Croatia has mild seasons all year, thanks to its coastal Mediterranean location. The summers are dry and hot, averaging temperatures around 27 C. The winters are fairly mild, with temperatures above freezing.
When to fly to Croatia
The European summer is the most popular season with vacationers – resorts are fuller between June and August and prices rise accordingly.
As the main draw of Croatia is its coast, the winter period (especially from November to February) is the low season for tourism. However, it is possible to ski in the mountains as there is often snow. Zagreb is rapidly becoming a tourist hotspot and is worth visiting at any time of year – even if the weather is freezing, there is enough to do inside. Lent and the accompanying carnival is another great time to fly: Rijeka is the place in which it is celebrated with the most enthusiasm.
The mountain range running north-south alongside the country’s sea protects the coastline from the worst of the winds and the cold weather, which means spring arrives early and autumn ends late. If you’re heading for the coast, therefore, it’s possible to swim from about May, and right up until October in Southern Dalmatia. This means that May-June and September-October are great times to visit. Avoid most other tourists, pay discounted prices for hotels and pick up cheap Croatia flights.
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Getting around Croatia
Internal Croatia flights are the quickest way of getting around and are available between all major destinations, such as Split, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Pula. Croatia Airlines is the national carrier.
If you are planning on staying on Croatia’s beautiful coast, one of the most enjoyable ways to travel round is by ferry. This is certainly not the quickest route – ferries from Rijeka to Split, for example are overnight, whereas you could drive in four hours – however it is easily the most attractive and one of the best ways to see the country. The ferries are run by Jadrolinja (pronounced “yad-ro-lin-eeah”) and are very reasonably priced. For travel to some of the more remote islands, ferry is obviously the only option.
Buses are available throughout most of the country and tend to be the quickest form of public transport. They are often more expensive than the trains, though not as comfortable. The rail network is relatively good, but any travel along the coast, or from the coast to Zagreb, is far easier accomplished by bus. The coastal path from Rijeka down to Dubrovnik offers some wonderful landscape and views of the azure sea.
Cars can easily be hired and driving is easy. Most roads are in a good state of repair for travel between the more popular tourist destinations.
Croatia insider information
- One of the major draws of the country is its stunning coastline, running the length of the country from Rijeka past Dubrovnik. But be prepared before you hit the beach: there are very few sandy spots to be found, and most of the resorts boast instead a rugged and beautiful black rock. Bring a thick towel if you need padding for sunbathing.
- Dubrovnik is arguably the most popular town. Its best beach, however, isn’t on the mainland but a small island just 10 minutes away by taxi boat. Lokrum island is a national resort, protected by the Croatian Academy of Art and Science. As well as a stunning beach, backed by pine trees, the island also has a botanic garden, filled with tropical plants, and an old Benedictine monastery, part crumbling, hidden in the undergrowth which now serves as a restaurant. The taxi boats leave from Dubrovnik Harbour every half hour.
- Most tourists congregate on the southern Dalmatian islands, but those to the North – though often a bit cooler in temperature – can offer even more beautiful scenery and tend to be less crowded in the height of summer. Rab – which can be reached by ferry from Rijeka in just over an hour – is one of the most attractive. The greenest of all islands, it is covered with pine forests and also has sandy beaches. Rab Town has Roman and Greek buildings, with numerous churches and historic squares.
- English is not widely spoken, beyond those involved in the tourist industry. Try and learn a few words of Croat if possible, which will get you a long way in shops and restaurants. Otherwise, Italian is the most widely understood Western-European language, due to the proximity of the country and also because Croatia has long been a popular summer holiday-spot for Italians.