With over 15 million foreign visitors a year, Croatia is booming as a tourist destination. Over 75% of these arrive between June and September, so for many smart travelers planning a trip to the country, and especially the popular Dalmatian coast, this means avoiding the peak summer months and visiting Croatia in spring instead.
If you are going to Croatia for the culture, nature, and food and NOT for the beaches, then spring is the perfect time of year to visit. If you don’t mind bringing a rain jacket just in case, this is also the season to evade the ever-increasing crowds and peak hotel rates. Here are 6 more reasons to consider traveling to Croatia in spring.
1. To pick wild asparagus.
This is a great outdoor experience for the whole family. The season usually runs from March to June with the Istrian Peninsula and the Dalmatian coast being the prime regions for wild asparagus picking. You need to know where to look for them and certain areas like national parks and private land are off limits, so best do this with a local guide.
2. To visit an oyster festival…
Each spring (usually in the second half of March), the town of Mali Ston on the Dalmatian coast hosts on its waterfront a Festival of Oysters, organized by the local tourist authority and winemakers and seafood farmers from the area.
In addition to sampling fresh local seafood (oysters and mussels harvested from the bay), visitors have a chance to taste top-quality wines from the Peljesac Peninsula and enjoy live folklore performances. You can take part in a wine-making workshop or enjoy a gourmet dinner paired up with superb local vintages.
3. …or sample local wines in Istria.
The annual Vinistra wine fair in the town of Porec on the Istrian Peninsula (held in 2020 on May 8 – 10) is a premier food & wine event which features regional wine producers showcasing their best wines as well as lots of workshops, seminars, and gourmet dinners.
Vinistra is followed by the Open Wine Cellars Day, usually on the last Sunday in May. As the name suggests, on this day, local winemakers open their cellars for the public to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their operations and to sample the wines. At many venues there is live music too.
4. To dive into Zagreb’s café culture.
In spring, the Croatian capital blossoms with new life; the city’s parks are abloom with flowers and tables spill out into the sidewalks and squares with locals leisurely sipping coffee and people watching. Influenced by centuries of Italian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian traditions, Zagreb has a distinct coffee culture.
If you happen to be there on a Saturday morning / early afternoon, you can witness a local tradition called ‘Spica’ when locals puts on their best clothes and gather at their favorite coffee shops to lounge around, chat with friends, see, and be seen.
5. To hike in the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Located in the very heart of the country, the park’s over 100 square miles are covered with lakes, waterfalls, and forest, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage. The lakes are separated by natural dams which can be explored on foot, walking along the sign-posted paths along their shores, or across the footbridges.
In spring, after the snow melts and everything starts blooming, the park’s lakes and waterfalls are at their fullest and much more enjoyable without the busloads of selfie-stick-wielding tourists trampling around in high season.
6. To beat the crowds in Dubrovnik.
The historic walled town gets overrun by day-trippers in the summer and early fall. It is a popular stop for large cruise ships and between May and November, there are several of them in port every single day. With thousands of passengers from these mega ships descending on the Old Town, its medieval gates, ramparts, and narrow cobblestone streets get crowded in no time.
Be a smart traveler and visit in April – early May when the Old Town is less busy and the weather is likely to be warm and sunny, but not yet stifling hot and humid.
Here are more handy tips on avoiding the crowds in Dubrovnik!
Planning a trip to Croatia next spring? I travel there regularly and will be happy to help! Let’s chat!