As a Mediterranean country, Croatia has all the perks of its more mainstream counterparts – gorgeously warm summers and mild winters – but with a fraction of the crowds. And that’s not because Croatia doesn’t have as much to see or do. This skinny coastal nation is packed with beaches and eye-popping landscapes of both historic and natural variety.
Spring is where things really start to pick up in Croatia, with high season officially beginning in April. While the water is still a little too cold for swimming at the start of spring, you should be well into beach territory by the end in May. In April, temperatures can even reach highs in the teens and crowds are low, so you’ll find a Croatia that’s still calm but comfortably warm.
That said, April is a top time to get out and explore Croatia’s wilderness. The cable car crossing above Dubrovnik will take you into the hillside and reward the long, albeit effortless trek with views out to sea, while the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a mega nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you can combine Croatia’s nature and history, more power to you. Over in Split at Diocletian’s Palace is the Festival of Flowers where hundreds of Croats compete with elaborate flower displays in one of Croatia’s most famous landmarks.
Summer is the creme de la creme of Croatia’s seasons, as it’s undoubtedly the warmest and most popular. The holiday season is in full swing, bringing crowds of visitors from near and far to Croatia’s sought-out shores. There’s very little rain at this time of year, and temperatures tend to hover in the mid-twenties, though nights in early summer still have the possibility of getting on the breezier side.
July might be Croatia’s sunniest month of the year but August is the typically hottest, with temperatures peaking in the high-20s. That’s why the summer is the best time of year for watersports. That can mean anything from scuba diving and snorkelling to parasailing and embarking on boat cruises to Croatia’s outlying islands. There are also summer festivals in the major cities like Split and Dubrovnik, events for which include open-air theatre, music and dance performances.
Beginning in September, Croatia’s tourism season starts to slow down. September might see less crowds, but the temperature still stay beautifully warm in the low and mid-20s, making this one of the best times to visit. October still maintains this warmth, though the days gradually begin to shorten and colder temps eventually creep in. October 8th is Croatia’s Independence Day, so you can expect parades and festivities almost everywhere you go.
The high season officially winds down in November, the rainiest month in Croatia. Mercury slips back down to the very low teens, though humidity is still surprisingly high. For this reason, museums and historic sites in Croatia start to look pretty good this time of year, as the beaches aren’t particularly fit for swimming. But never fear – there’s no shortage of historic architecture in this medieval country, especially in northern Rovinj and Dubrovnik’s red-roofed old town.
What may be winter in Croatia is still a little warmer than what us Brits are used to, especially along the country’s coast. January is the coldest month with highs capping at around 7°C, but gradually increase as winter turns into spring. The water sweeps into chilly territory and isn’t really fit for swimming, and, because wintertime is technically low season for Croatia, some hotels and restaurants are shut for business.
This really just means there’s more time for indoor activities and wanderings down Croatia’s cobbled lanes. January even sees the annual ‘Night of the Museums’ celebration, where museums across the country stay open into the evening and offer free admission and special events. February brings Carnival and an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day, so that even though you might not be able to swim at the beach, walks along the shores are still very much approved.
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