If you’re a current or aspiring digital nomad, Croatia is probably now on your radar of countries to visit.
Split, Croatia is an up-and-coming destination for digital nomads from all over the world. It’s tempting for many reasons – it’s safe, it’s gorgeous, it’s easy to spend three months here with no visa for Americans and others. I’ve spent months living in Split while working as a freelance writer, and here’s what I’ve learned about life as a digital nomad in Split (spoiler alert: it’s great!).
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Truth be told, I came here as a nomad because I needed somewhere to go in Europe during the pandemic that was letting Americans enter – and Split fit the bill. But I’d been pondering spending the spring here anyways, and it turns out I’ve fallen in love.
The ancient beauty, the layers upon layers of European empires and history here, and the clear blue sea and tempestuous skies have won me over – and I hope it will win you over too.
Why Split is a Top Digital Nomad City
It’s easy to visit.
Croatia isn’t on the radar of a lot of Americans, and it can be tricky to find flights here from the US in months outside of July and August. But it’s a highly popular holiday destination for Europeans, so if you’re already on the continent, it’s probably just a cheap direct flight away.
One big advantage of spending a few months in Croatia as a digital nomad is that while Croatia is a member of the EU, they’re not within the Schengen Visa zone (yet). That means you can hop over here after three months in Athens or Berlin or Lisbon and hang out for three months visa-free (for Americans and other nationalities who qualify). This is a vital part of my long-term strategy for living legally in Europe without a residency permit.
They even let Americans in during the coronavirus, so I’ve met plenty of other digital nomads from the US here. In fact, I fell so in love with Croatia that I applied for, and received, temporary residency in 2021.
And it just got even easier to visit for my fellow nomads – a digital nomad visa for Croatia is now here!
It’s easy to live here.
All of Croatia is lovely to visit and travel in – even for solo female travelers like myself. It’s really safe, it has a robust infrastructure for getting around, and the cost is pretty affordable. This is even more true of Split, which is Croatia’s second-largest city and is a great base for getting around the country and out to the beautiful islands.
Most younger people in Split speak at least a fair amount of English, which is super helpful because Croatian is a bit tricky. The weather is mild for most of the year, the sun is as strong as the coffee (just the way I like it!), and the living is relaxed.
You’ll work, sure, but you’ll also spend plenty of afternoons and weekends strolling to one of the many beaches or dawdling at a cafe nestled into the ancient walls of the old town.
There’s history everywhere – the remains of the Roman Empire and medieval villages and Renaissance prosperity in the heart of the old town, which started as the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s retirement palace by the sea. It’s grown up through the ages as an expanding village, and you can roam the tiny, picturesque alleys of the old town and see how it’s evolved and grown.
Outside the old town is a modern, thriving city full of all the conveniences of life in Europe. There’s plenty of outdoor activities on the doorstep too – the stunning beaches of Kašjuni and Ježinac and Bačvice, climbing the Marjan park hills, or day trips off to hike.
It’s the best of all worlds.
Don’t Miss: My Digital Nomad Gear Essentials
It’s not too expensive.
It’s not as cheap as many of the other Balkan countries like Albania or Bulgaria, but it’s still definitely more affordable than much of Western Europe. Prices in July and August can be high since that’s peak tourist season, so if you’re looking for bargains don’t come then.
Croatia is not in the euro zone either, so you’ll pay for everything in kuna. Currently, one kuna is about $.16 but check before you come.
My typical costs:
- A macchiato at a cafe costs 11-13 kuna
- A glass of wine or a beer at a nicer cafe or bar costs 18-23 kuna
- Dinner out at a nice restaurant is about 150 kuna with wine
- An Airbnb is about $800-$1200, depending on when you visit and where in the city you stay (the old town is the most expensive)
It’s not super cheap, but it’s possible to have a nice, comfortable life here for less than $2,000 per month.
Related: Basics of the Digital Nomad Life
It’s easy to work here.
For a destination that’s more famed for languid summer holidays or a quick city break than industry, Split is a surprisingly great city to work from. The internet is usually pretty decent (check with your landlord or Airbnb host before you book, though) and free wifi is plentiful.
One of my biggest struggles here is getting work done on stunning, late-summer days when I’d rather be at the beach!
While the cafe culture in Croatia is definitely on the Mediterranean side of things – coffee is for sipping over long idle chats as you greet everyone who passes and get the latest news, and maybe pet a cat – they’re also pretty good for working.
And Split is full of coffee shops and cafes that are pleasant to work or chill at or work in, depending on your needs. Almost all of them have free wifi with pretty good speeds and strong coffee.
Finding outlets is a challenge in cafes (and sometimes in apartments in the old town since they’re… well… hundreds of years old). But you can order one macchiato and sit for hours working away, and no one will bother you or think it strange.
Coworking spaces in Split have been popping up well to meet the demand from arriving digital nomads. Saltwater Split is right near the old town and also offers coliving and housing options, and is expanding across Croatia too.
They’re a bit pricey for my taste since I can just hang at a cafe for much less, but if you need more structure or faster internet it might be a good investment.
It’s lively all year round.
Sure, other spots in Croatia are beautiful to visit in the summer – Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Zadar, and the other coastal towns. But once the summer crowds leave, those cities shrink noticeably and start shutting down pretty significantly.
Split is a popular tourist spot, but it also has a large local population who pack into the cafes and restaurants of the beautiful old town all winter. Buses keep running, cafes and bars stay open, and the vibe stays vibrant – it’s perfect.
This is especially great because the shoulder season is the best time to visit Split – September-November is still pleasant and warm, and same with April-June, while the crowds of tourists are much smaller and prices are cheaper. I love the winter here as well – it really only is a bit cold in January, and windy in March, and then it’s back to being temperate quickly.
Plus all the crowds are gone and Split is full of only locals who take long, long coffee breaks to recover from their busy summer seasons. It’s slow and cozy and intimate and lovely.
Croatians aren’t super outgoing people, but once you get to know them they are warm, friendly, and very hospitable. And there’s a growing community of digital nomads who are very social, so it’s pretty easy to meet people here. Join the Expats in Split Facebook group if you’re looking for social events and meetups for digital nomads in Croatia.
The Logistics of Digital Nomad Croatia Life
So now that you know why you should consider Split, Croatia as a digital nomad option, let’s talk about the details you need to know before you come.
Where to Stay in Split
I stayed in the Diocletian’s Palace area of the old town when I was living in Split as a digital nomad – it’s so central, it’s really beautiful, and it’s also insanely crowded and noisy in the summer. If you get a place with good, solid windows, the noise isn’t usually a problem, but it’s good to know. And those crowds can really be a lot.
The old town is scenic – from my apartment, I have a view of the ancient palace walls and the nuns from the nearby 14th-century convert who hang their laundry on them, and on windy days I can smell the sea and hear the ferries honk as they depart the harbor.
The old town is pricier than the rest of the city though – you’re paying for that historic and central location.
Just outside the old walls is Varoš, which is almost as scenic and much quieter (and a bit cheaper too). You can also save money by staying just a 10-minute walk from the old town in any direction – Split is a lovely, safe city so anywhere central is safe and nice.
I used to use Airbnb to book places, but their fees have gotten high and their customer service worse. Now I use booking.com to find long-term apartments. Kaleta Apartments is where I usually stay, and the owner Negri is a wonderful hostess – highly recommend.
If you want to check out places in person because you’ll be staying long-term (not a bad idea) then you can book into the lovely Ćiri Biri Bela hostel for a few days while you search. You can use Njuskalo to search for well-priced long-term places – just use the Chrome browser so it will translate as it’s all in Croatian.
How to Pay
One big thing to be careful of in Split (and all over Croatia) is ATM fees. If you’re not careful, you can get charged $10 for one withdrawal! It’s insane. I use OTPbanka for mine because they’re one of the few without huge fees.
Most of the larger and more expensive places in Split take credit cards, like fancier restaurants, supermarkets, and bigger chain bakeries. But smaller, local-run places like cafes and gelato shops usually take only cash. I pay with my credit card whenever possible, but keep some kunas on hand for the little spots.
What to Do in Split
If you’re looking for activities to fill your time on days and weekends off, you’re in luck. Split has so much to do even in the winter, you’ll never be bored. Check out my suggestions for 3 days in Split for a few good ideas (so much art!).
Split has many beautiful beaches in town or just outside of it where you can spend the day lounging or in a beach bar. Even in winter, I love walking to the beach to have a coffee in the cafes at Firule or bring my own wine to drink at Kašjuni with a picnic.
There are also plenty of great day trips you can take – to the little ancient walled city of Trogir, to the beauty of coastal Makarska or Dubrovnik or Sibenik too. You can also go spend a weekend in the islands, like party-obsessed Hvar and quiet, stunning Korcula, for a break.
Or head out to see Sarajevo in Bosnia or Kotor in Montenegro. Split’s central location means that the options are pretty much endless.
Where to Work in Split
There are countless tiny, cozy cafes in the old town for working or relaxing – here is the complete list of my favorite coffee shops and cafes.
I love the no-frills but friendly local vibes of Caffe Bar Kala and Teak Coffee, the more upscale cafes KaKantun and D16 which are nomad hotspots for working, and Basta on the waterfront for a more decadent working experience with a sea view.
If you want to work and eat and have a craft beer, the Daltonist is a great spot in the off-season with a very cozy indoors as well.
Why You Need to Try Digital Nomad Life in Croatia
The clear sunshine, the relaxed pace of life, the innumerable cafes and bars to hang out and get work done (or not)… Split has it all for digital nomads. It’s no wonder so many are making the trip over here to try it out for themselves – and you should too! For a digital nomad, Croatia is paradise.
- My Complete Guide to Planning a Trip to Croatia
- 8 Things You Need to Know Before Coming to Croatia
- A Local Guide to 3 Days in Split
- How I Got Temporary Residency in Croatia
- How I Handle Taxes, Housing, Insurance, and More as a Digital Nomad