Few countries so seamlessly blend modern culture, natural beauty and medieval charm as Croatia, which offers experiences ranging from taking your first few steps up the stairs to Diocletian’s Palace to dipping your toes in the crystalline waters of the Adriatic Sea. With a growing number of visitors (particularly those decked out in Game of Thrones garb), it’s becoming more important to plan your trip wisely. While the predictable summer heat might be appealing for those who want to spend most of their time in the sea, the country offers a number of treasures beyond its obvious coastal appeal. Lively cultural events, glacial lakes and gothic architecture are just a few of Croatia’s year-round charms.
Weather in Croatia
(All temperatures quoted are in Fahrenheit.)
Weather in Croatia in the spring is entirely region dependent. While the coastal cities might already be starting to reach the mid-60s, snow in the Dinaric Alps is likely until mid- to late April. Make sure to plan for some rain, no matter which part of the country you’re in.
In May and June, the weather is tolerably warm throughout the country. July and August, however, often reach the 90s and above. (This is perfect for sun worshippers but can be a bit warm for some!) On the coast, the dry climate and constant sea breeze make the heat fairly easy to handle. Visitors traveling inland might experience similar heat, but a substantial amount of rainfall often accompanies it.
September is one of the most highly recommended months to visit Croatia. Temperatures slowly start to drop, tourists begin to depart, and ocean regions offer comfortable temperatures. October is also a great time of year to visit, particularly for those looking to bike, to hike and to experience the country’s tranquil natural beauty.
Even in the dead of winter, Croatia’s coastal areas remain in the 50s, which, aside from the customary rainfall, is fairly pleasant. Inland cities, such as Zagreb, experience much cooler temperatures and abundant snowfall. Ski bums can look forward to three months of quality snow each season.
Backroads Pro Tip
Given its location along the Adriatic Sea, Croatia has two distinct climates: a typical Mediterranean climate along the coast and a more continental climate inland. This leads to the “Bura,” a strong, unpredictable wind born from the clashing climates. Depending on your itinerary, make sure to plan (and to pack) not just for the time of year but for the areas you plan to visit.
Waterfalls (Early Spring)
Fewer visitors and free-flowing waterfalls from recent snowmelt make March through April a great time to venture to Croatia’s famous natural wonders, including Plitvice National Park. Don’t forget about Krka National Park, though. Unlike its larger, more well-known counterpart, Krka is home to a number of scenic waterfalls and placid lakes that even allow visitors to take a dip.
Truffle Season (September–November)
Each fall in Istria—the northwestern coastal region of Croatia—truffle hunters from all across Europe flock to the area. The region is home to numerous wooded areas, including the famous Motovun Forest, which is known for both its white and black truffle populations. The season kicks off with a number of festivals, including Subotina Festival in Buzet and Zigante Truffle Days in the small village of Livade.
Though you’ll encounter summer crowds throughout many of Croatia’s scenic coastal cities, the popular summer season presents a number of music festivals and film events worth marking on your calendar, while the shoulder seasons present the ideal climate for adventure seekers.
Like in many other countries, Carnival month means wild crowds, colorful parades and lively concerts. Expect to find festivities in cities throughout Croatia. One of the most noteworthy events is the Rijeka Carnival. The largest of its kind, it attracts more than 100,000 spectators each year.
Music Biennale (April)
Held only during odd-numbered years, Music Biennale is an international festival for music lovers from around the world. Composers, critics, musicians and arts lovers gravitate to Zagreb to hear from symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles and more. The event transforms the city into a modern cultural center for a week.
Pula Film Festival (July)
One of the oldest national festivals in the world, the Pula Film Festival takes place each July in the city’s impeccably preserved first-century BC amphitheater. The first film screening took place in 1938 during World War II, and the city continues to foster a culture of appreciation for world-class cinematography each year.
Ultra Europe (July)
This electronic music festival has grown from a two-day celebration in Split to a multiday event spanning across multiple cities and venues. Today, the three-day festival includes an opening party, yacht regatta and more. Visitors should always gear up for a lineup of top modern artists. (The 2019 headliners included Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, the Chainsmokers and others.)
Summer Festival (July–August)
Held in both Split and Dubrovnik, each city’s Summer Festival features a variety of music and dance events in open-air venues. The festival is rooted in creative tradition and aims to celebrate the country’s history and heritage through music and theater.
During the holiday season, many cities throughout Croatia celebrate with tasty food, musical events, art displays and more. One of the most notable Advent celebrations takes place in Zagreb, which is regularly regarded as offering one of Europe’s best Christmas markets.
Like in many other European countries, tourist season in Croatia runs from mid-May through early October, peaking in July and August. If crowds aren’t your cup of tea, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons. May and October are still subject to some tourists but not at the level experienced during peak season.
Backroads Pro Tip
To avoid crowds in the summer, consider taking your trip inland. Though the coastal cities are beautiful, some of the smaller landlocked towns offer equally worthwhile experiences during peak season, and they allow you to enjoy the warm summer weather. Scenic vineyards, castle ruins and expansive river valleys are just a few of the sights awaiting you inland!
Whether you’re looking to island-hop or to explore the country’s vineyards and glacial lakes, Croatia’s varied terrain was practically made for the cyclist. Monasteries, national parks, fishing villages and time-worn churches are all easily accessible by bike here. As a small country bordered by a number of scenic nations, Croatia also lends itself to multiple-country biking itineraries.
Hiking and Walking
Home to a number of national parks and dramatic coastal cliffs, Croatia provides scenery that’s often best experienced slowly. Stroll through coastal towns, hike the Peljesac Peninsula, and explore the surrounding medieval villages by foot. Hiking is feasible in Croatia year-round, but visitors should take into account the blistering summer heat.
Sea kayaking is a popular pastime in Croatia, which should come as no surprise. (The nation is home to more than one thousand islands!) Paddle around Brac Island’s Golden Cape, or explore the inland lakes of Miljet. With a collection of islands relatively close to each other, the Adriatic’s inlets are ideal for kayakers. Make sure to keep an eye out for dolphins as you paddle.
One of the more extreme Croatian adventure sports, canyoning is a combination of hiking, swimming and rappelling that gives visitors the chance to see the country’s relatively untouched natural canyons. The Cetina River by Split is a popular canyoning destination, providing opportunities to slide down rapids, to swim in natural pools and to go cliff diving (if you dare). Most canyoning tours run from mid-April to mid-October.
Travel to Croatia with Backroads
Backroads offers numerous ways to experience the very best of Croatia on our award-winning active travel adventures. Explore this country in the best and most genuine way possible—away from the crowds, buses and tourist hot spots. We hope you'll join us! Check out our full list of Croatia adventures here.
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