Dubrovnik in winter

Dubrovnik in Winter – Why Visiting It From December to February Is Much Better Than In Summer

I am not a big fan of travels in Croatia in winter. But Dubrovnik is the only destination that I love and would recommend to anyone who is looking for a change of scenery from December to February. Dubrovnik in winter has so much charm as the bustling crowds of tourists thin out, allowing for a more intimate exploration in a more authentic atmosphere.

With beautiful decorations in December and fascinating festivals in January and February, travel in the coldest season to this city is quite interesting and memorable.

While the weather is nowhere warm (I talk in detail about winter weather in Dubrovnik below), the city’s cultural richness and almost no tourists around make a winter visit here quite rewarding.

So let me show you through this post when it is worth visiting Dubrovnik in winter and when it is not, and what one can expect when planning a trip there. And also keep in mind that Dubrovnik is considered one of the most budget-friendly travel destinations in winter. So if you are on a shoestring budget, you’ll love this destination even more! 

Traveling to Dubrovnik Last Minute & Need Quick Tips?

Here are my top recommendations for tours & accommodation options for winter travel to make things easy:

Tours Not to Miss (Especially If You Have Only 2-3 Days in This City):

Best Accommodation for a Winter Trip (Has Heating & Good Insulation):

Go On Road Trips From Dubrovnik 


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

What Winter in Dubrovnik is Like

Dubrovnik and its Riviera belong to the large region of South Dalmatia (the southernmost part of the Croatian coast) which has a distinct Mediterranean climate characterized by long, hot, and dry summers and windy winters with storms and lots of rain. 

The coldest month of the year is considered to be January, although the weather doesn’t differ much in December and February. The average temperature in January is 8°C (46F) echoing a subtle fluctuation.

Winter months in Dubrovnik are quite similar and consist of a combination of three weather conditions.

Firstly, there’s a strong southern and southeast wind called “jugo”, bringing heavy rain and storms that can last for days with no stopping.

Dubrovnik in winter
When Jugo comes, the sea is crazy. It gets dangerous to walk in very close proximity to the sea, especially on concrete sections that are slippery. Days with Jugo also get very cloudy and rainy for the most part

The second weather condition is a dry, cold, and sometimes very strong northern or northeastern wind, known as “bura” which brings bright sunshine and a very cold wind, occasionally making it feel below freezing, although such temperatures are extremely rare. During “bura,” daily temperatures in Dubrovnik can drop to 3-5°C (37F-41F).

And then the third weather condition (which is very common in Dubrovnik in winter) is calm, sunny, or cloudy weather with air temperatures around 10-12°C (50F-54F).

Dubrovnik in winter
When ‘Bura’ blows, days can be sunny and bright but rather cold, so you need to have warmer clothes, in the morning and late nights even gloves and scarves

The main characteristic of these three different types of weather is that they are not typical for any particular month. They can come in any order and on any winter day. Everything depends on the disturbances in the atmosphere.

So you cannot plan your trip according to certain weather conditions. What you can do is know that any of the described meteorological conditions may happen and you just need to be ready with the right clothes and desire to change your plans at the last minute (and have a plan on what to do in Dubrovnik when it rains, I mention some cool activities for this weather below).

FAQs About the Weather in Dubrovnik in Winter

Does It Snow in Dubrovnik?

No, it does not. Dubrovnik experiences a Mediterranean climate, and snowfall doesn’t happen in winter months. Temperatures can drop, especially in the nighttime fall below zero, but snow doesn’t occur in Dubrovnik during winter, only rain and sometimes hail.

The entire region of South Dalmatia tends to have milder and wetter conditions during the colder months.

When Is the Rainiest Winter Month in Dubrovnik

December in Dubrovnik is considered a more rainy month with more precipitation than January and February (it was the case for every December within the last ten years). However, most of it comes in the second half of the month.

In early Januaryin Dubrovnik (somewhere from the 1st to the 10th) when a very strong northern wind “Bura” blows along the coast (so strong that trucks are banned from the main A1 Dalmatina highway for several days), it can heavily rain too.

Although overall, the amount of precipitation and winds are more or less evenly distributed throughout January and February, crafting a magnificent mosaic landscape for those who choose to savor Dubrovnik in its winter beauty.

Dubrovnik in January
Dubrovnik in February

Is It Cold in Dubrovnik During Winter?

It depends on what you consider cold and where you come from. If you are traveling from a place with harsh winters, then Dubrovnik can feel quite warm. But if coming from a destination like Tenerife north or south, then it will be cold.

In winter, the daytime temperature in Dubrovnik typically hovers around 12-13 degrees Celcius (53F-55F), although it can dip to -3 degrees at night.

Everyone perceives temperature differently, but you should bring a jacket or coat along with a sweater for some days.

Can You Swim in Dubrovnik From December to February?

An average person will not be able to swim in Dubrovnik’s sea in winter. During winter, the water temperature usually drops to around 14 degrees (57F) and is very cold for most people.

Is It Possible to Sunbathe in Dubrovnik During Winter Months?

Not really. Sunbathing in Dubrovnik during winter is not really common due to constantly cooler temperatures and either “Bura” wind (which is very cold) or “Jugo” overcast and rain.

But on those sunny days that still appear during winter, you can enjoy the warmth of the sun outside in the city or on the terrace of your accommodation.

Pros & Cons of a Winter Trip to Dubrovnik

Even though I think that winter is an absolutely wonderful time to visit Dubrovnik city, I stay realistic and understand that not everyone will like it. So let’s talk here quickly about the positives and negatives of a trip to Dubrovnik in the off-season.

Pros 

Dubrovnik in December, January and February feels more authentic and very calm (in terms of crowds).

From spring to late autumn, this city gets crowded with tourists. Dubrovnik Airport welcomes flights from various countries and large cruise ships dock in its ports leaving crowds of people in the streets occupying every corner.

It’s no surprise as Dubrovnik stands as one of the world’s largest and impeccably preserved ancient cities with an abundance of architectural and historical monuments enough for several cities, not just one. But with the high number of people who want to see it all in Dubrovnik from April to around November, it becomes quite brutal.

Dubrovnik streets
Dubrovnik in February

So winter season brings some calm. In winter, Dubrovnik belongs to its residents and rare guests who have the joy of sharing local holidays and simply exploring the vast old city, its monuments, and history without the hustle and bustle.

Moreover, Dubrovnik and the entire Riviera are usually much more expensive than the rest of Croatia (in all seasons). But in winter, accommodation and food prices decrease slightly. So even people on a budget can afford a trip to Dubrovnik packing it with activities and nice accommodation.

Cons 

Disadvantages of winter travel to Dubrovnik include, firstly, weather conditions (the likelihood of gusty winds, heavy rain, or storms in the winter months is very high) which, of course, can spoil the experience and make sightseeing impossible. Especially if it rains non-stop for the whole day, you literally can’t spend time outside be it on a tour or on your own.

Also, one thing that I emphasize all the time, in the coastal regions of Croatia (just like in Cyprus and Spain), most housing is designed for summer living – it is very uncomfortable to stay in such housing during winter.

Croatia in February

You’ll need to make efforts to find a suitable winter accommodation option which should include heating and well-insulated walls and doors.

And the last drawback of winter travel is that maritime activities, swimming, visiting the aquarium, and other summer activities in Dubrovnik are unavailable in winter.

Dubrovnik in December & on Christmas     

Christmas and New Year’s in Dubrovnik are always enchanting, despite the whims of the weather. And it is the number one destination in Croatia where to come to for December holidays.

Like in other cities in Croatia, the holiday season kicks off with Advent in early December, and the festivities continue until New Year’s, celebrated on the city’s main square ‘Stradun’ with concerts and other events.

Dubrovnik gets beautiful decorations in the end of November and stays like that until the first week of January. Christmas markets are bustling and musicians fill the air with melodies.

Since it gets dark early during this time of the year, strolls through the sparkling streets of Dubrovnik become a part of the winter itinerary. Don’t miss a chance to join one of the night tours through the Old City.

What to Do in Dubrovnik in Winter

When you decide to visit Dubrovnik in the winter months, you should remember that the main reasons to travel to this city within this timeframe are the holiday season with Advent markets, the number of amazing winter festivals, exploration of Dubrovnik Old City without the crowds, lots of walking (along the coastal trails and around the city), checking out unique museums (because there are quite a few must-sees) and road trips.

Here is a more detailed list with some suggestions:

Explore in Depth Old Town

Old Town of Dubrovnik is a special place in entire of Croatia as it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 with a unique blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture showcasing its evolution over the centuries.

Take a stroll along the walls of the Old Town built between the 12th and 17th centuries with numerous churches, museums, bastions, fortresses, and other fortifications that will make you feel like you’re in the Middle Ages or in a Game of Thrones movie which was partially filmed in Dubrovnik. In summer, there are many people here, but in winter, there are far fewer.

Southern Dalmatia

Choose a sunny or at least a non-rainy day and head to the walls. If you are on a budget, there is a nice free introductory tour of Old City or a bit longer combo tour that combines city walls and old town. Be sure to bring your camera as there are stunning views of the sea, red roofs, streets of the city, and mountains.

The highlights of the Old Town are the Rector’s Palace and the Franciscan Monastery, and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the city center. Legend says that Richard the Lionheart, who survived a shipwreck near Dubrovnik, gave money for the construction of this cathedral.

Take a Cable Car to the Mountain Above Dubrovnik

Do it only in good weather as it’ll allow you to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and the sea.

There’s also a museum dedicated to the Croatian War in the 90s (see more on it here) as the city was shelled from this mountain. It’s important to check on the website if the cable car is currently operating – in bad weather, it may be closed.

Find the Famous Staircase From the Game of Thrones

The famous staircase from Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik is the Jesuit Staircase, also known as the “Cersei’s Walk of Shame” stairs, where a memorable scene featuring Cersei Lannister was filmed.

It is located near the Gundulic Square in the Old Town and connects it with the Jesuit Church. It is easily accessible within the city walls.

Best Dubrovnik Game of Throne Tours

 

Buy a Bag of Lavender & Candied Fruits

In Dubrovnik during winter, buying a bag of lavender and candied fruits is kind of a special experience.

Lavender is a popular local product as Dubrovnik has its vast lavender fields. The scent of lavender is not only pleasant but also serves as a wonderful souvenir to bring from this area. You can purchase lavender sachets, soaps, creams, and natural air fresheners.

Candied fruits on the other hand are a traditional treat, offering a taste of the region’s culinary specialties. Together, these items capture the essence of the local culture and make for unique and aromatic mementos from your trip.

Don’t Miss Various Dining Experiences

In winter, restaurants in Dubrovnik stay open and you can try oysters, various seafood, dishes made from local tuna and other seafood at a lower price than in summer.

Dubrovnik has always been renowned for these specialties. If the weather is not suitable for walks, you can go on a gastronomic tour of the Old Town and gain a new tasty experience. 

Check Out At Least One Museum

Old City of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has a good number of excellent museums that are worth visiting. Among the most interesting ones (which are also open during the Night of Museums in January that I mentioned below) are:

The “Red History” Museum – focuses on the period of Communist Yugoslavia under Tito’s rule. It offers a deep dive into the era with a fascinating exhibition.

The Rector’s Palace – Dubrovnik’s Museum of Democracy. Built in the 15th century, the palace itself is an architectural monument and tells the story of the Republic of Dubrovnik, showcasing sculptures, household items, documents, and paintings.

Museum of Modern Art – allows to explore local artists or view temporary exhibitions featuring works by globally renowned artists.

Museum of Love Stories – if Zagreb has a Museum of Broken Relationships, Dubrovnik inspires belief in love, presenting a touching collection of various items, sketches, and stories of happy love.

Selfies and Memories Museum – presents numerous locations for beautiful, quirky, and unusual photographs. You’ll end up spending more time here than planned, the museum is much more interesting than you think!

Go on a Road Trip From Dubrovnik

Road trips in particular should be your top pick as you can see much more than just Dubrovnik and venture into the other countries of the Balkan region. Rent a car on a budget this season (compare prices between local deals that are available through LocalRent and international companies through DiscoverCars as on different dates they can be lower) and go on a drive to Bosnia or Montenegro.

Montenegro in winter has its own pros and cons but there are still also some cool things to do in the country if you know where to go.

best cafe in Budva
Kotor Bay

Follow my road trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor by the Bay of Kotor with many scenic stops and things to do. In winter, some places will be closed but there are still plenty to visit on a day trip from Dubrovnik. Crossing a border and driving in Montenegro is much easier in winter and people-free (for the most part), so you will definitely enjoy the drive.

And then when having more days in Dubrovnik (but not planning on renting a car), at least visit Herceg Novi to get a different feel. See my list of things to do in Herceg Novi and nearby.

Winter Festivals in Dubrovnik

Another reason to travel to Dubrovnik in winter is its festivals as it is a very rewarding experience which provides a glimpse into the city’s traditions, legends, and community spirit. You’ll be able to witness and participate in the festive processions and enjoy lively concerts with vibrant energy, traditional costumes, and a sense of unity among locals. 

One of the most unique festivals to visit is a traditional festival dedicated to museums and art that Dubrovnik hosts every year on January 28th. Throughout the whole night, museums in the city open their doors for free. For this event, preparations include enchanting evening and night tours of museums and cultural sites (very unique!).

The main winter celebration in Dubrovnik (which is worth visiting) is the Feast of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik. This event has been taking place since 972 and was recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in Croatia.

Pre-holiday activities including exhibitions, lectures, concerts, and theatrical performances begin in the last week of January. The actual celebration happens on February 3 and is dedicated to the legend of Saint Blaise, who aided the residents of Dubrovnik in their defense against the Venetians.

Different participants, hailing from Dubrovnik, its neighboring regions, and international guests, come together to revel in the festivities. As February 2 approaches, an enchanting ceremony unfolds with the ceremonial release of white doves.

On the following day, a majestic procession takes center stage in the meticulously adorned Old Town where all participants wear traditional costumes, each fulfilling their role in the procession. The event concludes with a concert and festivities, casting a spell of celebration and camaraderie.

It is a really fascinating event to watch and even participate in. Among other events of this type that would be must-visit, I can highlight (from my experience) festivals in Malaga and northern Tenerife

At the end of February, Dubrovnik hosts another interesting event that is worth planning travel around and that is the Winter or sometimes called Spring Carnival. Embracing strong Venetian traditions, the celebration features a concert, a costumed procession, treats, and the burning of an effigy.


Summarizing the idea of a winter getaway to Dubrovnik, it’s worth noting that winter is the best time of the year to get to know this amazing city up close, stroll along the walls in solitude, participate in local festivities, and visit museums without the crowds and heat.

Yes, this is true that you won’t be able to hit the beach in winter in Dubrovnik. But you have to travel there for the atmosphere and Christmasy vibe in December or of for quiet Old Town walks together with festivals in January and February.

The main thing is to be ready for the changing weather conditions, a bit of rain and wind. And then if you crave beaches, it’s definitely worth coming back again in summer. 

More Winter Travel Content in Europe

Dubrovnik in winter guide
 
 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *