Climate and weather
Croatia is divided into two attractive climate regions; Continental and Mediterranean. Though there are some variations, Croatia’s climate is determined by its geographical features such as mountains, plains, forests and a long littoral.
Croatia’s alluring coast/islands from Istria and Kvarner (north) through Dalmatia are governed by a soothing Mediterranean climate (although it’s typically several degrees cooler in the northern Adriatic than in the south). The summertime brings an average temperature between 24°C and 26°C along the coast and 22°C in the Istrian interior. In winter, the coast is usually a chilling 2°C in the north and 9°C in the south.
The summer is commonly the driest season along the coast and the islands can be tremendously dry and even lead to devastating fires.
Generally, the islands further from the mainland are the driest. For example, Vis Island averages only 557mm of rainfall per year while Brac Island averages 952mm.
Hvar is the best island in Croatia to soak up the rays of a vibrant sun due to its brilliant sunlight 2,700 hours per year. Split, Vela luka (on Korcula Island) and Dubrovnik are other sunny spots in Dalmatia.
The coastal climate is defined by its diverse winds. The most frequent wind in Dalmatia is the southeasterly Jugo which blows toward the mainland in autumn and winter to bring warm, moist air.
However, the Bura is a cold, dry wind blowing from the mainland in powerful gusts that bring dry air and cooler temperatures.
The westerly Maestral is a pleasant summer wind that blows in from the sea, reaching its peak force in the early afternoon. It rejuvenates the air and chases away any and all mugginess.
Croatia’s interior / Zagreb&Slavonia / has its own unique climate because of the Dinaric mountains separating it from the coast. The winters are known to be freezing as the average temperature in January ranges from 0°C to -2°C. The summer months bring an average temperature of about 22°C, although heat waves have become more frequent.
The mountains of Croatia, such as the Velebit range and Medvednica (near Zagreb), are considerably cooler and receive more precipitation. In winter, the mean temperature ranges from -2°C to -4°C (above 1500m it's a few degrees colder). Snow is quite common in the higher elevations, giving Croatia an outstanding ski season. In the summer, the mountains are a temperate 10°C to 18°C which make them an incredibly pleasant escape from the baking coast.
5 Most common Summer winds in Croatia
Croatia, especially its gorgeous coast, experiences refreshing winds all year round. Its abundance of wind has transformed Croatia into one of the most desired places to sail professionally and recreationally! The soothing breezes, breathtaking islands, ports and beautiful landmarks make this travel destination an unforgettable adventure.
There is absolutely no better feeling in the world than spending the afternoon on open waters and releasing the sails to let the invisible force of the wind propel you forward.
If you are a sailing fanatic or are simply interested in the invigorating experience, you probably need to know a bit more about the various winds. Because Croatia is predominately a summer sailing destination, we at Yacht Holiday devised a list of its most frequent summer winds.
Maestral (mistral) NW
Maestral (or Mistral) is a cool and energizing ocean wind that blows from North West over the land. It is a thermic wind that greets its visitors in the afternoon. The differences of pressures and temperatures creates this wind because the land warms up faster than the sea.
Though it is generally known to be soft to medium, its wind power is strong in some areas. This is especially seen in narrow passes in Dalmatia (Brac and Peliesac channel). These areas are widely known as popular windsurfing destinations because of their great winds and lack of big waves.
Pulenat has similar qualities to the Maestral wind. Though thermal, it is slightly shifted so it blows from the West. Its nickname “vitar priko škoja” (“wind across the island”) solidifies its position as a fierce wind that stretches far and creates large waves. It commonly occurs in Dalmatia and the Hvar island.
Bura’s chilling wind blows primarily in the winter months. These months are filled with intense wind speeds of up to 300 km/h. However, this particular wind in the summertime is harmless, pleasant and travels at much lighter speeds (mostly at night when it is cool). Bura varies in speed and blows in gusts from the North East. During the summers it creates calm, small waves.
Jugo is rejuvenating wind that frequents in autumn and reaches speeds of 50 knots and higher. It is rarely felt in the summertime and typically moves at slow speeds. Jugo is a cyclonal wind often associated with bad weather, constant blowing and huge waves.
Please note that its wind can be dangerous in the late summer for sailors because of its strength. Also, beware that waves in autumn reach 5m in height in the more open sea areas.
Though rare, Tramontane is commonly associated with strong winds and sometimes, storms. Tramontana (or Tramuntana) chiefly blows in the northern Adriatic depending on regional pronunciation. It commonly found in the area of Rijeka and Istria. It is commonly mistaken for Maestral because of its terrain configuration in Croatia and appearance in the summer.