Best Time To Visit Croatia

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The breakup of Yugoslavia, itself only a single state since 1918, saw the creation of seven new states, one of which is Croatia which declared independence in 1991. There were still some years of struggle before Croatia could be confident about its future. Croatia quickly joined both NATO and the European Union, although joining the euro is still pending. It stretches from Slovenia up in the northern corner of the Adriatic, down the coast as far as Montenegro, a length of 1880 km (1170 miles). In addition, there are thousands of islands and islets. Less than 50 have a permanent population with many now important tourist destinations.

The best time to visit Croatia is often seen as the months of summer because of the popularity of holidays by the sea. The capital, Zagreb, is inland, a city known for its 18th and 19th Century architecture. Around a quarter of the national population lives in the metropolitan area of Greater Zagreb. Tourism makes up 20% of GDP, so the economy suffered during the height of the Covid pandemic, but times are gradually improving again.

Best Time To Visit Croatia

Croatia In Summer

what is the best time to visit croatia
Pakleni Otoci is a yachting destination in Dalmatia. If you’re planning on sailing, the best time to visit Croatia is during the shoulder seasons (April to June and September/October).

The Eastern Mediterranean is increasingly popular with visitors seeking a holiday with guaranteed sunshine. While the Mediterranean is also a term to cover a geographical region, there are the Aegean and Adriatic Seas, with the seas separating Europe from Africa. Croatia’s position running north to south down the Adriatic Sea makes it very attractive for sun worshippers.

During the mid-summer weeks, there are chartered flights from regions throughout Europe and beyond to seven airports down the coastline from Rijeka in the north to Dubrovnik in the south. Zagreb, the capital inland, receives scheduled flights all year round, yet in terms of passenger numbers, Split and Dubrovnik are almost as busy as Zagreb.

Beach holidays make up the vast majority of summer holidays, even though Dubrovnik’s landmarks welcome visitors all year. Many want to see the locations used in “Game of Thrones.” Likewise, as the capital, Zagreb gets its share of tourists throughout summer.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • June (Sunrise 0500, Sunset 2050, Average Low Temperature 19C (66F), Average High Temperature Average High 27C (81F))
  • July (Sunrise 0520, Sunset 2045, Average Low Temperature 22C (72F), Average High Temperature 30C (86F)
  • August (Sunrise 0555, Sunset 2005, Average Low Temperature 22C (72F), Average High Temperature 30C (86F)

Five Things to Do in Croatia in Summer

best time to visit dubrovnik croatia Young beautiful woman in Dubrovnik making hands shaped heart on spring summer warm sunny day. Girl with hat happy outdoors in her travel in Southern Croatia, Europe.
Summer is one of the best times to go to Croatia as the weather is warm and comfortable to get around.
1- Visit Mijet Island

Mijet Island is south and east of the Adriatic.

Visit the national park that makes up part of the island and enjoy the sandy beaches and clear blue waters.

Just 1,000 live on an island that attracts many tourists, most arriving via Dubrovnik Airport then a ferry.

The island’s wines, cheese and olives help to create the Mediterranean cuisine that many visitors enjoy, often with fresh fish as a main course.

2- Explore The Ruins Of Dugi Otok Island
best time to visit croatia dugi otok island
The village of Sali on Dugi Otok island has a colourful harbour view. One of the best times to visit Croatia’s islands is in summer.

Dugi Otok Island is north of Mijet, offshore from the city of Zadar.

Visitors can explore ancient ruins, enjoy the local wine, cheese, figs and olives together with a variety of seafood caught on the same day.

It remains a fairly “hidden gem” from major tourism, so you will be making a good decision to summer here with crowds much smaller than in other parts of the Adriatic coast.

3- Explore The Istrian Peninsula
the best time to visit croatia
The best time to visit Croatia for warmer weather and seaside towns, such as the beautiful historic town of Rovinj in Istria, is in summer.

Look at Rovinj, a fishing port on the western side of the Istrian Peninsula.

There is an old town to explore, and the offshore archipelago has 14 islands, a good reason to take a cruise on one of the days of your holiday.

4- Escape To Zlatni Rat Beach
best time to visit croatia beaches blue water, sand and trees
Summer is the best time to visit Croatia for a beach vacation. Here’s the famous Adriatic beach Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape or Golden Horn) on the island of Brac.

Zlatni Rat Beach is on the island of Brac, under an hour by ferry from Split.

It is a beach made of fine pebbles and comfortable underfoot.

It has a beach hotel of the same name if you want to spend some days there.

5- Explore Hvar Island
best time to visit hvar croatia lounge chairs on a rocky beach
Summer is the best time to visit Croatia’s Hvar island for a sunny vacation.

Hvar Island is close to Brac, and you will find plenty to enjoy if you choose to spend some time there.

The old city walls, the main square with its cathedral and the hilltop fortress are landmarks to visit on time spent away from the lovely clear blue waters.

Top tips:

  • Be prepared for hot daytime temperatures, so pack sunscreen, a hat, and carry water if you are exploring outdoors.
  • The beaches are pebbly, so bring swimming shoes for the beach and paddling in the sea.
  • Expect crowds, so plan in advance if you are going to famous landmarks or resorts.

Croatia In Autumn

best time to visit croatia weather
The best time to visit Croatia for photography is in autumn. Krka National Park has incredible autumn colours.

Days are still relatively long until the last month of autumn, and temperatures are pleasant, although they fall after sunset. This is a season when visitors can still enjoy sunny days at the beach or while exploring cities or the rural countryside.

Crowds dwindle in the autumn as children return to school, so the country’s main attractions are more accessible. And you can do more in a day when you face no real crowds.

Autumn everywhere is the time for harvests. And in Croatia, that means olives and grapes, two things central to local life, but also mandarins, cereals, beets, potatoes and oil seed crops. Celebrations of a good harvest are held throughout the country at various times.

There are still plenty of charter flights to the different airports down the Adriatic Coast, with Zagreb as busy as ever.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • September (Sunrise 0630, Sunset 1910, Average Low Temperature 18C (64F), Average High Temperature Average High 25C (77F))
  • October (Sunrise 0710, Sunset 1810, Average Low Temperature 14C (57F), Average High Temperature 20C (68F)
  • November (Sunrise 0650, Sunset 1630, Average Low Temperature 10C (50F), Average High Temperature 17C (63F)

Five Things to do in Croatia in Autumn

1- Explore Split

Split is the biggest city on the Dalmatian Coast, a great city for its own landmarks but also a base for day trips up and down the Adriatic Coast.

The Diocletian Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with buildings and a square with Roman architecture.

Egyptian sphinxes, the cathedral and the museum are a few other things worth your time.

2- Explore Kornati National Park
when is best time to visit croatia dramatic sundown view from above
If you’re travelling to Kornati Islands National Park, one of the best times to visit is in autumn.

Kornati National Park encompasses over 80 islands, where you can enjoy hiking, camping, swimming and diving in clear blue waters.

Kornati is offshore from Muster, which has direct bus connections with other Croatian cities, including Zagreb.

3- Explore Zagreb’s Upper Town
best time of year to visit croatia aerial autumn view, capital of Croatia.
Bundek Lake in Zagreb in autumn. It’s one of the best times to visit Croatia’s capital to avoid the crowds.

Zagreb has an upper town where you will experience its mediaeval atmosphere but some buildings have been destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt, including the cathedral in neo-Gothic style.

There are other interesting churches, parks, lakes and museums.

In summary, with the school holidays over and families gone, Zagreb is a city to visit in the autumn.

4- Taste Wine At Brodet Peljesac Peninsula
best time to visit croatia dubrovnik
Autumn is harvest time and the best time to visit Croatia for colourful vineyard vines.

Brodet Peljesac Peninsula in the south of Croatia is famous for its wines with the harvest in the autumn months.

You should sample the mature wine with traditional dishes, including those made with local seafood caught that day.

5- Discover Paklenica National Park
what is the best time of year to visit croatia
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to visit Croatia’s Paklenica National Park.

With temperatures easing a little in autumn, this is an excellent season for exploring inland parts of Croatia, for example, Paklenica National Park is quite close to Zadar in Northern Dalmatia.

It is a forested place with stunning canyons and karst rock formations.

Top tips:

  • Kuna is the local currency, not the Euro. Euros are welcome in some places, but change will be in Kuna. Change money to Kuna at banks and ATMs rather than use the Euro.
  • If you don’t fancy naturist beaches, look out for the FKK signs that announce them.
    Check timetables if you are island hopping or taking buses around the mainland.

Croatia in Winter

best time to visit plitvice lakes croatia
The best time to visit Croatia for a dramatic landscape is in winter. Pictured here is Plitvice frozen over.

Croatia still offers enough of a holiday with variety during the months of winter. One day you may be shopping in Zagreb, the next skiing a little more than an hour away. Even more remote regions offer a winter wonderland, perhaps just a night away from your Zagreb base.

The Adriatic Coast still gets plenty of sunshine, but this is more the time for wrapping up for a beach walk rather than staying in one place. Croatia’s hot springs have been a feature of Croatian life for many, many years and overseas visitors are most welcome to join in.

Flights are less frequent in the winter, but if you look around, you will find some options as well as the obvious one, Zagreb. This is truly low season so there are lots of bargains around, especially hotels looking to fill rooms.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • December (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1610, Average Low Temperature 0C (32F), Average High Temperature Average High 5C (42F))
  • January (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1640, Average Low Temperature 0C (32F), Average High Temperature 5C (42F)
  • February (Sunrise 0655, Sunset 1720, Average Low Temperature 0C (32F), Average High Temperature 6C (44F)

Five Things to do in Croatia in Winter

1- Go Skiing At Platak

If you enjoy skiing, Croatia can offer you Platak with a few kilometres of slopes, the highest being at 1363 metres (over 4,000 feet).

It may not compare with skiing in the Alps, but Croatia offers plenty more attractions to make up for it.

2- Enjoy The Atmosphere Of the Zagreb Christmas Market
best time to visit croatia zagreb christmas market
The best time to visit Croatia for atmosphere is in winter. The Zagreb Christmas market is a fun event.

Zagreb Christmas Market starts at the end of November and continues into the New Year.

There are 25 individual markets in the squares and on the promenades, yet visitors will feel that this is just one big shopping opportunity.

It is regularly praised as the best market in Europe.

3- Soak In The Zagorje Hot Springs
best time of the year to visit croatia
The green hills of the Zagorje region and Veliki Tabor castle in northern Croatia.

Visit the Hot Springs Centre in Zagorje, also famous for its castles.

How nice to get a warm experience in the middle of winter, an hour away from Zagreb.

The region has been known for its warming spas since the 18th century.

4- Enjoy A Winter Wonderland At Plitvice Lakes
best time to visit croatia plitvice lake national park
Frozen trees at Plitvice Lake National Park in Croatia during winter.

Plitvice Lakes National Park has different attractions during each season.

In winter, it is a stunning wonderland of white.

Most lakes are frozen, of course, and some parts of the park may be closed with regular updates available to visitors.

The southern part remains active with ferries and walking trails ready for those who want good clean, fresh air.

5- Discover The Charms Of Rijeka

Rijeka is in the far north of Croatia, with lovely beaches that are better for a bracing walk than sunbathing.

You are likely to encounter a breeze, so dress up appropriately.

There is a rich maritime history in Rijeka and a museum that tells its story.

It has been European City of Culture and its old town has plenty of things of interest.

Top tips:

  1. Be ready for the cold weather, especially at night.
  2. Prices fall in the winter, and crowds are uncommon, so look for discounts.
  3. Flights are less numerable, so do your research when you start to plan your holiday.

Croatia In Spring

when is the best time to visit croatia
If you’re looking for a time of year when nature comes alive, the best time to visit Croatia is spring. Pictured here is the village of Kijevo.

Spring sees the early stages of holiday travel and Easter is the trigger for charter flights starting. Easter can be as early as late March and as late as the third week of April. Everything seems so new as spring proceeds and the shorter days of winter get longer.

Temperatures rise markedly between the beginning of March and May when even time on the beach to catch some sun is more than possible. By May, the Adriatic waters are much warmer than earlier in the calendar year. Children will likely enjoy the sea if the family takes an early holiday. The tourist infrastructure is fully open as soon as tourists arrive, so coastal holidays are becoming increasingly popular.

The green areas within the cities look at their best as spring proceeds and imagine how nice the numerous national parks throughout the country look. It’s a great time to walk and enjoy Croatia’s natural surroundings at every turn.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • March (Sunrise 0605, Sunset 1800, Average Low Temperature 3C (38F), Average High Temperature Average High 10C (50F))
  • April (Sunrise 0605, Sunset 1945, Average Low Temperature 11C (52F), Average High Temperature 17C (63F)
  • May (Sunrise 0520, Sunset 2020, Average Low Temperature 15C (59F), Average High Temperature 23C (74F)

Five Things to do in Croatia in Spring

1- See Waterfalls At Krka National Park
croatia best time to visit waterfalls
The best time to visit Croatia to see gushing waterfalls is in Spring. Pictured here is Krka National Park.

Krka National Park is famous for its waterfalls, notably Skradinski, all on the Krka River.

As winter recedes, this park is truly wonderous.

It will likely be too early in the season to swim, but your photo album will be spectacular.

The river’s flow in spring is good, with the waterfalls as good as at any time in the year.

2- Visit Lokrum Island
best time of year to visit dubrovnik croatia
Lokrum Island in Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian coast.

Lokrum Island is just a short distance offshore from Dubrovnik.

A regular ferry takes you to a place with an old monastery and a castle originally built by the French.

One of the region’s best beaches is on this island, although it will be late spring before significant numbers gather to enjoy it.

You can stay on the island, which has decent infrastructure.

3- Discover Dubrovnik
best time visit Croatia woman in white dress and white hat looking down at Dubrovnik view
Summer is considered the best time to visit Croatia if you want to go to the beach, but spring is a great time to visit Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik attracts visitors all year round, but crowds build significantly in the high season, and the prices also rise.

Spring is a fantastic season to wander the old town before the crowds arrive and prices rise.

The places used for “Game of Thrones” are very popular, with organised tours available daily.

You can wander around them independently or join a tour. Either way, avoiding the high season makes the experience more comfortable.

4- Explore The Istrian Peninsula

Pula is in the extreme north of the country on the Istrian Peninsula, which is shared with Italy and Slovenia.

Its largest city is Pula on the tip of the peninsula with its ancient Roman ruins, the most interesting thing to see.

Local wine is important to the region and fishing remains an important activity.

5- Discover Kolocep
croatia best beaches time to visit Cliff face with the sea and a beautiful sunset with birds flying in the sky
The island of Kolocep is stunning and the best time to visit Croatia if this is where you’d like to go is in spring.

Kolocep is the furthest south of Croatia’s inhabited islands though less than 200 people live there.

Another close to Dubrovnik, olive trees and pine cover the island, while some churches date back as early as the 9th Century.

It is a pleasant place to explore on foot, while kayaking is available with kayaks available to hire.

Top tips:

  • Nights will still be cool with the sun setting early, so pack accordingly.
  • The season is just starting, so other than Easter, you should be able to strike a bargain.
  • The sea has yet to rise much in temperature until late spring, but the beach is still a fabulous place to spend the day with plenty of sun.

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Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.