Best Time to Visit Croatia

Travel to Croatia has become increasingly popular, landing on many bucket-lists with images featuring everything from Plitvice Lakes National Park to the walled Old City of Dubrovnik drawing visitors across the globe. Having been featured in the hit series ‘Game of Thrones’ among other TV shows and films, more than a few fans come to experience in real life what they’ve only seen on screen, discovering that it’s even more impressive. 

The question isn’t whether to go, it’s when, especially for the most optimal experience as you travel the breathtaking Adriatic coast and explore the many island gems. Croatia’s climate, like most destinations in the northern hemisphere, means warm, dry summers, and cool winters. You can expect a typical Mediterranean climate in the coastal cities like Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar, as well as in the islands with especially pleasant weather from around mid-April through early October. 

Motovun
Plitvice National Park

Spring: April through June

Spring is a shoulder season when it comes to travel to Croatia. Just a few weeks or so after it officially begins, temperatures are often ideal for sightseeing, hovering around 15 to 17 degrees Celsius/upper 50s/low 60s Fahrenheit. This is a great time for capturing those photos without hordes of tourists in the way and you’re likely to enjoy some discounts too. If you come during the latter part of the season, the sea will likely be warm enough for swimming. While rain is possible, it usually isn’t long before the sun is shining again. 

Summer: July through September

The peak season, or high season, is July through September, although toward the latter end, as summer turns to fall, the crowds start to diminish and the temperatures dip a little too. Generally, this is the hottest and driest time of year, making it ideal for those who look forward to leaping off catamarans into the sea, swimming off the shores of secluded coves, and spending time on the beach. Daytime highs are typically around 29 to 30 Celsius/around the mid-80s Fahrenheit, but it can get hotter. When that happens, a refreshing dip in the emerald- and turquoise-hued saltwater lakes of Mljet National Park is especially enjoyable. 

Of course, as the high season of the year, you can expect plenty of other visitors to be here too. For some, enjoying all the action on beaches and the full-throttle nightlife can be especially appealing. At Bacvice Beach in Split, framed by the Adriatic’s turquoise waters, you’ll find umbrellas and lounge chairs, trendy bars and cafes, and activities like picigin, a popular game that’s fun to watch or even join in with the locals. It does require some acrobatic skills – players hit a small rubber ball back and forth, and on occasion have to dive to keep it from plunging into the water.

This is also when you can enjoy the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the largest cultural festival in Croatia, while the landscapes on glamorous Hvar Island will be a sea of purple with lavender dotted across the meadows. 

Plitvice National Park
Motovun

Start of Autumn: First 2 Weeks of October

Through mid-September it’s usually quite warm and busy in Croatia but toward the end of the month and into the first two weeks of October, the temperatures are often idyllic, the water still warm from summer, and the crowds begin to thin. You can generally expect temperatures to be in the upper 70s, around 25 Celsius, and as this is another shoulder season, you might even find some discounts on hotels and airfare. 

For those looking to hike and explore Croatia’s spectacular nature, this is an ideal time as it won’t be too hot. Plus, in Plitvice Lakes National Park and other destinations, the brilliant foliage of the season highlights the natural beauty. When those golds and yellows blanket fountains and frame waterfalls, lakes and rivers, it’s particularly breathtaking. Just remember to bring a sweater or light jacket for your walks along the Riva promenade in Split or anywhere else at night, as it can get a bit cool, perhaps dipping into the low 60s Fahrenheit, 16 Celsius.

Don’t Go: Mid-Autumn Through Winter

The low season is mid-October through March. It’s not the best time to travel to Croatia, with November the rainiest of the year along the Adriatic coast. In northern areas highs may only be in the mid-40s Fahrenheit/7-8 Celsius, and you won’t be able to enjoy a swim without freezing. As it’s often windy, it will feel even colder. Many feel that November and February are the most depressing of all. While you might think that Dubrovnik would be magnificent with a dusting of snow, it’s unlikely to happen. 

There won’t be any crowds to deal with now but it’s likely to be as dead as a doornail outside of the large cities. In fact, many restaurants and hotels will be closed. Those that stay open tend to have limited hours. 

Your best bet for a memorable trip is in one of the shoulder seasons or the peak season depending on your personal preferences. 

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