Spring in Croatia: What to do in Croatia in April & May
Booking a spring holiday in Croatia? Perfect, as spring in Croatia (and other areas throughout the Balkans) is my favorite time of year – yes, even better than summer. Why? The streets are not yet bustling with tourists. The flowers, oh the flowers, they are beautiful. And most of all, it means being outdoors without our coats, scarves and woolen mittens.
While not yet warm enough to swim, a great way to spend a spring day is by the river or sea. The water is calm, and many of the businesses which close during winter, begin to open their doors. Drinking coffee or eating a seafood lunch, while listening to the soft, gentle movement of the water is a welcomed break from being cooped up indoors during winter.
It is not all about the water either; the mountains are a brilliant way to spend a Croatian spring day. Sure you’ll need your light jacket and maybe a scarf if it’s a little chilly or you feel the cold – but the air is crisp and clean, and you’ll feel so alive breathing in that fresh mountain air.
Our Croatia Spring Travel Plans
This spring we have a few activities locked away in the calendar. I enjoyed those winter days in Croatia by the fire (well mostly), but I’m now ready to shed my woolen socks, crack open the windows more often and enjoy the cool breeze blowing across my face. Most of all, I am looking forward to spending more time out in the warm sunshine before Baby Donkey number two arrives this summer and my days are spent washing baby clothes and doing 2 am feeds.
We spent the first few days of spring in in Mali Ston and loved our time by the sea eating oysters.
Last year we headed to Zagreb and will be there again next month. The magnolia trees are so breathtaking this time of year. Those flowers just make you smile from ear to ear. Boy, do I love Zagreb.
Though before we rush off to Zagreb for the trees, we are planning a trip to Istria, to Labin and Rabac to be precise- so watch out on Instagram for all of the live action late April.
What Should You Do On Your Spring Holiday In Croatia?
April and May are becoming more and more popular with travelers comings to Croatia, especially down south – last May in Dubrovnik was already too busy for my taste – lucky there was good wine at the festival and we enjoyed an excellent stay at the Hotel Lapad and could escape the crowds poolside with a glass in hand.
Croatia is a country with a typical Mediterranean climate along its coastline, so for that reason, if you’re not the biggest fan of scorching hot temperatures, summer may not be the time for you to visit and if you don’t like the wind, rain and snow wintertime isn’t a good time to visit Croatia either. On the flipside, if you prefer something a little middle of the road in terms of weather, spring is the ideal time to head to our action-packed, beautiful, and historic country. So what Spring things can we suggest you do in Croatia? Well, how about:
Pick Wild Asparagus
Springtime is prime time for locals to head into the woods and forests and forage for wild asparagus – just ask Mr. Chasing the Donkey he is mad about foraging asparagus in Dalmatia. This delicious vegetable may be rather expensive in the shops, but picking it wild, first hand, is not only a cultural experience, but it will also save you cash on your shopping! You’ll be able to immerse yourself in nature, enjoy the sunshine, and take home some delicious wild asparagus for your efforts!
Cook Wild Asparagus
Once you’ve been out and about picking your own wild asparagus, find some interesting ways to cook it! Wild asparagus tastes fabulous and has a slight bitterness compared to the regular stuff. It’s definitely more delicious than anything you will buy from a supermarket.
Festiwine in Dubrovnik
From 17 April until 23 April you can check out Dubrovnik’s finest local wines and other local produce, all with a backdrop of the wonder and history of the Old Town. We went to Festiwine last year and thought it was and excellent festival.
Go to a Flower Show
Spring time is when the flowers bloom, and there are several flower shows happening at this time. The Flower Fair of Zadar returns on 20 April for three days, International Garden Show ‘Floraart’ visits Zagreb in May, and The Festival of Flowers visits Split from 4 May until 20 May.
Easter Weekend in Hvar
Easter in Hvar is a special affair, with the annual Following The Cross event. This is a big cultural deal, and takes place during the evening on Maundy Thursday and travels around the island and back to its starting point, at the end of Good Friday.
Spring in Zagreb
Spend a morning wandering the Zagreb Mirogoj cemetery, which is filled with elaborate lanterns, tombstones and grand statues and monuments. After my first trip there back in 2014, I can now see why I was told it was something not to be missed! Don’t let the term cemetery put you off; it’s more like a park.
Zagreb in spring is delightful. The locals are all happy, as they enjoy the warmer days and the city’s cafes, bars and nightclubs are all open, and it’s a great vibe.
While in Zagreb. check out the Cest is d’best – International Street Festival in Zagreb. This International Street Festival in Zagreb has been pulling in visitors, with music, street art, sports, art, and basically everything fun-related since 1997! This year’s festival runs from 31 May to 4 June.
Attend Spring Break Europe Festival (Zrče Beach)
Pag Island is home to the annual Spring Break Europe festival, if you are into the party scene this is a great way to kick od the electronic music season in the springtime sun. Spend the spring sun-soaked days dancing.
Nature Parks & National Parks in Spring Are a no Brainer – Right?
In my opinion, there is no better time to see a national park than in spring, and so we often head over to Paklenica National Park during spring. The national park is not very far from our house, so it’s an easy day trip to make from Zadar.
Plitvice Lakes or Krka National Park
Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks are the most commonly visited national parks. At Plitvice, the waterfalls are flowing at full capacity from the winter rains and with all of the snow that has just melted. They are both a real sight to be seen and can also be easily be reached from a day trip from Zadar.
Croatia is blessed with eight national parks, spread across the country and each offering something different. In addition to those Spring is a grand time to make use of the 11 Croatia Nature Parks – I’ll admit many of these are still on my to-do list (tut tut).
Spend Spring in Croatia on an Island
The end of spring is the greatest time to visit the islands if you like things quiet. With the hotels just opening up again, and not very many tourists you have the beaches and bars to yourself. That’s the way we like it, so that’s why we spent a spring weekend on Brač one year.
You can discover new islands to explore here, and next week we have a list of relatively unknown islands ready to share with you.
Be sure to check out the ferry timetable. Ferries are running, but nowhere near as many as there are in summer, and so your choices are more limited. On the upside, you’ll have many of the islands to yourself.
Days of Asparagus & Cuttlefish in Labin & Rabac
We’ve mentioned that springtime means asparagus and all manner of beautiful spring-time gastronomy, and across the region, you will find a number of restaurants who offer set menus which incorporate two of the main spring ingredients – asparagus and cuttlefish.
Oyster Festival in Ston
Head to Ston for the annual Oyster Festival, and the chance to try some delicious seafood and local wines. The festival is not only to celebrate the delicious food of the region but also pays respect to the Saint Joseph holiday.
Even Condé Nast Traveller loved the place, writing: people have been harvesting oysters in the bay of Mali Ston (between the slender peninsula Peljesac and mainland Croatia) since Roman times. Their delicate flavor has been lauded for centuries. Wash them down with a glass of the local white wine, Pošip.
Croatia in Spring is a Great Time to Get Physical
How about white water rafting while on vacation in Croatia? Spring is a great time of year to raft. Head to any one of these rivers for a rafting good time. Cetina, Kupa, Zrmanja, Mrežnica, Dobra or Korana
The water is far too cold to swim in – for most of us anyway, but with the countryside returning to green & all of the flowers blooming, spring is ideal for cycling in Croatia. In Istria, northwest Croatia, there are dedicated cycling events starting in March that run all year. From professional races through to recreational options.
If an organized event is not your thing, high-quality cycling routes can be found in many towns across Croatia, including Zadar, Čakovec, Lika & Rovinj. Some of the newest and most panoramic tracks pass through the North Velebit National Park and the historic city of Senj, making cycling on your holiday in Croatia a top choice.
Are you a mountain climber? Then you’ll want to think about Paklenica National Park. Located 270 kilometers from Zagreb or 60 kilometers from Zadar. Paklenica hosts an International climber’s meeting, where you can scale up the mighty Velebit.
If you’re in Omiš, you may want to consider zip lining. There you’ll go across the canyon of the Cetina River via eight wires with a total length of 2100 meters. Plus a new zip line just opened up near Lika – we are yet to try it (I plan to as soon as baby #2 pops out!)
Get A Great Deal At a 5-Star Hotel
The shoulder months of spring (and autumn) are the ideal times to grab a cheap deal on a higher class of hotel. These hotels are way more expensive during the peak summer months, but during spring prices are lower, and you can enjoy the lap of luxury for less cash.
Many smaller hotels or those located in summer locations are still closed very in early spring, but by May they are all open. You will find great deals as the summer rates do not yet apply.
Here is a list of luxury hotels in Croatia that you can get low-cost spring rates from or if you are with kids, here is an extensive list of family-friendly hotels and resorts.
Hire a Car And Go On a Road Trip While in Croatia This Spring
Again, car hire is much like hotels and is noticeably cheaper during the spring months, compared to summer, and the lower temperatures are ideal for hitting the road and enjoying a road trip. You will truly get to explore and enjoy the passing landscapes without the heat affecting you at this time!
Enjoy Fewer Tourists And Get a Better Photo
Finally, the fact there aren’t as many tourists around (because most people tend to wait until the school summer holidays and travel as a family), means that you can get the ideal uncrowded photo at the top tourist attractions. Think of your Instagram feed!
Now, I probably could go on and on, with all of the sights and activities you could enjoy here in Croatia during spring, but I’ll stop. My last piece of advice is to bring a jumper or light coat with you; it gets chilly in the mornings and evenings. No need for hats, scarves, and gloves – you can leave those at home.
With many of the low-cost carriers now starting to fly back into Croatia at this time of year, cheap flights from Europe and the UK are available. If you see one, you should book it, and come and enjoy your holiday in Croatia this spring.
Have you been to Croatia in spring? What would you suggest for things to do in spring?
Main Photo Credit: Mario