There's no denying that Dubrovnik really is the most beautiful UNESCO-listed Pearl of the Adriatic. With its magnificent walled old town set on its own peninsula peeking out of a jagged coastline, Dubrovnik is an absolute stunner. Visit in summer, however, and the first thing you'll want to do (once you step foot in Old Town) is to take the first speed boat right out of there.
As the most visited Adriatic port town by commercial cruise liners, Dubrovnik gets besieged by tens of thousands of daily visitors in summer. Unless you're on one such ship, overcrowding might overshadow your enjoyment.
The trick to truly enjoying your visit?
Visit during the shoulder months
If you can, avoid the height of the European summer (June/July/August), which can be brutally hot. Instead, plan your trip for May or September, the latter being gratifying. The weather will still be idyllic for sightseeing, the sea warm enough for gorgeous swims, roads unclogged by tour buses, and that magical old town, the small maze it is, will have room to breathe. Plus, prices will be lower, and the place's overall' vibe' will be much less chaotic. That's a win-win-win in our books!
Walk the Wall at 8 am or lunchtime
If you can only visit Croatia in summer, then do know that organized tours are pretty predictable. Those ginormous ships don't offload passengers early (because buffet breakfast!), and they all include an organized lunch in a local restaurant. Your cunning tactic? Tackle the stunning Walls of Dubrovnik Walk at 8 am (summer opening hours) or lunchtime. The two-hour round walk atop the medieval walls of Old Dubrovnik (which is unmissable!) is much more enjoyable with fewer fellow visitors. Brave the brutal lunchtime heat if you have to: wear a hat and sunscreen and reward yourself with a refreshing swim when the early afternoon crowd reappears.
The best viewpoint of Old Dubrovnik?
(Hint: it's not the cable car!)
Because tourists are predictable, you can count on them first walking the walls in Dubrovnik and then catching the cable car behind the city for all-encompassing views. Now, you wouldn't go to the trouble of dodging crowds for the former only to get stuck behind them in the latter, right? So, skip the cable-car ride altogether and take the Old Town exit at the Pile Gate instead. Follow the road, uphill and southbound, for about 20 minutes. Pass the cable car's base station and keep walking – you will soon reach a magnificent viewpoint that is lesser-visited and makes for outstanding photography.
Best Area for Accommodation
Old Town Dubrovnik is a small, crowded, and expensive place to stay overnight. A better and cheaper option is to sleep outside the city gates. Just know that the northern edges of town lie at sea level. Although you will likely have sea views from western-facing rooms, you won't have any view of Old Town. The southern side, however, ascends steeply – choose a sea-facing hotel or apartment south of Old Town, and you'll soak up those magical Old Town views.
Have you been to Dubrovnik and have a few of your own insider's tips? We'd love it if you shared them in the comments!