in winter isn’t like winter in Norway – it’s not that kind of winter destination. But, Dubrovnik has a ton of great things to keep you busy during the cooler months. Plus, there are many incentives to make you want to visit Dubrovnik in winter. The following are definitely the best five reasons why winter in Dubrovnik is a great idea.
Here Is Why Winter In Dubrovnik Is A Good Idea
Dubrovnik Without The Crowds
During the peak summer months, it’s not uncommon to see a handful of cruise ships pull into the harbor, dumping a mass of tourists into the Old Town. Summer vacationers, too, add to the sometimes extreme crowdedness of the inner city. But to be fair, those visitors are usually day-trippers who arrive in the morning and leave after or even before dinner. Summer evenings in Dubrovnik are glorious—let’s be honest.
However, if you would like to experience Dubrovnik in a totally different way all-day long, winter in Dubrovnik is when you should go there. There are still tourists around in December and January, but much, much fewer, meaning you can snag a seat at some of these top restaurants in the city without an extraordinary wait. And this, of course, makes it a completely different vacation.
Experience A More Authentic Dubrovnik
During a Dubrovnik winter, you can explore and discover the real Dubrovnik—the Dubrovnik that locals know and love—not the tourist attraction it is in summer. There are more locals in the streets in winter, taking advantage of the low season to enjoy their own and cherished city.
People are more relaxed and open, which creates a more authentic atmosphere and vibe. Winter in Dubrovnik is what the city really is like.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Money is an essential aspect of any trip, and if you can avoid spending more of it, why shouldn’t you? Dubrovnik in winter is a whole lot cheaper than in the height of summer.
Restaurants don’t charge a “summer surcharge” in winter, while parking fees drop by as much as 50%. However, the most significant savings lie in Dubrovnik accommodation prices (usually the biggest expense of a Croatia vacation).
Avoid The Heat
This is an obvious reason, but no less valid. The blistering heat of summer does attract a huge crowd of beach bums and water sports fanatics, and that’s understandable. However, if you’re someone who enjoys wrapping yourself up in warmer clothes, winter is an ideal time for you to visit Dubrovnik.
This is still the Mediterranean, though, so don’t expect any below-freezing temperatures or snow (although that does very occasionally happen). A Dubrovnik winter is a bit wetter than summer, but there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy – just bring a coat and some travel pants.
The Old Town of Dubrovnik is quite compact and walkable (besides the necessary transport to and from the airport) but not necessarily in summer. An afternoon walk on the shade-less City Walls in July, for example, is not the best idea. On a sunny day in winter, on the other hand, it’s absolutely glorious.
Photograph The Sights Without People In Your Way
Besides making the Old Town much more authentic, the lack of crowds also has another benefit. It allows you to photograph the numerous beautiful buildings, structures, and Dubrovnik attractions—the City Walls, Dubrovnik Cathedral, the Cable Car…—without other people blocking the view or taking selfies in front of them.
What To Do In Winter In Dubrovnik
Now that you have plenty of reasons to go to Dubrovnik in winter let’s look at what to do in Dubrovnik in winter. Naturally, going to the beach and sunbathing won’t be an option, but that’s totally fine. There are still plenty of fun hings to do in Dubrovnik in winter, as you’ll see below.
Games Of Thrones Experience / Game Of Thrones Filming Locations In Dubrovnik
One of the main reasons Dubrovnik has gained so much popularity in recent years is the Game of Thrones hype. Fans of this popular TV series instantly recognize it as Kings Landing, the Seven Kingdoms’ capital. You can visit various Game of Thrones filming locations in and around the Old Town on informative guided tours.
Festivity Of St. Blaise
Since as early as the year 972, the Festivity of St. Blaise has taken place in Dubrovnik every year. It is the festival of the patron saint of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise. The story goes that St. Blaise helped the people of Dubrovnik defend the city against the armies of Venice. It’s a major cultural event in Croatia, attended not only by Dubrovnik locals but also by people from other parts of Croatia and the world.
Taking place in early-February each year, the Festivity of St. Blaise is UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. In winter, if you visit Dubrovnik, try to plan your trip in February to experience this wonderful festival featuring theater performances, secular and religious concerts, book presentations, and a variety of exhibits.
Dubrovnik Winter Festival
Many people are aware of the ever so popular Dubrovnik Summer Festival, but fewer know about its winter-time cousin, the Dubrovnik Winter Festival. This reasonably new event is fun for both children and adults.
It takes place from the start of Advent and runs into the New Year, early-December through early-January. It is a feast of culture with various events and entertainment happening all over the Old Town and other parts of the city. You can expect things such as Christmas concerts, performances by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, heart-warming music, and hearty comfort food, and both children’s and adults’ New Year’s Eve parties.
Croatia is known for delightful advent celebrations, and Dubrovnik does not disappoint. The Dubrovnik Advent Markets are part of the Winter Festival, but it’s worth highlighting them a bit more. Lining Stradun, numerous food, drink, and crafts stalls offer everything you can expect from a European winter market, from mulled wine and traditional Christmas cakes to locally made handicrafts and Christmas tree decorations.
If you ever doubted that a Dubrovnik winter is a good idea, the Advent Markets will certainly change your mind. Just image the Old Town covered in Christmas lights, basking in an atmosphere so enchanting it will make you fall in head over heels in love with the city.
New Year’s Celebrations
Winter is a season of celebrations, not only Christmas but also New Year’s, of course. Each year, there is a diverse New Year’s program that covers three days. Visitors can enjoy a wonderful musical program that starts in the morning of New Year’s Eve, and on New Year’s Day, there is the traditional 10-kilometer race and a concert with champagne and oysters.
Walk The City Walls
Walking the City Walls is a major highlight any time of year, although summer afternoons can be unforgivingly hot. On a chilly winter day, the stairways and steps will undoubtedly warm up your body, while the views are always phenomenal.
A perfect time of day for a walk along the walls is late in the afternoon in winter when the Old Town below is lit up by thousands upon thousands of shining lights.
Dubrovnik Cable Car
One of the city’s star attractions, the Dubrovnik Cable Car, operates throughout the entire year. Once again, summer crowds can make a ride feel like you’re a sardine in a can; winter in Dubrovnik offers an entirely different experience. You will never be alone in the car, though, but you’ll definitely have much more room to enjoy the spectacular views. At the top, visit the Panorama Restaurant for a coffee, beer, or glass of wine while enjoying the city’s best view.
Mandarin Harvesting In Neretva
Not all things to do in Dubrovnik in winter are within the Old Town. There’s also plenty of opportunities to go for a day trip. And there’s no better excursion from Dubrovnik than mandarin harvesting in the Neretva Valley.
Sometimes referred to as “the garden of Dubrovnik,” this lush and gorgeous region is filled with farms and orchards. Citrus fruit has been grown in the Dubrovnik area since the 15th century, and the orchards are more alive and buzzing than ever. Especially mandarins are a widely grown fruit—estimates say that there are no fewer than 1.3 million mandarin seedlings in the Neretva Valley. This explains the valley’s other nickname: “the mandarin valley.”
This glorious region has also become a popular tourist destination just because of the mandarin harvest. The harvest starts in early-fall but runs well into winter, ideal for increasing your body’s vitamin C levels just in time for the coldest time of the year.
Rent A Fancy-Ass Apartment Or Hotel For Much Cheaper Than In Summer
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, one of the reasons to go to Dubrovnik in winter is its affordability. Prices drop significantly after the summer season, sometimes by as much as half. This makes it a smart idea to plan a visit in mid-winter. Even the most exclusive resorts and most stylish hotels in the Old Town will have rates that are too good to ignore. If you’ve ever wanted to spend a winter break in an old, iconic European coastal town, this is the time to do it with class.
Spa Day At A Hotel On The Cheap
Another wonderful thing about winter in Dubrovnik is all the discounts. Not only are parking fees, accommodation rates, and guided tours much cheaper, some activities are as well. Spending a day at a luxurious hotel spa, for example, becomes an extremely tempting thing to do in Dubrovnik just because of those significantly lower prices.
So, walk the City Walls, explore Dubrovnik’s Game of Thrones locations and stroll the Advent Markets, but don’t forget to relax. Treat yourself to a spa session after a long day sightseeing or, even better, get yourself a sublimely luxurious hotel room for a mindbogglingly cheap rate. Winter in Dubrovnik makes all this possible!