Watch the cruise calendar
The curse of the pharaohs has nothing on the curse of the Dubrovnik cruise crowds. Despite being one of the tiniest towns in Croatia, it’s one of the most popular cruise stops, with around 60 percent of all cruise passengers to Croatia unloaded here. The good news is, these beasts of burden are also creatures of habit and book into port a good year or two in advance. That means you can avoid them.
So check the cruise calendar
. You’ll see that there’s a theme: boats pile in during late May, July, August and early September – sometimes six ships a day – and ease off in other months. You can drill that down even further. Most cruise ships don’t dock overnight in Dubrovnik, so even in high summer it’ll only be hectic from nine to five, before the thousands of day-trippers sidle off to flatten another city.
These shoulder times are the best time to be in town for both you and Dubrovnik. You can snag a restaurant table on the steps of the Old Town, watch the swifts swirl around the rooftops at twilight, go for a sunrise swim in empty waters, or salute the sunset at a cliff-side bar flagged only by a door in the wall.
Powell Ettinger, founder of our partners the Small Cruise Ship Collection, says timing is everything:
“If you go early in the morning or later in the afternoon or evening, then you can avoid the crowds to a certain extent. There are still lots of people around in the evenings, but you don’t usually get the overcrowding from the big ships.”