There are three climate zones. Along the Adriatic coast, the climate is Mediterranean. Summers are hot and dry and winters are mild and wet. The interior gets a moderate amount of rainfall. The high ground has a forest climate with snow in the wintertime.
When to fly to Croatia
Croatia's drawcard are the islands and July and August are, unsurprisingly, the high season months. The cities - Zagreb, Dubrovnik etc - are busiest in the summer months too.
The off season varies according to where you are visiting in Croatia. Zagreb is worth a visit at any time of year, with January and February generally considered low season. January and February are also low season along the coast. This is high season in the ski resorts.
The Dinaric Alps that extend along the Adriatic guards the coastline from the worst of the winds and cold weather. Spring arrives early and autumn ends late. It's possible to swim from about May until October in Southern Dalmatia. May is a great month to visit Dubrovnik and other cities; you'll have it as the locals have it.
Getting around Croatia
Croatia Airlines flies from Zagreb to several cities including Dubrovnik, Split, Pula and Zadar. The train system is fairly well developed - it doesn't extend to Dubrovnik for example - but buses are the cheapest and most popular form of public transport. You'll need to rent a car - an expensive option in Croatia - only if you wish to get out into the countryside.
There are several ferry lines that operate between the islands. Jadrolinija is the state-owned line. A sample journey - Dubrovnik to Sobra, on Mljet - costs from $10.
Croatia insider information
- Trogir is a Unesco World-Heritage site. It is known as the "museum city" due to the many churches, towers and palaces that date from Greek, Roman and Venetian times.
- Zadar is the main city of northern Dalmatia. A walled city, its heritage is Roman, but one of its major attractions is in the Benedictine Convent of St. Mary. The Gold and Silver Museum houses a treasure trove, that was guarded by the Benedictine nuns during World War II.
- The Zagreb Card offers unlimited travel on public transport and discounts at tourist sites. It's valid for 24 or 72 hours and costs between $11 and $18.
- The must-try Croatian dishes are octopus cooked in an ispod peke (a traditional bell-shaped oven) and brudet, a fish stew. Salted sardines with olive oil, bread and salted capers is a popular tourist snack.
- Our pick for Croatia's most beautiful beaches is Zlatni Rat in Bol (on Brac). It, like many of the beaches, is best described as shingle, rather than than sand.
- Croatia is the birthplace of the neck tie. In the 1600s, Parisians adopted the neck gear of Croatian mercenaries fighting for Louis XIV of France. The word “cravat” derives from “cravate”, a corrupt French pronunciation of “Croat”.
- Zagreb’s most exclusive shopping street is Ilica, but for a different experience go to Hrelic, the flea market by the Sava River, on a Sunday morning, or to Dolac, the farmers' market. North of Jelacic Square, the market opened in 1930 and sells vegetables, fruit, meat and fish (Fridays and Saturdays).
- Sljeme Medvednica is a short tram ride north of the city. Most of the mountain is a nature park, but there is skiing – day and night – too. Go midweek to avoid the crowds.