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St Blaise Church: Where locals gather to celebrate

St Blaise Church: Where locals gather to celebrate

Dubrovnik tourism authorities are working hard to convince the world that Dubrovnik is not just a summer destination, but also a great place to visit all year. Unlike many destinations along the Croatian coast, Dubrovnik does have regular (although less frequent) flights in the winter: Croatia Airlines  flies from Frankfurt and British Airways flies from Gatwick frequently throughout the winter. And of course there are frequent daily flights to Dubrovnik from Zagreb. See more on flights to Dubrovnik. Blessed with a mild climate, Dubrovnik can be chilly but not bitter cold in the winter. OK, winter is not the season to explore Dubrovnik beaches, but it’s perfect weather for appreciating the outdoors without worrying about sunstroke!

I’ll go even further and say that it’s even better to visit Dubrovnik in winter than in summer. Here’s why:

1. Fewer tourists. This is a big one. As great as Dubrovnik is, the Old Town is small. Very small. You have a main street (Stradun), a few parallel streets and a few dozen side streets. That’s it. Now imagine a morning when cruise ships disgorge 5000 passengers, augmented by a thousand or so regular tourists. The streets are elbow-to-elbow, walking Dubrovnik’s  walls is a jostling match and there are lines for everything. This is no way to visit a World Heritage Site. Without the crush of tourists, you can appreciate Dubrovnik as a living, breathing town, not a museum. Many locals find it profitable to rent out their apartments and move out of town for the summer. In winter, they return to re-kindle old friendships. The cafes, bars restaurants are suddenly filled with locals.

2. Cheaper. Except for the Christmas-New Year’s period when Croatians head to their Adriatic pearl, Dubrovnik hotel and private accommodation rates are up to 50% cheaper in winter.

3. Free City Tours. Every Saturday from 5 November through March 2017 at 10am, there’s a a free tour of the Old City with an English speaking guide. Register the day before at the Tourist Information Center (Brsalje 5; ured.pile@tzdubrovnik.hr; tel: +38520312011). The tour will end with a folklore performance in front of St Blaise church.

4. Local Festivals. Participating in Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Dubrovnik with caroling and concerts can be a wonderfully festive way to experience local culture but even better are the local festivals that liven up the winter months. The Dubrovnik Winter Festival runs this year from 19 November to 1 March 2017. There’s a Christmas Market on Stradun and the streets are ablaze with lights.  St Blaise day in February is when all Dubrovnik turns out to honor their patron saint; Dubrovnik Carnival is a blowout that culminates in a Masked Ball; and the Oyster Festival at the end of March ushers in the milder weather and the beginning of the new tourist season.

5. Cultural Life. Dubrovnik prides itself on a lively artistic and musical tradition. There are enough classical music lovers to support an orchestra, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra which has a full season of concerts and recitals during the winter months. Art lovers will find plenty of openings and special exhibits to titillate their eyeballs while the mercury drops.

See more on visiting Dubrovnik.