Can You Get Sunburned in Croatia?

Strong sun in the sky and the text "dont understimate croatian sun"

Croatia in summer is the top destination for sunbathing and enjoying the beauties of pristine beaches.

Many use the strong Adriatic sun as an opportunity to get their summer tan without understanding its dangers and no matter how often the experts and doctors warn against it, people like to ignore the facts.

So, can you get sunburned by the sun in Croatia?

It’s likely to get sunburned by the sun in Croatia if you expose your skin to the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. Everyone, especially people with pale, sensitive skin should avoid sunbathing when the sun is at its peak and use plenty of sun lotion for protection.

How strong is the sun in Croatia?

The Adriatic sun isn’t a joke and Croatia is notorious for strong sun’s UV rays during the summer, so getting prepared in advance is crucial!

The sun is strongest in July and August, and that’s when it’s super important not to take it lightly.

During the summer, you can experience sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke even when you think you are protected by sunscreens or by the fresh sea.

The last time I visited Cres, I embarked on a fun boat tour around the island, and while it was indeed the best time I had in a long time, I got sunburned and exhausted even though I was protected by the roof of the boat for the majority of the time.

When you are on the sea, the sunlight reflects upon the sea and hits you back, so it’s difficult to protect against it even in a shadow.

Later in the year when the autumn approaches the sun weakens and remains quite weak until May when it once again, begins to grow in strength and mutilate those with sensitive pale skin such as mine.

How to protect against the sun in Croatia?

Avoid peak sun hours

The best way to protect against the sun is to avoid it, just as it’s with any problem in life.

Peak sun hours between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. have been a well-known fact in the Mediterian region for centuries, yet some people choose these hours as their favorite for sunbathing and other summer activities.

If you naturally have strong skin ten and don’t mind the sun you’ll likely survive it as it’s not that bad, but it’s still an unnecessary risk and definitely a danger for people with sensitive skin.

Don’t forget the saying, the skin doesn’t forget the sunburns in a lifetime!

Wear long sleeves

There’s no sunscreen better than wearing long sleeves for protection against the notorious, mean sun’s UV rays.

Personally, I have pale skin, and no matter how strong the sunscreen I apply, I always suffer from the sun. Thus, I found the escape in wearing long sleeves from thin materials which easily gets the air through.

If your skin is sensitive I’d recommend that you bring long sleeves on your journey just in case the sunscreen isn’t enough.

Don’t wear dark colours

Have you noticed how people in deserts where the sun is the strongest always wear long sleeves and cover their skin in white clothes?

This is exactly the best protection against the harsh sun, as white clothes deflect the UV rays back into the atmosphere leaving you untouched and with greater heat tolerance due to lower temperature accumulation on the surface.

Don’t venture out without a hat and sunglasses

Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses as these pieces of clothing are essential if you want to avoid sunstrokes.

Wear a sombrero if you have to, just protect your precious head!

You can find a big variety of hats and sunglasses at local stands if you forgot to pack yours, but don’t forget that some local sellers might claim for certain glasses to be the original and ask for too much money while the sunglasses are the mere copy of the original.

Carry enough water

Water is the top priority during hot summer days and evenings as it’s easy to dehydrate if you forget to drink.

While water is publicly accessible everywhere in the country and Croatia has excellent tap water, sometimes people forget to bring enough water for a hike, rural exploration, and discovering beaches.

Remember that if you plan to venture somewhere for a couple of hours you’ll need between 2-3 liters of water per person.

The last time we hiked to Northern Velebit we took 3 liters of water per person which was just enough to climb 3 peaks and find the shelter within 6 hours, yet the temperatures were lower in the mountains than they are on the sea level.

If you run out of water you can find public tap water in most towns and villages and any open restaurant or a coffee bar will provide you with highly drinkable water for free. (Just bear in mind that you should ask for tap water as otherwise they might serve you bottled water which you have to pay for).

Don’t underestimate the sun when hiking

The closer to the skies, the stronger the sun’s rays.

I hate to admit that I wasn’t prepared for this fact the last time I went hiking 1678 meters above sea level and got sunburned within 20 minutes.

Don’t underestimate the Croatian sun no matter where you go, as the sun get can you literally anywhere when you the least expect it!

Homemade sunscreens, lotions and concoctions

Homemade sun lotions and concoctions incorporating ingredients like yogurt, tomato juice, cucumber, and aloe vera can be effective for various reasons:

  1. Natural Sun Protection: These ingredients offer natural sun protection due to their inherent properties. For example, aloe vera contains compounds like aloin that can help shield the skin from harmful UV rays.
  2. Cooling and Soothing: Cucumber and yogurt have cooling and soothing properties that can provide relief from sunburn or skin irritation caused by sun exposure. They help in reducing redness and discomfort.
  3. Hydration: Tomato juice and aloe vera are excellent sources of hydration. Sun exposure can dehydrate the skin, and these ingredients can help replenish lost moisture, leaving your skin feeling fresh and revitalized.
  4. Antioxidants: Tomatoes contain antioxidants like lycopene, which can neutralize free radicals generated by UV radiation. This can help protect your skin from premature aging and damage caused by the sun.
  5. Skin Repair: Aloe vera is known for its skin-healing properties. It can promote the repair of damaged skin cells and reduce inflammation, which is particularly beneficial after sun exposure.

So, if you are out of commercial sunscreen, these ingredients can be quite useful!

I always cover myself in yogurt and advise same to my friends after we get sunburned over and over again.

It works like a charm!

Use Carrot/olive oil lotion for sunbathing

A popular Croatian homemade lotion that supposedly works for increased tanning is a mixture of carrot juice and olive oil.

  • Grate a few carrots and extract their juice
  • Mix the carrot juice with some olive oil
  • Apply it to the skin directly before sunbathing
  • Get the perfect soft-bronze skin tan

Now, this is a recipe for a lotion my family used back in the day and while I also tried it back in childhood and it worked to a degree I am not 100% sure is it better than store-bought tanning lotion.

However, if you don’t have the store-bought tanning lotion or like to experiment, give it a try.


There you go, don’t underestimate the Croatian sun and always prepare in advance so you don’t get sunburned or experience heat exhaustion and heat strokes which can ruin your summer vacation experience.

If you are visiting Croatia outside of summer, the sun is naturally weaker and it only serves the purpose of bringing us some warmth in the cold autumn and winter days.

Croatia is also beautiful outside of its usual summer itineraries, so if you don’t like the heat and strong sun, feel free to come either in the early autumn days or later for a true autumn/winter experience in the mountain and continental Croatian regions.


Dino is a local who has spent 27 years of his life in Croatia. He's here to provide you with useful information and some local guidance.

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