Most people associate Croatia with stunning beaches, a pristine sea and endless sun. Croatia gets around 95% of its 15 million plus annual tourists during the warmer seasons but there are loads of reasons why a winter visit makes sense.
Here are just 10 reasons why a winter visit to Croatia is worthwhile.
1. Save Money
A chance to get even more bang for your buck as a lot of prices, such as airfares, hotels and transport become cheaper outside of the main tourist summer season. Obviously around Christmas and New Years is an exception.
2. Beach Time
Yes, it might be winter but the coast can still produce stunning sunny days. You can enjoy a beautiful walk and soak in the smells of the Adriatic sea and enjoy the fresh air. Most times you will have the beach entirely to yourself.
3. Winter Cuisine
Winter in Croatia is a great chance to enjoy some of the traditional winter foods. Sarma, punjena paprika, beans, kupus, bakalar, the various stews cooked over the fire. There is a certain romance about tucking into some great cuisine and wine around a fire-place.
4. Christmas Markets & Stalls
Get into the Christmas atmosphere and celebrate the festivities of the season at the annual Advent in Zagreb. The Croatian capital’s main Ban Jelacic Square, and surrounding areas become festivities HQ with traditional markets, craft stalls, Christmas decorations, concerts, traditional winter delicacies such as bakalar, ham, sausages, cooked wine, and rakija. Adults and kids can also enjoy the open air skating rink at Zrinjevac Park.
5. Visit Stunning National Parks
Winter is one of the most spectacular times to visit Croatia’s famous National Parks. Apart from avoiding the crowds, you will be treated to some wonderful sights. Plitvice Lakes’ falls frozen over and glistening icicles is one of the most magical sites you can see. A stunning walk through Plitivica or Krka, or, is will not disappoint.
6. Culture & Festivities
For the more cultural minded there is always plenty to do in winter. Concerts, exhibitions, plays, and performances run all year in the major cities. Every winter for the last decade Night of Museums has been held where more than 200 museums and galleries in over 100 Croatian towns their doors free of charge. Winter is also carnival time across the country. Every February more than 20,000 performers take to the streets to parade with street parties, masquerade balls and other happenings going on all over Croatia. The Rijeka Carnival is probably the most famous of them all.
If you have travelled to Croatia in the summer months you will know that some places can get pretty crowded. Imagine enjoying Dubrovnik’s walls to yourself, an empty ferry ride to the islands, a peaceful stroll around Plitvice Lakes or the table of your choice at that restaurant. Croatia is a very tranquil, relaxing destination, but none more so when the crowds are gone.
8. Hot Springs
No better season to enjoy Croatia’s natural hot springs. There are plenty of excellent thermal spas located around the country where you can soak your body. Some of the better ones around the country include Stubičke Toplice, Sveti Martin na Muri, Tuhelj, Varaždinske Toplice, Daruvarske Toplice and Krapinske Toplice.
Whilst Croatia is famous for its coast and beaches, there is generally a fair dumping of snow in the winter to enjoy some skiing on the country;s mountains. Mèdvednica mountain, located just north of Zagreb, has a highest peak of 1,035 metres (Sljeme – which also hosts a World Cup Skiing event). Platak, a ski resort located north of Rijeka, and Velika, on the southern slopes of Papuk Mountain, are also places you can visit.
10. Dubrovnik Winter Festival
The 40-day long Dubrovnik Winter Festival will see a host of events for everyone’s taste take place in southern Dalmatian city. Concerts, ice skating, Christmas plays, live music, theatre, museum and gallery events, and loads more will be going on in Dubrovnik over the winter.