Visiting Croatia in April

Croatia in April: What It’s Really Like

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Are you considering a trip to Croatia in April and wondering what it’s really like and if April is a good time to visit Croatia? This post should answer all your questions. 

We always heard that the best time to visit Croatia is from May to September. However, since we could only travel to Croatia in April, we figured there wouldn’t be that much difference between April and May… We couldn’t have been more wrong.

We visited  Croatia during Spring Break, just before Easter. In this article I’m sharing our experience and the advantages and the disadvantages of visiting Croatia in April. You can also read what it’s really like to visit Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice, or Croatian islands in April. Find out!

What to expect when traveling to Croatia in April
 

What is the weather like in Croatia in April?

The weather in Croatia in April varies a lot and also depends greatly on which part of Croatia you visit. Since it’s a bit of a shoulder season, you can really expect all kinds of weather in Croatia in April. We had 20°C (68 F) sunny weather on some days and also many days when it was just 10-12°C (50-54 F) and lots of rain. Most days we had a bit of everything – rain and sunshine and temperatures between 8 and 22°C (46-72 F).

Two days before we arrived at Plitvice Lakes NP, it was snowing there, and temperatures were just above the freezing point. Whereas now we had sunny weather and 18°C (64 F). Yes, this was all in the same week.

We were told by the locals that while it’s not uncommon to have warm and sunny weather in April, it’s just as likely to have cold rainy weather. Whereas May weather is much more stable and chances are high that you’ll have warm and sunny weather during your entire vacation if you visit Croatia in May.

So to summarize, if you visit Croatia in April, you should be ready for every type of weather.

Scenic road near Makarska in Croatia
April weather is really unpredictable in Croatia – you can have rain and sunshine at the same time
 

Biggest advantages of visiting Croatia in April

Don’t despair – there are actually many advantages of traveling to Croatia in April, as opposed to high season months. Here are some of the main things that we liked about Croatia in April:

1. There are fewer tourists in Croatia in April than in summer

One of the reasons we chose to visit Croatia in low season was the hope to avoid the crowds. We heard that Croatia is extremely busy in summer and places like Dubrovnik and Split can get so crowded that you can’t even pass the City Gates without risking your lives…

While there are some cruise ships in Croatia in April, it’s nothing compared to the summer months. 

I have to say that if you want to avoid the crowds, then visiting Croatia in April was definitely the right choice. We had so many amazing and popular tourist attractions all to ourselves. For example, we met a total of 5 other people on Dubrovnik City Walls. We were the only tourists in Mljet National Park. Also on Brac island we didn’t meet any other tourists…

Pile Gate without the crowds - Dubrovnik in April
Pile Gate in Dubrovnik without the crowds
 

2. Many places are already open in April

While April isn’t a very popular month to visit Croatia, some businesses start to slowly open after the winter. So, comparing to winter months, April is a much better month to visit Croatia than, for example, February or March.

Some day trips and boat tours that aren’t available between November and March, start running again in April. Some bars and restaurants that are closed in winter, are already open for business in April. Some tourist attractions that close for the winter season, start to operate again in April…

For example, April was the first month when some companies started to run boat tours, which enabled us to visit the Blue Cave from Split.

At the same time, please keep in mind that many places aren’t yet open in April and will only open in May, some only in the second half of May…

Blue Cave from Split - how to visit and what to expect
Only very few Blue Cave run in April
 

3. It’s cheaper to visit Croatia in April than in summer

Croatia is an extremely popular tourist destination in summer. Accommodation prices skyrocket in July and August. In April, you’ll often pay about 30-50% less for your accommodation than in July. Furthermore, many places have minimum stay requirements in high season, whereas in April we could just book one night stays that suited our itinerary best.

Renting a car is also much cheaper in April than in the summer. For example, we paid less than 17 EUR/ day for a big rental car for our family. There is no way you can find the same deal in summer. We use and recommend this car rental search engine to find the best car rental deals when we travel – check it out and book your car asap – prices go up significantly if you book close to your travel dates.

Needless to say that flights are also much cheaper in low season than in summer. In our case, coming from Belgium, the price difference between April and July was over a thousand Euro for our family of five (we paid less than a thousand to start with).

Some tourist attractions are cheaper or even completely free in low season. In general, there doesn’t seem to be that much difference between admission prices in low or high season, but some places do offer discounted rates in low season. For example, Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik was free to enter when we visited, whereas in summer you have to pay

The same was true for some sea cave visits on the earlier mentioned Blue Cave tour; caves and beaches that require a fee in summer, were free of charge in April.

Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik
Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik was empty in April
 

4. The weather is ok for sightseeing

Since summers are usually really warm in Croatia, it is often too hot to do much sightseeing if you are traveling in high season. Every guidebook we read had warnings about the heat and advised to visit the most popular outdoor attractions early in the morning.

This was not really a problem in April at all. Even the warmest sunny days during our trip were just perfect for sightseeing. No need to worry about getting a sun stroke on the city walls of Dubrovnik in April.

Visiting places like Dubrovnik, Split, Kotor, Mostar, Zadar, and many other smaller towns in April was as good as it gets. Not too hot, not too busy, and just lively enough to be enjoyable.

The weather in Croatia in April was perfect for sightseeing
April weather was perfect for sightseeing AND we had Dubrovnik City Walls all to ourselves
 

Main disadvantages of visiting Croatia in April

Despite all the positive sides of visiting Croatia in April, there are also quite some negative ones. Find out!

1. Unpredictable weather

We found that the biggest disadvantage of traveling to Croatia in April is the unpredictable weather. It was changing all the time! Usually, we had all kind of weather in one day, with torrential downpour one moment and beautiful sunny weather just minutes later…

This isn’t that much of a problem in towns as you can always enter a church or a museum if the weather gets too bad. But if you are visiting Croatian islands and National Parks, it’s really no fun to be there in the pouring rain or heavy fog and 10°C (50 F).

Take a look at the two pictures below. They were taken in the same place, within less than half an hour. It was raining so hard that we didn’t feel like getting out of the car when we arrived in Mljet National Park. Luckily for us, the rain stopped and so we could visit the park just as planned.

Rain storm on Mljet island in Croatia in April
Rain was pouring when we arrived in Mljet NP – definitely no fire danger that day…
St Mary’s island monastery in Mljet National Park Croatia
…a few minutes later the sun came out
 

2. It’s too early for swimming

Even if the weather is warm, sea water and swimming pools are too cold for swimming in April in Croatia. 

Also swimming at the waterfalls is forbidden in low season. For example, in Krka National Park you can only swim from the first of June till the end of September.

Forbidden to swim in low season sign in Krka National Park in Croatia
Forbidden to swim sign in Krka NP

3. It’s too cold for the beach

All the beaches that we visited in Croatia in April were deserted. Even on the days when it was warm, there was nobody around and all the beach bars and other facilities were still closed for winter.

We were told that some places start to open up in May, but most only in the second half of the month. So if you are planning to go to the beach, April is definitely not the best month for that in Croatia.

Zlatni Rat beach on Brac island was deserted in April
Zlatni Rat beach on Brac island was deserted in April
 

4. The nature isn’t awake yet

Croatia is a big country, so there are quite big differences in temperatures and weather. While we had several days with temperatures of around 20°C (68 F) at the coast, that same week it was snowing with temperatures around freezing point in Plitvice Lakes National Park. 

Even though the temperatures rose to 18°C (64 F) the day we visited, nature wasn’t awake in Plitvice Lakes Nation Park yet. The trees were completely grey and everything just looked really sad after the long winter. Instead of being the highlight of our trip, visiting Plitvice Lakes in April was quite a disappointing experience.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in April
Plitvice Lakes NP was still very grey in April
 

5. Many places are closed for the season or for maintenance

We experienced this several times during our trip in Croatia in April – quite some places were still closed for winter. In Hvar, it took some serious dedication to find some ice cream, and on Mljet island there was just one tiny restaurant with three tables that was serving food in April… And on Brač island we stood in front of a closed door of a museum we wanted to visit…

However, by far the most disappointing experience was the closure of the Lower Canyon – the nicest part of Plitvice Lakes National Park. So not only were the trees grey and leafless, but also the most impressive waterfalls weren’t accessible… 

Olive oil museum in Skrip on Brac island in Croatia
Olive oil museum on Brac island was closed in April
 

Dubrovnik in April

Dubrovnik is a place that you could visit year-round, but April is probably one of the best months for exploring the city. It’s not too busy yet and, although cruise ships already start to arrive in the area, we didn’t see any of them in the three days that we stayed in Dubrovnik. Also, the weather in April is perfect for a city that is lcoated by the sea (windy in winter) and is made of stone (hot in summer).

All the museums, churches, and monasteries were open in Dubrovnik in April. There were also plenty of restaurants, cafés, and bars which were nice and lively, but it was never an issue to find a free table for lunch or dinner.

The only activity that wasn’t yet available in Dubrovnik in April was kayaking. Also boats and tours running to the nearby towns and islands were scarce in Dubrovnik in April.

Dubrovnik accommodation, the most expensive of all the places we stayed in Croatia, was still very affordable in April. We paid about 165 EUR per night for a very big 3-bedroom apartment close to the Old Town.

Dominican Monastery in Dubrovnik
Dominican Monastery in Dubrovnik – we were the only visitors on a rainy day in April
 

Split in April

Just as Dubrovnik, Split is ready for the season and every place we wanted to visit was open in April. However, the day we left Split there were 4! cruise ships in town, so Split can get really busy in April already. On the other hand, in the two days that we were there, the city wasn’t busy at all. So it might be worth checking cruise ship schedules and plan to visit Split on a quieter day (the same goes for Dubrovnik).

Visiting Split in April
Split was quite relaxed and not too busy in April

Hvar, Brač, Mljet and other Croatian islands in April

We visited quite a few islands in two weeks in Croatia and they all had one thing in common – lots of places were still closed and the tourist season had clearly not started yet.

Hvar, the most popular of all the Croatian islands, felt the most ‘awake’ in April already. Quite some restaurants were open, but you could feel that the town was just waking up after winter. Mljet island was completely deserted in April and we were glad to find a restaurant where we could have lunch..

In Brač, some places looked more lively than the others, but just a few restaurants were open and some museums were closed. Despite the lower season, we still really enjoyed our visit to this beautiful island! Here you can read more about visiting Brač island and all the amazing things you can do there.

Hvar island is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Croatia
Hvar was nice but quite deserted in April
 

Plitvice Lakes NP in April

As already mentioned above, April is really not the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is located higher up in the mountains and you can still have snow there in April (it was snowing two days before we visited).

We had fantastic sunny weather in Plitvice, but nature just wasn’t at its best yet. Big crowds of school groups and tourists (yes, also in April) and the fact that part of the park was closed definitely didn’t help.

Crowds of people in Plitvice Lakes National Park in April
Plitvice Lakes NP was already crazy busy in April – can’t imagine how it is there in summer

Krka National Park in April

Krka National Park was absolutely beautiful in April. Contrary to Plitvice, everything was green and the waterfalls were as beautiful as they ever get.

The only negative side was that there were lots of big groups of schoolchildren, so it was quite busy at the main waterfall, Skradinski buk. Oh, and swimming in Krka NP isn’t allowed in April or May, as already mentioned before.

As far as number of tourists go, it wasn’t overly busy or crowded in Krka in April, but there were a lot of people. Much more than we expected that time of the year… We had to wait a long time for the boat that brings you to the waterfalls. So on the way back, we decided to walk rather than take a boat. We really enjoyed our visit to Krka, but it made us wonder how busy it gets there in summer…

Krka National Park is a must in any Croatia itinerary
Waterfalls in Krka National Park – stunning in April
 

Above you could read all the advantages and disadvantages of visiting Croatia in April and learn what to expect when traveling to Dubrovnik, Split and other popular destinations in Croatia in April. However, what’s the conclusion…

Is it worth it to visit Croatia in April?

Read on to find out what we think!

Is it worth to visit Croatia in April

Croatia in April – conclusion

Observations in this article are based on our experience with visiting Croatia in April and the answer is just as nuanced as the weather in Croatia in April.

Here’s what we think you should consider when planning to visit Croatia in spring:

If you are traveling to Croatia for sightseeing, are visiting towns, and want to avoid the crowds while having a chance for nice temperatures, then you’ll absolutely love Croatia in April.

If, however, you are looking to visit the islands and National Parks or hit the beach, then it’s better to visit Croatia between mid-May till the end of September.

***Planning a trip to Croatia? Don’t miss our very detailed Croatia itinerary***

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Croatia in April - all your questions answered
 

Comments

  1. This is so useful, Jurga. I think we will reconsider and visit Croatia in May or June, but it’s also tempting to visit cities without big crowds…

    1. Author

      Glad to hear you found it useful, Cameron. It’s indeed a tough choice – we all want it all, right? Good weather, beautiful nature, and no crowds 🙂 I think that May and also the second half of September are the best months that could pretty much tick all these boxes. So if you are flexible to travel whenever you want, I’d look into visiting Croatia in this shoulder season.

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