I have mixed feelings about Dubrovnik. On the one hand, it is unbelievably beautiful. People call it the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ for a reason. On the other hand, I felt constantly annoyed by the cruise ship tourists, Game of Thrones tour sellers, and the expensive prices. In summer, there are simply too many tourists in the old center of Dubrovnik. Despite my irritations, I tried to keep an eye on the beauty of Dubrovnik. This city is a pleasure to photograph because everything is so beautiful. So do not let the summer crowds ruin your Dubrovnik visit. In this blogpost, I am sharing my tips on how to avoid the summer crowds and enjoy the city as best as possible.
Summer in Dubrovnik: how to survive the crowds?
Get up early to to take a walk on the city walls
Dubrovnik is one of the last remaining completely walled cities in Europe. The total length is 1940 meters. Because of this grand fortification, the city was well protected during wartime. The last battle was not that long ago, during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1992). Today, the wall is a popular tourist attraction. A complete walk takes two hours, but that time flies by so fast. You will be constantly ‘distracted’ by the beautiful city and sea view. The best time to visit the wall is in the early morning hours. Cruise ship tourists are still asleep. Bring a hat and sunscreen, because it can get hot on the wall and there is no shade.
Entrance fee: 200 kn. Expensive, but worth it.
Lunch time: go inside and visit War Photo Limited
Around 11 AM, more tourist groups will be pouring into the old city of Dubrovnik. Temperatures will also rise, so it’s time to go inside! I recommend visiting the War Photo Limited gallery. Dubrovnik is so beautiful, you would almost forget that this was also a war zone in the nineties. During the Croatian War of Independence, Dubrovnik was kept under siege for seven months by the Yugoslav People’s Army. People were cut off from water and electricity. Moreover, the city was shot from the sea and the hills around the city. This resulted in a ruined Dubrovnik. This gallery clearly shows how this period must have been for the people. In addition to the permanent photo exhibition about the Yugoslav war, the museum also has temporary exhibitions about other conflict areas in the world.
Entrance fee: 50 kn.
Afternoon tip: wander the alleys
Summer afternoons in Dubrovnik can be hot. So I would recommend finding shade in the charming alleys of the old center. Many tourists stay on the main street Stradun or Loza square, but the center also offers a maze of beautiful alleys. Most tourists skip these alleys, so it’s not super busy. Moreover, they are very charming. Dozens of stairs, laundry on the line, and green plants on the steps. The higher you get, the better it gets. I really think that this the best activity in the old town of Dubrovnik!
Leave the old city: abondoned hotel Belvedere
If the crowds are just too much, you can always do something outside the old center. I recommend exploring the abandoned Hotel Belvedere. This hotel opened in the eighties. It quickly made a name as one of the most luxurious hotels on the Adriatic coast. Unfortunately, it had to close because of the war. The buildings are now abandoned, but perhaps not for much longer. A Russian billionaire has bought it with the ambition to open a new hotel. When I was there (2017), the construction was not started yet.
Game of Thrones location
Hotel Belvedere is certainly not undiscovered by tourists. The hotel was a location in the Game of Thrones series. However, it is not super busy. I only saw a handful of other tourists walking around when I was there. It certainly is not a hidden gem, but luckily it is not yet visited so massively.
How to get in?
The normal entrance of the hotel is closed with a large gate, but do not be discouraged. Look for a staircase down towards the terrace (= arena from GOT) of the hotel. You can walk around the former swimming pool and the rooms with a sea view. We did not get any further than that, because the hallways were quite ruined.
Better to avoid Dubrovnik in summer
A final tip: are you flexible in your dates for your visit to Dubrovnik? Then do not plan your trip in the summer. Instead, go for spring or autumn. I would do this myself next time. Fewer crowds and better temperatures, so a much better experience.
Would you want to visit Dubrovnik in summer?