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Best time to go to Croatia

Best time to go to Croatia

For many of our natural adventurers, the biggest question is not just ‘when is the best time to go to Croatia?’ but ‘when is the quietest time?’. Croatia is considered by many as the movie star of the Balkan countries, but fame and fortune have had their impacts – the main one being overtourism in peak season. On our walking, cycling and boating holidays, however, we take you away from tourism hotspots and into our adventurous top spots. They also allow you to avoid searing summer temperatures, which can go above 35C in Croatia, although it will be a bit cooler out on some of the islands.

We break up the various regions below, but also start off by flagging some of the earliest and latest times of the year that you can travel to Croatia on one of our tours. On these adventure holidays and on many of the other ones below, you will often have the paths, parks and prominent sights to yourselves. 

The earliest and latest opportunities to go to Croatia

For quiet springtime breaks, our earliest Croatia holiday opens in mid-March, cycling along the Parenzana Trail through Italy, Slovenia and finishing in Istria in the north of Croatia. The season for this cycling tour ends mid-November, so you have a large window to explore this former railway line that starts in Trieste in Italy and winds its way down to Poreč in Croatia. At this time of year you’re travelling for wanderlust rather than warmth, with average daily temperatures ranging from 8C to 14C inland, dipping down to averages of 12C on the coast. 

Exploring Croatia in autumn is also a treat, even if you enjoy swimming as water temperatures can be as high as 16-19C in November. We have several trips that proffer a winter boost in November, particularly on the Istrian Peninsula. Our Cycling holiday along the Istrian Wine roads stretch out those autumn and winter days until the end of November, as does our Cycling tour from Trieste to Pula, where you have plenty of time to paddle between pedalling. 

Poreč is a pretty sight at the end of the Parenzana Trail, for five days of early spring cycling, with tours opening in March.

Best time to go to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast

It’s apt that Dalmatian dogs hail from Croatia, with the Dalmatian coast dotted with hundreds of beauty spots. Most of them don’t open their doors until April, with Easter being the time when local people take a deep breath and get ready to share their glories with the world. They breathe out again around the end of October, with the autumn school holiday being the last chance to dip into Dalmatia. 

Temperatures are changeable in April, ranging from 12C to 20C, so it’s potluck really. But it will be gorgeous enough to hike the Dalmatian island of Hvar for highlife mixed with very real fishing communities, or Korčula for its ancient walled town juxtaposed with pine forests and secret coves. Mljet Island’s natural marvels have merited national park status, with its two seawater lakes enveloped by walking and cycling trails. If you want this to yourself, you should definitely go early in the season and avoid public holidays such as Easter. In April, we also recommend packing rain gear, as the Dalmatian Coast can get up to 60-70mm of rainfall during this month. 

If you want to immerse yourself in Dalmatia’s island culture, then our island-hopping walking holiday in Dalmatia is also available for travel between April and the end of October. The autumn months will see fewer sailing boats but just enough degrees on the thermometer to bask in this archipelagic arcadia. An average of 20 autumnal degrees will also do nicely on a holiday that combines both Croatia’s islands and Lovćen National Park in Montenegro

Mljet National Park in Croatia is heavenly at all times of year, but try and avoid the school holidays

Best time to cycle the Ciro Cycling Trail

Not as well known as some of Croatia’s hiking and cycling routes, The Ciro Trail follows a former railway line between Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dubrovnik in Croatia. The season runs between the beginning of May and mid-October, as this takes you through the Dinaric Alps, and so these are the months when the climate is most welcoming to cyclists. Our itinerary actually starts in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital of Sarajevo and doesn’t get to Mostar until day five of this eight day tour. Famous for its ancient cultural heritage, Mostar is also a popular festival city now, so you can either join or stay clear of revellers for the Summer Fest in June or the Mostar Blues and Rock Festival in July. If you want to join the party, we can always build a dancing day into your itinerary. Sarajevo also likes to celebrate its cultural heritage, with a world-famous International Film Festival in August, and MESS Theatre Festival in September. 

Best time to go to Istria

Istria, with its proximity to Italy, was ahead of the game in tourism, thanks mostly to the fact that it was also not too badly hit by the ravages of war. Rovinj is one of its sweet honeypots, another magnificent walled town just two hours by ferry from Venice. Istria has some of our best foodie walking holidays in Croatia, Italian-influenced goodies such as truffles and risotto, as well as local cured ham (prsut) and olives are two a penny, and so you won’t be short of picnic supplies. 

You won’t be short of wine either with many wine trails in Istria, which is why we are fond of the autumn months when the grape harvest takes place. This is a big local event in Istria and, as most tourists have disappeared, you will be welcomed like a local too. If you travel late in the season on this walking holiday, for example, open from mid-March until mid-November, you spend a week hiking alongside olive groves and vineyards, through autumnal forests and riverfronts, and taking on a few challenges such as a trek to the summit of Istria’s highest peak, Mount Učka (1,401m), with views out along the Adriatic. Which is still around 18C, so pack your swimsuit. 

Motovun is one of many wine-producing towns in Istria, and autumn is when the local vintners start to celebrate.

Best time to go to Croatia on a small group holiday

With small group holidays you are working with fixed dates compared with our more flexible self-guided holidays in Croatia. At present we just have one small group holiday that focuses solely on Croatia, although we do have one on the transnational Via Dinarica, with more details below. Our guided walking holiday along Croatia’s mountains and islands is a firm favourite with those who like to travel with like minded companions, and it has once a month trips in June, July and August, as well as two group tours in September. Unlike many of our tours, it starts and finishes in the capital city of Zagreb, with highlights including the Velebit Mountains, the waterfalls and walking trails or Plitviče Lakes National Park and then a superb collection of Adriatic islands. 

Best time to do a bike and boat holiday in Croatia

The best time to go to Croatia on a bike and boat holiday is when the captain’s ready to sail. You don’t have much choice on that one, but you do have a good selection of adventures to choose from. Pedal your way to paradise between the months of April and October, although they drop anchor and stay put in peak season months of July and August. On these trips you cycle around remote island trails by day, and stay on board for nights under the Adriatic’s stars. In addition, unlike the giant cruise liners that dominate the likes of Dubrovnik or Split, our captains navigate their way to quiet bays rather than massive marinas. With plenty of stops for swimming in secluded places. 

If you prefer to be sailing than cycling, then we have one trip around the Southern Dalmatian islands that is boat only. Leaving from and returning to Split, between mid-April until mid-October, this aqua adventure takes you around the islands of Southern Dalmatia on a traditional sailing vessel. 

Bike and boat holidays in Croatia are far from plain sailing. They are some of the prettiest you will find.

The best time to walk the Via Dinarica in Croatia 

The Via Dinarica takes you on a journey of around 1,200km across the main ridge of the Dinaric Alps, through Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia. The Via Dinarica in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina is an eight day, guided small group tour, and so there are fixed dates for this one. It starts at the end of May and runs during the summer months when temperatures are warm and rainfall is minimal, although the risk of rain increases towards September. It does not run during August, however, as it just gets too hot especially in exposed areas. This is mountainous terrain, and so weather can be unpredictable of course, so be prepared for short, cold waves and you may even get splashes of snow in early summer. For more information, see our blog on Walking the Via Dinarica

Dubrovnik without the drama

Cruise ships come into Dubrovnik pretty much every month of the year now, although there are many more in summer months, as you can see from this clever cruise calendar. The great thing about those cruise calendars, and the fact that we offer self-guided, flexible holidays, is that you can plan your trip to fall on a day when the cruisers aren’t a dominant force. However, we do have several Croatian holidays that include Dubrovnik as part of the itinerary in October, when ships have slowed down a little. These include cycling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik and Walking the Dubrovnik coast and islands

We hope that you have enjoyed these recommendations on the best time to go to Croatia. For more information on when to go to the Balkan countries, you may enjoy these blogs: Best time to go to Greece, Best time to go to Bulgaria and Best time to go to Albania. Don’t hesitate to contact our adventure specialists for more information about travel anywhere, and anytime in Croatia.