Dubrovnik is one of the top summer destinations in Croatia and in Europe as a whole. But this beautiful city is a great place to visit any time of the year. So, if you got some free time around Easter, you could use it for a trip to the Old Town. And don’t worry, we will tell you all the things you need to know about Easter in Dubrovnik.
Pro Tip: Organizing a great trip can sometimes be a little stressful, but bookmarks can help you with that. Just bookmark this post in your “Dubrovnik” folder so you can easily circle back to it while traveling.
Top 8 Things To Know About Easter in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is located in the south of Croatia and is a very popular tourist destination. If you decide to make a trip around Easter, you should get some basic information. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know. From the traditions surrounding Easter, to what the weather is like around that time of the year.
1. When is Easter Celebrated in Dubrovnik?
As you may already know, not all Christians celebrate their big holidays on the same day. The reason is that there are a few Christian denominations. The main ones are Catholic and Orthodox. Or, as some refer to them, West and East. Croatia is predominantly a Catholic country with around 85% of Roman Catholics. So, a vast majority of its population celebrates Easter according to the Catholic religious calendar.
That means that they celebrate it on a Sunday after the first full moon in the spring. So, Easter always falls between 22nd of March and 24th of April. This decision was made by the Church in the 4th century, but that’s a completely different topic. What you need to know is that in 2022, Easter in Dubrovnik will be celebrated on the 17th of April.
2. Local Traditions
Local traditions in Dubrovnik start a week before Easter, on Palm Sunday. In Croatia, that day is called “Cvijetnica” or “Cvjetna Nedjelja”. Literal translation of that would be “Flower Sunday”. On that day, families prepare water in a washbowl or any type of a bigger bowl. In that water, they put flower petals. Then, as each member of the family wakes up, they wash their face in that water.
I remember, when I was a kid, my mom would always prepare that for us. Unfortunately, that tradition was lost in many families. Especially now with COVID-19. As you might imagine, it’s not recommended for a few people to wash their faces in the same bowl of water.
As we go further in the Holy Week (the week before Easter), we get to other traditions. One of the most famous ones is, of course, the coloring of eggs. There are different stories of how and when it started. But the truth is, no one exactly knows. Although many today use store-bought colors, there is a traditional way of coloring them.
Most of the eggs used to be dark red. That was achieved by cooking the eggs with red onion peels. Then, you’d melt beeswax and with it draw different motifs on the eggs. This technique is called “penganje” and is still something people do. Not only in Dubrovnik, but in the surrounding area as well.
The worship of Easter, in a way, starts on Palm Sunday. The week before Easter itself is called the Holy Week, but not all days in it hold the same importance in worship. In that regard Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday lost their importance.
So, the main worship happens on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and of course, Easter Sunday. During all of these days, there will be masses. But they are not necessarily at the same time every year. In other words, if you are interested to know when they will be held, you will have to check just before you come. Or simply ask someone WHEN you come to Dubrovnik.
But the main worships are held in the The Assumption Cathedral and in the Saint Vlaho Church (St. Blasius Church). On Good Friday, there is also a procession in the Old Town. Since COVID pandemic started, this procession changed. Now it depends on the current epidemiological measures which can change from week to week. That means that the procession can be a great gathering of many people. Or, in the worst-case scenario, it can be the priest with a few people, walking through empty streets.
Another interesting thing that you may notice is that in the few days before Easter, church bells usually don’t ring. The ringing starts again on Easter as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
4. Traditional Meals
If you have been paying attention to our blog, you know that Dubrovnik has a great restaurant scene. They also keep certain traditions regarding what to eat on Easter and the days before it. One of those things is the colored eggs. Yes, all that effort that is put into decorating them doesn’t just end up in the trash. You eat them on Easter and the days after that. Before they turn bad, of course.
Before we get to the main Easter dishes, we should circle back to Good Friday. On that day, the majority of the people are fasting. So, they eat fish instead of meat. But not just any fish. Traditionally, it is cod that is soaked in water for 24 hours. After that, it’s prepared with potatoes and garlic. Many restaurants prepare this dish on Good Friday, so you will easily find one to try it at.
Regarding Easter itself, we can call it a meat fest. After fasting, you finally get to eat “properly”. Usually, that meat will be lamb. But that is not as rooted in the tradition as preparing cod is. So, basically, on Easter, people will just prepare some kind of meat dish. What is very traditional is the sweet bread called “pinca” or “pinca sirnica”.
You can easily find these in most bakeries and markets in the days leading to Easter. They are not completely the same as homemade ones, but are still incredibly tasty! I even prefer those because they tend to be much softer and a bit sweeter than the homemade version.
5. Working Hours During Easter
Since Croatia is predominantly a Catholic country, Easter is held in high regard. That means that all the shops and markets will be closed on that day. The situation is more or less the same the following day too. Easter Monday is a national holiday so chances are, if a shop wasn’t open on Sunday, it will stay closed on Monday too. Or in the best-case scenario, it will close earlier on that day.
This also extends to more than shops. For example, most of the post offices will be closed too. The same goes for many other services. But regarding them, there will usually be one working on those days. You just need to ask around and figure out where THE ONE is. So, long story short, whatever you need to buy or do, do it before Easter and Easter Monday. Just in case.
6. Festivals and manifestations
Although the heart of the season in Dubrovnik is in the summer, that doesn’t mean this city doesn’t have anything to offer during Easter too. For years, there were many manifestations and festivals held in this period. But as you can see, I wrote that in the past tense. The reason is, you guessed it, COVID-19. In the past few years, these manifestations depend on the current epidemiological situation.
For example, in 2020, the city planned to hold the traditional Dubrovnik FestiWine. But only six days before it was supposed to start, it got canceled. Nevertheless, there is always something special going around. Maybe a festival is being held after all. Like the Easter Fair where you can buy many local products and souvenirs. Maybe street performers are right around the corner.
And maybe, you’ll get a special discount or even get a free entrance to some of the museums. Yes, the city of Dubrovnik and their tourist board offer this during Easter weekend only. And even the pandemic did not affect this. But if you’d like to get guided tours and a different kind of experience, just book one of our tours!
7. Beginning Of The Tourist Season
Easter was always considered the beginning of the season in Dubrovnik. That was when the tourists would come in larger numbers and it would just continue in the following months. That meant that if you wanted to roam around Dubrovnik with no one around you, you couldn’t really do it. You had to be ready for some crowds. But still not as big as those during summer.
However, that was not the case in the past two years. The reason for that is, naturally, COVID-19. The pandemic moved the start of the season closer to summer. But that is something that can be seen as a good thing from the perspective of tourists. You get to spend a nice holiday in a beautiful city without waiting in lines. Of course, this can still change. We all hope to get back to our pre-COVID lives and routines. Maybe this Easter will be the start of that.
And last, but not least – weather. All of you must be wondering what should you wear when you come to Dubrovnik. Of course, your safest bet is to check the weather when you start packing. But I know, I know… that’s a no-brainer. You already knew that. You are wondering, are there higher chances for rain and wind or sun?
Well, the weather for sure is not as nice as in the summer. But it actually tends to be relatively warm around Easter. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch a few days where you can go about your business in a t-shirt. But don’t hold your breath! Although generally, you can expect nice weather, the last few years showed us that we can still be surprised with some gloomy rainy periods.