How to Avoid Crowds in Dubrovnik

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NOTE: I was provided a Dubrovnik card and admission to certain attractions by the Dubrovnik Tourism Board, but opinions and tips are all my own.

[Editor’s note: this blog post is best enjoyed with the Game of Thrones theme song playing epically in the background]

When I found out that I’d be headed to Croatia this summer with MedSailors, my fangirl heart just about exploded.

King’s Landing Dubrovnik has been on my bucket list for ages, and I couldn’t wait to spend 3 days exploring its narrow streets, strutting around like the Khaleesi-in-training that I am.

I was a bundle of excitement, that is – until I started doing my research.

Quickly, my starry-eyed daydreams were replaced with more realistic words of caution: that Dubrovnik is insanely hot and, of course, over run with crowds, especially in peak season.

I had heard these warnings before, but that wasn’t going to stop me from storming through the Pearl of the Adriatic… I mean come on, have you seen photos of this place?

I knew that I’d have to do plenty of research and planning to ensure that I did this city justice, and I am very happy to say I did.

In fact, you should know, the first time I stepped into Old Town, I was grinning ear to ear like some kind of maniac. I loved it. Every minute.

And so, if (like me), you want to make the most your trip to Dubrovnik but you also (like me) fear the crippling crowds, here’s a guide to help you out, with tips to ensure that your trip is everything you ever dreamed.

Avoid crowds in Dubrovnik

Know when to see Old Town

If you’re coming to see Dubrovnik, it goes without saying that you’ll want to explore the Old Town. The issue is: everyone else is wanting to do the exact same thing. 

One morning I arrived at Pile Gate around 9:30am, and was genuinely shocked by the sheer volume of people being poured into the city.

Because Dubrovnik is a popular port for cruise ships, thousands of visitors arrive by the bus load, and eventually make their way into the tiny streets of Old Town.

My tip on is to arrive either very early in the morning, or preferably late in the afternoon (around 4pm).

I stayed somewhere with a fantastic rooftop pool, where I spent some relaxed mornings before heading into the touristic bustle of Old Town later in the day, when crowds had thinned.

You can also check the cruise ship schedule on the Port of Dubrovnik website, to see when the big floods of passengers will be coming in and leaving.

Time your sightseeing strategically

Dubrovnik has a lot of different museums and attractions that you’ll probably be keen to see.

Again, avoid peak hours (10-4) which is when most of the cruise ship passengers will be around.

Especially for the City Walls (a must-do for sure), I suggest going around 6pm, which gives you an hour to explore before they close. 

The temperatures are a lot more bearable at this time, and watching the sun dip down from this vantage point is unforgettable.

Happy to Wander Dubrovnik-0465

Wander the residential back streets

The streets of Old Town are narrow and packed, but if you wander off the main streets for even 2 minutes, you’ll find yourself pretty much on your own.

I loved exploring these little pockets of seclusion around the city, a bit of calm above the busy chaos in the streets below.

Enjoy a drink at a secluded bar

One of the best ways to beat Dubrovnik’s searing heat is by cooling down with a nice drink. For this, I recommend Buza.

Tucked away outside the city walls, this spot is well known for its prime views and a place where daredevils can cliff jump (though it’s not advised).

Despite its popularity, finding a table isn’t too tough, and the still and relaxing ambiance is a perfect way to recharge after several busy hours of sightseeing.

Buza Bar Dubrovnik

Escape to nature

There’s more to Dubrovnik than just admiring Old Town.

On one of the days, I took a quick 15 minute ferry ride over to Lokrum Island, a beloved spot of locals where there’s plenty of beaches, lush forests and even a salt water lake that boasts far fewer crowds than the busy bits of the city.

Here, the clutches of tourism are far less evident, and you can easily find a nice spot for yourself to swim, picnic or enjoy nature for the day.

Take time to savour the moment

When given a short time to explore a city, it’s sometimes hard to avoid the herd mentality of rushing from sight to sight.

I suggest slowing down though so you can fully soak up your experience.

For instance, I decided to watch the sunset from atop the Dubrovnik Cable Car one evening (another must-do!), but of course it was supremely busy.

After an excrutiating wait to get to the top, the crowds scattered and took a bunch of photos. Then, a few minutes after the sun dipped down, everyone once again rushed to leave and get down.

The line to get back down the mountain was so long that it spiralled all the way down several flights of stairs and outside onto the path.

What a waste of an amazing experience!

Instead of racing down like most of the other visitors, I instead found myself a nice place to sit on the rocks (admittedly, a little off bounds!), where I watched the city light up along a background of golden orange, then deep blue.

This is one of my favourite memories from my time in Dubrovnik, because I was able to take the time to slow down and enjoy the moment. A bottle of wine would have been nice, but hey you can’t have it all!

So, in conclusion, yes – Dubrovnik is hot, yes it’s crowded and yes, sometimes you will feel a bit suffocated… but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Dubrovnik is also inexplicably wonderful. Follow these tips and I’m sure you will feel the same. Happy travels!

Looking for more Balkans travel inspiration?

Check out this awesome One Week Montenegro Road Trip Itinerary from Dan Flying Solo.

… and Cool Things to do on a Road Trip through Bosnia & Herzegovina from Lili’s Travel Plans.

Happy to Wander Dubrovnik-0463


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27 thoughts on “How to Avoid Crowds in Dubrovnik”

  1. Dubrovnik is just as beautiful outside of summer, so that’s one easy way to reduce the crowd issue!

    If you want to catch those commanding views of the city (yeah, those same ones everyone queued for that cable car for), it’s actually a stunning walk up and down that hill!

    Even when we did it in peak season (sure it was hot), but we had the entire hillside and those views all to ourselves, and saved us a cable car fare as well!

    Boy did we enjoy those beers after too! 😉

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    • Haha wow congrats on surviving that climb!! I would have done it if I had more time (or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I’m lazy). Beers after sound magical though. Did you have them at the rooftop restaurant?

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  2. I have been to Croatia recently too, it looks so gorgeous where you were staying! You have a really lovely blog and seem so lovely too, I would love to keep in contact it is always nice to make new blogger friends, let me know! x

    adelelydia.blogspot.com

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    • Hi Adele, thanks so much for the sweet comment!! I’d love to stay in contact. Feel free to connect on social media and email me anytime.

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  3. Dubrovnik is stunning. These are some fantastic tips too! We gave up on going during peak season and ended up going during off-season (early March). We had the whole city to ourselves…and they were setting up the Star Wars set. Did you manage to do the City Walls in 1 hour? We are photo-holics, so we definitely needed 2 to get all the way around (so many stunning views).

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    • Yeah we got around in an hour, but you’re right – it’s easy to constantly stop along the walls for sure haha. It’s so cool that you were there when they were filming Star Wars! Even though the movie hasn’t even come out yet, the gift shops are already all stocked with Star Wars merchandise haha (along with the GoT of course).

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  4. I love exploring residential estates! It helps me feel a little more at home and I really enjoy observing how the residents care for their homes and gardens. Definitely will do that in Dubrovnik!

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  5. Dubrovnik is really beautiful with an old world charm. It is true that many of the best places in the world are overrun by tourists which many times mar the beauty. In that context your post is invaluable,in providing tips to explore Dubrovnik and avoid crowds.

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  6. Really important! I try to avoid crowds everywhere (which is really hard because more and more people are traveling nowadays!) but never thought that Dubrovnik would be crowded. Great tips! I’ll try out the residential backstreets when I get there.

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    • So happy you liked it, Bruno! I hope you have an amazing time in Dubrovnik. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions.

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  7. I remember Dubrovnik being crowded when I was there, but that was several years ago. I can only imagine it being worse now. I might be heading there soon, so this is useful information. I hate crowds!! Thank you for sharing this!

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    • I did get to see a few places because I did a sailing trip from Dubrovnik to Split, so we stopped at a lot of different islands but I really want to go back. So many more bits to see!

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    • Thanks, John! I hope you have an amazing time in the Balkans, and thanks for sharing your blog. I’ll be sure to check it out.

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  8. The sunset from the hill sounds perfect!

    One more thing that helped us survive the heat during the day was going for a swim – right outside the town wall, you can jump into the sea, and get refreshed in 2 minutes! Not the sandy beach feeling, but after hours of walking, it was just what we needed 🙂

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  9. Having read so much about how crowded it was, I actually didn’t find it as bad as I feared when I visited back in September (despite there being lots of ships in).

    Next time I’d consider staying outside the old town though as I felt it didn’t have much vibe in the evening after the crowds had gone, I might try the area near the port next time as it’s surprisingly cute compared with most big ports and the hostels are about half the price.

    Reply
    • Ahh yes – I think expectations play a big role. A lot of people go in thinking not realizing how busy it’ll be and end up disappointed. Good to hear you didn’t think it was so bad! I stayed outside of the Old Town yeah and enjoyed it, although we did take taxis into town in the evenings to go out. I guess there’s pros and cons to both!

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  10. Hi Christina, my wife and I are just back after a 4 day trip to Dubrovnik at the Easter weekend, it was very very busy and really expensive but I have to say it was a beautiful place to see.we stayed at a cheap hotel in Lapad outside the city and that was also a lovely walk in each day. I can only imagine what the crowds are like at high season. There’s a fantastic little fast food place just outside pile gate that served lovely and affordable food. We done the cable car which again was packed but was good fun, at the top we strayed off the beaten path and found a beautiful spot where we had our couple of beers that we carried up in our rucksacks, heaven. Love your blog, thanks for the info and tips, love from Dublin ❤️ John,

    Reply
  11. I spent a week in Dubrovnik last summer with my girlfriend, and it was certainly worthwhile. It was very warm, and it was quite crowded. The waters were crystal clear and wonderfully warm.

    The cost was reasonable. I felt that the value for money was good considering how much we ended up doing.

    The old town itself is stunningly beautiful. The food was lovely, too, and the people were very accommodating and fun to be around. I’d definitely recommend a visit!

    Reply

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