CROATIA TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
Croatia Trip Planning
Sparkling coastlines, walled cities, and a thousand islands – Croatia is nothing short of a Mediterranean fantasy. An Eastern European country on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is a place that many have overlooked but for those who have been there, never forgotten.
Known for its major coastal city of Dubrovnik and diverse capital that is Zagreb, people often think of medieval towns next to sapphire waters when they think of Croatia but it offers so much more than that.
Boasting amazing food, divergent landscapes, and a history to be admired, this is a country that is much more than meets the eye. To help you fall in love with Croatia, we’ve put together this guide to make sure you see and do as much as you can to really experience the country in its entirety.
Croatia Quick Information
Currency: Croatian kuna
Electricity Socket: 230V AC electricity. Croatia uses the standard European (round-pronged) plugs. To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adaptors for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a Universal Travel Adaptor before you leave.
Visa: As Croatia is a part of the Schengen Zone, most tourists can travel here for less than 90 days visa-free, however, it is recommended that your passport be valid for up to six months after you plan to leave. Normal Schengen visa requirements apply to other foreign citizens.
While there is no need to apply for a tourist or business visa for this period, if EU nationals know they will be staying longer than the 90 day period, they must register with the local authorities beforehand.
Safety: Traveling in Croatia is very safe, seriously it’s actually in the top 20 safest countries on earth list. As always though, we recommend to always remain cautious and vigilant as pickpocketing, petty thefts, bag snatching, and ATM scams can happen anywhere.
Be more cautious in places where there are big crowds, such as in cities and on public transport, and don’t forget to get good travel insurance. We recommend going with Safetywing due to their great coverage and affordable monthly plans.
Language: You will have no problems whatsoever traveling in Croatia as approximately 80% of Croatians are multilingual, 81% of that group being English-speakers. As well as English, German and Italian are also widely spoken.
As the primary language is Croatian, always try to learn a few phrases on your travels to show that you are trying. It’s actually very surprising how many friendships you can make this way and how many experiences you can have just because you have shown an interest.
Best Time to Visit Croatia
Although the weather is all over the place in Europe, it is more annoying than unbearable to be in, so countries like Croatia are suitable to visit any time of the year. The only factors that influence when you travel are whether you don’t mind crowds, the weather, and what activities you would want to do.
Best Time to Go: May-June or Sep (Main cities)
Here is a break down of the tourist seasons to help you choose when the best time for you to travel is:
- Low Season (Oct-Apr) – The weather is very cold in winter so the perfect time for avid skiers and anyone who wants to bustle the crowds at Christmas in Zagreb. Although prices are low, bear in mind that attractions in smaller towns may be closed in this season and ferry schedules are reduced.
- Mid Seasons (May-Jun & Sep) – With warm weather, the shoulder months are great for exploring the main cities without the crowds and for swimming in the Adriatic! The coast offers sailing and water sports in these seasons and prices for accommodation are lower, however, many attractions may have shorter hours so check this beforehand.
- High Season (Jul & Aug) – As the weather is at its best, crowds descend on Croatia which means higher prices and busier destinations.
Croatia Travel Rough Budget
Croatia is one European city where you can spend more than you originally intended quite easily. Although accommodation is a major expense, especially if you prefer 4-5 star hotels, it’s quite a relief that both transport and food can both be enjoyed at a more affordable price.
When traveling in Croatia, a lower end budget would be about 600 KN per day ($95) largely because your accommodation will be around half and sometimes even a bit more of your daily budget. For a guide to different types of travel, here is a rough break down of costs:
Budget: 100-360 KN ($16-57)
Mid-Range: 110-250 KN ($90-140)
Splurge: 1,000+ KN ($155+)
Food (Typical Meal For One)
Local tavern: 60 KN ($10)
Restaurant: 120 KN ($20)
Very nice restaurant: 300+ KN ($50+)
Tours Around Croatia
The best way to discover a country is by going on local tours. Sites like Viator are our go-to when it comes to booking tours. Check out a few of their most popular tours on Croatia.
What to Pack for Croatia
Like most of Europe, the weather is unpredictable, so for Croatia, you will need a variety of clothes to suit all weather conditions. Seriously, even in the Summer, you could come across a few rainy days and it gets especially cold if you’re spending time out on the water.
Make sure to bring lots of things that you can layer if you’re cold but that would also be suitable to wear alone for the warmer days, then you can add or take away as you see fit. For a complete guide on what to pack for Europe, check out our full article.
Best Things to Do in Croatia
1. Explore the walled city of Dubrovnik
As one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, Dubrovnik has enchanted many and will continue to do so for many years to come. A UNESCO site, Dubrovnik has bounced back with force after the shelling of the city in 1991 to show the world that its history runs through its streets and fuels its zest for life.
Filled with baroque buildings, traditional restaurants, and impressive museums, all surrounded by towering ancient walls and an unbelievable coastline, it’s really no surprise that people flock here to experience the awe for themselves as the pictures just don’t do it justice.
Then, of course, the filming of Game of Thrones here has also had something to do with the influx of tourists in recent years, because who doesn’t want to have a picnic in King’s Landing?
2. Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park
Full of rolling mountains and crystal clear lakes, tumbling waterfalls and rivers, and cycle paths for days, Plitvice Lakes National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Considered as one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, this stunning natural wonder is definitely worth a trip.
Not only can you explore the enticing blend of oak forests, open meadows, jagged rock formations, and stretching lakes, but you can get your adventure on with some epic activities such as camping, canyoning, and white water rafting.
If nature is your jam, you can make your time here yours whether you want a peaceful retreat or one that is mixed in with a healthy dose of adrenaline.
3. Explore the Zadar Beaches
Along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is a seaside town called Zadar. The Zadar beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country, so if you have time definitely add exploring these beaches to your travel plans.
4. Discover the Blue Grotto
At the most remote inhabited island of Croatia, you will find a Blue Grotto that shines with a mesmerising blue light. The Blue Cave, found on the east of the island of Biševo in a small bay called Balun, is a water-logged sea cave that glows bright blue at certain times of the day when the sunlight hits the sea surface through an opening on the vault.
Now, you may not think that this sounds like much, but it is a wondrous sight to behold. Up until 1884, the cave was only accessible by diving, but since then, we are lucky enough that a small artificial entrance was made so that boats could sail in and show many this stunning natural treasure.
5. Visit the island of Hvar
If you’re partial to sunny weather, you need to pay a visit to the sunniest spot in all of Croatia. Seriously, the island of Hvar is known to clock 2,724 sunny hours each year! Whether you want to go there and pitch up in a sun lounger for the week or explore the island in its entirety, you won’t be disappointed.
Although the island is prone to post yachties and young partygoers, it is well worth the visit to admire its 13th-century walls that surround the stunning hilltop fortress and its main square anchored by the Renaissance-era Cathedral. Spend a few hours exploring the secluded beaches and coves and you’ll be satisfied that you came here.
Offering swanky hotels, elegant restaurants, and a wealth of history, Hvar has earned its label as the most luxurious beach destination for a reason.
6. Sail the Adriatic Coast
If hiring a boat and setting off for a day or ten in the water sounds like your kind of heaven, then you might want to add this to your list. In the warm Mediterranean sunshine, there is nothing quite like bobbing up and down on the waves, the wind in your hair, admiring the turquoise waters with the gorgeous backdrop that is Croatia’s coastline.
Whether you just want to island hop, catch some rays, go swimming in the warm waters, or use the boat to travel to lesser-known spots for cycling and hiking, the world is your oyster once you sail out to the sea.
7. Visit Zagreb
Dubrovnik tends to be a city that people think of or go to when Croatia comes into the conversation, but what about the capital Zagreb? The largest city of Croatia, Zagreb is a city made for strolling.
Put on your boots (or flip flops, depending on the season) and wander around the maze of cobblestone streets admiring the red roof buildings, take a stroll along the Sava River, and stumble across squares full of history and lush gardens that just add to the city’s charm.
Zagreb may be known for its charming medieval old city, but it boasts modern perks such as pop-up markets and food stalls, live outdoor music events, renowned restaurants, and a vibrant cafe culture. Don’t overlook Zagreb next time you travel to Croatia; it’s an old city with a young soul.
What to Eat in Croatia
With such diverse regions and multiple foreign influences, it’s difficult to recommend typical Croatian dishes when a top dish in one region may not even be found in another. Although the food is varied, however, the culture surrounding the food isn’t. Croatians have always believed in three meals a day with lunch being the big main meal.
While this might of changed slightly during the week with more and more people working 9-5, you’ll see that on the weekends, a big family lunch is what they spend their weeks looking forward to. Here is some mouth-watering dishes that they may have:
Crni Rizot (or black risotto) is a delicious squid risotto usually made up of rice, squid (and the squid ink, hence the black), onion, garlic, red wine, and olive oil paired with other seafood such as cuttlefish, mussels, clams etc. A must-try Croatian dish found in almost every seafood restaurant on the coast, watch your friend or partner smile with jet black lips and teeth.
A gourmet delicacy, Boškarin is typically served at top restaurants and konobas (taverns) in a variety of ways. This intriguing white-grey, long-horned Istrian oxen is usually served in a savoury sauce with pasta or gnocchi, as salami or steak, or as a soup.
Pasticada s njokima
Honed as the “Queen of Dalmatian cuisine”, Pasticada may just be the most popular Dalmatian delicacy. Actually, in fact, although you may not find it in every restaurant, you will find this dish in every house and every family will have their own recipe so if this isn’t traditional we don’t know what is!
Baby beef fillet marinated in a wine vinegar for days and then braised for hours in its own juice and then red wine, a delicacy served with gnocchi.
Found all over Croatia (which is rare!) is sarma or stuffed sauerkraut. Composed of minced meat and rice with spices wrapped in pickled sauerkraut, this bad boy is full of flavor. A perfect dish for cold winter days, sarma never disappoints.
Who doesn’t love a good pastry? Made by either boiling in water or baked in the oven, strukli is a pastry that is filled with cottage cheese and sour cream.
Delicious and traditional, this pastry is so loved that it has resulted in modern interpretations including cheese and blueberries or even with truffles! There’s even a restaurant in Zagreb called La Struk that serves this treat only.
Places to Stay in Croatia
You may not be able to find completely budget-friendly options in Croatia, but the choice of affordable accommodation is plentiful. Do you like to camp or bunk in hostels? Do you prefer hotels or villas? How about private accommodation options or even a lighthouse?
Whatever your preference for where you’d like to lay your head, Croatia probably has it and it’s better than you ever dreamed of. If you’re traveling during peak season or holidays, it is always best to book your accommodations in advance so that you’re not disappointed.