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What is the best way to plan a Croatia vacation? This is a question that we are often asked – and we understand just how overwhelming Croatia trip planning can be. Don’t stress! We are sharing our best advice and insider tips so that you can plan the best vacation in Croatia.
Why Vacation in Croatia?
Turquoise sea. Stunning beaches. Soaring mountains. Thundering waterfalls. Cosmopolitan cities. Historic sights. Delectable cuisine. There are a multitude of reasons to take a trip to Croatia.
We have been singing praises for the country since our first trip to Croatia in 2011. On that vacation, we were limited to just one week – and we bounced through four of the top destinations: Split, Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik. In the short time, we absolutely fell in love in Croatia.
Since that first vacation in Croatia, we have returned countless times. Our numerous Croatia trips have taken us to destinations all around the country – from the romantic Istrian Peninsula to the hottest tourist spots on the Dalmatian Coast to the often-overlooked Slavonian countryside to island hopping on the Adriatic Sea.
We understand, from our own personal experiences, what it takes to plan Croatia vacations.
Planning a Croatia Vacation
Although a relatively small country, Croatia is quite diverse. The north is different from the south; the inland varies drastically from the coast. The sun and sea have long been a draw for tourism, but there are truly so many things to do in Croatia.
Travelers can plan a Croatia beach vacation designed around lazy days on the shore – or plan a vacation in Croatia that is packed to the brim with incredible sights and adventurous activities.
Most travelers to Croatia will opt for a balance, a combination of beaches, sights, tours and food. Our Croatia vacation guide was developed so you can plan your perfect trip!
Save, Pin or Bookmark this Croatia vacation blog so that you can access it as you plan your trip to Croatia!
How To Plan Croatia Trips
There is a lot of work that goes into planning a Croatia trip – and we cover all the need-to-know details (as well as some tips and tricks we’ve picked up over the years).
When planning a trip to Croatia, staying organized is key. Our printable Travel Planner is designed to help you stay on top of your trip planning so that no detail is missed!
#1 Where to Go on a Vacation to Croatia
When vacationing in Croatia, the first step is to decide where to go – and, we can tell you, it is not an easy decision. The country is home to idyllic islands, coastal towns, lush nature and vibrant cities.
Some factors to consider are what type of vacation you want, how you will reach each destination, when you are traveling and your Croatia trip budget. We discuss each of these considerations in more detail later in the article.
Best Places to Vacation in Croatia
Our list of the Best Vacation Spots in Croatia is an overview of the top places to go on your trip.
Use our comprehensive list of Croatia Cities to Visit for detailed information about the very best Croatia vacation spots.
Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is one of the most striking places to see and has long ranked as one of the top Croatian vacation spots. The walled Old City of Dubrovnik, that is perfectly perched above the sea, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and wildly popular with fans of the Game of Thrones series. Further reading: The Best Things To Do in Dubrovnik.
One of the best places in Croatia for vacation, Split is simultaneously historic and modern. Seeing Diocletian’s Palace and the Split Old Town are highlights, but travelers should make time to relax on the Riva seafront promenade at one of the many cafes. As a transportation hub for flights, ferries and buses, Split is a great city to base yourself in for a vacation in Croatia. More Details: Things To Do in Split.
When it comes to Croatia vacation cities, many visitors skip over the capital city, Zagreb. However, for travelers who love a buzzing metropolis, beautiful urban parks and outstanding architecture, it just might be the best place in Croatia to go! Further reading: Things To Do in Zagreb.
The Istrian Peninsula is understandably one of the top vacation spots in Croatia. Located in the northern reaches of the Croatia coastline, the region hangs like a teardrop into the sea. Top destinations on an Istria, Croatia vacation are the seaside cities of Rovinj, Porec and Pula as well as the charming hilltop towns of Motovun, Buzet and Groznjan. More Details: Things To Do in Istria.
Located in Northern Dalmatia, Zadar features a historic old town that is ideally situated for Croatia Dalmatian coast vacations. The ancient city has incredible Roman remains, but the modern Sea Organ is the top attraction for many visitors. Nearby idyllic islands and the amazing waterfalls at Krka National Park are great for Zadar day trips, too. Further reading: Zadar Walking Tour.
Still flying a bit under the radar as one of the best Croatia destinations, Sibenik truly has something for everyone: History, beaches and numerous opportunities for day trip adventures inland and out to sea. More Details: Things To Do in Sibenik.
Omis is where to go on vacation in Croatia for an active trip. The Dalmatian coastal town sits at the mouth of the Cetina River, where white water rafting, kayaking, canyoning, hiking and ziplining are popular Croatia adventure attractions. Further reading: What To Do in Omis.
The Makarska Riviera is a 40-mile stretch of pristine shoreline, making it a popular spot for beach vacations to Croatia. The town of Makarska, nestled below the towering Biokovo Mountain, is also a great spot for a Croatian holiday. More Details: Things To Do in Makarska.
Hvar is one of the best Croatia islands to visit. Posh Hvar Town is a known party destination, but Stari Grad on the north side of the island is one of the best vacation destinations in Croatia for a relaxing trip. Further reading: Things To Do in Hvar.
Korcula is a top pick for a Croatian island vacation. Korcula Town, an ancient walled city placed perfectly on the sea, is naturally the most visited by tourists, but there are numerous towns and villages on the island offering a variety of activities – such as hiking and wine tasting. More Details: Things To Do on Korcula.
Vis Island is the best Croatia island for travelers who want to escape the cities and the large crowds. Vis is the furthest inhabited island from the mainland and features a multitude of secluded coves, serene beaches and small villages. Further reading: Things To Do on Vis Island.
Many tourists flock to Brac Island for Croatia beach vacations. The island is home to the most famous beach in Croatia: Zlatni Rat. However, there is more to do on Brac than go to the beach – such as hiking, wine tasting and exploring the villages the dot the island. More Details: Hiking on Brac Island to Vidova Gora.
Without a doubt, Plitvice Lakes National Park is the best place in Croatia to visit for waterfalls and natural beauty. That said, Krka Waterfalls are nearly as stunning, and adding them both to your Croatia vacation is recommended! Further reading: Visiting Plitvice Lakes.
Rarely appearing on lists of places to vacation in Croatia, Osijek is located inland in the Slavonia region. Known for its fantastic gastronomy and vast wetlands park, Osijek is an absolute hidden gem in Croatia! More Details: Things To Do in Osijek.
#2 What Kind of Croatia Trip
We have highlighted the top destinations in Croatia, but we understand that most vacations are far too short to see them all.
In order to decide where to go on vacation in Croatia, the next step is to determine what type of Croatia trip you want to take. Travelers can plan a fast-paced road tripping Croatia coast vacation, set sail for the islands on one of the sailing vacations Croatia or choose a resort for one of the luxury Croatia vacations.
The options are nearly endless. To help, we are offering a few points to consider as you build your Croatia trip plan.
Croatia Beach Vacation
With hundreds of miles of shoreline, beach vacations in Croatia are an obvious choice. Travelers can plan a dedicated beach vacation to Croatia in one of the lesser-visited coastal villages – or plan a beach vacation in Croatia in one of the top coastal cities (the Dubrovnik beaches are fantastic, as are the beaches in Split!).
Croatia Island Vacation
Taking a trip to a Croatian island is a fabulous way to spend a vacation! Some might even say that traveling to an island is the best beach vacation in Croatia.
Visitors can choose to visit a single island and fully explore it – or go island hopping and visit several islands on a single trip. With a wide network of ferries and catamarans from Split, Sibenik and Zadar, planning an island hopping vacation in Croatia on your own is completely possible.
Croatia Sailing Vacations
Taking an organized Croatia sailing vacation is another super way to see multiple islands and coastal towns. Catamaran trips (like this 3-day trip from Dubrovnik) and small sea cruises (like the ones offered by Sail Croatia) are ideal for travelers who want to sail the seas and leave the trip planning to someone else.
Adventure Vacation Croatia
Croatia is full of adventures – from hiking to biking to kayaking and rock climbing. Travelers can plan an active vacation in Croatia with a tour company (such as these bike tours) or create their own trip itinerary to Croatian destinations known for adventures (like Omis and Brac Island).
Culinary Trip in Croatia
The Croatia gastronomy is phenomenal! Varied from the north to south and from islands to inland, visitors could plan an entire Croatia trip based on culinary experiences. (We will reveal more about things to eat in Croatia a bit later).
Croatia History Trip
The history of Croatia stretches back thousands of years – and traces of the past can be found in every destination. History buffs might want to plan a dedicated trip to exploring the rich history of Croatia – from Roman ruins (found in Pula, Zadar and Split) to more recent history (like the Homeland War of the 1990s).
Croatia Family Vacations
Many travelers wonder if a Croatia family vacation is a good idea – and we think that it absolutely is!
Croatia is a kid-friendly destination, so it is fairly easy to plan family friendly vacations to Croatia. While some destinations are known for rambunctious nightlife, there are still ample day time attractions and activities that are suited to a family trip to Croatia.
For a relaxing seaside trip, we recommend seeking out a resort with kid-dedicated activities for the best family vacations in Croatia. On the other hand, planning a road trip through the country might be your idea of the best family vacation Croatia.
Croatia Romantic Getaway
Planning romantic vacations to Croatia is excellent idea! The natural landscapes and picturesque villages offer a perfect romantic backdrop for Croatia vacations for couples. Top destinations for lovers are Rovinj in Istria and Stari Grad on Hvar.
Budget Croatia Vacation or Luxury Vacation Croatia
Relatively speaking, Croatia is an affordable destination. With the right trip plan, budget travelers can easily plan a cheap Croatia trip.
On the flip side, travelers can just as quickly plan a Croatia luxury vacation. Plans for an indulgent trip can include 5-star resorts, thrill-seeking adventures and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Package Vacations and Private Tours of Croatia
Travelers not interested in planning all the details of a Croatia vacation can instead opt to join a guided tour of Croatia. Some popular vacation packages are Croatia Vacation All-Inclusive Trips, while others only cover a portion of the trip (like transport and accommodations, but not meals).
When pricing out the per person charge of the vacation package, check to see what is truly included.
You can start your search for the best Croatia tours on Viator.
#3 Best Croatia Vacation Itinerary: One Destination or More?
Now that you know the top destinations and the types of trips in Croatia, it’s time to start building your itinerary! Before we get to a few sample itineraries for Croatia, we have some tips about how many destinations to include.
One Destination Trip: Croatia
Of course, the easiest way to plan a trip to Croatia is to choose one destination – and stay there for the duration of your trip.
The main benefit of choosing just one destination is that you can settle in – and won’t have to pack up your belongings and move to a new hotel every few days. Furthermore, you will not have to organize multiple accommodations or figure out how to get from one city to the next. Plus, you get to fully immerse yourself in one place, thus getting to know it better.
Some travelers fear staying in one place will limit their discovery of a destination, but Croatia is small and well-connected. To explore more of the region during your trip, we recommend taking day trips to nearby attractions.
Split is the best place to vacation in Croatia when choosing only one destination, because it is well situated for a variety of Split day trips. Travelers can easily get to waterfalls, nearby coastal towns and islands when vacationing in Split.
However, other locations can make a great base, too. From Rovinj you can explore the entire Istrian Peninsula. From Dubrovnik you can cross the border into Montenegro and take boat trips to nearby islands. From Hvar Town you can discover all of Hvar Island – and there are many day trip boating options, as well.
Planning a Trip to Croatia: Multiple Destinations
While there are numerous reasons travelers might want to stay in only one city, most Croatia travelers will plan to journey through the country making stops in multiple destinations.
In general, when planning a trip to Europe, we recommend allowing at least 3 days in each destination. While that is typically a good rule of thumb, tourists could easily spend 2 days – and in some cases just 1 day – in some of the holiday destinations in Croatia.
We provide below some examples of how to create a multi-destination trip itinerary next.
Multi Country Trip
Once you have your plan for a multicity Croatia trip, it is fairly simple to create an itinerary for multiple countries. We are sharing a few of the popular countries to pair with your Croatia trip.
Planning a Trip to Croatia and Greece
Planning a trip to Greece and Croatia is a popular choice. Both countries offer gorgeous islands, stunning landscapes and enthralling history. The best way to get between the two countries is by air. There are limited direct flights from Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik to Athens, but only in the high season.
Plan an Italy and Croatia Vacation
Italy is a top European destination (for good reason!)…and it’s so close to Croatia. Planning a trip to Croatia and Italy can be done a few different ways: Plane, boat, bus or car.
There are year-round flights between Split and Rome, which is the most convenient way to get from Croatia to Italy.
However, flying is not the only option. Year-round, visitors can get to Italy via the Ancona – Croatia Ferry that docks in Split. In the summertime, there is also a ferry from Ancona to Zadar and from Bari to Dubrovnik. We have traveled by boat from Italy to Montenegro – and the overnight ferry was a cost-effective way to get from A to B.
Furthermore, there are summer passenger ferries between Istria Peninsula destinations and Venice.
Planning a Trip to Croatia and Slovenia
Slovenia is still somewhat of a hidden gem in Europe – and, as the neighbor to the north of Croatia, it makes perfect sense to plan a combined Slovenia and Croatia trip. Visitors to Slovenia will be awed by soaring mountain peaks, pristine lakes, fairytale castles and impressive caves.
The best way to get between the two countries – besides car – is via bus from Zagreb to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.
Plan a Vacation to Croatia and the Balkans
From Croatia there are a multitude of nearby destinations in the Balkans that you can include in your trip plan.
Top Balkan countries to visit along with Croatia are Montenegro (where Kotor is the most popular destination), Bosnia Herzegovina (which is home to Mostar and Sarajevo), Serbia (to experience Belgrade), North Macedonia (to visit Skopje and Lake Ohrid), Kosovo (for the cities of Pristina and Prizren) and Albania (for more stunning coastline and mountain towns).
#4 How To Plan the Best Croatia Itinerary
Travelers who opt to stay in multiple destinations in Croatia are tasked with figuring out how long to stay in each place. We are outlining some of the top Croatia vacation ideas so that you can plan your best trip to Croatia.
Of course, our sample Croatia itineraries are just a place to start. Your trip plan should be based on your desired travel pace and overall interests. Additionally, the time of year you travel to Croatia will have an impact on your trip plans – as the country is extremely seasonal (especially on the islands). We discuss this in the When To Go To Croatia section later on.
5 Day Croatia Itinerary
Travelers planning a 5 Days in Croatia itinerary can easily spend time in 2 destinations, but even a 3-stop trip is possible.
- Split (3 days) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
- Split (2 days) + Hvar (1 day) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
- Split (2 days) + Vis Island or Brac Island (3 days)
- Dubrovnik (2 days) + Korcula (1 day) + Split (2 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes in route to Split + Split (3 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes (1 day) + Zadar (2 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Istria Peninsula (3 days)
7 Day Croatia Itinerary
To build a 7 Days in Croatia Itinerary, we recommend staying in 3 or 4 destinations. However, when limited to a 1 Week Croatia Itinerary, we would not advise stopping in more than 4 places.
- Split (3 days) + Hvar (2 days) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
- Split (2 days) + Hvar (2 days) + Korcula (1 day) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
- Split (2 days) + Brac Island (2 days) + Makarska (1 day) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes (1 day) + Sibenik (2 days) + Split (2 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes (1 day) + Istria Peninsula (4 days)
10 Day Croatia Itinerary
Creating a 10 Days Croatia Itinerary allows for more sightseeing…or a more relaxed pace of travel. We would still recommend limiting the number of stops – ideally to 4, and no more than 5.
- Split (3 days) + Hvar (2 days) + Korcula (2 days) + Dubrovnik (3 days)
- Split (3 days) + Brac Island (2 days) + Makarska (2 days) + Dubrovnik (3 days)
- Split (3 days) + Sibenik (2 days) + Zadar (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes (1 day) + Zagreb (3 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes (1 day) + Split (3 days) + Hvar (2 days) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
- Zagreb (2 days) + Plitvice Lakes (1 day) + Zadar (2 days) + Pula and Istria (5 days)
2 Week Croatia Itinerary
On a 2 Weeks Croatia trip, travelers can opt for a fast-paced adventure across the country or slow down to get better acquainted with each place. To plan a slower paced trip, simply use one of the outlines above and add more days to the locations that are of most interest to you.
For a trip that absolutely showcases the country, use our Best of Croatia Itinerary for 2 Weeks in Croatia – which includes the following cities:
Zagreb (2 days) + Rovinj (3 days) + Zadar with a day trip to Plitvice or Krka (2 days) + Sibenik (1 days) + Split (2 days) + Hvar (1 days) + Korcula (1 days) + Dubrovnik (2 days)
Croatia Long Stay Vacations
Croatia is such an inviting country – and it is easy to see why someone would want to plan a long term trip of 3 weeks or even longer. Slow travelers could plan to stay in multiple destinations for a week at a time, leisurely exploring the cities and taking day trips to nearby destinations.
Travelers who like to be on the move, however, could plan a 3 Week Croatia Itinerary that covers the entire country from top to bottom. An example of how to do this would be to use our fast-paced outline for 2 weeks, slow it down a bit and add one more destination.
Zagreb (2 days) + Osijek (2 days) + Rovinj (3 days) + Zadar with a day trip to Plitvice and/or Krka (3 days) + Sibenik (2 days) + Split (3 days) + Hvar (2 days) + Korcula (1 days) + Dubrovnik (3 days)
#5 How to Get to Croatia
Once you decide where to vacation in Croatia, next you will need to figure out how to get there. The country is accessible via flights, boats, trains, buses and, of course, by car.
Flying to Croatia
Most travelers will arrive by plane, likely from another European destination. The Zagreb Airport and Split Airport are the two busiest in Croatia. Dubrovnik, Zadar, Osijek and Pula also have airports, but most flights to these destinations are extremely seasonal.
Some major carriers now offer direct flights from the United States to Dubrovnik, but only in the high season.
In fact, nearly all flights to Croatia are seasonal; travelers flying in the low or shoulder seasons will have limited options…and for the summertime, it’s best to book as far in advance as possible.
One Way Croatia Trip
You may have noticed that our suggested Croatia itineraries start in one city and end in another. Because of the geography of Croatia, you can waste a lot of valuable vacation time backtracking to your point of entry.
Therefore, it is best to book Open Jaw tickets – in one city and out of another – for your Croatia vacation if you plan on visiting multiple destinations. To find the best routes at the best prices, use a site like Skyscanner – and search for one-way tickets to and from your desired start and end destinations.
Find more money-saving flight tips in our roundup of The Best Ways to Get Cheap Flights.
Croatia by Boat
As we already mentioned, it is possible to get to Croatia by ferry boat from Italy. Ferries depart Italy to Croatia from the towns of Bari, Ancona, Venice and Trieste. The frequency is (you may have guessed) seasonal, with extremely limited boats making the trip in the off-season.
We chat more about ferries when we talk about Getting Around Croatia in the next section.
Trains to Croatia
Unlike the most of Europe, Croatia is not well-connected via train. In fact, there is no train that services Dubrovnik at all. Trains can be used to get to Zagreb, Osijek and Split – but the journey is usually very long. Most travelers find that it is much better to fly or take the bus.
Bus to Croatia
The bus system in Croatia makes up for the lack of rail services. There are many bus companies that transport travelers from other European cities to Croatia. Our preferred bus company in Europe is Flixbus.
Driving a Rental Car to Croatia
In most European countries, foreign drivers will only need a valid drivers license to rent a car. However, many car rental companies will charge a ‘cross-border fee’, so be sure to ask about that. Furthermore, there may be a significant charge for renting a car in one country and dropping it off in another.
Therefore, we feel that it is best to fly or take a bus to Croatia, then rent a car on arrival if you desire one for your trip. Be sure to use our tips for finding the Best Car Rental Rates.
#6 How To Get Around on your Trip to Croatia
One of the essential steps when planning trips to Croatia is to consider how you will get around – and, more important, how you will get from one destination to the next if you plan on staying in multiple locations.
Once in the country, you will find that it is easy to get around Croatia, which is well connected with public transit – mainly buses and ferries – that can be used to efficiently get from Point A to Point B.
Additionally, Uber is available, which makes getting around cities or to the airport easy (although significantly more expensive than buses).
That said, not all Croatia vacation destinations are connected year-round. When planning your Croatia trip itinerary, be sure to check available routes between destinations. You don’t want to spend your entire vacation in transit!
Croatia boasts a large fleet of intercity and domestic buses that travelers can utilize to get around the country. We recommend traveling by bus between destinations, as well as DIY day trips.
Check routes and fares on Bus Croatia, but always confirm at the local bus station.
The mainland is well connected to Croatia islands via ferry boat. Jadrolinija is the largest company and offers an extensive route network. However, there are other ferry companies (such as Krilo) that run routes during the summertime which may work better for your specific Croatia trip plan.
Search for routes on the Jadrolinija website – but, again, always double check at the ferry port prior to your travel day.
We have already mentioned the lack of rail connections in Croatia – and, aside from Zagreb, we do not recommend it as a way to get around. However, if you have a Europe Rail Pass, it might be cost effective to use the train to travel between Split and Zagreb.
Vacation On Croatia Coast: Rent a Car
Renting a car for your Croatia vacation itinerary can be a fabulous way to travel. A Croatia road trip allows for more freedom to explore and releases you from being tethered to a schedule.
Additionally, if you plan to travel to islands and want to freely discover the islands, you can take the rental car with you on a ferry.
However, be aware that most Croatia destinations are small enough to be explored on foot – rendering a car useless once you arrive. Furthermore, parking in or near city centers is problematic (and can be expensive).
We have often weighed the pros and cons of driving in Croatia and have determined that – between the bus routes and ferry rides – it is easier to get around using public transit.
#7 Where to Stay on Vacations to Croatia
Now that you know where to go and how to get around, the next question is: Where should I stay in Croatia?
Having long been a vacation destination, Croatia has ample places to stay in a range of prices that will fit nearly all budgets.
The top consideration when choosing where to stay in Croatia is the location within your destination. We typically recommend that travelers stay very close to the city center – where sites and attractions are easily reached on foot.
The downside to staying smack in the middle of an Old Town center, however, is it can be noisy well into the late evening and early morning hours.
Another important factor to think about is that many city centers are car-free – meaning you will have to drag your suitcase over cobblestone streets. (This is a big reason why we prefer Backpacks vs Suitcases!)
Additionally, it is typical for accommodations in Croatia to have multiple floors and no elevator – so climbing stairs is something to keep in mind as you search for places to stay in Croatia.
Croatia: Where to Stay
In addition to choosing the ideal location for your accommodations, you should also think about what type of places you want to stay in. Resorts, hotels, hostels and Croatia vacation rentals are all options for your trip.
Croatia Vacation Resorts
Travelers looking for an exclusive beach vacation – whether as a romantic getaway or a family trip – might want to look at resorts in Croatia. Typically, these sprawling resorts are not close to the town center, but many have private beach access, multiple pools and on-site restaurants – and there are also a few all-inclusive resorts for guests who only want to stay on property.
Hotels in Croatia (and Hostels)
Croatia hotels range from 5-star luxury stays to simple family-run guesthouses – and prices match accordingly (and vary drastically by time of year).
Many boutique hotels are tucked into historic centers, and large brand hotels are usually found on the outskirts.
Hostels can provide a cheap place to stay for budget tourists traveling through Croatia. Most destinations have at least one hostel – and cities like Split, have many. Guests can book cheap dorm beds or private rooms in most Croatia hostels.
Vacation Rentals Croatia
Vacation rentals in Croatia are our preferred type of accommodation when visiting the country. We have found that the space is usually larger than a hotel room and has a kitchen (which is great for making breakfast and other simple meals).
Though, another reason we love staying in holiday rentals in Croatia is that they are often in refurbished historic buildings. While offering modern conveniences, it is also typical to find original characteristics left exposed and unique artistic features in vacation apartment rentals.
Travelers can opt to rent out entire Croatia vacation homes or get a Sobe, which is just a room for rent.
Sources to Find Vacation Rental: Croatia
We usually use Airbnb to find vacation homes in Croatia, although many holiday apartments are now offered on sites like Booking.com, as well.
Use our Tips for Finding the Best Hotels and Rentals before you start your search!
#8 When To Go on a Croatian Vacation
When you decide to go to Croatia will likely have an affect on your trip plans. Summer vacations to Croatia are wildly different from winter trips.
Each season has its pros and cons. The top benefit of traveling in the high season is that everything is open and the weather is very warm, the downside is that it is more expensive and often very crowded.
Best Time to Vacation in Croatia
Many travelers assume that summertime is the best time to go to Croatia, but that’s not necessarily true. We are highlighting the pros and cons to traveling to Croatia in each season.
Summer Vacation Croatia
Croatia in the summertime is sublime for beaches, islands and water activities. Every restaurant is open and every tour is operating. The sun shines most in the summer – and the heat can be intense, but it is an ideal temperature for swimming in the Adriatic Sea and taking boat trips in Croatia.
However, there are a few reasons why a Croatia summer vacation might not be the best idea. To start, prices rise dramatically in the summer. Accommodations in the summer easily fetch 4 times the amount charged other times of year. Many restaurants actually switch out their menus, charging significantly more than during the off season.
Furthermore, crowds are thick, which can make finding accommodations, places to eat, confirming transport and booking activities a challenge.
Autumn Trip to Croatia
Autumn in Croatia is phenomenal. In our opinion, taking a trip to Croatia in the autumn offers the best travel experience.
Temperatures are comfortable, but the sea water is just warm enough for afternoon swims. Crowds have thinned – substantially – from the summer crush, but most restaurants remain open, and tours are still operating (but usually on a less frequent schedule).
On the flip side, many locals are exhausted from the summer season and (while we don’t blame them!) sometimes their weariness is noticeable.
Additionally, traveling in the fall has become a lot more attractive in recent years, so prices don’t drop as quickly as they used to.
Croatia Winter Vacation
Croatia is not known as a winter destination, but there are a few reasons why travelers might consider it.
First, the Christmas markets – especially the Zagreb Advent Festival – are incredible. We think it is one of the Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe.
Second, while the weather is cooler, the sun still shines regularly (especially on the Dalmatian Coast). It is far too cold to swim in the sea, but it’s still a fabulous time to be on the shoreline.
Wintertime travelers also get a peek into typical Croatian life and can become more acquainted with local culture.
The downside to traveling in Croatia in winter is that much of the country shuts down. Many shops, restaurants, tours and attractions are completely shuttered, and the islands can feel like absolute ghost towns. If traveling to Croatia in the winter, we recommend planning your vacation in Split.
Springtime Travel in Croatia
Spring in Croatia is a time of renewal. The country – especially along the coastline and islands – wakes up from its slumber and prepares to welcome a new round of visitors. As restaurants open and tours commence, there is a refreshed spirit for the upcoming season.
During the spring, weather in Croatia can be unpredictable. Rain and forceful winds are common, but usually only for a day or two at a time.
Spring is also the time of year when many renovations are completed – so there can be noise and some places might still be closed.
#9 What To Eat in Croatia
The cuisine in Croatia is delicious!
Meat dishes are popular in Croatia and throughout the Balkan region. Grilled meat platters, burek (a meat pastry) and cevapi (a grilled sausage, often served in bread) are common meaty meals found on local restaurant menus.
In Dalmatia, fresh fish from the Adriatic Sea is a specialty. Dishes like Black Risotto (made with cuttlefish), Peka (made with octopus) and whole fresh fish are staples.
Croatia cuisine has also been heavily influenced by Italy – so pizza and pasta are popular. That said, look for regional pasta dishes, like Istrian pasta with truffles.
When it comes to sweet treats, ice cream is a top choice (especially on the coast), but bakeries dole out all types of sweets – like the almond, crescent-shaped cookie, called kaflice.
The gastronomy in Croatia is meat-heavy, but there are vegetarian dishes for those who don’t eat meat. In the cities – like Split, Zagreb and Dubrovnik – a few dedicated vegan restaurants have recently come on the scene, as well.
We round up some of the must-eat dishes in Croatia in our blog post, The Best Croatian Food.
#10 Croatia Trip Cost
The cost of travel in Croatia will depend on several factors – including time of year, type of accommodations and number of activities. As you plan your vacation, we recommend making a Croatia travel budget so that you can stay on top of your Croatia vacation cost.
Generally speaking, the country is relatively affordable when compared to North America or other European destinations. In the height of the summer season, visitors can expect to spend the most.
Cost of Travel: Croatia
To help you gauge your Croatia cost of travel, we are highlighting some typical prices for summer trips (in USD).
- Hotel Room per Night: $200
- Croatia Vacation Rentals: $125-$200
- Sit Down Meal: $20-$30
- Take Away Street Food: $3-$7
- Bottle of Croatian Wine at Restaurant: $30
- Local/Craft Beer at a Café: $3/5
- Day Trips: $75-$150
Frequently Asked Questions: Vacation in Croatia Cost
The prices we listed might be a bit higher than you anticipated if you have heard that it is cheap to travel to Croatia. In recent years, prices have seen a sharp increase – and they will likely continue to go up. To help you better plan your Croatia travel budget, we are answering a few frequently asked questions.
How expensive is Croatia?
Croatia is significantly more expensive today than it was 10 years ago, but it can still be an affordable place to visit with the right trip plan.
How Much Money to Take to Croatia?
The question, How much money should I take to Croatia? is not an easy one to answer. It will, of course, depend on your specific Croatia travel plan. If you create your itinerary in advance and do research, you can likely come up with a figure for how much you intend to spend during your travels.
We don’t recommend bringing cash and exchanging it in Croatia. Instead, use a no-fee Credit Card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred) and only go to an ATM in Croatia (one that is linked to an actual bank, not Euronet) to get cash once you have arrived.
Is Budget Travel Croatia possible in Summer?
Summertime is not the best time to plan cheap trips to Croatia. Prices for everything increase during the summer months. That said, you can plan a Croatia cheap vacation by staying in dorm hostels, eating local street food, buying food and beverages from the grocery store and taking DIY day trips instead of guided tours.
How Can I Plan Croatia Budget Travel?
The best way to plan affordable Croatia vacations is to travel in the shoulder season – in April, May, September and October – or in the wintertime. During these months, the cost of a Croatia vacation will be significantly less!
#11 What You Need to Know before you Plan a Trip to Croatia
You are well on your way to planning the best Croatia vacation, but, alas, there are a few more things that you will want to know.
Passport and Visa
All foreigners need a passport or identification card to enter Croatia. The passport needs to be valid for 3 months following your scheduled departure date.
Tourists from the United States can enter Croatia visa-free and stay for 90 days. Travelers from other countries should check requirements for their citizenship.
Croatia Border 2023
As of January 1 2023, Croatia has joined the border-free European Schengen Zone. If you are entering Croatia from another European Schengen country, there is now typically no checks.
However, if you are entering Croatia directly from the US or from another non-Schengen European country, you will need to go through immigration and customs.
Furthermore, traveling by land in the south of Croatia may include an additional border crossing. Between Makarska and Dubrovnik, Bosnia Herzegovina extends to the sea for a 12-mile stretch, essentially cutting Croatia in two. Travelers need to go through immigration to enter and exit BiH and then again to re-enter Croatia.
The border crossing can be avoided by taking a ferry to Dubrovnik. Additionally, as of July 2022, the Peljesac Bridge has been opened to bypass the border altogether (although not all buses are using this route).
Croatia Currency 2023
As of January 1st 2023, the official Croatian currency is the Euro. Check the current exchange rate.
Safety in Croatia
Many travelers ask, Is Croatia a safe place to vacation? and the answer is yes! The country boasts an incredibly low crime rate – and tourists are typically not targets. That said, it is always wise to be aware of your surroundings when traveling anywhere, Croatia included.
We recommend you bring a guidebook with you on your trip – but make sure it is up to date, as even the best Croatia guidebook is quickly outdated. In our experience, the best Croatia travel book is still Rick Steves’ Croatia.
English is widely spoken throughout Croatia – especially by the younger generations and anyone in the tourism industry.
We still feel it is important that you learn a few words in the local language. We recommend buying a Croatian Language Phrasebook for your trip – but here’s a few words to get you started.
- Hello / Good Day: Dobar Dan
- Goodbye: Doviđenja
- Please: Molim
- Thank You: Hvala
- Cheers!: Živjeli!
- Croatia: Hrvatska
Croatian Language Tips
The H before V
In words like hvala (thank you) and Hvar Island, the H is nearly silent – and is almost pronounced by exhaling at the beginning of the word.
The Small V over Letters C, S and Z
When you see a small V over the letters C, S and Z, the sound you make is similar to Ch, Sh and Zh. So, for example, the local beer Karlovačko is pronounced Kar-lo-vach-ko.
Pronouncing the J
The J in the Croatian language is said like a Y in the English language. Therefore, the popular ferry company Jadrolinija is said Yad-ro-lean-ee-ya.
Pronouncing the ICA at the End of Words
The letter C, without the small V above it, is a soft C – and said like an S in the English language. Therefore, the combination of ICA is said ee-sa – and the popular mineral water, Jamnica, is pronounced yam-nee-sa.
#12 Vacation Croatia Travel Tips
Now that you know how to plan a trip to Croatia, we have a few general travel tips for the best Croatian vacations. These are from our personal experiences and observations for what to expect on travels to Croatia regarding the culture and sights.
For more general tips about traveling to Europe, read our Guide to Planning a Europe Trip.
The coffee culture in Croatia is intense. Croatians are one of the largest coffee consumers in the world – which is evidenced by the numerous cafes. (Although, you still won’t find Starbucks in Croatia!)
Kava – with or without milk – is a very small cup of coffee – and the most popular coffee drink in Croatia. An Americano is basically a watered-down espresso, while a Bijela Kava – white coffee – is a bigger (but not large) coffee similar to a latte, but not a cappuccino.
To-go coffee has become surprisingly popular in recent years, but part of the Croatian café culture is to slow down, sit down and drink your coffee with friends or with a view. Which brings us to…
Fjaka and Pomalo
Croatians are not lazy, they are just practicing Fjaka – the Art of Doing Nothing. Fjaka is a state of mind and a way of being. In Dalmatia, this lifestyle is so important, they actually have an additional word for it. Pomalo, basically meaning no stress, no worries. So, relax a little and try it!
Game of Thrones
The television series, Game of Thrones, used many locations in Croatia for filming and inspiration. As such, many GOT fans flock to Croatia to see the extravagant King’s Landing (Dubrovnik) and other filming sites. There are heaps of GOT tours – and many guides share insider tales from their interactions with the cast and crews.
However, visitors might be surprised to find that King’s Landing is a much-embellished version of Dubrovnik. While certain scenes are without enhancements, much of the GOT locations are deeply enriched artistically.
It would almost be impossible to visit Croatia and not encounter a stray cat (or a dozen). Croatian cats roam the cities, the countryside and the islands. Many of the (mostly) friendly cats are fed and cared for by locals and/or expat groups that also attempt to find permanent homes for them.
Smoking in Croatia
Smoking cigarettes is likely something that US visitors to Croatia will notice almost immediately. Most Croatians smoke…a lot. In fact, smoking is still allowed indoors at establishments where food is not prepared. If you are bothered by cigarette smoke, it is best to avoid indoor cafes, night clubs and bars that don’t serve food.
Trash in Croatia
With a population of less than 4 million, Croatia is a fairly clean country. Still, visitors might notice trash – especially in busy harbors and on city streets. Not surprisingly, with the influx of tourists comes an influx of garbage. Do your part to keep Croatia clean and throw your trash in a receptacle or if one is not readily available, take it with you.
Free toilets in Croatia are few and far between. While sightseeing in cities, spending time on the beaches or stopping at a gas station on a road trip, be sure to bring small change (and tissues) for the bathroom. If no public restrooms are available, pop into a café and make a purchase to use their facilities.
And, when in Croatia, it is proper to ask for the toilet, not the restroom or bathroom.
Croatia has a mash up of architecture. Although many of the old towns are preserved in ancient stone, with green shutters and orange tiled rooftops, the scene can change quickly outside the historic city centers. Brutalist structures and bloc apartments stoically stand just outside picturesque, 1700 year old towns.
Graffiti and street art murals are also prominent in many places in Croatia. Some of the murals are artistic expressions, while others are in support of the local football (soccer) team. Graffiti, notably tags, is commonly found in cities and towns.
Additionally, as incredibly beautiful as Croatia is, you will also notice that there is a lot of concrete – even in unlikely places, like the beach.
The beaches in Croatia are lapped by intensely turquoise blue water…but the beaches themselves are not usually sandy. Instead, most Croatia beaches are pebbly. Some beaches are lined with boulders (which are great for jumping into the sea) and there are number of ‘beaches’ that are concrete platforms with ladders.
Croatians tend to be open, helpful and hospitable – they are also passionate, direct and abrupt. Some travelers mis-read their bluntness for rudeness.
Croatians are also well-educated and culturally aware, and they value traditions and have close family ties.
Humor is something that most Croatians excel at, even in a second language. It never ceases to amaze us how Croatians can effortlessly make jokes in their non-native tongue.
In our experience, Croatians are genuine and giving. In fact, it is not unusual for a local host or guide to present a guest with a taste of homemade rakija liquor – and we highly recommend accepting it, regardless the time of day!
#13 What to Pack for Vacations: Croatia
Our final tips for Planning Croatian Vacations are what you will need to pack in your suitcase or backpack. We are sharing a few specific tips here, but find our complete Packing List and Packing Hacks on our dedicated Packing Page.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Croatia visitors need a good pair of walking shoes…and it might be best to leave the high heels at home.
The old town city centers are crisscrossed by cobblestone lanes. The paths are uneven and the surface is often slick. Make sure to pack a pair of comfortable shoes with a sturdy, slip-resistant sole.
Use our tips for The Best Travel Shoes for our top picks.
Pebbly beaches, sharp rocks and sea urchins can all take a toll on your feet when swimming in the sea. Pack a pair of water shoes to keep your feet protected.
The sun is strong on the Croatia coastline! It is best to bring sunscreen with you (but it is available at the local shops during the summer season if you run out). We also recommend bringing a travel hat and sunglasses.
Croatia is a stunningly beautiful country – and we recommend using a real camera to capture the sights of your trip.
We carry a DSLR Canon Rebel, which takes high quality photos and is excellent for beginner photographers (as it comes with heaps of accessories). We also use an 18-135mm lens, which is ideal for everyday travel photos. Find out more about the Best Budget Travel Cameras.
Travelers will want to make sure they pack an adequate day bag for their trip to Croatia. Whether going to the beach, sightseeing in a city or going on day trips, you will need a place to stow your wallet, keys and water bottle.
Travelers planning on taking boat trips or spending time by the water should bring a dry pack for their phone and other handheld electronics.
WiFi and Portable Charger
You will need WiFi when traveling in Croatia – to get around, check restaurant reviews and share photos on social media.
Inquire with your cell phone provider about short-term international data plans – but frequent overseas travelers should consider investing in a mobile WiFi hotspot. We use GlocalMe, which can be used by multiple devices (which is great for friends and families traveling together) and doubles as a portable charger.
Croatia Travel Insurance
Travel insurance may cover you when flights are delayed or luggage goes missing, but it can really come in handy when travelers get injured or fall sick while abroad. Check the affordable rates at a reputable travel insurance company.
Start planning your trip to Croatia! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing! Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!
We Want To Know: How did you plan your Croatia vacation? What are your top tips for planning a Croatia trip? Tell us in the comments!
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