Croatia has two climates, as you may well expect – one along the coastline, and one for the interior of the country. If you’re visiting, here’s what to expect for climate and weather in Croatia!
Climate & Weather in Croatia – Coast
The coast has a typically Mediterranean climate consisting of hot, dry, sunny weather during summer, and relatively mild – though somtimes wet – weather in winter.
Average temperatures during summer should lie in the mid-to-high 20s °C/77-86°F, although it is more likely that you’ll have temperatures well into the 30s °C/high 80s or low 90s °F.
Winters are obviously cooler, although temperatures never really get below about 5°C/41°F. Anything colder than this is considered freak weather, though technically not impossible – February 2009 saw snow in parts of Dalmatia, such as Zadar and Split – see photos of the snow from that time! During winter 2010, some very, very light snowfall even fell as far south as Dubrovnik. (Although it really was a very light dusting of snow.) Late summer and early autumn 2011 was been unusually warm, with temperatures regularly reaching the high teens °C/mid 60s °F, meaning that some some people (perhaps the braver ones) were still swimming in the sea! Then – to counter that – late winter 2011/2012 was unusually cold and snowy along some parts of the coast – take a look at this great video of Split’s Riva (the main seaside promenade) under quite a bit of snow:
And to counter that…the start of summer 2012 saw record high temperatures! Winter 2012/2013 was once again rather snowy and cold in some parts of Croatia (as was the case in mainland Europe), whilst summer 2013 was hot and sunny once again.
In general, however, during autumn and winter on the coast, you will still experience some sunny days, although it can sometimes get quite rainy.
Climate & Weather in Croatia – Interior
A continental climate exists in the interior of Croatia which means that winters can be pretty cold, with temperatures often falling below 0°C/32°F. Snow is very likely, and can be pretty heavy during the winter.
Summers, on the other hand, can very often be sweltering with temperatures often reaching the mid to high 30s °C/high 80s or low 90s °F and when there’s no cool sea breeze (or the sea itself), it can get a little uncomfortable at times. Officially, average temperatures in the interior would be around the low 20s °C/low 70s °F but, from personal experience, it will be much hotter.
Air-conditioning is becoming more and more common in Croatia all the time, so wherever you are during summer, it is more than likely that your accommodation (hotel or private) will have it, providing you with a bit more comfort in summer. Air-con is also pretty common in cafes, restaurants and bars these days.
Weather in Croatia – when should I go?
If you thinking of the weather in terms of the best time to go to Croatia, we’d advise September…or possibly May. September still has glorious, sunny weather with warm temperatures, and the sea will also still be warm enough for swimming. May is also a great month to visit Croatia, as temperatures have already risen to a pleasant level and you’ll have more and more sunny days, but will be without any of sweltering heat that will make you want to lie down every half an hour. Oh and, better still, you’ll avoid the crowds if you go in one of these two months.
One reasonably famous – or most likely, infamous – aspect of Croatian weather that you may have heard mentioned, or even experienced yourself, is the ‘bura’. The bura is a very strong north-easterly wind that blows towards the coastline, generally in Dalmatia, and is felt strongest around the Velebit mountain range (near Zadar). It normally occurs in winter though some of its effects can be felt year round. The strong wind occurs due to the two different climate types clashing and, as such, the wind is considered unpredictable and strong gusts can happen rather suddenly. Wind speeds can reach over 125 miles/200 kilometres per hour, although you’re unlikely to ever come across winds that strong. Unsurprisingly, the bura causes disruption to those sailing off the coast and to ferries, though problems to traffic on the roads and so on can also occur on land.
You can find all sorts of weather and climate statistics at the excellent Croatian Meteorological Service website, which has plenty of information in English. Their most useful pages are the current weather in Croatia; the 7-day forecast; and the current sea temperatures.