Most people visit Croatia between April and September. Although the coast is too cool for swimming in April, you’ll enjoy warm, clear skies south of Split and rock-bottom accommodation prices. Zagreb is likely to be comfortable and the cultural season is in full swing at this time. May and June are great months for all outdoor activities (except skiing). Watch out for battalions of school students on class field trips at the end of May and beginning of June.
July and August are the most expensive months to visit Croatia as the tourist season swings into gear. The advantages of high-season travel are the extra boat lines to whisk you to the islands, and organised excursions to take you to out-of-the-way highlights. September is probably the optimum month since by then the crowds have thinned out, off-season rates apply and fruits such as figs and grapes are abundant.
Croatia’s climate varies from Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast, to continental inland. The sunny coastal areas experience hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, while the interior regions are warm in summer and cold in winter. Wind patterns cool the coast with refreshing breezes in the summer, but high mountains shield the coast from bitter winter weather. The sea stores heat in the summer and radiates the heat onto the land in the winter, warming the surrounding air.
In spring and early summer, the maestral keeps the temperature down along the coast. It generally starts blowing at around nine o’clock, increases until early afternoon and dies down in late afternoon. This strong, steady wind makes good sailing weather.
Winter weather is defined by two winds. The southeasterly sirocco from the Sahara Desert brings warm, moist air to the mainland and can produce a heavy cloud cover. This wind also has the steady strength that sailors love. The northeasterly bura blows from the interior to the coast in powerful gusts, bringing dry air and blowing away clouds.