Why You Should Visit Croatia in Winter: Best Things to Do

croatia in winter

Croatia is a popular summer holiday destination, with many Europeans considering it a cheaper alternative to Greece or Italy. However, Croatia in winter is equally magnificent and offers a more low-key experience with fewer crowds. In this article, we will explore the best things to do in Croatia during the winter season.

Visit Frozen Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park

Although Croatia is known for its stunning beaches, the winter season offers unique attractions such as the frozen lakes and waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park. This iconic location is open all year round and is a star attraction in Croatia in winter. During the winter months, visitors can witness a dreamy and astounding scene that resembles the movie Frozen. A visit to the frozen-over Plitvice Lakes National Park is a must-do activity during winter, especially in February.

Go Skiing

Contrary to popular belief, Croatia does experience snowfall during winter, making it an ideal destination for skiing enthusiasts. The Mèdvednica mountain range, located north of Zagreb, is one of Croatia’s top winter sports destinations. The range has an elevation of 1000 meters and offers skiing, tobogganing, and sledding for all ages. Additionally, other locations in Croatia offer winter sports such as Nordic skiing and ice skating.

Top Croatia in Winter Sports Locations

There are several winter sports locations in Croatia that cater to skiing enthusiasts, including the Sljeme Ski Resort. Located on the slopes of Mèdvednica Mountain in Mèdvednica Nature Park, the resort attracts both locals and tourists. One of its main attractions is the annual Snow Queen Trophy, a competition that’s part of the FIS Ski World Cup that occurs every January.

However, non-professional skiers and winter sports enthusiasts can also enjoy a variety of slopes and runs here. The resort has three lifts and five slopes: White Meadow, White Slope, Red Slope (the most challenging), Green Slope, and Blue Slope. The Red Slope has a chairlift and an artificial snowmaker, which prolongs the skiing season, while the White and Green slopes have T-bar lifts. Most slopes are gentle and suitable for children and beginners, and the Red and White slopes also have a lighting system that enables night skiing.

Platak Ski Resort: An All-Season Destination

Platak Ski Resort, situated just north of Rijeka and west of Risnjak National Park, is a popular year-round destination, but it’s especially bustling during winter. Established in the mid-1960s, the resort boasts several ski runs, with Radeševo, the longest and most renowned trail. The resort is ideal for families and recreational skiers and snowboarders, with gentle slopes suitable for children and beginners, as well as challenging trails for professionals.

Mukinje Ski Resort: A Winter Wonderland

Located near the famed Plitvice Lakes, the Mukinje Ski Resort is about 700 meters above sea level, offering winter sports for all ages, from skiing to tobogganing. The slopes are around 400 meters long with a 15% average slope gradient, making it perfect for beginners to learn skiing or snowboarding. Visitors can rent winter sports equipment at the resort.

Čelimbaša Ski Resort: For Adventure Seekers

Located in Mrkopalj, about 15 km from Delnice, the Čelimbaša Ski Resort has three ski trails of varying lengths, with the Tourist Trail being the longest at 1,400 meters with the gentlest slope. Tobogganing is also available. The Sunny Trail is approximately 1,000 meters long, while the Black Path, at 500 meters, is the steepest slope.

Experience Trogir, Croatia’s Authentic Self

During summer, the small coastal town of Trogir in Dalmatia is often overrun by tourists. However, in winter, it returns to its authentic self, and locals come out, making it a perfect time to visit. Just a short drive from Split, Trogir is an ancient stone town that offers a glimpse of Croatia’s authentic life.

Dubrovnik Winter Festival: A Festive Wonderland

The Dubrovnik Winter Festival is the perfect wintry counterpart to the popular Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The multi-day festival runs from Advent into the New Year, offering a range of events and entertainment throughout Dubrovnik’s Old Town and beyond. Visitors can enjoy Christmas concerts, musical performances, New Year’s parties, and endless food and merriment. The Dubrovnik Advent and Christmas Markets are part of the Winter Festival, featuring several stalls selling handicrafts, toys, and Christmas tree decorations.

Zagreb’s Advent & Christmas Markets: A Magical Time

Croatia’s vibrant capital, Zagreb, comes alive during December with the Advent and Christmas markets. The markets feature handmade Christmas gifts, and visitors can skate on the enormous ice skating rink at Trg Bana Jelacica. The Christmas markets offer a magical experience, making it the perfect time to visit the country.

Soak in Hot Springs

Croatia has a long history of natural hot springs and thermal spas. Most of these thermal spas date back to Roman times and offer mineral-rich hot waters for visitors to enjoy. Some reputable spas include Sveti Martin na Muri, Tuhelj, Stubičke Toplice, Krapinske Toplice, Varaždinske Toplice, and Daruvarske Toplice. The rates at these resorts are typically lower during the off-season, making it the perfect time to indulge in some luxury accommodation and extra services.

Harvest Mandarins in Neretva

The Neretva Valley, known as the “garden of Dubrovnik,” is a fruit-growing region that has been active since the 1400s. During the winter months, visitors can harvest mandarins and enjoy the valley’s bountiful produce. The valley is said to have about 1.3 million mandarin seedlings, making it a unique destination to stock up on vitamin C before the coldest winter days arrive.

Go to the Beach

Although Croatia’s winter temperatures might be too low for a swim or sunbathing, the beaches are still a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the Adriatic Sea. Winter days can still be delightful on a sunny day, and the lack of summer crowds makes it a peaceful and enjoyable experience.

Attend Events and Carnivals

Winter in Croatia features various events and carnivals, including Museum Night and the Rijeka Carnival. Museum Night is a nationwide event where museums stay open long after their usual hours and host special night performances. The Rijeka Carnival is one of the largest carnival festivals in Europe, with concerts, exhibitions, masquerades, and parties leading up to the ceremonial handing over of the city’s keys to the Master of the Carnival.

Sample Traditional Croatia Winter Food

Croatia has a rich culinary tradition that is delightful to sample in winter. Christmas markets and restaurants offer traditional winter food, such as bakalar, bean soup, kupus, and a wide range of stews prepared over an open fire. After a day of sightseeing, there’s nothing quite like indulging in some hearty, soul-warming, and belly-filling food.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Croatia

February 14, the global day of love, falls in the middle of winter, making it an ideal time to visit Croatia for romantic getaways, intimate seaside dinners, and couple’s activities. Croatia’s stunning old cities, including Zadar, Split, Trogir, and Dubrovnik, offer plenty of choices for a Valentine’s Day destination. Enjoy the amazing winter sunsets, soak in hot springs, pamper yourself with a spa treatment, and indulge in mouthwatering Croatian food.

Why Travel to Croatia in Winter?

Traveling to Croatia in winter offers a unique opportunity to explore the country’s top destinations without the summer crowds. With lower prices, fewer tourists, and a slower pace of life, winter in Croatia is a peaceful and enjoyable experience. Additionally, the mild winter temperatures along the Adriatic coastline make it possible to enjoy beaches and outdoor activities year-round. Finally, experiencing Croatia’s festive season, including Christmas markets and New Year’s celebrations, provides a unique cultural experience. So, come and spend the winter in Croatia and discover the country’s best-kept secrets.

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