Stepping foot on Croatian soil was a breath of fresh air.
It still has those old fashioned values where people are nice to one another and they greet you with a smile when you say hello.
They care whether you are having a good time or not and give you water with your meals and coffee.
They don’t charge you a €3 sitting fee or inflated price just to sit down at a table. Everyone is welcome and everyone is a friend.
This Croatia travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Croatian power voltage is 220 V 50 Hz; Power sockets C & F
- The Croatian currency is the Croatian Kuna (HRK) and is around 7 HRK for 1 USD
- If you tend to venture off the beaten path, beware of unexploded minefields in inland areas like Eastern Slavonia, Brodsko-Posavska County, Karlovac County, areas around Zadar County and in more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia is expected to be mine-free 2019.
- The mines are not in tourist spots and chances that foreigners would visit many of these places are slim. But if you plan on heading to any of the aforementioned areas, stay on cultivated paths and look out for warning signs.
- Haggling is not the norm but can be done when shopping in local markets; do not try to haggle in other instances, for example, taxi fees.
- Island hopping up and down the Croatian coast by commercial ferry is neither easy to plan nor an efficient mode of transport. The north-south ferries (Rijeka to Dubrovnik) run only two times/week.
- In high season, combine coastal ferries with local catamaran service to island-hop independently.
- Dubrovnik Tip: Do not walk the City Walls in the middle of the day as it is hot (offering no shade) and crowded, especially if cruise ships are in town. Go early in the morning or late in the day.
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Budget: You can find hostels in the range of 140-300 HRK per night. Enjoy dorm-styled or private rooms, free Wi-Fi, a lounge area, security lockers, great city locations, and occasionally a restaurant and bar.
Mid-Range: Mid-range hotels will cost about 450-875 HRK per night. These hotels come with private rooms with flat-screen TVs, a hotel restaurant and bar, an indoor pool, free breakfast, and a café.
High-End: Pay between 860-4,000 HRK per night and take in the best. Upscale hotels come with private suites with balconies and living rooms with a kitchenette, a swimming pool, sauna, massage services, elegant dining, a cocktail bar, a gym, and a ballroom.
The cuisine in Croatia varies throughout different parts of the country and has influences from Hungary, Italy, Turkey, and Austria. Meals on the Dalmatian coast are more Mediterranean, while in the capital of Zagreb, the food is closer to Central Europe cuisine.
Popular dishes include crni rizot (squid risotto), pasticada (marinated beef fillet, typically served with gnocchi), and buzara (seafood cooked with white wine and breadcrumbs). When in Zagreb, look for strukli, a cottage cheese-filled pastry. In total, expect to pay around 150 HRK per day for food.
Getting to Croatia:
Flights: The main airport in Croatia is Zagreb Airport, located miles from the center of Zagreb. Split (11.8 miles from the city of Split) and Dubrovnik (9.5 miles from the city center) also have their own international airports. You can check for the best flights to Croatia on Skyscanner.
Metro: The city of Split has its own metro system. Trains arrive every 20 minutes and travel from Koplica to the ferry terminal in Split. Tickets are 11 HRK.
Buses: Buses are a cheap way to get around and can travel throughout towns, as well as between cities. You can get from Split to Zadar in about 2.5 hours for just 37 HRK.
Taxis: Taxis have a starting fee between 10-30 HRK and increase about 7 HRK per kilometer traveled. A ride from the Zagreb airport to the center of Zagreb will cost around 200 HRK.
Car Rental: To rent a car, you need to be at least 18 years old and have had a driver’s license for a year. If you are under 25, you will have to pay more. Prices start at 180 HRK per day for drivers 25 and older.
Uber: Uber is available in Zagreb, Zadar, Split, and Sibenik, as well as Dubrovnik (June-October only).
Croatia has two climates; one along the coastline, and one for the interior of the country.
The coast has a typically Mediterranean climate consisting of hot, dry, sunny weather during summer, and relatively mild (and sometimes wet) weather in winter.
The interior winters can be pretty cold. Snow is very likely and can be pretty heavy during the winter.
On the other hand, the summers can often be sweltering hot and with no cool ocean breeze, it at times, can be a little unbearable.
- Water shoes – these bad boys are incredibly useful as the Croatian coast is rocky and its beaches pebbly, so everybody wears water shoes. Water shoes will enable you to be more adventurous and explore more unique swimming locations
- Water bottle – many towns have public water fountains that have been around since Roman times. During the sweltering summer heat, fill up your bottle and cool off while also saving a couple of bucks!
- Swimming suits (plural!) – Croatia is all about frolicking under the sun, lazing at the beach or taking a dip in its pristine waters.
- Make sure to bring more than one swimsuit as no one likes putting on a damp suit!
- Towel – Many accommodations may provide bathroom towels, but beach towels are usually not provided, at least not without an additional fee.
- The protection basics – Travellers should stock up on the essentials: sun block, mosquito/insect repellant containing DEET or a pyrethroid insecticide, sunglasses and a hat.
See our packing tips: packing tip for Europe list for smart travel.
When to Go
The two best times to visit are May and September. During this time, the weather is still great for outdoor activities, but there are fewer crowds, and you can often find better deals on hotels.
Temperatures around these times have highs of low 70s. For the hottest temperatures, go between July and August, where the high is the upper 80s, though know it is also the peak tourist season.
Things to Do
- Kayak through Croatia – take an 8-day excursion and visit several of the country’s 1000 islands containing ancient cities with narrow passageways and medieval buildings, old churches and Roman archways.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park: Come explore the largest national park in Croatia. Featuring 16 beautiful turquoise-colored lakes that merge into waterfalls, including the 78-meter Veliki Slap waterfall, the park is also home to beautiful forest vegetation.
- Dubrovnik City Walls: Stroll through the historic Dubrovnik Old Town. See historical city walls, beautiful seaside views, and even some filming locations from Game of Thrones (King’s Landing in the show). While you’re there, visit the Lovrijenac Fortress.
- Diocletian’s Palace: Dating back to 3rd century A.D., walk through the palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian. Found in Split, this palace has numerous antiques, such as 3,500-year-old sphinxes, as well as breathtaking architecture.
What not to Miss
- Museum of Broken Relationships: If you’ve suffered heartbreak recently, or if you just want to see art, you will like this museum in Zagreb. The museum is a collection of true individual stories and mementos from relationships past, all submitted anonymously.
- St. Mark’s Church: One of the oldest buildings in Zagreb, the church includes works from Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Opened in 1261, the church has gone through many restorations due to fires and earthquakes throughout history. The church now serves as a fascinating historical spot.
Places to Stay
Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Centre: Stay in the heart of Zagreb at this four-star hotel.
With the train station just a short walk away and numerous restaurants and attractions right by the hotel, this is a great place for those who want to see everything Zagreb has to offer.
The hotel comes with a variety of rooms (regular, suites, and family rooms), a café/bar with its own library, bicycle rentals, and massage services.
Kastel 1700: Stay right near the Adriatic Sea in this hotel in Split.
Just a short walk to Bacvice Beach as well as Diocletian’s Palace, you can enjoy sea views from your hotel room or explore Split for yourself. Amenities include a casual restaurant and bar, a fitness center, room service, airport shuttle, and a breakfast buffet.
Bed and Breakfast Villa Flora: When in Dubrovnik, stay at this B&B in Old Town.
Explore the charming and historic Old Town before heading back to the hotel for board games, a library, and entertainment services for the whole family. Pets are allowed.
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies.
We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.