Facing out over a glistening Adriatic Sea is the walled city of Dubrovnik: its imposing stone walls surround the Old Town, and its eclectic mix of Baroque and Renaissance architecture flood the place with history and culture.
Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, this UNESCO World Heritage site is wildly popular with tourists, especially in the summer season, where crowds are almost wholly unavoidable. With its amazing sights, beautiful scenery, delicious food, nightlife and plentiful shopping experiences, it’s easy to see why it draws in the crowds.
At one point, Dubrovnik was so popular it became a victim of overtourism, an issue that occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. The situation got so bad that, back in 2017, UNESCO threatened to remove Dubrovnik’s World Heritage Site status unless it curbed tourist numbers.
The catalyst for this issue was the famous TV show, Game of Thrones, where instead of it being winter that was coming, it was tourists.
From video games, board games and online casino games to clothing lines and toy makers, many industries jump on the franchise bandwagon of famous TV shows and movies. The tourism industry is no different, with Dubrovnik being the setting for the famous King’s Landing in the Game of Thrones. Dubrovnik jumped on this, with tours popping up all over the Old Town and masses flocking from all over the world to see the places they are familiar with from the epic TV show.
Thankfully, the mayor, Mato Franković, has since addressed the overtourism crisis, and while Dubrovnik remains a very popular holiday destination, it is not as bad as it once was. The summer months – June, July and August – still remain incredibly busy though, which is why the winter months are often the best time to visit this fantastic city and beat those crowds.
Enjoy Dubrovnik without the crowds - Photo Canva
Not only are the crowds at their lowest, but the locals are enjoying having their city back from the masses, especially for the fabulous Christmas markets. In early February, the Day of St Blaise is celebrated, where the patron saint of Dubrovnik is celebrated over several days and the town comes alive. Winter here is also very pleasant temperature-wise, and while it may rain a little from time to time, you can expect plenty of clear dry days.
Strolling the city’s famous walls in the winter months means you get the stunning birds-eye view of the Old Town, with its patchwork red roofs and fortresses, all without having to fight the selfie stick-wielding tourists for space. There are plenty of instagrammable places in Dubrovnik, with the old wall taking the top spot. The full circuit of the 24-meter high and 6-meter-thick wall is a 2-kilometer walk, making it a lovely activity for a sunny winter day.
Instagram beauty in the winter months - Photo Canva
While Dubrovnik is certainly quieter in the winter months, you can beat crowds even more by staying a little bit outside of the city walls. Not only will you likely find cheaper accommodation, bars and restaurants, but you won’t be hit by crowds from the moment you wake up! Lapad is a good place to stay, and there are frequent buses to and from the Old Town. If you are happy to stay a little further afield, Cavtat or Orebic are charming little towns, and in the winter months, you may even find you have the places to yourselves.
The crowds of Dubrovnik should not put you off visiting this magnificent ancient city. It really is a spectacle to behold, and if you can get yourself a winter European break here, you will still get to enjoy the city in all its glory without sharing it with thousands of others.