Weather in Croatia: When is the Best Time to Visit Hvar Island?
Free hotels if it snows? 2724 hours of sun a year? Is the weather on Hvar really that good, and how does one check sea temperature by month in Croatia?
Nowhere symbolises the great weather in Croatia more than the island of Hvar, with the oft-quoted statistic that its 2724 hours of sunshine every year make it the sunniest place in Europe. For an island with so much sunshine, it is incredibly green, so what is the real story with the weather on the Croatian island voted among the world's ten most beautiful by Conde Nast readers?
A Free Hotel Room if it Snows...
Among the other claims bandied about is that guests are entitled to a free hotel room if it snows, further proof of the island's fine weather. This is a nice piece of marketing as theDalmatian winter has little tourism, but it is true that it rarely snows on Hvar, and it isregional news when it does. It has snowed briefly about five times in the last ten years.
Summers tend to be hot with temperatures in the 27-35C range, another excuse, if one were needed, for spending more time in the pristine Adriatic Sea. May, June and September are more temperate months, with the sea warm enough for swimming, and many walking and cycling holidays take place in these months.
It does rain. A lot. In winter. Locals joke that the influx of British buyers of the island's stone properties in 2004-6 resulted in them bringing their weather with them, but the weather is relatively consistent when it matters most, the tourist season.
The Winds of the Adriatic: Introducing the Bura
Just as the clear blue skies are an almost permanent feature in the summer, so the winter has its constant weather companion, a biting northern wind known as the bura. When thebura is blowing, the catamarans from Jelsa and Hvar Town are frequently cancelled, with the Stari Grad car ferry also an occasional victim. While bitterly cold, the morning after abura usually results in clear blue skies.
How to Check Weather Forecasts on Hvar
There are lots of online resources for checking the weather in Croatia, but not all of them are localised. Several online forecasters predicting the weather use Split readings for the island, but there are differences between the two. One reliable local source in the central village of Pitve for forecasting weather in Croatia was set up by a Scottish business weather forecaster who bought property in the village.
Beaches in Croatia: Checking the Sea Temperature
Of much more importance to many tourists is the all-important sea temperature. While there are a hardy few who swim all year, including a sprightly octogenarian in Jelsa, the generally accepted swimming season is from May to October.
In order to help plan the timing of your visit (and indeed the type of beach to visit), theMinistry of Environmental Protection maintains a useful website with information on all beaches in Croatia, recording data every fortnight in the season on sea and air temperature, cleanliness and facilities. Powered by Google Earth, the site allows visitors to zoom in to a particular beach, to assess it for accessibility, privacy etc.
The weather in Croatia along the coast is generally excellent, and beach holidays are increasing in popularity, but it is not all sunshine in the winter, when a combination of Dalmatian bura and British-induced rain can change the experience entirely.