Read our guide to Croatia below, for great travel tips and to find out when the best time to visit Croatia is:
When to Visit Croatia
Croatia has quickly become one of the top destinations for travelers in the world, thanks in part to the hit show “Game of Thrones,” which used a number of its enticing spots as filming locations. It’s filled with everything from ancient fortified cities to island gems with beautiful beaches, wineries and vineyards for tasting and tours, countless eateries serving delicious Dalmatian cuisine and especially friendly, welcoming people.
But we probably don’t have to tell you why to go, by now, the word is out. The real question is, when is the best time to visit Croatia? The general answer is any time from early May through late September, as there is very little available in the low season, other then Zagreb’s famous Christmas market – of course, if that’s what you’re looking for it may be worth planning around as it’s been named the best and most beautiful in all of Europe for the past three years. Obviously, it will be too chilly for swimming in those brilliant turquoise waters or soaking up the sun on the beach, and cruises don’t run in this region between November and April. Sailing along the Adriatic coast, island-hopping through its crown jewels on a small-ship cruise is one of the best ways to Croatia’s beauty. You’ll be able to take in a lot more without having to continually pack and unpack with the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in each destination, getting to know the history and the culture. That means if you do decide to go in the winter, you’ll definitely want to plan another trip.
Those who prefer to take in the many delights that the “on” season has to offer have six months of the year to choose from. This Croatia travel guide is sure to help your decision as to when to travel to Croatia at least somewhat easier and we break down the best time to go based on the type of vacation you’re looking for followed by a month-to-month analysis.
When to Visit Croatia for Sightseeing
If the primary reason for your trip to Croatia is to visit the tourist attractions, including those “GoT” filming locations, you’ll want to avoid the peak summer months of July and August when tourist crowds are thick and the weather is hot, averaging in the mid-80s Fahrenheit, though the mercury can and often does climb up into the 90s. That typically means anywhere from about mid-April through the month of May or mid-September through mid-October. If you arrive in late spring, a 10-night Zadar, Plitvice Lakes & Split Luxury Cruise & Land Package makes it easy to combine a land tour where you’ll explore top sights like Plitvice Lakes National Park when the waterfalls will really be rushing, with a cruise to popular destinations like Split and Dubrovnik as well as some of the island gems. By booking this same tour for early autumn, you can experience the park when it’s splashed with the vibrant colors of fall, while enjoying pleasantly warm weather for sightseeing. As the sea temperatures are often idyllic through much of September and into early October, swimming will feel wonderful in between all your other exploits.
When to Visit Croatia to Experience Local Festivals
Attending a local festival is not only fun, it’s a great way to delve into the culture, enjoying an authentic side of daily life in Croatia. Plan to visit Split in May, perhaps as part of the 7-night Signature Split to Dubrovnik Cruise, and you might be able to attend the Festival of Flowers. The top attraction in this medieval city is the 4th-century Diocletian’s Palace and you’ll be able to see its basement halls filled with flowers as florists compete to find out who has the most beautiful, artistic display.
One of Croatia’s most popular islands, glamorous Hvar, famous for its yacht-filled harbor and upscale eateries, becomes especially aromatic in June as it marks the lavender harvest. The Lavender Festival is hosted toward the end of the month, bringing the opportunity to participate in harvesting, and follow the entire process through to distilling and production of lavender oil. There will be concerts, workshops and a variety of exhibitions, while the fields of endless purple make for especially photogenic shots. With Hvar on many island-hopping cruise itineraries, it’s easy to visit as part as one of these unforgettable trips like the 7-night Signature Dubrovnik to Split Cruise which also stops on Mljet, Korcula, Vis & Ston.
Dubrovnik host its popular summer festival from mid-July through much of August every year – the country’s largest cultural festival, international musicians and actors take to the stage on open-air venues within the city’s ancient walls. If you hope to attend, you might plan to spend some time here first and then embark on the 7-night Deluxe Dubrovnik to Split Cruise.
October is peak season for white truffles, the most valuable type, on the beautiful Istrian peninsula. This month brings Istrian Truffle Days, a time when multiple events will be held every weekend, celebrating the region’s famous gastronomic treat, including the chance to indulge in all sorts of dishes featuring truffles and purchase items like truffle oil and other products. We suggest combining it with a mid- to late-September cruise that culminates in Opatija, taking advantage of the wonderful early fall weather with perfect timing for the event.
When to Visit Croatia for Swimming and the Beaches
Croatia is home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches, like Zlatni Rat on the island of Bol, a unique stretch that continuously changes shape depending on the tide, currents and wind. It’s surrounded by crystal-clear waters in a myriad of hues, from turquoise to deep blue, framed by mature shady pines. May, June and September may be especially enjoyable for sunbathing with the weather warm but not as hot as it will be during the peak summer months. No matter where you go, the sea is sure to entice you for a swim. Earlier in the season, it will probably be a bit too chilly to enjoy, but by July when the weather has really warmed up the sea temperatures will begin to climb too, and it can make for an ideal time to hop in and cool off. It continues to warm through August, with September often ideal for swimming with tourist crowds starting to diminish and the water still quite pleasant.
An island-hopping tour in Croatia is one of the best ways to not only experience multiple islands and their beautiful beaches, like the 7-night Signature Dubrovnik to Split Cruise, but you’ll have lots of swim stops along the way. The good news is that if you book a trip during the hottest months of the year, July and August, there’s a/c on the ship if the heat gets to be too much.
When to Visit Croatia for Parties and Nightlife
Croatia offers famously fantastic nightlife that includes cheap beer, outstanding Croatian wines and creative cocktails, while DJs spin the latest tunes. There are plenty of crawls after dark too that will bring you to everything from Irish pubs to swanky cocktail bas, nightclubs, discos and raves. The summer nightlife really takes off on islands like Hvar, Pula and the Pag islands, with internationally renowned music festivals attracting big-name recording artists and DJs. The island of Obonjan near Sibenik hosts the popular Obonjan Electronic Festival each year beginning in late June, featuring electronic music, DJs, workshops, wellness events and more. Hvar attracts jetsetters from across the globe who come to enjoy some of the chicest parties, day and night.
Summer is definitely the “hot” season not only when it comes to weather, but for anyone who wants to join a party or live concert with something happening on any given weekend, or even any day, throughout Croatia. In the islands and along the Adriatic coast where the warm nights are perfect for outdoor events after dark, you’ll typically have a wealth of different festival and events to choose from.
When to Visit Croatia to Avoid the Crowds
Generally, the summer months, including July, August and much of September, bring the biggest number of tourists. Those that are looking for a Croatia family vacation would visit when the kids are out of school, and September is popular due to the warm sea for swimming and slightly cooler land temperatures, as well as among those who want to avoid the younger crowd. That means if you want to come at a more tranquil time when you won’t have to bump elbows while making your way through those narrow cobbled streets while enjoying pleasant weather, having flights and ferry services readily available, and cruises are running, plan to come in May, June or late September/early October.
What to Expect Each Month During the ‘On’ Season
May. The cruise season gets started in May and it can be a fabulous time to be in Croatia when the temperatures warm but not too hot. The average high is around 70°F now, and the summer crowds haven’t arrived yet. If you plan to visit this month, you may be taking a bit of a risk with the weather, so you’ll want to plan on bringing clothing that can be layered and a light jacket. The sea is unlikely to be warm enough for an enjoyable swim, but you may want to pack a bathing suit to enjoy a hotel swimming pool or for sunbathing on the beach. If you plan to visit Split, you may be able to catch the beautiful Festival of Flowers.
June. One of the best months to visit Croatia for a cruise, the days are now much warmer, typically hovering around the upper 70s along the coast. The sea is likely be pleasant enough for a refreshing swim, and you’re unlikely to need a jacket or sweater now but bring plenty of sunscreen. Hvar will be blanketed in purple with this month bringing the lavender harvest, and if you happen to be on the island in late June you may be able to attend the Lavender Festival.
July. One of the peak summer months, July will be hot, with the average high temperature along the coast climbing to the mid-80s, though it can get quite a bit hotter. This is the time to come to enjoy your days at the beach, cooling off in the sea with water temperatures comfortable now at around 75°F and taking part in fun outdoor activities. This is also the best time to travel to Croatia to enjoy the nightlife, beach parties and live concerts. Dubrovnik’s summer festival begins around the middle of the month, bringing the opportunity to attend the largest cultural festival in Croatia, complete with performances by actors and musicians from around the world.
August. August is much like July, continuing the hot, dry weather, while bringing some of the biggest crowds of the year. The good news if you plan to come for a cruise during this period, is that those elegant small-cruise ships come equipped with a/c when you need a break from the heat. Plan to bring your summery clothing and a couple of bathing suits, keeping cool in the crystal-clear blue waters of the Adriatic.
September. The hot weather continues in early September, but as the month progresses, it will gradually start to cool while the sea is especially pleasant for swimming and snorkeling. The average high temperature along the coast dips back into the upper 70s, with days often idyllic. This is another one of the best times for a cruise, and if you come late in the month, it could be perfect timing for enjoying Truffle Days on the Istrian peninsula in early October, just plan to pack a light jacket for cooler days and evenings.
October. Many places in Croatia start to shut down in early October, but this month can be ideal for those who want to enjoy sightseeing in the cities and are looking for cheap flights to Croatia. There will be some cruises running during the first half of the month, though like May, it comes with a bit of a risk for some inclement weather. There is a chance it might rain, while afternoon temperatures tend to be around 70°F along the coast. If you plan to visit now, you’ll want to pack a mix of clothing for both warm and cooler days along with a light rain jacket.
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