What to do in Croatia in spring: Visit Zagreb

What to do in Croatia in spring

We’re celebrating the start of spring with this week’s Sunday Traveler. This is my favorite season. Spring usually arrives suddenly. I don’t know if you feel this way. One sunny day, after many grey winter days in Croatia, we wake up just to realize that the days are longer, that the trees are blooming, and the birds are back.

We enjoy many different things in Croatia during the spring. Swimming aside (too cold for that activity), the spring is probably the best time to visit Croatia. And here is our list of the best things to do in Croatia in spring.

What to do in Croatia in spring: Zagreb parks

What to do in Croatia in spring: Enjoy Zagreb parks

What to do in Croatia in spring: seven fabulous things to do in Croatia in spring

#1: Foraging for wild asparagus is our favorite spring activity here in Croatia. They grow almost everywhere along the coast. At first it seems hard to spot them, but like with everything else, once you learn a few tricks of the trade, you’ll start collecting them like crazy. They usually grow next to one spiny plant. This plant grows into a small bush and it’s easier to spot it than wild asparagus themselves. Nevertheless, once you see the spiny plant, all you need to do is to look carefully for the asparagus. If you don't see any, it means somebody has already picked it up.

What to do in Croatia in spring: hunt for wild asparagus

What to do in Croatia in spring: Go foraging for wild asparagus

For us, the wild asparagus are the sign of the spring. It’s an excellent activity for the entire family. You get to spend a time outside, in the nature, breathing fresh air, and walking. And you’ll bring a very healthy lunch back home.

If you are not much of a wild asparagus hunter, you can also buy them. They sell them at the local green market, along the roads (in Istria), or at local's home – just call “your asparagus guy”. We hunt for wild asparagus all the time, but we also buy 2 kg a year from one local woman. We steam them quickly and then freeze in small quantities for the winter.

What to do in Croatia in spring: Oysters

What to do in Croatia in spring: Oysters are at its best in late March

#2: Attend the Oyster festival in Ston! The best oysters and mussels in Croatia (and arguably in the world) come from a bay of Ston. Oysters are at their best in March. Every year, at the end of March (around St. Joseph’s Day), you can visit Oyster Festival in Ston (there is one in Dubrovnik too). Organized by a tourist board of Ston, winemakers from Peljesac peninsula and Ston’s seashell farmers, this festival celebrates oysters and seashells from Ston. Traditionally served row and sprinkled with a lemon juice, you’ll also have a chance to taste them prepared in different ways: grilled, fried, in stew, and boiled. Local wine is served along. The event takes place at Mali ston seafront promenade, and in all the local restaurants.

What to do in Croatia in spring: Visit Zagreb

What to do in Croatia in spring: Spring is the best time to visit Zagreb

#3: Spring is the best time to visit Zagreb. It just blows my mind how much I love Zagreb in spring. Seriously, this town puts up its best face during the spring: bustling streets, buzzing cafes, street performers, blooming parks, the town is simply bursting with fun. Three parks in the center of Zagreb, between the Main Square and the central train station, are our favorite spots to hang around during the springtime. The parks are always full of people, young and old, some reading, other picnicking, and some just napping. What a great atmosphere! Also, if you enjoy nightlife, there is plenty going on in the town, but also in the clubs at the lake Jarun.

#4: Vinistra is the largest and oldest wine fair in Istria. It takes place in Porec in May. Regional wine producers showcase their best wines during this three-day event. Beside the fair, there are lots of interesting workshops, seminars, gourmet dinners, and cigar nights. This is by far our favorite fair in Istria, and the best wine event in the region. Vinistra is followed by another interesting wine event – Open Cellars Day.

What to do in Croatia in spring: Vinistra

What to do in Croatia in spring: May in Istria is all about wine – join the fun!

#5: Party! Word spring, for a good or bad, brings immediately to my mind a thought of a Spring Break! Yes, spring break has crossed the Atlantic and, for some time already, it is gaining momentum in Europe too. So if you like to party from dusk till dawn, head to Croatia in late May or early June  and enjoy European Spring Break. The biggest party is the Splashline taking place in Istria. This year, Umag hosts the Splashline, and it’s scheduled for the weekend from 6th to 9th of June. Another spring break party destination is Zrce Beach, on the island of Pag. The opening party is on 6th of June with DJ Gregori Klosman.

#6: Visit Plitvice Lakes. OK, there is never a bad time to visit Plitvice Lakes. The Lakes are simply nice at any time of the year. The snow covered park looks like a place from the fairytale. The fall foliage season, when the whole park turns in various shades of red, yellow, purple, and brown, gives another dimension to the park and the lakes. Summer is when the weather is the most stable and all the services are running. The downside is the crowd. But in the spring, when everything starts blooming, and the snow starts melting, the water and the falls are just at its best. Besides, there is very few visitors to the lakes (occasionally you can get school groups, but for the most of the time it should be just a healthy number of fellow wanderers). So yes, if you are visiting Croatia in spring, do visit Plitvice Lakes.

What to do in Croatia in spring: visit Dubrovnik

What to do in Croatia in spring: Visit Dubrovnik in spring

#7: Visit Dubrovnik! Dubrovnik, just like Plitvice lakes, is nice at any time of the year. But it gets overcrowded during the summer. With lots of visitors to the city, and loads of cruise ships pulling in, sometimes it’s impossible even to walk among the crowd. For us the best time to visit Dubrovnik is in an early spring. You’ll be able to enjoy the sights without people pushing you around. And you’ll also be able to take nice photos. Weather should normally be already warm (but not hot) and sunny at this time of the year. The only thing you might miss if visiting in spring is swimming at Dubrovnik beaches. For the rest, early spring is the best time to visit Dubrovnik.

What's your favorite thing to do in spring? Let us know in comments below. 

42 replies
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Thanks, Anu! Croatia is a beautiful country (but then again so are many others). If your slow travels ever bring you here, please do get in touch. We would be happy t help with anything you might need during your visit here.

  1. Tamika Rybinski
    Tamika Rybinski says:

    We love Croatia! Spring is my favorite time to visit. Will be in Zagreb and Crikvenica again in a couple weeks. Have yet to attend an Oyster Festival, might have to do that!

    Reply
  2. Samantha @mytanfeet
    Samantha @mytanfeet says:

    Spring in Croatia sounds lovely! I would love to pick asparagus, back where I lived in the States we could start picking ferns and mushrooms in the springtime which was really fun and something about picking your own food and eating it makes it taste that much better!

    Reply
  3. Tricia
    Tricia says:

    I think the šparoge season alone warrants a spring visit. 🙂

    We also keep talking about how we must make it to Istria the next time we’re in Croatia. Do you have any favorite towns that you can recommend there?

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Definitely worth a visit. I love them so much, and we always have them in our freezer. So if you come, we’ll prepare you a fritaja. As for towns, the prettiest is Rovinj. But we like a lot Novigrad too (it’s way smaller, and more like a village than town, but there is something charming about it). The good thing about Istria is that everything is easily reachable. So really where you stay is not that important, as you can be anywhere within half an hour or hour drive. We’ve got an apartment to rent in Porec if interested.

  4. Sharon M
    Sharon M says:

    Frank, Thanks for the amazing information in this blog. Croatia in on my Dream Travel List and I know where to get my information when I’m ready to make this trip! #SundayTraveler

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Thanks, Sharon! Please, link up with us any Sunday. Don’t forget that you can link your old or new travel related post. You just need to follow few rules.

    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Sorry to hear. Here spring has been wonderful so far. But spring can be moody and just turn cold and nasty. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that spring in Croatia stays this way (or warmer).

  5. Travis
    Travis says:

    Great post…looks like we will be needing to head back to Croatia in the spring. We loved it in the fall, but I’m sure it even better with fresh oysters, wild asparagus, and blooming flowers. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Thanks, Travis! Spring in Croatia is really very nice, but then again it’s nice everywhere. Sad thing is that in the few last years, we almost don’t feel spring anymore, as the weather turns directly from cold and rainy winter to hot summer.

  6. Caitlyn
    Caitlyn says:

    I’m with you, Frank! Spring is the best time to travel too, because you get all the travelling infrastructure without the crazy crowds and crazy heat!

    Reply
  7. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    What beautiful photos – Spring does look like a lovely time to visit! I just love the feeling of Spring, after gray dreary days, everyone starts coming outside again, flowers begin to bloom, it is a wonderful time of year!

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      It sure is super fun, Jess! With an admission ticket you can taste as many wines as you feel without any extra charge. Makes visitors very cheerful 🙂

  8. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} says:

    The idea of foraging for wild asparagus really appeals to me. It’s usually so expensive that I thought it was a cultivated, hard-to-grow plant. I had no idea you could find them in the wild. Also, I would like to visit Dubrovnik some day. I live rather close to the Equator, so we don’t get seasons here. It’s just summer year round.

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Oh, yes Michele, they do grow in the wild. The wild asparagus are tinier than the cultivated ones, but they taste so yummy. A little bit bitter, if you like that kind of taste. And they are apparently extremely healthy. I wouldn’t complain about having a summer all year round, and then maybe visiting other places to experience all the other seasons. I don’t like cold.

  9. Dennis Kopp
    Dennis Kopp says:

    Hi Frank, thanks for teasing with the nice images of Croatia! Since I love old cities, especially Dubrovnik is a place I really would like to visit. A few years back when travelling from Istanbul to Germany, I made it at least to Split and Zagreb, realizing that I need to come back with more time. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it in the spring, but the fall might be possible. Hopefully that is a good time for visiting as well… 🙂

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Thanks, Dennis! Oh, Dubrovnik is nice in fall too. The main thing is tho avoid craziness of July and August. For the rest you’ll be fine.

  10. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says:

    These all sound lovely but for me the best one was your first one, foraging for wild asparagus. I love doing that too. We get a lot around where I live. It really heralds spring for me. I’ve been to Croatia before but not to Zagreb and I must say that you are making me very tempted. I wish there was a cheap flight option from Nice and I’d be over like a shot!

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      So it’s international sport – foraging for wild asparagus! Now I can move to Nice anytime :). As for Zagreb, it’s “only” 8 hours drive. Maybe you can consider that option. It sure is lovely in spring.

  11. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey
    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey says:

    Yup spring is the very best month here in Croatia. I wish we had made it to Ston today for the festival – but it was far too rainy and cold for me to leave the house. Instead we are eating some wild asparagus that was foraged by my uncle yesterday – bliss.

    Reply
  12. Esther
    Esther says:

    Did you just say oysters? I LOVE oysters! I loved Croatian seafood. One of the best reasons to go back someday. Haven’t been to Zagreb yet, but heard some amazing stories!
    Esther.

    Reply
    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Thanks, Esther! Glad you enjoyed Croatian seafood. And, yes, definitely if you have a chance, visit Zagreb. It’s lovely town with excellent atmosphere and friendly people.

    • Frank G
      Frank G says:

      Thanks, Stacey! We’ll be waiting for you here in Croatia. Just let us know when you decide to come. Istria is our playground, and would be lovely to show you around.

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