Why 2023 is the year to visit Croatia

Mary Novakovich

Mary Novakovich

It's been 10 years since Croatia* joined the European Union, and with excellent timing, it joined both the eurozone and the Schengen Area in January.

The colourful old town of Rovinj, Istria
The colourful old town of Rovinj, Istria © Kavita - Adobe Stock Image

If you haven't yet visited this impossibly beautiful country, with its winning combination of a heavenly Adriatic coastline, cultured cities and irresistible food, then 2023 should be the year to discover what you've been missing.

Here are just a few reasons why you should make Croatia your next holiday destination.

Getting to Croatia: check out the latest offers on breaks to Croatia with Jet2holidays*, which departs from airports across the UK.

It gives Ibiza a run for its money

Croatia's dance-music festival scene has been on an unstoppable upward path, even with a few interruptions thanks to Covid. All along the Adriatic coast, plus inland places such as Zagreb, you'll find giant stages set up on beaches and stadiums full of techno lovers dancing in the sunshine.

Hideout is one of the biggest, a five-day party in June set on huge stages on Zrće Beach on the island of Pag. When you're not dancing on the beach, you're joining one of the boat parties around the island.

Ultra Festival 2022 in Split
Ultra Festival 2022 in Split © Miroslav Lelas/Pixsell - Alamy Stock Photo

Come to Split* in early July and you'll feel Croatia's second city buzzing with Ultra, a three-day festival that sets up residency in the stadium in Park Mladeži. The party spirit extends to Split's beach clubs, where DJs play sets from mid-afternoon onwards.

If you've always fancied joining the Seasplash Festival, a four-day celebration of dub and other Caribbean sounds at Martinska near Šibenik, this is your last chance. After 21 years, the festival is putting on one final extravaganza in July before it packs up forever.

Once September comes around, hang on to summer that little bit longer at Dimensions Festival at the Garden Resort in Tisno. Over four days, join the live DJ sets on the beach, boisterous boat parties and after-show shindigs that go on till 6 am.

There's so much culture to soak up

It's not just techno beats that fill the air. Croatia has an extraordinarily rich calendar of festivals celebrating classical music, opera, theatre, dance, ballet, jazz and folklore, most of them set in wonderfully atmospheric open-air venues.

As you travel along the Dalmatian coast, make time for the Hvar Summer Festival from June to September on that sunny, fragrant island that's just a short ferry ride from Split.

While you're in Split, catch one of the dozens of performances during the Split Summer Festival in July and August, including operas by Verdi and Puccini performed within the dramatic setting of Diocletian's Palace.

Dubrovnik Summer Festival in Luza Square
Dubrovnik Summer Festival in Luza Square © Grgo Jelavic/Pixsell - Alamy Stock Photo

The grandaddy of Croatia's seasonal events is the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, now in its 74th year and running from mid-July to late August.

Catch a classical concert in the atrium of the handsome Rector's Palace, ballet in Revelin Fortress and a Shakespearean play in Fort Lovrijenac.

In the exquisite town of Varaždin north of Zagreb, autumn is heralded with the two-week Varaždin Baroque Evening Festival, keeping the spirit of early music alive in the town's historic streets and squares.

The island of Korčula has its own musical celebration earlier in September when the Korkyra Baroque Festival takes over some of Korčula Town's loveliest venues.

You'll feast like a king

Croatia's underrated cuisine is one of the most varied and delicious in Europe. So many influences, from Italian and Austrian to Slavic and Turkish, are found all around the country.

Each region will have its own character: paprika-heavy dishes in inland Croatia near Hungary, fabulously fresh seafood along the Adriatic coast, and truffles and olive oil from Istria, just for starters.

At certain times of the year, you can join the festivities as communities celebrate the best of their cuisine. Ravishing Rovinj needs little excuse to visit, but come along in April for the Weekend Food Festival and watch Michelin-starred chefs in action.

The pretty Kvarner Gulf town of Lovran goes green as it celebrates its abundance of wild asparagus throughout the month of April.

Giancarlo Zigante founder of 'Zigante Truffle Days'
Giancarlo Zigante founder of 'Zigante Truffle Days' © Pixsell - Alamy Stock Photo

Come the autumn, the food festivals come thick and fast. October brings out the most pungent of Istria's truffles in the small town of Livade during Zigante Truffle Days, which take place every weekend.

If you're in Split, pull up a table at one of the foodie events during the International Festival Taste the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, in Dubrovnik*, its Good Food Festival gets more popular every year as everyone gathers in the Stradun to taste the best of southern Dalmatian cuisine.

It's a huge adventure playground

Hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, swimming, paddleboarding - Croatia is geared up for all sorts of outdoor activities. The Velebit Mountains, part of the Dinaric Alps, make up Croatia's largest mountain range and are home to exhilarating cycling and hiking trails.

One of the most scintillating, the Premužić Trail, involves virtually no ascents, just 57km of breathtaking views as you make your way along the mountain ridge, part of which snakes into the North Velebit National Park.

Get to know Brač, one of Dalmatia's most gorgeous islands, by following the 120km Via Brattia. This circular trail takes you to 12 of the island's most compelling sights, including Blaca Monastery and the V-shaped Zlatni Rat Beach.

If you've ever walked along Dubrovnik's City Walls and looked down, you'll see kayakers and paddleboarders gliding through the clear waters of the Adriatic on their way to the tiny island of Lokrum. Time your mini odyssey for sunset and you'll have an unforgettable experience.

Kayakers below Dubrovnik's City Walls
Kayakers below Dubrovnik's City Walls © Dmitrijs Obuvalins - Dreamstime.com

More than 1,000 islands and islets are strung out along Croatia's Adriatic coast, a surefire way of attracting sailors to countless hidden coves and tranquil bays.

The starkly barren yet beautiful islands that make up Kornati National Park are high on sailors' lists: a place to meander along, dropping anchor in this marine wilderness and finding a tiny handful of villages where a fabulous lunch is waiting in a rustic quayside restaurant.

Croatia's limestone landscape crammed with rivers and canyons is a dream for rafters willing to tackle hair-raising rapids. The Cetina River, as it flows between the canyons of Omiš on the Adriatic coast, is just one of many popular places to get your adrenalin rush.

For something more laid-back, you've got countless places to swim and snorkel among Croatia's alluring beaches.

Weather in Croatia

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the weather in Split. Find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the weather in Croatia.

Ready to discover Croatia? Start planning with the current offers on escapes to Croatia with Jet2holidays.

Jet2holidays Price Drop: 1000s of holiday prices slashed

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Mary Novakovich

Mary Novakovich

Mary Novakovich is an award-winning journalist, travel writer and author. She often writes about Croatia, France, Italy and Greece for the likes of The Independent, The Guardian and The Telegraph. Mary has also written numerous guidebooks and a travel memoir, "My Family and Other Enemies: Life and Travels in Croatia's Hinterland".

Posted on Thursday 9th March 2023 in: Culture Europe Excursions Festival

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