Are you heading to Dubrovnik in winter?
The gorgeous Croatian city is famous for its fascinating history and charming old town. In fact, the entire city is a UNESCO site that looks like it has been frozen in time.
In the summer season, Dubrovnik is brimming with tourists, so much so that it’s tough to properly enjoy all the attractions!
But in the winter months, Dubrovnik is much quieter, with a fraction of the visitors and cooler weather.
It’s the ideal place for a winter city break, thanks to the fact that there are lots of seasonal festivals, its milder weather and a range of attractions.
Plus, during Christmas, there are plenty of festive activities!
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Why visit Dubrovnik in the winter season?
Dubrovnik city is famous as a summer destination.
It boasts a complex history spanning all the way back to the 13th century, which you can see today with beautiful architecture that looks like it’s been frozen in time.
It’s also renowned for its beautiful beaches and warm weather – so why should you visit it in winter?
During winter, the walled city is much less crowded than in the middle of summer, so you can freely explore fairy-tale Dubrovnik without having to pre-book anything.
In the peak season, there are always a few cruise ships in the waters around the city, but these don’t really pass through in the winter, further contributing to the lack of crowds.
It’s the ideal time to get lost in the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Dubrovnik’s old city, explore the walls at your own leisure, and eat at some of Croatia’s best restaurants without needing to book!
The weather is also much warmer than in the rest of the Balkans during the winter months.
Granted, it will be cooler than a summer holiday in Croatia, but it’s a lot warmer than elsewhere in Europe!
Another thing to consider is how much cheaper a winter holiday to Dubrovnik can be!
With Dubrovnik being such a popular destination in warmer months, landlords and locals usually inflate their prices.
This means that in the middle of summer, this city can be extremely expensive!
But when the crowds of tourists leave, prices go down to their usual value.
So outside of peak tourist season, so you can often get a really good deal whether it is an apartment rental, a restaurant, or a souvenir shop.
What’s the weather like in Dubrovnik in winter?
Although Dubrovnik is in the Balkans, which are known to get pretty cold during winter, Dubrovnik itself doesn’t experience sub-zero temperatures.
That’s mainly because it is located on the coast and has the undoubtedly Mediterranean climate.
The temperatures in winter are around 10°C/ 50°F, so it isn’t nearly as cold as the rest of the Balkans (if you want a chilly winter break, check out our post on Belgrade!).
On a sunny winter day, the thermometer can climb even higher! This is partially why it’s so popular as a winter city break.
However, be mindful that Dubrovnik is also a pretty wet destination, with quite a few rainy days in winter.
Snow on the other hand is very rare – although if you are in town for a couple of days a year when it can happen, you’ll experience a real fairy-tale Dubrovnik!
Winter festivals in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik winter festival
The Dubrovnik winter festival brings festive spirit to the streets throughout the cooler months.
It’s a fiesta of cultural activities, beginning at the end of November (when Dubrovnik’s still one of Europe’s warmest places) and lasting until the beginning of January.
Firstly, the streets are covered in Christmas lighting, giving the whole city a fairytale-like, serene atmosphere.
There are also concerts happening throughout the festival, covering lots of music genres.
The biggest event is New Years’ Eve, when there is an open-air concert in the center of the city and fireworks at midnight.
Kolenda is more of a tradition than a festival, but it’s well worth experiencing.
It consists of kolendari (people who participate in Kolenda) walking through streets and visiting houses while singing kolendas (songs) and celebrating the upcoming Christmas and the New Year.
They often carry instruments such as mandolins, guitars, and accordions to play while singing!
Love dressing up and a carnival atmosphere?
Visit the Croatian city during the first half of February to experience the Dubrovnik Carnival.
It’s an event where people of all ages take to the streets in their costumes and dance and have fun.
There are also judges who have to decide which costumes are the best – and anyone can take part!
The carnival ends with the Ultimi party for all ages, which is the favorite part for most participants.
There can be a slight tourist rush during the carnival, but it’s still a lot quieter than the summer!
Things to do in Dubrovnik in winter
Game of Thrones tour
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you can’t miss the famous Game of Thrones Walking Tour of Dubrovnik.
It’s one of the most popular attractions in the beautiful city – and for good reason.
The tour, featuring many locations which were used in the show, is led by a professional tourist guide who talks about the history of the location, both in real life and in the show.
Some of the locations that you’ll visit are Fort Lovrijenac and Trsteno Arboretum.
You’ll also have a chance to enjoy the best view of Dubrovnik old city skyline, which you may know as King’s Landing.
You’ll also learn some interesting and funny behind-the-scenes stories that you’ve probably never heard before!
Walking tour of the city center
If you aren’t interested in Game of Thrones, it’s worth doing a general walking tour of the center.
You’ll learn all about Dubrovnik’s city, modern culture and see some hidden spots that you may not have found otherwise!
Regarded as the most beautiful feature of the city, the old city walls of Dubrovnik are a must-visit.
You’ll probably see a part of them during the Game of Thrones tour, but it’s best to explore it them their entirety if you have time.
The whole route is around two kilometers/ 1.2 miles long, and walking them is even better in winter because the walk is nice and cool, with no risk of getting sunburn or heat exhaustion.
They were first built in the 10th century and were used as a defense against invaders.
That’s why along the walls you can find other defensive structures such as the Bokar Tower, Fort Lovrjenac, the Revelin Fortress, and the Minceta Tower.
From the top, you can take in immense views of Dubrovnik Old City!
To really take in the views and learn about the walls, you can do a sunset tour of them. Click here to book the tour.
Dubrovnik cable car
The Dubrovnik cable car is the best way to take in the beautiful city and its surroundings.
The ride itself isn’t very long, only around 10 minutes, but you’ll enjoy spectacular views as you climb meter by meter.
Make sure to ride it on a sunny winter day, as you can see up to 50 kilometers/ 30 miles if there are no clouds.
Of course, the ride isn’t the only interesting thing, because you can explore Srd Hill once you reach the top!
Here, there’s the Imperial Fortress which was built in the 19th century by the French who were occupying the region at the time.
You can also chill at a restaurant overlooking the city or visit the traditional coin-minting blacksmith shop.
There’s also an exhibition about the Balkan War and its impact on Croatia.
The Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik
For art lovers, there’s no better recommendation than the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik (MODAM).
It opened in 1945 and features more than 3000 artworks from famous Croatian and international artists.
The collection covers the period from the late 1800s to post-war.
There’s something for architecture fans too.
The building in which the museum is located was once home to one of the richest families in the city, so it is an art piece in itself!
Leap into history at Rector’s Palace, which is known as the historical and cultural center of the UNESCO site of Dubrovnik’s old town.
This gothic-renaissance palace was built in the 15th century, designed by Onofrio de la Cava.
It has quite a turbulent past, as it went through many conflicts, fires, and earthquakes, but it still stands firm today.
If you like to stroll around palaces, you’ll absolutely love this Dubrovnik attraction.
Inside, besides beautiful architecture, you’ll also find a central courtyard that looks like a scene out of a fairytale when it is covered by snow. It also seems especially magical when bathed in sunlight in winter!
Within the palace, you can also find the Cultural Historical Museum which has over 15,000 pieces, many of which depict the life in the Republic of Ragusa in medieval times.
The Dominican monastery is also a gothic-renaissance palace that’s well worth visiting, and there’s also a Franciscan monastery that dates back to the 13th century – it’s wonderful to see both without the crowds of tourists!
After a long day of exploring the beautiful city, you’ll probably want to relax and treat yourself to some delicious food.
The best place for that is Stradun Street.
It’s a popular tourist destination in the center of Dubrovnik, thanks to its famous white limestone panting and the beautiful houses which surround it.
It has a lot of cafes and restaurants serving amazing food, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to try some traditional Croatian cuisine.
There are also a lot of shops where you can buy anything from a souvenir to new clothes.
Dubrovnik Cathedral and Treasury
If you’re a fan of beautiful architecture and rich history, look no further than the Dubrovnik Cathedral and Treasury.
Dubrovnik Cathedral, also known as Assumption Cathedral, was built in the Baroque style by Andrea Buffalini.
Apart from the famous three aisles, three apses, and gorgeous interior, the Cathedral also has beautiful paintings by Italian and Dalmatian artists from the 16th century.
The Treasury is even more renowned, thanks to the many important relics it possesses.
The most important is the piece of the cross on which Jesus is thought to have been crucified. There are also numerous silver and gold relics from all around the world.
Also built in gothic-renaissance times, Sponza Palace is in the heart of Dubrovnik old town.
Frozen in time, this palace in the UNESCO site is a must for any fan of history. And in the winter, you won’t have to share the space with thousands of fellow tourists!
It has a fascinating history and has been a treasury, armory, mint, and bank.
It’s worth visiting to admire the architecture, but also to see the exhibition about the Balkan War and some of the state archives.
The island of Lokrum is only 600 meters away from Dubrovnik, and it’s easy and cheap to visit.
It’s popular in the middle of summer, but as it’s so close to the city it’s also a winter destination!
You can either take a small ferry or rent a kayak – although the ferry may be the only option if you’re visiting Dubrovnik in January or February.
The island offers the best view of the Old Town as well as some attractions, including:
- Fort Royal Castle, which was constructed by Napoleon’s troops
- an old Benedictine Monastery inside of which you can find a small museum dedicated to the island
- an inland salt lake named the Dead Sea, which looks dreamy on a sunny winter day
You can do a Game of Thrones tour of Lokrum – click here to read more about this!
Day trip to Montenegro or Bosnia from Croatia
Thanks to Dubrovnik’s position – it’s actually an exclave from the rest of Croatia and it’s situated in the southern part of the country – it’s easy to access both Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
You could visit coastal towns in Montenegro like Kotor or Budva, or visit the historic town of Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are buses available, but these can be quite complicated, so the easiest way to take a day trip is to either self-drive or book a guided tour.
There are day tours available from Dubrovnik to Bosnia or Montenegro.
- Click here for a day trip to Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Click here for a day trip to Kotor and Budva in Montenegro.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
There are plenty of luxury hotels and guest houses in Dubrovnik; and in the winter, you can enjoy them for a lot cheaper!
Guest House Tomassi is one of the most popular guest houses in Dubrovnik Old Town. Located right in the heart of the town center, it’s a small accommodation with suites or double rooms on offer. The spaces are perfectly clean with beautiful features, and the rates are extremely affordable! Click here for more information about it.
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel, La Vita e Bella II is perfect for a winter visit, boasting well-furnished spaces, high-speed WiFi, and deluxe bathrooms with all the mod-cons you’ll need. Click here to read more about it.
Hotel Dubrovnik Palace is a five-star property that’s situated in the beachy area of the city. It has a gorgeous pool complex and features like a gym, restaurant and spa. You might not use the pool in the winter months, but the rooms are incredibly spacious and luxurious, so it’s still the ideal space to enjoy! Click here to read more about it.
How to get to Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik main bus terminal has connections to cities all around the country, including Split, Zagreb and Zadar.
It’s around a 4.5-hour bus ride to Split and a 10-hour bus ride to Zagreb.
You can also reach other Balkan destinations like Kotor, Montenegro, and Sarajevo, Bosnia.
There’s no train station in Dubrovnik.
You can fly into Dubrovnik from many other European cities, including London, Paris and Berlin.
Another perk of visiting in the cooler months is that, without the crowds of tourists,
How to get around Dubrovnik
The center of Dubrovnik is quite walkable, and you won’t want to drive around the old city anyway!
Walking around by foot in winter allows you to take in the silent streets and magical architecture.
Uber operates in Dubrovnik and can be a cheap alternative to taxis.
What to pack for Dubrovnik for a winter visit
- As the weather can be a bit erratic, I’d recommend packing a coat, but also plenty of layers so you can wear something cooler if the weather is warm!
- Shoe-wise, opt for comfortable boots or closed toe shoes that you’ll be able to walk around in all day.
- Tap water is safe to drink in Dubrovnik; in fact, all of Croatia has drinkable water. So I’d recommend packing a chilly’s bottle!
- Whether you’re visiting Croatia for a winter or summer holiday, comprehensive travel insurance is essential. I use SafetyWing, which I can turn on and off depending on when I’m out of the country.
- Having a high-quality camera will help you to snap the perfect photos without the crowds of tourists.
Are you ready for Dubrovnik in the winter months?
If you’re looking for a winter destination somewhere in the Balkans without the crowds of tourists, there’s nowhere better than fairy-tale Dubrovnik.
While it’s teeming in the summer months, you’ll certainly avoid the tourist rush.
If Dubrovnik is on your bucket list, consider avoiding the summer holiday and visiting out of season!
With a much more tranquil atmosphere, it’s incredible for a winter city break.