Top Tip: How to escape Dubrovnik’s crazy crowds

Surrounded by the world-famous city walls and the most stunning turquoise water imaginable, Dubrovnik is a dream. But besides being absolutely gorgeous and one of the most photogenic cities I have ever visited, it is also one of the most crowded. The small Old Town is bursting at the seams and in 2017 the city welcomed over a million tourists.  After spending a few days wrapped up in the city’s electric atmosphere and golden shades, breaking out of the crowds and exploring some more off-the-beaten-tracks attractions comes highly recommended. Here are my Top Tip spots to avoid Dubrovnik’s crazy crowds.

1. Sveti Jakov Beach

 

Less than 30 minutes of comfortable walking from the Old Town gets you to a piece of paradise. Sveti Jakov beach is the best kind of escape from the bustling city and after a scenic 2.5 km walk along the Adriatic Sea with great views from the cliffside, 151 steep steps lead down to a white pebble beach with warm turquoise water lapping at its shores. Beach sun beds and umbrellas are available to hire at 50kn each and as the pebbles are sharp and the sun vicious around midday, hiring both is recommended. There is also a small restaurant, Kanoba Sveti Jakov that sells cold beer and simple meals at a decent price.

Even though the pebbles on the beach make for uncomfortable walking (be sure to pack your flip-flops or reef shoes), swimming is fantastic. In summer the water is warm and clear with visibility around 15 meters and almost no current, making it the perfect location for a refreshing dip or a long swim way out into the bay. The beach rarely gets crowded and with an unobstructed view of Dubrovnik and its golden walls as well as the lush green Lokrum Island, Sveti Jakov is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun.

How to get there:

From the Ploce Gate in the Old Town, walk along Ulica Frana Supila and then Ulica Vlaha Bukovca that both run parallel to the sea. Upon reaching the Sveti Jakov church, walk around it and take the steps behind the church down to the beach.

What to know:

Even though the walk from the Old Town to the Sveti Jakov church is pretty easy, the real challenge comes once you get to the steps. They are steep going down and should not be attempted by anyone with any walking difficulty. Also remember that what goes down must go up again and battling the steps back up after a day of sea and sun will surely leave you breathless.

2. Lokrum Island

 

Sitting just 600 meters from the historic city walls, Lokrum Island is sadly mostly ignored by the millions of tourists that visit Dubrovnik each year. Small enough to walk around, the island has a lot to offer from an old abandoned monastery to a large botanical garden. There are some great swimming spots from The Rocks on the western side of the island and it is well worth hiking up to the Fort Royal for gorgeous views over the island and towards Dubrovnik’s Old Town. A small salt lake on the island called the Dead Sea is great for swimming with children.  With lush vegetation, a large number of peacocks and even a small nudist beach on the south-eastern end of the island, it truly is a small piece of Eden right on Dubrovnik’s doorstep.

How to get there:

In Dubrovnik’s Old Port there are many tour operators advertising trips to Lokrum Island. They are all similarly priced at around 80kn return and boats travel to and from the island every half hour. Note that on arrival there is a conservation fee of 150kn per person.

What to know:

Be sure to take your bikini, a towel and enough sun cream. Even though there isn’t really a beach, swimming from The Rocks is great fun. There are many ladders fixed to the rocks, making getting in and out easy. Also, pack some snacks and have a picnic under the beautiful trees that cover the island.

3. Bellevue Beach

Making sure the locals keep it all to themselves, Bellevue Beach is one of Dubrovnik’s best kept secrets. With a small pebble beach, crystal clear water and a (very scary) cave that the brave can swim deep into, the secluded beach ticks all the boxes for a perfect escape just a few minutes’ walk from the crazy Old Town. Sheltered by high cliffs from both the left and right, the water is calm and warm and beachgoers are rarely bothered by the wind. It is also popular with cliff jumpers and during summer months local water polo teams practice their sport here.

How to get there:

From the Pile Gate, walk along Ulica branitelja Dubrovnika for 1km. Then turn left onto Ulica Pera Čingrije and continue past the Hotel Bellevue. Turn left onto Liechtensteinov and take the steps down towards the beach.

What to know:

There are no public bathrooms anywhere close to the beach so be sure to change before you go down as well do any bathroom business. There is a restaurant on the beach, but bathrooms inside are reserved for guests of the Bellevue hotel only.

4. Koločep Island

Only a 30-minute ferry trip from Dubrovnik, Koločep is something from a Mediterranean dream. Surrounded by lush natural vegetation and turquoise water, the small pastel coloured villas and fisherman’s houses give you a glimpse into the true Croatian island life. With one of the only full sand beaches around Dubrovnik, the island is perfect for a day at the beach. Hiking across the island is also a popular activity and there is a small nudist beach 20 minutes’ walk from the main beach for those who want the full natural experience. There are restaurants right in the harbour and all offer fantastic meals at half the Old Town price. A small souvenir shop sells natural cosmetic products, local honey and jams and a few magnets.

How to get there:

From Dubrovnik’s Gruz harbour, take the Ferry route 807 run by Jadrolinija costing only 46kn return. The ferry runs 6 times a day during high season and to get the most of the island be sure to catch the first toward the island and the last back. Tickets are sold online or at a ticket office in Gruz harbour.

What to know:

Beach sun beds and umbrellas are available to hire at 100kn each from the Sensimar Kalamota Island Resort on the main beach, but as the beach is sand it’s recommended to simply take a towel and stretch out on the beach. When swimming be watchful of the thousands of urchins that are dotted all around the island’s coast.

 

NOTES

All prices are given in Croatian Kuna and are accurate at the time of publication. Be sure to check prices prior to travel and for an up-to-date currency converter, please click here.

 

2 Comments on “Top Tip: How to escape Dubrovnik’s crazy crowds”

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment! Isn’t Dubrovnik just fantastic? I absolutely fell in love!

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