Should you visit Dubrovnik in May? An honest review

Dubrovnik in May

Here’s my verdict on the pros, the cons, and whether you should visit Dubrovnik in May…

Should you visit Dubrovnik in May? This is the blog I wanted to read when I was booking my trip to Croatia this year and so here’s my hot take on what it’s really like. Is it a good idea to travel here a little bit out of season… or is it best enjoyed in peak summer?

Of course, there a pros and cons to both. I enjoyed visiting Dubrovnik in May; the old town in springtime is the calm before the storm. However, it might not be for everyone. Today, I dive into the details of visiting here out of the high season. But if you want a quick taster of why you should visit Dubrovnik in springtime, here it is at a glance…

  • Smaller crowds
  • Fewer queues
  • Not unbearably hot
  • Better for sightseeing
  • More spontaneity
  • No reservations

Why visit Dubrovnik out of season?

Travelling anywhere out of season can be a risk, especially if you’re going to a beach location where there isn’t much to do when the weather doesn’t play ball. If there’s only a beach and a nice hotel to explore then you’re going to be pretty screwed when there’s no sunshine, right?

This is coming from someone who has sat on the beach in a hoodie in the rain on a trip to Greece and despaired at what I was actually going to do on my trip!

However, travelling out of season is also very tempting for a number of reasons. Prices are lower. It’s a lot less crowded. Queues are universally smaller. Children are in school so resorts are quieter, more chilled, and have more of a grown-up vibe.

So with all that in mind, it’s something you have to carefully weigh up. What’s more important to you? Guaranteed sunshine every single day or cooler temperatures that make sightseeing that little bit more enjoyable… and probably make you do more!

Having done my research I decided that the risk was worth the gain when it came to visiting Dubrovnik, and so I booked a trip for the first week in May. I did sweat it a little bit but the price was too good to pass up. And luckily, there’s tons to do in Dubrovnik!

Dubrovnik in May

Is May a good time to visit Dubrovnik?

Dubrovnik is a little unusual in terms of beach holidays. I mentioned that sometimes on a beach holiday you’re stuck for anything exciting to do when the weather isn’t that great. However, Dubrovnik is the opposite. You will be spoiled for choice in Dubrovnik, whatever time of year you choose to visit – whether that’s spring or in mid-July or August.

Dubrovnik in May

Dubrovnik May weather

It’s a mixed bag in May. The temperature wasn’t sweltering by any means – it was around 17°C on average while we were there, which is a pretty good temperature for sightseeing and exploring.

However, we were there for a week and during that week rain was forecast pretty much every day. I know iPhones can sometimes be super negative when it comes to the weather forecast, but it gave me the fear. In the end, it rained for two or the days out of five, which isn’t too bad.

How warm is Dubrovnik in May?

Dubrovnik in May°CFahrenheit
Average temperature17.5°C64°F
High temperature21°C70°F
Low temperature14°C57°F
Daytime temperature19°C66°F
Night time temperature17.8° C64°F

Can you sunbathe in Dubrovnik in May?

The million-dollar question. I can only answer from my own experience and the answer is:  yes. However, I would maybe caveat it by saying that your choice of location is crucial.

On our first day, we sunbathed at the beach and it wasn’t overly warm. The breeze from the sea kept it cool and we ended up wrapping ourselves up in our towels to keep warm. We weren’t the only ones either! So I’d say the beach can be a bit cool in May.

However, later in the week we had a day of sunbathing at the hotel and that was much more successful. The pool was a bit more sheltered from the sea breeze so we could relex, sip on cocktails for the afternoon, and just enjoy ourselves.

Dubrovnik in May

Is Dubrovnik busy in May?

Dubrovnik is such a popular city break so I don’t think it ever feels like it’s not busy. However, I had a look at some reports on tourist numbers which show that the volume of tourists jumps up by 100% between May and August. So for every one tourist that there is in May there’s one hundred of them in August. Now that sounds like a bit of a squeeze. 

You also have to consider the cruise ships which disgorge day-trippers onto Dubrovnik each day. This article predicts the city will host over 500,000 cruise ship passengers during 2022, who will spill out into the old town each day before disappearing before it gets dark.

The important thing to keep in mind is that, of course, this city wasn’t built for huge crowds. The Old Town is tiny and it’s famed for its narrow, cobbled streets. More people equals more crowds, more queues, more waiting around to get a table at a restaurant. 

Let’s walk through the pros and cons in a bit more detail now…

free things to do in Dubrovnik

Pros of visiting Dubrovnik in May

1) Fewer, smaller queues

No one likes to queue, but you’ll have to do a lot of it if you visit in July and August.

Come to Dubrovnik in May and you don’t have to deal with queues, at least not on the same level. To be honest we barely queued for anything! We didn’t have to queue for the City Walls and we didn’t have to pause every five seconds because someone further up was pausing for a selfie! We didn’t have to queue for the Iron Throne. And we didn’t have to queue for the ferry to Lokrum. I don’t think we’d be able to say that in peak season.

2) Primetime views

No one wants to fight over the best views of a location, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Not in May! We were able to rock up at a cave bar (More Cave Bar in Lapad) twenty minutes before sunset and grab an amazing seat where we could soak up the views in style. Yes, it wasn’t as warm as it would be in July and August, but it was nothing a little jacket wouldn’t solve. It was a similar case at the top of Mount Srd. Would we have been able to grab that amazing spot on a rocky outcrop on the top of the mountain in the middle of the summer? 

Lokrum Island

3) You can be more spontaneous

Some people plan out their whole itinerary before they travel somewhere. Others, like me, are more go with the flow. Maybe you won’t decide what you’re doing the next day until the night before or maybe you’ll just want to rock up for dinner without a reservation.

Out of season, you can do that. There were still a few spots left on our walking tour when I booked it the night before, for example. Ditto for the day trip that I booked two days in advance. It was a similar experience with restaurants. I was surprised by how many restaurants asked us if we had a reservation, even when they weren’t that busy. My guess is that this was a muscle that was well-practised from the busy summer months.  

4) Day trips are easier

We did a Dubrovnik to Mostar day trip one day and it was a long day of coach travel. You have to bring your passport for various check points. However, our tour guide mentioned to us that during the summer months you may have to spend over an hour stuck in traffic. Considering we left at 7am and didn’t get back until 5pm, I don’t like the sound of that!

This wasn’t the only thing. We visited the old city of Mostar and the Kravice waterfalls, neither of which is particularly spacious. While we didn’t have them to ourselves by any means they didn’t feel uncomfortably crowded. The earlier time in the season meant that we also got a hotel pick up and drop off, which we may not have done later in the season.

Dubrovnik in May

5) It’s better for sightseeing

The sun makes you exhausted, right? Sometimes I find it weird that I can spend all day lolling around on a sunlounger… until I get there and do it again. The sun makes you really sleepy. If it’s super-hot then it’s more likely that you’ll pass on the sightseeing and opt to spend more time chilling out by the pool. No judgement, I’d be doing the same!

When it’s cooler it opens you up to doing a lot more. We climbed down from Mount Srd and I really couldn’t see us doing that if it was 30 degrees at the time. Even a walking tour would probably zap my energy for most of the day. So if you want to pack a lot into your trip to Dubrovnik then I would book earlier in the season to make the most out of it.

Dubrovnik in May

Cons of visiting Dubrovnik in May

1) Unpredictable weather

If you book a trip to Dubrovnik in July you can be pretty sure what you’re going to get: many hours of guaranteed sunshine. If you book a trip to Dubrovnik in May you can’t be quite so certain. Sure, there are an average of 12 hours of sunshine a day in May – plus, high temperatures of 21 degrees C. However, it’s not the steady eddy that the summer is.

Lows can go down to a rather chilly 14 degrees C and there an average of 10 days of rainfall during the month. In comparison, August only has three days of rain and it reaches highs of 28 degrees. May means waking up and having to brace yourself a little bit before you open the curtains. I didn’t want to believe the rain until I saw it with my own eyes.

free things to do in Dubrovnik

2) The sea is cold!

I would have loved to have done more swimming during our trip to Dubrovnik. However, it just wasn’t appealing as it is during the peak summer months when you’re dying to go in.  

Don’t get me wrong, I went for a quick swim in the hotel pool when we were sunbathing one day, but I swerved the sea completely. It was chilly enough trying to sunbathe on land!

And when we visited Kravice Waterfalls we didn’t want to miss out on taking a dip in the waterfall… even though it was absolutely freezing. Unfortunately, the steep shelving shore meant that you couldn’t just go for a paddle, you were either in or out! We managed to go for the full immersion but I imagine it would be a lot more pleasant when it’s sweltering!

3) Spending on rain gear

What do you pack on a trip to Dubrovnik? Sunscreen? Shorts? Cute dresses? Despite the forecast of rain on my iPhone app I was completely in denial about it actually raining. Until we woke up on the second day to find it tipping down. Slow realisation dawned. Of course, I didn’t have an umbrella or a raincoat or anything remotely sensible like that.

We had to head to the corner shop to peruse their selection of umbrellas and hats. This ended up with me having to buy an ugly umbrella and a hat I liked in the moment and instantly went off as soon as I saw the pictures of me wearing it. I look like a dork!

All in all, I think there are a lot of reasons why you should visit Dubrovnik in May!

Dubrovnik in May

What to pack for Dubrovnik in May

Don’t be like me. Here’s my pick of what you need for visiting this city when you’re not quite sure what the weather will have in store for you. For me, my light leather jacket was a staple of my wardrobe, day and night. Light trousers were also a safe bet if you’re worried about shorts!

The sun can still be hot, however. I actually got sunburned on my forehead, where I always get burned. So I wore a hairband the last couple of days to keep my skin covered.

  • Light jacket
  • Scarf
  • Trainers
  • Trousers
  • Cardigan
  • Umbrella
  • Hat

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Have you ever been to Dubrovnik? What time of year did you go and what did you think?

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