Croatia’s climate follows two patterns: Mediterranean on the coast, with warm summers and mild winters, and continental inland – slightly hotter during the summer, and extremely cold in winter, with average daily temperatures barely scraping freezing from December to February. July and August constitute the peak season on the Adriatic, and this is definitely the time to visit if busy beaches and lively café society are what you’re looking for. Many Croats make their way to the coast at this time, and social and cultural activity in the inland cities tends to dry up as a result. Peak-season daytime temperatures can be roasting, however, both on the coast and inland, and dawn-to-dusk sightseeing can be a gruelling experience. Hotel accommodation soon fills up at the height of summer, and it may be more relaxing to travel in June or September, when there is significantly less pressure on facilities. From October to May the coast can be very quiet indeed, and many hotels and tourist attractions may well shut up shop for the winter. Autumn is a good time to enjoy inland Istria and national park areas like the Plitvice Lakes and the River Krka, when the woodland colours produced by the mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees are at their best. Given the innocuous winters on the Adriatic coast, urban sightseeing in historic centres such as Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik can be enjoyable at this time, and it’s also worth bearing in mind that hotel prices on the Adriatic may be up to fifty percent cheaper than in peak season. Winters inland are a different kettle of fish entirely: snow is common here over this period, and transport in highland areas is frequently disrupted as a result – though it can also be a picturesque backdrop to sightseeing. Spring is well into its stride by mid-March: warm, dry weather makes this a great time to go cycling, hiking or touring the cultural sights, and in southern Dalmatia the sea might be warm enough to swim in by mid- to late May.
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