Last Updated on December 3, 2023

The countdown to Christmas has begun! As travelers begin planning their winter escapes, Croatia’s Christmas season is in full swing with hundreds of winter festivities running from December 2, 2023, to January 7, 2024.

Advent in Croatia features five cities going over the top when it comes to putting on a good holiday show. Traditions include serving mulled wine and punch as well as fritule doughnuts and germknödel, so make sure to bring your appetite.

Zagreb

The Advent Zagreb Christmas market has been named the best Christmas Market in Europe three years in a row because of the food, numerous concerts, and the warm hospitality of locals going out of their way to make visitors feel like family. Nativity scenes appear in the city’s churches, and decorations in cobblestoned areas like Upper Town feel magical.

Visitors can stroll through the many squares and parks, locations for charming, romantic winter walks, and enjoy concerts with the most beautiful Christmas songs performed by local soloists, ensembles, and orchestras.

Try some of the classics of local gastronomy on the numerous terraces of Zagreb restaurants, as well as the catering stands, and see why love passes through the stomach. From carefully designed holiday menus with traditional food and local wines, to appropriately decorated facades and interiors, the Christmas story lives on in every corner of the city.

Opatija

Opatija Advent Christmas in Croatia.
Opatija Advent Christmas in Croatia. Photo by Petar Kurschner

With its cinematic seaside landscape, Opatija boasts the “most beautiful Advent by the Sea” running from December 1 through January 7. Find out for yourself why it has won thousands of hearts and is a must-visit destination this winter when traveling to Croatia.

It doesn’t get more winter wonderland than the city of Opatija during the holidays. This well-known seaside health resort located at the foot of Mount Učka (a popular hiking destination), boasts giant Nutcracker figures with their signature red guard uniforms, as well as age-old cypress trees framing the landscape for perfect photographs and romantic walks.

From the town market to the picturesque fishing village of Volosko and the famed Lungomare coastal promenade, this city should be on everyone’s itinerary during their Croatian winter journey – a beautiful city often compared to Nice, France.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Winter Festival.
Dubrovnik Winter Festival. photo courtesy of CNTB

The city’s winter festival, now in its 10th year, makes this coastal town a sparkling spectacle. Highlighted by a New Year’s Eve concert with local music legend, Zdravko Čolić, the festival offers visitors 20 concerts across the area.

Explore the city’s famous pedestrian-only cobblestoned avenue, Stradun, created in the 11th century, at your own leisurely pace. Follow its route through the Old Town surrounded by the historic Walls of Dubrovnik. This stunning setting becomes the backdrop for some of the finest musical performances of the season, culminating in a grand finale on January 6.

Kids will love the winter wonderland-themed programs including the North Pole station in Lazareti, the Colorful Winter in the Bay of Lapad, complete with a train and ice-skating rink, and several activities in Mokošica, the city’s largest settlement.

And the best treat of all? A visit from the real Santa Claus from the Finnish city of Rovaniemi in Lapland—as Dubrovnik marks his first stop around the world!

Motovun

If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing a hilltop Christmas, the Istrian medieval town of Motovun is the best and perhaps most enchanting winter escape you could imagine.

The bell tower stands next to a parish church, St. Stephen, from the 17th century, and the nearby forest of Motovun is a preserved type of lowlands (Iongozas) making excellent escapes for the nature buff.

An ideal place to call home for the winter is Hotel Kaštel, situated in the restored palace of the Polesini family and adorned to sparkling levels during the holiday season.

The “Magic on the Hill” advent season runs through the end of the year when Old Town is decked out in thousands of illuminated lights and lavish decorations. Kids can revel in a special Christmas Garden and Santa’s House that will provide plenty of photo opportunities.

Slunj

This picturesque village nestled in the heart of Croatia has been recently recognized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as one of the top tourist villages in the world. The accolade solidifies the village’s reputation as a must-visit destination for travelers who want a truly authentic journey to Croatia.

During the winter months, visitors will fall in love with this enchanting village that is illuminated by hundreds of lights, while enjoying its wonderful walks in nature, crossing the bridges in Rastoke, and its magnificent culinary delicacies.

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