Most people visit Croatia in summer, when it’s warm and nice and all. However, what’s it like in Croatia in winter? Is Croatia warm all year around?
- NO. Temperatures across Croatia go down as winter approaches.
- Winter temperatures in parts of Croatia away from the Adriatic Sea often get below freezing point, with occasional snowfall.
- Winters by the Adriatic Sea are much milder, but the perception of cold may still be intense. Snow is uncommon, though.
Do you like to be cosy in your bed when it’s cold outside and raining? So do I! BTW, What do we do in wintertime? Stay tuned as we unravel the cold season in Croatia.
As Winter Comes Closer
Generally speaking, Croatia can be divided in two climate zones: Hot-summer Mediterranean Climate and the Humid Continental Climate.
In both areas, temperatures go down with the approaching winter.
There is a dramatic change in precipitation with the onset of Autumn.
Scourged soil becomes soaked with rain in Dalmatia, allowing green grass to grow and the mushrooms to appear.
The rain comes right on time for the dried-out olives to gain volume and be filled with oil.
Actually, autumn is like a second spring in Dalmatia, allowing farmers to grow crops that normally grow only in spring in harsher climates.
This is one of my favourite photos. Well, when you visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park, you will naturally make great pictures, because the nature itself is so great there.
Croatian name for October is listopad, meaning: “the month of the falling leaves”.
Plitvice Lakes are a gorgeous place to observe autumn colours.
The water is so clear that you don’t have to use Photoshop.
Winter In Continental Croatia
Although snow is becoming increasingly rare due to climate change, snow remains the reality of wintertime in continental Croatia.
Croatians very much like skiing. Although Croatia has a handful of skiing resorts, like the Sljeme Skiing Resort in Zagreb or Platak near Rijeka, many Croatians still prefer more serious skiing.
So in January, there is a massive pilgrimage of Croatian to the Alps. In skiing resorts across Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Switzerland or France you would be able to recognise Croatian language, whereas the scent of sarma (sauerkraut rolls) permeates the streets and mountain valleys. (Croatians prepare large amount of stuffed sauerkraut, considered to be a fine “winter food”, and take it to mountain bungalows they rent together with friends.)
Winter Along The Croatian Coastline
Generally speaking, winters along the Adriatic Sea are relatively mild. Rarely does the temperature fall below freezing point.
As a result, we can grow lemon and orange trees, bougainvilleas and palm trees OUTDOORS.
The little guy with his hair up in the air, situated at the bottom of this relief from the Trogir Cathedral, is AEOLUS, the ancient Greek “Keeper Of The Winds”.
It’s the WIND that makes our winters colder than they actually are.
Keeping the effect of the wind in mind, many places along the Adriatic coastline, like Zadar, were wisely built in areas naturally sheltered from the NE wind, the BURA.
However, episodes of really cold weather do happen. In February of 2018, the frost was relentlessly destroying our citrus trees for WEEKS.
But what happened in February 2012 was unprecedented. Take a look!
People in Split were so unprepared for the snow and unaware of the danger of ice so during this one-week-long “episode”, more than 650 inhabitants of Split broke a limb, more than an average number of injured in 5 years.
Another Kind Of Hibernation
“WHAT DO YOU DO IN WINTERTIME?” – this is one of the most common question tour guides get in Croatia.
Well, the reality is that most coastal towns and villages virtually hibernate.
In fact, when compared to summer, these places even appear haunted winter months.
Most restaurants close, so do galleries, souvenir shops and hotels.
Without the benevolent tourists feeding them, most stray cats have to put an extra effort to survive the winter famine.
Fortunately, local authorities are becoming increasingly sensitive to animal rights.
BTW, there’s a real kennel by this basket. I took this photo in Cavtat in 2020.
So, what do we do then?
Well, starting from the end of October throughout November, we pick olives!
We pick olives the old, hypnotic way.
This means picking each olive, one by one, filling pouches that we tie around our waist.
Next, we empty the olives (mixed green and black) into bags, and as quickly as possible take the bags to the village oil press.
Our olive oil is really extra virgin and 100% organic. Unfortunately, we don’t sell it.
Croatians very much like to do DIY house building.
Once tourists leave, and leave their money behind, we re-invest it into real estate, adding more rooms, storeys or apartment to our already existing portfolio.
This is, BTW, why there are so many unfinished houses in Croatia. We do it step-by-step.
Of course, many also travel, read and charge their batteries. Because, before you know it…
Spring Is Finally Back To Croatia!
Spring is eagerly awaited by everyone. And everything.
There is something bipolar (or manic-depressive) about this self-perpetuating life cycle of Croatia.
Summers can get so hectic. You don’t sleep. You don’t have a day off. You need to take all jobs and accommodate all tourist. Smile, entertain, please! You barely have time to go to the beach. It’s the SEASON!
In utter despair, my colleague sat down on the sidewalk of a border crossing.
For some reason, it took the clerk in a booth about an hour to scan 19 passports.
The other day I spoke with him. Due to COVID-19 crisis he lost his job in tourism and works in Delivery.
He told me that he would nevertheless return to working in tourism right away!
And then everything rather abruptly comes to a halt. The first couple of weeks is reserved for total recovery. As kind of a PTSD therapy.
Then, slowly, you start seeing colours and breathing deeply. You regain possession of yourself.
Long postponed personal work finally becomes possible.
And, as you come to your senses to a full degree, a new cycle of mania begins.