Croatian winter mountains
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Croatia in Winter: Should you visit it (2024)?

Looking for a great trip but wondering whether you should visit Croatia in winter?

Croatia is a beautiful country in the Balkans that is known for its beautiful coastlines, historic places, and tasty food. Most people go to Croatia in the summer to enjoy its beautiful islands and beaches. But how about Croatia in winter?

In this blog post, I’ll tell you if it’s worth going to Croatia in the winter, what you can do there, where you’ll find the warmest place, and other important things like the weather and how they celebrate Christmas.

Let’s go!

Is it worth going to Croatia in winter?

Yes, for sure! Croatia is an extremely popular place to visit in the summer, but it also has a lot to offer in the winter. There are less people, prices are cheaper, and there are lots of things to do in the winter.

Croatia in winter - Omladinsko Jezero
Omladinsko Jezero

Also, the winter is a great time to learn about Croatia’s culture because many towns and cities have traditional winter fairs, concerts, and other events that don’t happen in the summer.

I can tell you that everyone can find something to do in Croatia during the winter, whether you want to do winter sports, visit historical places, or try the amazing local food!

Things to do in Croatia in winter

You might think, okay, sounds cool, but what are those great things you can do? Well, here are five great things to do there in the winter to have a great experience:

1. Skiing and snowboarding

A fan of winter sports? In the mountainous parts of Croatia, there are several ski areas. For example, the Platak ski resort near Rijeka has slopes that are good for both newbies and more experienced skiers and snowboarders.

croatia in winter - Ski slope
Ski slope

There are also great tracks for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, in addition to skiing and snowboarding. You can spend a day (or more) on the slopes and take in the gorgeous views of the scenery around you.

2. Exploring Historic Sites

Croatia has a lot of history, and winter is a great time to learn about it because there aren’t as many people there as in the summer. It’s a great idea to visit the old city of Split and look around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Diocletian’s Palace.

View on Split
View on Split

Or, you can go to Dubrovnik, which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved medieval buildings and beautiful city walls. It’s a great day out!

If you’re in Split during the winter months and you want to visit the Diocletian’s Palace, I would really recommend the following Diocletian’s Palace Walking Tour:

Book your Diocletian’s Palace Walking Tour here for a great experience!

3. Going to Christmas Markets

During the Christmas season, there are Christmas markets in many towns and places in Croatia. One of the most famous is the Advent in Zagreb, which has been named the best Christmas market in Europe more than once!

Christmas advent in Zagreb
Christmas Advent in Zagreb

You can enjoy the holiday spirit, buy some great handmade gifts and decorations, and eat and drink tasty food and drinks from the area.

4. Hiking in National Parks

It’s good to know that some trails may be closed because of snow, but many of Croatia’s national parks are open all year and have beautiful scenery in the winter.

Plitvice lakes during winter
Plitvice lakes during winter

For example, Plitvice Lakes National Park is beautiful in the winter when the rivers are frozen and the trees are covered in snow. Just check the park’s website before you go to see if any trails are closed or if there are any winter warnings.

5. Enjoying the Local Food

Winter is a great time to eat hearty Croatian foods. Try sarma, which are cabbage rolls with ground meat and rice inside, or paticada, which is beef cooked with wine and prunes, or fritule, which are sweet fried dough balls. All very tasty!

Sarma dish
Sarma dish

Enjoy these tasty meals in a cosy restaurant or konoba, which is a traditional Croatian tavern for a great experience.

But with most of these activities, before you go outside, make sure to wear warm clothes and check the weather report!

Warmest place in Croatia in winter

Most of the time, the coast is the hottest place in Croatia in the winter. Dalmatia and Istria, which are both on the coast, have a milder winter temperature than the rest of the country.

The Adriatic Sea helps keep temperatures more even along the coast, making it warmer than inland. During the winter, places like Split, Dubrovnik, and Pula are often the hottest in the country.

For example, in January, the usual high temperature in Dubrovnik is about 12°C (54°F), but in Zagreb, the capital city, which is further inland, it is about 4°C (39°F). Also, seaside areas tend to have more sunny days in the winter than inland areas.

This makes the coast a better choice for people who want to get away from the cold. So, if you want to go somewhere warm in Croatia in the winter, Dalmatia and Istria’s coastal cities are your best bet.

Is Croatia sunny in winter?

During the winter, there are both sunny and cloudy days in Croatia. Dalmatia and Istria, both on the coast, tend to have more warm days than places inland.

In January, Dubrovnik, which is situated along the coast, has about 5 hours of sunshine per day, while Zagreb, which is in the middle of the country, has only about 2 hours.

croatia in winter - The charming Dubrovnik
The charming Dubrovnik

Even though there are some cloudy and sometimes rainy days along the coast in the winter, there is still a nice amount of sunshine.

Even though it’s not as sunny in Croatia in the winter as it is in the summer, there are still plenty of sunny days to enjoy, especially along the coast.

Does it snow in Croatia?

Oh yes, it really does snow in Croatia, especially in the mountains and inner parts of the country. The coastal areas get less snow, and towns like Split and Dubrovnik often don’t get any snow at all during the winter!

But it snows more often in the mountainous areas and in Zagreb, the capital city. For example, 25 cm (10 inches) of snow falls on average in January in Zagreb.

Croatia in winter temperature

During the winter, the weather in different parts of Croatia is different. In coastal places like Dalmatia and Istria, where the weather is milder, the highs during the day range from 10-15°C (50-59°F).

In comparison, it can get as cold as -5°C (23°F) or lower inland, where the capital city, Zagreb, is located, especially at night. For example, in January, the usual high temperature in Split, which is near the coast, is around 12°C (54°F), while it is around 4°C (39°F) in Zagreb.

Zagreb by night
Zagreb by night

During the winter, it is also normal for snow to fall and temperatures to drop to below freezing in mountainous areas.

So, if you want to go to Croatia in the winter, you should really bring your warm clothes and think of layers, especially if you want to go to inland or the mountains.

What to pack for Croatia in winter?

When packing for a winter trip to Croatia, you should think about the different conditions in different parts of the country and bring clothes for both cold and warmer weather. So, here are some important things to bring to Croatia in the winter:

  • Warm Clothing: Putting on layers is the best way to stay warm. Bring along thermal shirts, wool jackets, and a winter coat that is both waterproof and warm.
  • Bottoms: I would bring warm pants or jeans, thermal leggings and waterproof pants if you plan to do any outdoor activities in the snow.
  • Shoes: For walking in icy or slippery areas, you need waterproof boots with good traction. Pack some warm socks, too.
  • Accessories: You need a nice pair of gloves, a warm hat, and a scarf to keep your hands and feet warm.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen: The sun can still be strong in the winter, especially near the coast or when it reflects off the snow.
  • Swimwear: If you plan to go to a thermal spa or stay at a hotel with a warm indoor pool, you will need some cool swimwear.
  • Casual Clothes: A good idea if you plan on going out to eat or to go out at night. From my own experience, Croats often look very well dressed when they go out in the evening.

With this packing list, I’m sure you’ll be fine on your trip to Croatia during the winter months.

Winter in Croatia: FAQs

The information below is related to spending time in Croatia during the winter months and will give you some more great insights!

Can you swim in Croatia in December?

Are you fond of swimming? Well, in December, the sea temperature in Croatia runs from 13 to 16°C (55 to 61°F), which is a bit too cold for swimming. But there are some brave people who like to go swimming in the sea in the winter.

If you like warmer water, you can find heated indoor pools at many hotels and spas. There are also many thermal spas in Croatia, like the Istarske Toplice in Istria and the Terme Tuhelj in the Zagorje region, where you can take a peaceful bath in the winter.

Is Dubrovnik nice in winter?

Dubrovnik is beautiful all year, including the winter. The benefits? The city isn’t as busy, and the weather is cooler, so it’s a great time to visit historic places, try the local food, and take long walks along the city walls.

A lot of events and parties happen in Dubrovnik during the winter, which adds to the city’s charm. For example, the Dubrovnik Winter Festival runs from December to January and has music, workshops, and special events for kids.

Is Split Croatia good in winter?

Split is another great place in Croatia that you should go to in the winter. The beautiful Diocletian’s Palace, beautiful beaches (even in winter), and a lively local scene can all be found in the city.

Split has warmer winters than other parts of Croatia, which makes it a good place to visit for sightseeing and exploring the city.

Split also has a number of winter events, like the Split Christmas Market, where you can buy handmade gifts and decorations and eat and drink food and drinks from the area.

What is Christmas like in Croatia?

Christmas is a big deal in Croatia, and the holiday is marked by a lot of fun events and traditions. Very recommendable to witness as a tourist!

Many cities and towns are beautifully decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments, and there are Christmas markets where you can buy handmade gifts, decorations, and local food and drinks.

Some traditional Croatian Christmas foods are bakalar (salted cod), sarma (cabbage rolls), and a range of sweets like fritule and krafne (doughnuts).

On Christmas Eve, you’ll find a lot of Croatians go to midnight Mass, and it’s a tradition to put a candle in the window to welcome baby Jesus.

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    The Wrap-Up: Croatia in Winter

    Croatia is a great place to visit in the winter because it has a variety of great things to do, such as winter sports, visiting historic sites, and good local food.

    It’s a good choice for people who want to avoid the huge summer rush because there are fewer people there and the prices are cheaper. This is really a big difference!

    As said, everyone can find something to do in Croatia in the winter, whether you want to ski, visit old towns, or have a quiet, relaxing vacation. So, don’t be afraid to plan a trip to this beautiful country in the winter.

    Want to know more about Croatia? Check out my post about the best 31 things Croatia is known for and tips about driving in Croatia!

    If you’re hesitating between Slovenia or Croatia for a destination, check out my post about Slovenia vs. Croatia!

    Your restless voyager,

    Dustin

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