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A look at the weather in Croatia: What will the sea and air temperature be on your holiday, weather records in Croatia, and meet the bura and jugo winds.
- Weather in Croatia: Mediterranean v Continental climates
- How to check the sea temperature by month in Croatia?
- Meet the sunniest island in Europe, or is it?
- Resources for checking the weather in Croatia
- The famous winds of Croatia: bura and jugo
- Bad weather and travel in Croatia: motorways, flights, and ferries
- Weather in Croatia facts: hottest, coldest, wettest, windiest
- Climate change and Croatia
- Resources for more information about the weather in Croatia
The weather in Croatia can be divided into two very distinct sections – Mediterranean versus continental climate.
The weather in coastal Croatia
Most tourists will be interested in the Mediterranean climate, heading to the coast beaches and more than 1,000 Croatian islands, but an increasingly number are now discovering continental Croatia, particularly Zagreb.
Summers in Croatia are very warm indeed on the coast, and temperatures in the above 90 F (33 C) are not uncommon. The sun is very strong, and so don’t forget your sunscreen. Coastal areas offer a breezy relief from the heat, particularly Korcula Town, which was stunningly designed to take advantage of the wind conditions surrounding it.
The shoulder months of May and September bring with them cooler temperatures, and this is the preferred time for pensioners to visit, and the roads are noticeably fuller with cycling tourists.
Snow is rare on the coast in winter, although it does happen, and while temperatures rarely fall below zero, the effects of the northern bura wind can make it seem very cold indeed.
The main swimming season is from May to October, although you will find some crazy people who swim all year round.
The weather in continental Croatia
The weather inland is a lot less welcoming, especially in winter. I fondly remember driving my things from the UK to Hvar in January 2003, for example. Having driven through the snow along the old road from Zagreb, the descent to Split with its greenery, sun, islands, palm trees and sea is a memory I will never forget.
Winters in continental Croatia are COLD, and temperatures have plummeted rarely to below -30 C in extreme years (if you look more carefully, you’ll notice that the last time that happened was in 2003, which is the winter I mentioned before!). In general, things are not that cold, however, and snow tends to come for a few weeks in January, with night temperatures lower than -10 C relatively rare. Bring gloves, a hat and a warm jacket and you will be more than fine.
Summer temperatures in continental Croatia are much more agreeable, and they often match those on the coast. While most tourists head to the coast, a summer on the Danube under blue skies is equally agreeable.
For some, the most important temperature in Croatia is not the air, but the sea. People have come to swim, after all! If you are planning your holiday to Croatia and want to check the weather in the destination you are planning to visit , there is a great resource guide.
Croatia’s beaches undergo inspections every fortnight from May to September by the ministry. Among the information they record and publish online, you can find air and sea temperatures for the corresponding period last year, as well as an overview of beach cleanliness and facilities.
You can also zoom right in and see how far a particular beach is from civilisation if you are looking to escape the crowds. Check out the sea temperatures and beach quality here.
When I moved to Hvar back in 2002, I knew almost nothing about the island. My house purchase was entirely be chance.
But I soon learned that my change purchase had been very fortuitous indeed. For here was an island which Conde Nast named among the top 10 most beautiful in the world.
Not only that, but it was also apparently, but it was also the sunniest island in Europe. This was good news to this Manchester boy, who was born in the rain, and I came to love my average of 2,724 hours of sun each year.
So good was the weather on Hvar that it was said that guests would enjoy a free stay in the island’s hotels in case of rain.
As with many things in life, reality was a little different. When the huge snowfall of February 2012 covered Hvar so much that a Slovakian managed to ski from the island’s peak to the beach in Dubovica, I checked with the hotels about the free rooms.
“Only if it has been snowing for 7 days, then the guest gets a free extra night,” came the reply. Not quite the same.
And while Hvar will always be the Sunshine Island for me, its crown has been taken by another in recent years – Lastovo.
Croatia has several winds, but none affect the weather quite as much as the north-south combination of the bura and the jugo. If you want to read more about the winds of Croatia, there’s a TCN story about maestral that you might find interesting.
Blowing from the north – the bura
I LOVE the bura. Of all the 95 countries I have visited, there is nothing quite like the biting wind from the north as it rips through everything in its way.
It is perhaps the most cleansing experience the weather can bring, and I love walking into its embrace in short sleeves, blowing away all the cobwebs.
I realise that I am in a minority of one on this.
Living on an island, one feels the full force of the bura. Catamarans are cancelled (and sometimes ferries too), everyone is huddled inside, and the waves lash against the rocks and boats in the harbour.
The bura can cause chaos with sea, flights and motorway connections (see below), as well as uprooting trees and damaging buildings. But one of its most wonderful characteristics is that then the bura ends, the most gorgeous blue skies and calm seas ensue. It is, however, usually bitterly cold during this time, but Croatian housewives love it as the very best conditions to dry laundry.
Chasing the bura has become quite a thing in recent years, and many head to Pag Bridge, one of the fiercest locations to meet the bura head on. With speeds regularly in the 200 km/h, perhaps I would put a jacket on for that…
If you are looking or a more technical explanation of the bura. The bura can also play havoc with sailing, of course. Some useful advice if you are sailing in Croatia and confront that strong breeze from the north.
Blowing from the south – the jugo
The southern jugo could not be more different to the bura. Not only does it blow from the opposite direction bu it is usually accompanied by rain and clouds. Traditionally, it brings with it an air of depression, and Dalmatians insist that it affects their moods.
So much so, in fact, that council meetings and another official business were postponed in the time of the Dubrovnik Republic, as the jugo was thought to affect decision making. Criminals have even used the jugo as part of the defence – I don’t know what came over me, blame it on the jugo.
The jugo is not great news for catamarans either, particularly south-facing Hvar Town.
Although the stereotype of weather in Croatia is one of endless sunshine, azure skies and pristine beaches (and very accurate is summer months), bad weather is obviously a fact of life.
This is especially true in continental Croatia, where temperatures can plunge below -20C. But the bura wind can also play havoc with ferry, motorway and flight options, even during the season.
bura and the A1 Split to Zagreb motorway
The A1 motorway between Split and Zagreb has transformed life and tourism in Croatia. But Croatia’s most important road is also at the mercy of the bura wind. For when the bura blows, the stretch from Zadar to Sveti Rok tunnel is impassable.
On such occasions, the motorway is closed, and a lengthy diversion cross country put in place. While the drive is spectacular through the Croatian hinterland, it will also add at least an hour to your journey. You are advised to check the English updates on the official HAK website for the latest information.
Flying to Croatia during the bura
Croatian airports are also not immune to the mighty bura. This is especially true of Dubrovnik, where flights divert to Split in times of high winds, and a bus transfer put in place.
This can be especially frustrating for your holiday plans if you had no prior knowledge, so again, please check in times of bad weather to minimise that frustration.
bura and making early morning flights
But nowhere does the bura reign more supreme than on the Adriatic. Catamarans are particularly susceptible to the powerful northern wind (and its southern playmate, the jugo).
It is rare that the main Jadrolinija ferries do not sail – indeed this only happened 3 times in 13 years for the Stari Grad to Split ferry while I lived on Hvar – but it is MUCH more frequent on catamarans.
This can be especially stressful if you are leaving an island for a morning flight home. Check if the catamaran will go, and if you are in any doubt, there is the option on islands such as Hvar of an earlier car ferry.
Let’s look at some records in this land of weather extremes.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Croatia
Karlovac, 1950, 42.2 C
Knin, 22 August 2000, 41.4 C
What is the lowest temperature ever recorded in Croatia?
Gracac 13 January 2003 -34.6 C
Gospic 17 February 1956 -33.5 C
Zalesina 6 January 1985 -33-4 C
The strongest wind ever in Croatia
23 December 2003 Bozici viaduct, A1 motorway, near Velebit, 307 km/h
Maslenica Bridge, 21 December 1998, 248 km/h
The highest snow cover in Croatia
Zavizan (1594 m – highest meteorological station) 320 cm, 6 March 1984
in Zagreb, 28 February 1895, 84 cm
Where is the wettest place in Croatia?
Risnjak, around 3600 mm of rain a year.
Climate change is a sad reality in the modern era, and no country is immune from the global effects.
I have noticed a change in the weather patterns during my 13 years on Hvar, for example. Where once there were four distinct seasons, these days it seems to have gone closer to two, with the summers feeling a little hotter than they used to.
There are various studies