If you’re considering planning a trip to Croatia, you’ve made a very wise decision. This gorgeous, safe, friendly country is a must-visit! And it’s close to my heart, as I lived here for nearly two years. Here’s everything you need to know to make your Croatia travel terrific!
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Why Visit Croatia?
A better question would be, why not? Croatia has something for everyone.
- Mountains, hikes, and nature for the outdoors adventure lovers.
- Miles of stunning beaches with sparkling clear blue seas for the beach bums and swimmers.
- Great food and incredible wine for the gourmands.
- Ancient ruins full of stories and the intersection of multiple empires for the history buffs.
- Family friendliness and child-safe activities for families.
- Party spots like Hvar Island for the young (and young at heart).
- Quiet islands like Korčula where you can go to get away from it all.
The possibilities are absolutely endless. That’s why Croatia is one of my favorite travel destinations for everyone, from solo travelers to backpackers to families and beyond. You’ll find something to love no matter what you’re interested in.
And Croatia travel is extremely easy as well. English is widely spoken, especially in the more popular tourist destinations. It’s extremely safe so you can just relax and enjoy yourself. Locals are welcoming and full of a quiet but charming hospitality that will make your Croatia trip unforgettable.
Solo travel in Croatia is also wonderful, especially for women traveling alone, because it’s such a safe and friendly place.
Things to Know Before Visiting Croatia
Croatia is an EU member country, and as of January 1, 2023 it is now also a member of the Eurozone and the Schengen Zone. The euro is now the official currency of Croatia, which makes hopping through Europe easier.
Since it’s also now a member of the Schengen Zone, it’s easier to drive over the border from Hungary, Slovenia, or Italy, and there are no passport controls when you’re flying from another country in the Zone (pretty much all of the EU). But it does make life more complicated for digital nomads and long-term travelers who want to spend more than 90 days in Europe – now you gotta head to Serbia, Albania, or Montenegro instead!
While we call it Croatia in English, the country is actually called Hrvatska in Croatian, and the language is Hrvatski. It’s a Slavic language and pretty confusing if you don’t know another one, so I stick to the basic phrases outlined in my Croatia travel tips post.
Croatia has a fascinating history. Various areas of the country have been part of many empires: Ancient Rome, Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman, and the Austro-Hungarian, just to name a few. It was a part of Yugoslavia until it won independence in 1991 and took shape as its current form.
That history means it is a melting pot of influences depending on where in the country you travel—Istria has a strong Italian influence, Zagreb has beautiful Austro-Hungarian architecture, and you can live inside a Roman emperor’s palace in Split.
It’s a small country, with less than 4 million inhabitants, but one with much more to offer than you’d expect from such a small place. And Croatians are fiercely proud of their country, even if they also love to complain about a few aspects of living here.
When to Travel to Croatia
Croatia also has many different micro-climates, so the best time to visit depends on where in the country you’re going and what you want to do.
Zagreb and inland Croatia, for example, get quite cold in the winter, while the coast stays pretty temperate. Coastal Dalmatia and Dubrovnik get quite hot and crowded in the summer time, while Istria remains cooler and less crowded.
If your Croatia trip planning includes lots of sunbathing, then May-October on the coast is perfect for you. But if you’re looking to explore more of the history and food, I’d go in the spring or fall when crowds are thinner and prices are more reasonable.
The Best Way to Get to Croatia
If you’re coming from the US or the UK, flying is definitely the best way to get to Croatia, and from most European destinations as well. Zagreb airport has lots of flights year-round.
Dubrovnik and Split airports have lots of international flights in the summer, but much fewer in the winter—you’ll need to connect somewhere else to get to most places.
Smaller cities including Pula, Zadar, Osijek, and Rijeka also have airports that operate mainly seasonally.
If you’re headed to an island like Hvar, you can’t fly directly there unless you’re going to Brač or Mali Lošinj. You’ll need to fly into the closest airport and take a ferry. To go to Hvar, you can fly to Split and take a ferry from the city, or splurge for a direct ferry from the airport to the island. I book my ferries ahead of time on FerryHopper in summer as they often sell out—their app and website are both super user-friendly and they have great support if you need it.
You can also take a bus if you’re coming from a neighboring country—I always check my options on Flixbus which is cheap and reliable.
Getting Around Croatia
To get around Croatia while you’re visiting, you have a few options. Buses are very safe, frequent, and cheap between the cities. I like Flixbus for good prices and I also check GetByBus for other time options from the smaller national bus lines.
Trains in Croatia are safe but very, very, very slow and expensive. It costs twice as much to take the train from Split to Zagreb, for example, and takes 8 hours instead of 5, so I never take them.
Ferries are the only way to get to most islands and they’re lovely as well – the scenic route for sure! Be sure to book at least a few days to a week in advance in summer as they definitely sell out (via FerryHopper to make your life easier), but in winter I just walk up and buy a ticket before boarding.
I’m often asked, is driving in Croatia safe? It definitely is! The roads are great and easy to drive, and signs are simple to follow. Renting a car is the best way to travel around Croatia, as lets you see the charming smaller towns and villages. Parking can be an issue in some places however.
Croatia Travel Cost
Since each region of the country is so different from the others, and it varies by time of year as well, there’s no one Croatia vacation cost I can give you. But here are the most and least expensive times to visit each region.
Split and the rest of Dalmatia, like Zadar and Hvar, are expensive in the summer as well as crowded. You could pay up to 50€ for a night in a hostel bed or 300€+ for a hotel room at peak times—ouch. Restaurant prices go up then too and they’re also packed.
The same applies in Dubrovnik, which is very pricey and crowded in summer. Hotel rooms go for at least 300€, while you can get one in the off-season for less than half of that.
Istria is less crowded and expensive in the summer than Dalmatia, and still very beautiful. Hotels run from 50-100€ depending on when you visit (check prices on Booking.com).
Zagreb is also more affordable to visit. It does get more expensive in December because it’s a popular domestic destination for its beautiful and charming Christmas markets and decorations, so keep that in mind.
Croatia Travel Itineraries
Looking for the perfect Croatia trip itinerary? I have some ideas based on my favorite trips right here:
And if you arrive and love it, and think, “I want to move to Croatia!”, here’s how I lived here as a digital nomad in Split.
Croatia Travel Tips
While you’re planning a trip to Croatia, I hope this information was helpful! Don’t miss my top Croatia travel tips so you get even more advice on what to know and see when you’re here.
Dobrodošli (that’s Croatian for welcome!).