Last year I spent Christmas and welcomed the new 2017 in Croatia. My time was split between the cities of Zagreb and Split and for a total of 5 nights. This is the second time I visit this beautiful country, but the first time during the festive Christmas season.
This little experience provided me with a first-hand experience and understanding to how Croatians spend their Christmas holidays. Here is a small list of reasons why you should consider a visit to Croatia this Christmas and why not welcome the new 2018.
1. Christmas markets - in both Zagreb and Split, the Christmas fairs were awesome. Surrounded by hot red wine and tasty food I felt fantastic. And not only that, the whole ambiance was great – the music, decoration, people having fun and enjoying the sunny winter days, such a fantastic atmosphere! Zagreb, in particular, was a little bit cold, the temperatures were around 0-5 degrees Celsius, but when the days are sunny, those temperatures don’t seem so cold.
2. The weather - If you visit southern Croatia during this time of the year it is very likely that you will be welcomed by sunny weather. During our three days in Split, the average temperature was around 15 degrees Celsius. Taking a walk by the marina in the winter and stocking up on vitamin D while soaking the gentle touch of the sun rays are good enough reasons to consider Croatia as a destination.
3. Fair prices and value for money - Croatia, in general, is not that expensive. The average cost of our stay in both Zagreb and Split was 70 euro per night for a double room and breakfast included. To me, this is a good value for money destination and also bear in mind that we are talking about the festive Christmas times.
4. Culture - Split has plenty to offer! For instance, the remnants of Diocletian's Palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D are part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Dubrovnik’s old town is also part of that list. A good idea would be to combine a trip to both Split and Dubrovnik for a few days if you can spare the time. The two cities are located about 200 kilometers from each other, which is reasonable. I've had the opportunity to visit the town of Dubrovnik, and the city has been voted by expert wanderlusts as the "Best city to spend New Year’s Eve."
5. Skiing - Croatia has several ski resorts, and even though the weather around the Adriatic coast is hot and sunny you can still enjoy some winter sports in the country. What better time to do this than during your Christmas holidays? A total of ten resorts can be found in Croatia, and the most famous one goes by the name of Sljeme. Located only 20 minutes away from the capital Zagreb, Sljeme offers 19 kilometers of ski slopes and a price of 13-15 euro for a day ski pass.
6. The Advent in Zagreb – is a popular annual event that takes place in December and January. It’s an outdoors skating park built on Zrinjevac and the main square of Jelačić. A great way to have fun on a sunny winter day, or even at night which can be a romantic experience if you are with your significant other. Love is in the air!
7. Hot Springs - the best time to enjoy them, of course, is in winter when the weather outside is cold if it’s snowing outside then even better. Croatia has several thermal spas located around the country and cater to a variety of visitor preferences.
There are many other carnivals and festivals you can enjoy in Croatia during winter. A good idea will be to visit some of the national parks too. That won’t be that easy for the average tourist as you will need some equipment, knowledge and why not an expert guide. However, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed if you decide to try that, just try to imagine the frozen Plitvice lakes in a snowy dream-like setting.
This is year, I personally will have the opportunity to visit Athens in Greece and get familiar with how Greeks will meet and greet New Year's Eve.