Croatia in the Winter: Is It Worth Visiting?

Off the beaten path in Dubrovnik
Off the beaten path in Dubrovnik

“Croatia in the winter? Why, Raphael? It’ll be way too cold for you to swim!” friends told me once I announced my plans to visit the pearl of the Adriatic during my winter road trip from Finland to Bosnia.

And believe it or not, Croatia is the type of country where each one of the four seasons brings a different shade of life to the many cultural and natural attractions of the country.

Here is a photo essay of Croatia in the cold winter months. Are you ice, ice, ready for frozen waterfalls and the Adriatic’s most beautiful beaches?

Croatia in the Winter
The crystal clear waters of Dubrovnik

The reason why you should visit Croatia in the winter

In my opinion, the problem with traveling is that every single person wants to travel to the best destinations in the world while expecting to experience an intimate authentic time at the same time

This, of course, is kind of impossible during the high season since big crowds will always bring down the level of intimacy that you feel with a specific destination so in a way, you will feel overwhelmed by the number of people around you.

I mean, I you really don’t want to have a selfie stick shoved to your face every five seconds in Dubrovnik, right? (Check out this Travel Guide to Croatia to see even more alternative destinations to Dubrovnik!!!).

Croatia in the Winter
The cannons of Dubrovnik

Thankfully, traveling during low-season takes care of that since the amount of people visiting the same places as you is not that high and you can actually enjoy lower prices in terms of accommodation and activities.

This past March I had the pleasure of visiting Croatia in the winter (you can insert a Game of Thrones’ Winter is Coming joke here) and let me tell you something…

Croatia in the Winter
Rastoke, known as the appetizer for Plitvice

While summer in Croatia is the best season for partying (have you heard about the sailing Croatian cruises?), winter in Croatia is the best season for relaxing and enjoying a more intimate experience in the country.

Can you believe that is possible to have the Old City Walls of Dubrovnik all for yourself if you time your visit right?

Croatia in the Winter
The view from Dubrovnik City Walls

But how about the weather, Raphael?

Well, this is kind of a tricky question since temperatures in January and February are quite low throughout the country and yet, during March you can actually swim in Dubrovnik without any worry.

Sunny days are not so rare and yes, I know it’s hard to believe but all of the Dubrovnik photos in this article were actually taken in the Winter!

I bet you were expecting grey skies and depressive weather right?

Croatia in the Winter
Sunset at Dubrovnik, Croatia

Snow in Croatia? Winter is coming, yo!

When you first think of Croatia, snow is the last thing that comes to your mind and yet, snowy landscapes are quite common in the northern part of the country and the capital Zagreb.

The further north you go, the colder it gets and just like in Game of Thrones, you can experience what it’s like to go from King’s Landing to the snowy lands of Winterfell on a epic road trip from Dubrovnik to Zagreb (or vice-versa).

I cannot even imagine how cold it must be in the mountain region of Croatia!

Croatia in the Winter
Flower Market at Zagreb, Croatia

The coldest experience I had by in the country was my visit to the frozen waterfalls of the Plitvice National Park where you can actually see snow. The park is famous all-year round and every season brings a different experience to travellers.

From green floral colours in spring to brownish red leaves in autumn, a visit to the Plitvice National Park is a must for every traveler all year round. Here’s some photos of how it looks during the winter and be sure to check out this article about the Plitvice National park during the summer.

Pretty groovy, uh?

Croatia in the Winter
The Plitvice Waterfalls during the Winter

Things you should know before traveling to Croatia in the winter

Zagreb is a very cosmopolitan capital with many international restaurants and accommodation options, such as the Chill Out Hostel in which I was invited to stay in one of their private boutique rooms. The journey from Ljubljana to Zagreb shouldn’t take you more than 4 hours by direct train.

From Zagreb you can take a day-trip to the Plitvice Lakes (this time I went with Zagreb Tours, a company that offers one day and multi day tours in Croatia) and either continue to Dubrovnik via Split or go to Dubrovnik via Sarajevo and Mostar.

If you’re going from Split to Dubrovnik by car, be aware that the road crosses the Bosnian border so you might get into trouble if you don’t bring your passport with you.

Croatia in the Winter
Zagreb, Croatia by Night

Dubrovnik is such a small city that you can easily explore all of it in one day but I recommend you to spend at least two nights in the city in order to be able to explore the surrounding areas.

During my stay, I was hosted at the Fresh Sheets B&B which is located within the Old Town of Dubrovnik (as opposed as the rest of the hotels and hostels located far away from Dubrovnik itself) so this is your perfect spot for exploring the city walls.

Croatia in the Winter
Off the beaten path in Dubrovnik

Some of my favourite places for photos in Dubrovnik include the road that goes up to the cable car, the sunset as seen from the city walls, the view from Fort Lovrijenac and the hidden park located east of the fort itself where Game of Thrones’ infamous Purple Wedding was filmed.

Once you’re in Dubrovnik you can easily reach many other destinations in Bosnia and Montenegro via bus. Be warned, however, that buses out of Dubrovnik are the most expensive ones of the country (20 Euros for the 90 minute journey to Kotor, Montenegro).

Last, but certainly not least, bear in mind that winter is considered as Croatia’s low-season, there are less bus and train connections than during the summer so plan your visit accordingly and get ready to enjoy the peace and tranquility of Croatia.

Croatia in the Winter
Dubrovnik as seen from atop the Cable Car

Where to stay in Croatia in the Winter

Of all the countries in the Balkans, Croatia is the most expensive by far but rest assured that you will find great value in its many hotels and hostels. Here’s a list of my recommendations for all types of budgets:

For budget hostels and guest houses I recommend the Chillout Hostel (Zagreb) and the Cocoon Hostel (Dubrovnik). When it comes to luxury hotels and guest houses, my best choices are Hotel 9 (Zagreb) and the Fresh Sheets B&B (Dubrovnik).

You can make a booking for this and more properties via our Booking.com Affiliate Link of Wonders!

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

Traditional Croatian breakfast at Dubrovnik
Traditional Croatian breakfast at Dubrovnik

I hope you have enjoyed this travel guide to Croatia’s top attractions. Don’t forget to subscribe in order to get more awesome updates and tips straight to your e-mail!

Have you ever visited Croatia in the winter? Would you like to? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!

Until next time, my friends!

Croatia is a mad house in the summer -- but travel to Croatia in winter and you'll find peace and quiet, even in Dubrovnik and Split. Croatia beyond the beach is fascinating - here's why you should give the off season a chance via @journeywonders
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31 Comments

  • Fantastic! Croatia looks even more stunning in winters. Though I am not really a winter person, I’d like to photograph Croatia when all its colors come alive like this!

  • Beautiful photo’s, Raph. Thanks for the link love (I wrote that post on SJ’s site about Plitvice ;) . Croatia is so beautiful, and I love how different Zagreb is to Split or Dubrovnik. It always reminds of me a mini Budapest with the trams there and the architecture.

      • Thank you for your website. We will be in Croatia December 29th to 13 th of January. My 5th time in Croatia, love it. Only concern is many restaurants may be closed. Is that going to be a problem? We start in Zagreb, Plitvice for New Years Eve with friends, then by car to Dubrovnik and Split. We have accommodations booked in vacation rentals. Thank for any input.

  • Great photos. I really enjoy traveling in the off-season even if it is colder. I like to experience locations in true form and see how the locals live. The best way to do this is off-season times because you see people that are native. Great post!

  • *swoon* Thanks Raphael for making me miss Dubrovnik more than I already do! Neat perspective in the winter months too as I was there in peak season of the summer!

  • Croatia does look amazing in the winter months – though I still think I’m partial to that part of Europe in the summer :D Something about being hot enough to dry off instantly after a dip in the Adriatic Sea!

  • Oh I’d love to visit Croatia during both the high & low seasons. Between roaming through the quiet streets and visiting the beautiful beaches during the warmth of summer, it really seem like a spectacular place. Besides, meat, cheese & nutella for breakfast??

    I’ll take that! ;-)

  • I was in Croatia twice in autumn and it was perfect! The weather was still pretty good yet there weren’t that many people around. Only Dubrovnik was slightly crowded at times but it wasn’t too hard to escape from people. I definitely would love to go there in winter too, it must be even better in that season!

  • Just like the rest of Europe, Croatia is gorgeous at any time of the year! I’m glad you wrote about this Raphael because too many people are under the impression that these types of places should only be visited in the summer months. Thanks so much for enlightening us all to the beauty all year round. Your pictures are gorgeous and I am really excited about visiting Croatia sometime in the near future hopefully. I am a huge fan of waterfalls and well…what a great way to end your post with that stunning shot of Plitivice!

  • Great piece, Raphael.
    Good that you mentioned reduced transport links during the ‘off’ season. Also many restaurants, etc close down for the winter, but you’ll always find somewhere decent open for a meal / drink.
    Rather that than the marauding hordes of selfie-stick wielding day-trippers who invade {and take over :( } Dubrovnik during July and August.
    I went in early May and it was just fantastic!

  • I went to the Balkan countries in January and it was amazing. We had Mostar all to ourselves and Dubrovnik was amazing with out all the annoying tourists. It rained most of the time but it was incredible. Renting a car for a week was expensive though.

  • Beautiful photos! We’re thinking of visiting Dubrovnik in December and do day trips to Mostar and others. May I ask, are most of the attractions open? Thanks!

  • Wow..just so awesome Ralph,.. beautiful photos in winter. I don’t know that Dubrovnik is such a nice place in winter..

  • Great pictures of Dubrovnik Its good to know there’s lots to do in the winter as it provides a good alternative for a winter break.

  • Hello Rafael! Me and my husband were planning to visit friends for Christmas at zagreb, and were planning to go by car from Switzerland. Do you have any advice regarding the route, snow, precautions. Is it possible to do it? Thanks!!

  • Hi Rafael! Me fiancé and I are looking around for possible honeymoon locations and I’ve always wanted to venture through Croatia. You said in this post you went in March? We’re getting married in October of next year and I saw that October and November are very rainy months, so we were thinking of putting it off and going in December. Good idea or no?

  • Hey Raphael,

    I will be travelling to Europe this December from 13 Dec – Croatia-zagreb to Hungary( Budapest) -> Poland (krakow)- Czech ( Prague-25th dec)- Austria(Vienna) for my honeymoon.

    I was initally little skeptical as i would travelling in the off-season. I was speculating if i would be able to enjoy the cities in winters as i will be travelling to europe for the very first time.

    Could you please help me out with the places that needs to be visties, things to be tried, various activities that happen in each of these cities during this time?

    I appreciate all your help here.

    Thanks.

  • I am so regretted booking for winter. Blue Cave is closed. Unable to book most of the tours because Winter Croatian don’t work during winter, well at least true for Gray Line (tour agent). Now what am I going to do for that 14 days in Croatia? Old town walks for 2 weeks? OMG. Please help.

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