Croatia in Winter
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Croatia in Winter

Croatia is a beautiful country all year round; however, with gorgeous coastlines stretching across multiple towns, its no surprise Croatia is wrongly perceived as a summer only destination that would be bleak and unattractive to visitors during the Winter months. We’ve put together a few reasons that might just make you reconsider Croatia in Winter….

Climate

Croatia’s coast and islands, from Istria in the north through to Dalmatia in the south, experience a Mediterranean climate. Although it is usually several degrees cooler in the northern Adriatic compared to the south. The climate is cool and in the north usually getting to 2°C and 9°C in the south.

It can be fairly cold in the early morning and late evening, but you will find that days are crisp and fresh and mostly sunny. This makes perfect walking weather as you enjoy the Adriatic sea and most times, a beach all to yourself!!  Something to note is that during autumn and winter Croatia does experience rainfall every now and then, so don’t forget your raincoat! (Especially when in Dubrovnik)

Contrastingly, separated from the coast by the Dinaric Mountains, the central region of Croatia including Zagreb and Slavonia, can get quite cold in winter, in fact, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to drop below 0°C. In January, the mean temperature ranges from 0°C to -2°C.

The mountains of Croatia such as the Velebit range and Medvednica (near Zagreb) are much cooler and get more precipitation. During winter the mean temperature ranges from -2°C to -4°C and when you’re above 1,500m it’s even colder. There is snowfall across the Croatian mountain range which does provide an excellent ski season.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes National Park is picturesque with mesmerising scenery of waterfalls filling pristine lakes, surrounded by beautiful dense forests.

The most popular attraction in Croatia; Plitvice Lakes National Park comprises of 16 interconnecting clear emerald blue lakes spilling into countless waterfalls. During winter these waterfalls freeze creating a breathtaking spectacle of flowing water stopped in motion glistening in the sunlight.

Set in dense forests of trees, Plitvice is home to an abundance of local wildlife including bears, wolves and over 120 species of birds. While most animals are either in hibernation or are in migration during winter, there is still a chance you could encounter some of the many species of birds in the winter.

Temperatures range from -5°C to upwards of 10°C depending which month you travel. January is usually the coldest.

Given the icy temperatures, you’ll definitely need a winter coat and suitable shoes for walking, as the walkways can get fairly slippery with the snow

Plitvice Lakes National Park during winter is a sight to behold, with frozen waterfalls and snow-covered trees; it truly is a winter wonderland.

Christmas Markets & Stalls

There is nothing quite like a “White Christmas”.  Boasting a Christmas atmosphere that is hard to beat, Zagreb’s Main Square, Ban Jelacic and its surrounding areas come alive.  Experience traditional markets, craft stalls, Christmas decorations, concerts and traditional winter delicacies including bakalar, ham, sausages, cooked wine and Rakija.  The open air skating rink at Zrinkjevac Park is super fun for both Adults and kids.

Culture & Festivities

Every winter for the last decade “Night of Museums” has been held. More than 200 museums and galleries in over 100 Croatian towns open their doors free of charge.  Winter is known as carnival time across the country.  February sees more than 20,000 performers take to the streets for street parties, masquerade balls and carnivals.

The Dubrovnik Festival is 40 days long and offers a host of events to suit a wide range of tastes. Throughout Winter there is plenty to enjoy including concerts, ice-skating, Christmas plays, live music, theatre, museum and gallery events.

 Skiing

If you enjoy skiing and you’re in Croatia, it’s worth getting out on the ski fields.  There is no comparison between Croatian mountains and the Alps but its still good and fairly cheap compared to other European ski regions.

Croatia’s main ski resorts include Platak, located 150km from Zagreb, which features a range of runs, kid friendly activities, slopeside accommodation, chair lifts and much more. A second ski area, Sljeme, has similar facilities with its ski slopes primarily situated on the northern slopes of the Medvednica Mountain.

Hot Springs

Did you know Croatia is home to numerous natural hot springs?!  There are plenty of excellent thermal spas located around the country.  If you’re in Croatia during winter, be sure to check out Stubicke Toplice, Sveti Martin na Muri, Tuhelj, Varazdinski Toplice, Daruvarske Toplice and Krapinske Toplice.

In summary…

Because Croatia is not as popular during winter, there are significantly fewer crowds, which means substantially less traffic and loads of great photograph opportunities!  You will be able to enjoy the churches, architecture, landmarks and scenery without hundreds of people, long queues and unwanted photo bombing.   It may be a little cold, but there are lots of cosy bars and restaurants.  Shelter from the weather sampling traditional food and local wine around relaxing fire places.  Visiting Croatia in winter means more ‘bang for your buck’ with airfares, hotels and transport at off season prices.  So get your camera ready and start planning your Croatian winter escape!

References:  Thanks to Study in Croatia, Find Croatia, Snow Forecast.com and Chasing the Donkey , Croatia Week