When is best time of the year to visit Croatia?
Quick guide for planning a vacation in Croatia
How much do you really know about Croatia? You must have heard about relaxing summer vacations on Croatia’s stunning coastline that combine fascinating history and culture with excellent food and wine. But did you realize that Croatia is a country you can visit all year round? Winters in the south are mild and offer plenty of sunny days for enjoying Dalmatian tranquility, along with activities such as local festivals and events.
But when is the best time of the year to visit Croatia? And where you should go?
Depending on variables such weather, budget and cultural events, we can tell you how to choose the most suitable time of year for the trip of your lifetime.
When does the Croatian high season start?
When temperatures in Croatia start to climb, the coastline fills up with people, airports get crowded and the roads are bumper-to-bumper cars. High season starts at the beginning of June and lasts through August. These are the months when the tourist season is in full swing, prices peak and the beaches are packed. It is important to consider the calendar of Croatian national holidays during peak season, too, since this is when Croatians from the north flock to the coast to spend their days off at the beach.
It is also important to mention that the biggest annual music festival in this part of Europe – the Ultra Music Festival – is held in Split in the first part of July. During this week-long festival, the city of Split and its surroundings host over 150,000 people who come from all over the world with just one goal: to party! So basically, if you are looking for peace and quiet, it’s best to avoid Dalmatia in July.
Hotel reservations should be made several months in advance, especially during July and August, in the most visited coastal cities: Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar. Airfares also increase during high season and this is a variable to consider if you want to keep an eye on your budget.
Summer in Croatia is known to be quite hot, especially in the cities, so you have to be careful when planning your daily tours and activities, if you don’t tolerate the heat. You should also consider that air conditioning isn’t as widespread as it is in the States, and you won’t find many places blasting A.C. at full power. This is something you have to bear in mind and deal with, especially in public places and on public transportation.
August 15th is the highest ‘peak’ of peak season at the seaside. First of all, it is the biggest Christian holiday after Christmas and Easter – the Assumption – and it’s also when a lot of Italians come to the Croatian coast because their Ferragosto national holiday is at the same time.
On Assumption Day, every city or village promotes cultural and musical events where you can celebrate with the locals by sampling different foods and wines from open-air stands and dancing in the streets to live Croatian music.
However, if you are looking for a more comfortable and less “sweaty” trip, with the certainty that the roads will be less trafficked and the beaches not so crowded, we recommend taking into consideration other periods of the year.
What about going to Croatia during fall and early spring?
The pre and post-summer months are definitely a wonderful time to visit Croatia. September and October are still very warm, suitable for all outdoor activities, including swimming since the sea retains warmth and it is even better than in May or June when the sun hadn’t shined long enough to warm up the sea. Accommodation rates are lower and your hosts are not as busy so they will welcome you with enthusiasm and pay more attention to you.
We especially recommend taking advantage of the autumn months to visit to the countryside, where you can explore the culinary richness of Croatia during the grape and olive harvest in Dalmatia, the truffle hunting season in Istria or enjoy cured meats in Slavonia.
Early spring – from April to the end of May – is the most colorful time in Croatia: temperatures are mild, nature is waking up and everybody is finally outside. Bars and restaurants are setting up their terraces on the city squares, local markets are flooded with fresh greens and flowers and the days are becoming longer. With the high tourist season yet to begin, prices have not peaked and everybody is eager to welcome their first guests.
Christmas time is another very popular period of the year to visit Croatia. In the main cities, you have the chance to experience local Christmas markets and delve into the festive atmosphere of Croatian holiday time. The biggest Christmas market in Croatia is in Zagreb where the entire city center is decorated with millions of lights.
Consider the holiday calendar and local festivals
Other than seasons and national holidays, we recommend that you consider the dates of local festivals and events that attract visitors from other Croatian cities, as well as from the region. One of our favorites is Days of Diocletian in Split in August. During this festival, you can see many street performances of passersby dressed in togas and tunics to simulate Diocletian’s announcement to his citizens, combined with colorful stalls selling delicacies and handicrafts: the past and the present.
Other important cultural events are the Dubrovnik Summer Festival from mid-July to mid-August, for open air theater performances, and the international Motovun Film Festival in Istria at the end of July. These festivals are important enough to justify a significant increase, not only in visitors, but in prices too. So when booking your trip, find out whether you are going to be there during a local festival and decide if it’s something that you want to experience.
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