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If you think that the best time to visit Dubrovnik is the summer, think again. The winter in Dubrovnik has many charms. While most European cities are covered in snow and fog, during the winter season in Dubrovnik you can sit on the terraces of restaurants or cafés alongside the main street, Stradun, and drink cappuccino.Whichever cultural or historical site you decide to visit in wintertime, you won’t encounter unbearable crowds and you won’t be greeted by a selfie-stick each step of the way.
Can you believe that there is a time of the year when you can have the City Walls just to yourself? No visit to Dubrovnik is complete without a tour of the City Walls, and visiting in winter allows you to experience all their splendor. The walls are 1,940 meters long, and you can walk all the way around them (it usually takes about 2 hours).
The city’s historical relics are even more enjoyable when they’re free from crowds. In the Pharmacy of The Franciscan Monastery (one of the oldest Pharmacies in the world, functioning ever since 1317), you can buy cosmetics made based on several centuries old formulae, not to mention the Monastery Library enables you to see more than 20 thousand volumes of valuable books and manuscripts. The Dubrovnik Cathedral Treasury is the mirror reflecting Dubrovnik’s wealth and culture, and it is home to relics of the arm and leg of Dubrovnik’s patron saint, St Blaise.
This winter, Dubrovnik’s beautiful palaces, and fortresses will be dressed in snowflakes thanks to the special holiday lights. Alongside the whole of Stradun, there are many Advent stalls with a varied offering of food, drinks, souvenirs and sweets. All these events are part of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival, which is held every winter in the city to celebrate the holiday season.
The Festival of St Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint, has been a special holiday for the City of Dubrovnik ever since the year 972 when people started to celebrate it. Beginning on Candlemass Day (February 2nd) with a solemn procession of numerous congregation members, the Festival includes a series of church and secular concerts, exhibitions, book presentations and theater guest performances dedicated to the patron saint of Dubrovnik. The Festival of St Blaise was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in October 2010, and it is worth noting that statues representing St Blaise holding Dubrovnik in his hand are the most common sight alongside the Dubrovnik City Walls.
Fans of the wildly popular HBO series Game of Thrones can opt for one of the walking tours of the locations where this series was filmed for five seasons, as Dubrovnik is the stand in for the capital of Westeros, Kings Landing. The shooting locations in Dubrovnik have become a magnet for numerous tourists from all over the world who wish to stroll the same paths as the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Starks.
Dubrovnik hotels offer top of the line wellness and spa treatments, so after enjoying the beauty of Dubrovnik’s architecture and cultural heritage this winter, spoil yourself by indulging in one of these treatments. Most of the hotel wellness centers also have magnificent views of the Adriatic Sea.
Unique dishes resulting from the fusion of traditional and modern Croatian food are the specialty of Dubrovnik’s restaurant Pantarul, which is also a popular spot with the locals. One of the owners is the renowned Croatian food blogger Ana-Marija Bujić, the author of the cookbook ‘What’s Cooking in Dubrovnik,’ a collection of 120 tried and tested traditional recipes, each accompanied by an interesting story. Her book was awarded the prestigious Gourmand International Award in 2015 (2nd place in the bloggers’ category), and it is a wonderful souvenir to take back home with you.
Sokol Tower is the biggest and one of the most important forts from the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. It is located in Konavle, in the village of Dunave, about 30 km away from Dubrovnik. Sokol Tower boasts a unique panorama of the whole Konavle region. The Dubrovnik Republic kept investing in it so the Tower had a cistern, a munitions building, wine cellar, grain storage facility, living quarters for the commander, barracks for the guards, and quarters for women and children from the surrounding villages who could seek refuge here in case of danger. Climbing to the top of this tower leaves you in awe and admiration of the exquisitely planned defense system of the Dubrovnik Republic.
by Renata Debeljak
Photography © Renata Debeljak,