Experiencing Croatia in Winter: know before you go

Have you ever considered visiting Croatia in winter? 

Winter in Croatia serves up a delightful blend of local charm, cozy ambiance, and festive spirit - minus the throngs of summer tourists. The friendly locals reclaim their cities like Split, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb, creating a welcoming and authentic atmosphere.

Imagine paying local prices instead of inflated tourist rates. Sounds good, right? And you'll be greeted by a friendlier, more local vibe as the crowds of summer tourists thin out, giving you a taste of authentic Croatian life. Having lived in Croatia for over a year, this easily made winter in Croatia my favourite time of year!

Plus, with the onset of Advent in late November in Croatia, the country starts decking out for Christmas and by month's end, Christmas Markets are in full swing. Christmas markets amidst palm trees is pretty unique!

Here’s some inspiration for why you should visit Croatia in winter.

a snow covered canyon with turquoise water flowing over waterfalls

Plitvice in winter

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Croatia in winter time - what’s it like?

a cozy outdoor seating area with fairy lights and blankets on chairs

Split in December

Winter travel in Croatia is truly a hidden gem. Gone are the bustling crowds of the summer months, replaced by a calmness that feels more authentic. Even though it's not as warm as the summer, the temperatures are still pleasantly mild on the coast, averaging around 10C even during the day. If you want to see snow though, head inland towards Zagreb and Plitvice National Park for a truly snow-covered winter experience!

You won't be lounging on the beaches, but there's so much more to enjoy! The food, drinks, and accommodation are a steal, with prices dropping considerably after the tourist season. Local establishments are more than happy to welcome you with open arms, giving you a taste of genuine Croatian hospitality.

Cities like Split, Zadar, Pula, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb transform into local hubs, with a friendly atmosphere that's super welcoming. My time spent living in Croatia in winter without the hordes of summer tourists was my favourite time of year during the 15 months we lived there —it's a much more authentic and relaxed experience.

And while you might not thinking of Croatia for Christmas Markets in Europe, they still have them and it’s called Advent. Starting from mid-November, Croatia starts getting into the holiday spirit. By the end of the month, you'll find Christmas markets popping up everywhere, adding a magical touch to your winter visit. Imagine sipping hot cocoa under a palm tree, surrounded by vibrant Christmas decorations. It's a unique experience you won't want to miss!


Experiencing Croatia winter weather

If you're considering a winter trip to Croatia, you can expect a mix of weather patterns, but nothing too severe. The coastal regions, like Split, typically enjoy milder winter temperatures, generally between 10-15°C (50-60°F) during the day and dropping to single figures in the evening. 

Inland areas can be a bit cooler, often getting as low as 0-5°C (30-40°F) during the night. Particularly inland towards Zagreb and the north of Croatia and in rural areas. We visited Plitvice in January and I’ve never seen so much snow in my life! But it never really dropped below -3C which was pleasant and not uncomfortable! Visiting Croatia in January is a great time to have a snowy winter experience in Plitvice too with the national park ticket prices at their lowest!

Snow in Croatia during winter isn't a common sight along the coast, but it's not entirely off the cards, we had a couple of flurries in Split during December but nothing settled, although we could see it on the mountains. January and February are usually the coldest months of the year.

We were lucky enough to be in Croatia in December and take a trip to visit the Zagreb Christmas Markets and we go some snow there too which was magical!

Croatia in February and March are more likely to come with rain on the coast. But that said, the weather remains relatively mild compared to much of Europe at this time. So, if you're up for a European winter that isn't too harsh, trying out Croatia could be your best bet!

winter in split croatia

a chilly but sunny day in Split, Croatia


What to pack for visiting Croatia in winter

Layers are key, especially if you’re visiting the coast and inland where you’ll see a variation in temperatures.

Winds along the coast can get pretty bitting too, so I highly recommend windproof outer layers.

Here’s my must-have winter packing list for your trip to Croatia:

  • Long-sleeved shirts and warm sweaters for layering

  • A heavy-duty winter jacket, preferably waterproof and windproof

  • Winter hat, gloves, and scarf

  • Long pants, ideally thermal if you feel the cold

  • Warm, comfortable shoes - boots are better, with good grip if you’re visiting inland where it could be icy

a girl in snow trousers and a colourful fleece and hat standing in the snow in Plitvice Croatia

Lots of layers for visiting snowy Plitvice Lakes, Croatia in January


How to get to Croatia in winter

If you’re in the UK, you might notice that direct flights to Croatia are harder to find after the 5th of November. Generally the summer flight routes end on this date to the Croatian coastal destinations. But don't fret, you can easily land at Zagreb and then take a domestic flight or even hire a car to get you anywhere else you fancy in Croatia.

Alternatively if you’re in Europe, perhaps you’re based there or you’re hopping around on a trip in Europe, there are direct flights from other European cities into Split, Dubrovnik, or Rijeka. Here's a list of airports in Europe that can give you a straight shot:

  • Munich

  • Frankfurt

  • Dusseldorf

  • Zurich

  • Amsterdam

  • Rome

  • Dublin (Just for Dubrovnik though)

  • London (Only to Zagreb and Dubrovnik)

For all other routes, your best bet would be to touchdown in Zagreb and then take a domestic flight.

Croatia in winter

Winter sunset in Split


Hopping Over to Croatia from the US in winter

Don't worry my US friends, we've got you covered too. 

While you might find more budget-friendly deals from European airports, flights to Croatia are still pretty available in winter. I would suggest looking for a flight into Frankfurt, which is a major European hub serviced by Delta and Virgin Airlines. 

Plus, we've personally flown from Ft. Lauderdale and Detroit into Frankfurt before. If you're all about those savings, keep in mind that prices are generally lower November-February than the peak season. The accommodations are cheaper too! So this is a great chance for a budget friendly off-season trip as long as you don’t mind some chilly weather!


The best places to visit in Croatia in winter

If you’re planning a trip to Croatia in winter, I’d think about what kind of trip you want. 

Are you planning to find some milder temperatures in Europe? In which case I’d head to the coast. If you’re eager to visit places without the crowds and don’t mind cooler weather, I’d head to Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar or other coastal areas.

If you’re wanting a Christmas-y trip, visit the Christmas festivals and markets in Zagreb. Looking for a magical snowy experience? The north of Croatia and Plitvice Lakes are you best bet for seeing some snow.

a wreath outlining a church in the distance

Zagreb at Christmas


Where to visit in Croatia in winter:

1. Zagreb:

Croatia's capital city comes alive during the winter with its enchanting Advent Market, voted as the best Christmas market in Europe several times. You can enjoy ice skating, mulled wine, traditional Croatian food, and vibrant street decorations.

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park:

looking down on a snow covered walkway snaking across a turquoise green river

Plitvice Lakes in winte

Plitvice Lakes is a UNESCO World Heritage site and my favourite winter destination in Croatia. The park transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months. The frozen waterfalls and crystalline lakes are spectacular, ticket prices are just 10 euros and there are fewer tourists, making it a peaceful escape.

3. Dubrovnik:

a traditional folk festival in dubrovnik

Traditional winter festival in Dubrovnik

While Dubrovnik is famous for its summer charm, visiting during the winter can be magical. The Old Town is beautifully lit up, and you can explore its historic sites without the crowds. Plus, you can enjoy the Adriatic coast's dramatic beauty without the summer heat.

4. Rijeka:

a river with coloourful buildings either side and a mountain in the distance


Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture in 2020 hosts numerous cultural events, including the Rijeka Carnival, during the winter months. The city's lively atmosphere and mild climate make it an ideal winter destination.

5. Istria:

The Istrian peninsula offers picturesque towns like Rovinj and Pula. In the winter, you can enjoy truffle dishes, local wines, and olive oils without the summer tourist rush. The mild coastal climate also makes it an ideal destination.

6. Gorski Kotar:

For winter sports enthusiasts, Gorski Kotar in the Croatian interior offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities in places like Platak. The region is also known for its pristine nature, making it great for winter hikes.

7. Sveti Martin na Muri:

If you're looking for relaxation and wellness, Sveti Martin na Muri in northern Croatia is known for its thermal spas. It's a perfect destination for rejuvenating in the warm waters and enjoying spa treatments.

8. Osijek:

Osijek is in eastern Croatia, has a charming Baroque-style Old Town and offers unique winter experiences like ice fishing on the Drava River. The city's cozy cafes and traditional cuisine are also worth exploring.

9. Slavonia:

The Slavonia region is known for its winter festivals and traditions. You can experience local customs, warm hospitality, and delicious cuisine while exploring charming towns like Đakovo and Vinkovci.

10. Sljeme mountain and ski resorts

Popular with locals but less well-known internationally, this ski resort area in the mountains outside of Zagreb is an affordable and beautiful option for a ski trip to Croatia this winter.

deer sitting in the snow

Best things to do in Croatia in winter

  1. Stroll around Zagreb's Advent Market: Zagreb is known for having one of the best Christmas markets in Europe and visiting it is a must. The city comes alive with festive decorations, scrumptious food stalls, and lively entertainment, creating a magical atmosphere.

  2. Skiing in Sljeme: If you're a fan of winter sports, head to Sljeme ski resort, the mountain above Zagreb. It's home to the Snow Queen Trophy skiing event and offers slopes for all abilities.

  3. Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park: Famous for its cascading lakes, Plitvice turns into a winter wonderland filled with frozen waterfalls and snow-covered trees. It's a sight to behold and a photographer's dream. Best if you’re visiting Croatia in January or February for more chance of snow.

  4. Explore Dubrovnik's Old Town: The crowds are fewer and the beauty of the city walls and historic buildings is more pronounced in the soft winter light. Plus, you can enjoy traditional winter food at local eateries.

  5. Take the Split Christmas Fairytale tour: Split's Old Town transforms into a festive market offering local crafts, food, and mulled wine. It's a perfect chance to soak in the local culture.

  6. Enjoy Fritule: These Croatian festive doughnuts are a winter treat and available everywhere. Whether at a festive market or in a local's home, you have to try them!

  7. Join in Christmas events: from Advent markets to festivals and live shows, there are events, performances and activities going on throughout the season. Check the tourism board events pages for the latest

    Split tourism

    Zagreb Tourism

    Dubrovnik Tourism

    Rijeka Tourism

  8. Enjoy the foodie experience: Croatia is a melting pot of Balkan, Turkish, Greek, German and Italian culinary influences and with prices much cheaper in the winter in Croatia, you can enjoy some epic foodie treats

  9. Make a European winter trip of it: Europe is so well connected with affordable flights and rail travel, why not visit a few European cities on your tour to experience winter in Europe - the most magical time of year! Nuremberg, Tallinn, Ljubljana and Dusseldorf are some of my favourites. 

Looking for more inspiration for winter breaks in Europe?


Croatia in winter FAQs

Is it worth visiting Croatia in winter?

Absolutely, it's worth visiting Croatia in winter! The off-season is a chance for a unique perspective of the country's classic beauty. The summer crowds have dispersed, leaving the stunning architecture of cities like Dubrovnik and Split to be enjoyed in peace. While it can get chilly, with occasional snows in the higher areas, coastal regions generally don’t get snow. Moreover, there are some amazing winter festivals and Christmas markets that you can delve into. Just don't forget to pack a warm coat!


Is Croatia warm in winter?

Well, it's not exactly beach weather, but it's not the Arctic either. During the winter months, Croatia can be a bit cool with average temperatures ranging from 5-10°C (40-50°F). You'll find it chillier in the northern parts of the country and more moderate along the coast. And yes, there's the possibility of snow, especially in the high areas. So, while you won't be sunbathing, with the right layers, you'll be perfectly cozy exploring the stunning winter scenery.


Does it snow in Croatia in winter?

Absolutely, it does snow in Croatia during winter! However, the snowfall is mostly concentrated in the higher regions and the intensity varies from year to year. It's a bit less common along the coast, but when it does happen, it adds a whole new layer of beauty to the already stunning Croatian scenery. So if you're a fan of winter wonderland, I definitely recommend visiting the North of Croatia. Just remember to pack warm clothes and enjoy the magic of Croatia in winter.


How cold is Croatia in winter?

Well, it depends on where you are. In the northern parts like Zagreb, the average low temperature can drop to around -1°C (30°F) in the coldest months of December and January. But if you're on the coast, it's a bit milder, with average lows around 6-8°C (43-46°F). So, while it’s not exactly tropical, it's certainly manageable, especially if you're wrapped up warmly. But remember these are averages - as with any weather, there can be chillier days and warmer ones too. Always keep an eye on the forecast!


How is Croatia in November?

Croatia in November presents a charming blend of late autumn colors and slightly cooler temperatures, averaging around 10-15°C (50-59°F), making it a great time for sightseeing and exploring the country's natural beauty without the summer crowds. Despite the occasional rainfall, the month still offers plenty of sunny days, so pack some warm clothes along with a raincoat, just in case!


How is Croatia in December?

December in Croatia is when the country’s festivities come to the fore, with crisp temperatures that typically range from 3-8°C (37-46°F). It's a time when cities light up with Christmas Markets, the inland maybe gets a dusting of snow, and the quieter atmosphere makes it ideal for those who prefer a peaceful exploration.


Does Croatia have winter?

Absolutely! Croatia is a seasonal country and while the temperatures vary depending on whether you’re on the coast or inland, you can experience all four seasons in Croatia throughout the year.


Summary: visiting Croatia in winter

Obviously if you’re looking for some winter sun, Croatia travel in winter is not for you. But if you’re looking for milder temperatures, no crowds, cheap prices and some magical Christmas markets or snowy scenes, Croatia’s winter season is the time to visit! Hopefully this Croatia travel guide has convinced you that Croatia winter travel is definitely a good idea!

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Croatia isn’t just a summer destination! If you’re thinking about visiting Croatia in winter, here’s what you need to know before your trip. | croatia winter travel | croatia in winter travel | croatia in february | croatia in january | croatia decem