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The name Dubrovnik conjures up a variety of images, including incredible medieval walls, the dazzling Adriatic, and… masses of tourists crushing you from every possible angle. Despite this, the Pearl of the Adriatic should not be missed. It is possible to avoid the crowds, and here is the best advice I can give after living there.

Go During the Winter

If at all possible, travel to Dubrovnik during the winter months or the shoulder season. Yes, the weather will be cooler, and many of the shops and restaurants will be closed. It will be too chilly to swim, but you will be able to sit on the beach and stare out over the water in absolute serenity. The streets will be far less crowded, and the prices of hotels and restaurants will be cheaper.

If you go during February, try and be there for St. Blaise’s Day on Febuary 3rd. Stradun, the main street, will be decorated with garlands and banners, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see a parade of costumed locals. There’s also a feast, and the relics are paraded throughout the city.

Use the Proper Resources

If you travel during the shoulder season, or are brave enough to visit during the summer, refer to Croatia Traveler’s Cruise Ship Schedule. The website lists the schedules of when different cruise ships will be docking in Dubrovnik. Use this information to plan visits during times when the least amount of people will be there.

Walking Dubrovnik’s city walls is one of the best activities, but they can get crowded. Check the cruise docking schedule. Walk the walls early in the morning or in the evening. Remember that your ticket includes admission to Fort Lovrijenac, located outside the walls of Old Town — exit through Pile Gate.

Skip Banje Beach

During the summer, Banje Beach is packed with tourists. The staff there might try and convince you that you have to rent a drink or buy a chair in order to use the beach. That’s not true, but you have better options for beaches. Head to the beach by Gradac Park. There isn’t any sand, but it’s far less crowded. The locals sometimes practice water polo there. You can also walk a half hour or so southeast to St. Jacobs Beach, a sandy beach with a view of Lokrum Island.

Go for a Stroll

Take a walk along Ulitza Frana Supila to the Park Orsula. The sandy roads are lined with trees, flowers, and rocky cliffs with waves crashing at their feet. Most importantly, however, the walk is empty of any tourists. You will find the most company in the small parade of stray cats that emerge from the bushes. Check out the old Hotel Belvedere that was abandoned during the war.

A trip to Dubrovnik is the experience of a lifetime — it’s no wonder that so many people travel there every year! Avoiding crowds of fellow tourists may seem difficult, but it’s far from impossible. By planning ahead, you’ll be able to enjoy almost-empty streets and beaches.

This article is an abridged version of the one originally found on my Medium account here