Ah, so you’re planning a trip to Croatia huh? Congratulations on taking the leap to visit this gorgeous country. Your passport thanks you, I’m sure. Before my month in Croatia, I was in Montenegro for a month and I explain why in this video here. In short, I was avoiding the Schengen Zone like a fugitive.
Croatia is not some complicated country that needs separate planning from the rest, but I did think of some tips that could help. I also came up with a few things you should know before visiting Dubrovnik, should it make it to your itinerary. But back to Croatia as a whole:
Save your euros as the Croatian Kuna is KING in Croatia.
1 HRK = $0.16 <OR> 50 HRK = $7.91 (USD)
1 HRK = €0.14 <OR> 50 HRK = €6.76 (Euro)
There are a few stands selling souvenirs and/or maps that will quote their prices in euros, but I wouldn’t fall for it. If you must, exchange your money upon arrival in the country. However, I always recommend hitting up the atm as soon as you land or roll into the country via bus or ferry as the atm will always give you the best rate and you’re not losing out on your hard earned money.
Where to Stay
My lodging while staying in this part of the world, especially long term, was airbnb. It was still a little pricey in my opinion as 9 days in several Croatian cities ran me the same as a month in Montenegro, but I digress. It was high season n Croatia and paying $200+ for a hotel every night wasn’t going to cut it. Airbnb also saved me tons of money on food as I could usually cook and save money on a meal, or three, while out.
Dubrovnik Airbnb (9 nights) $396
Jesla Airbnb (8 nights) $318
Split Airbnb (7 nights) $324
Hostels are another option for Croatia although I didn’t utilize one until I ended up Zagreb. That was because I was only there for four nights and couldn’t fathom spending more than five, maybe six, in a hostel dorm. If it’s somewhere where the cost of living in extremely high, such as Iceland, then yeah, hostels are the way to go. If you’re on a tight budget then I recommend staying in hostels in the more expensive parts of Croatia. If you like to be in the city center but can’t quite afford a hotel, then again, I recommend hostels.
Zagreb Hostel (3 nights) $60
If hotels are your thing AND in your budget, then go for it. Here are a few top rated hotels throughout some of the cities I visited in Croatia:
Getting Around Croatia
(and neighboring countries)
Croatia is one of those places where I might recommend a car when it comes to getting from city to city, but not necessarily for your entire stay in one place. If you have a large group a car may make more sense. If you MUST drive around a city, opt for uber. Parking isn’t always free or easy to find. Why put yourself through that? Hop on the bus/train/tram and get from point A to B.
This bus isn’t your local city bus. These are the busses that will take you long distances and may or may not have a bathroom on board. They are the better option no matter how cheap or convenient that flight from Montenegro to Dubrovnik may seem. Just hop on the bus.
I caught the bus from Montenegro to Dubrovnik for about €20. The longest part of the journey may have been at the border crossings, but that’s a-ok. Getting this ticket involved me walking up to the counter at my local bus depot in Tivat, Montenegro and asking for a ticket to Dubrovnik. Simple as that.
When it came to getting from Split to Zagreb, and Zagreb to my next city, AND the city after that, Flixbus was my bus of choice. I was a little afraid as I had a friend traveling along Western Europe using Flixbus who had several horror and delay stories. Thankfully I have no complaints yet. Just pack snacks and make sure you empty your bladder as not all buses have bathroom access. My bus from Zagreb to Budapest had a “full toilet” so people kept begging the driver to stop so they could use the restroom. Not the most ideal situation.
I caught the ferry from Dubrovnik to Hvar, and Hvar to Split. For some reason I had trouble figuring out how and where to purchase my tickets online and in advance. Here you go. I saw another line that was also offering ferry rides to Croatian islands so check with your airbnb host, hostel, or hotel to see if you should choose one company over the other. Jadrolinija was just fine by me. If you have an early ferry ride like I did and you don’t pack snacks or food, they have a counter on board where you can buy refreshments. I would go so far as to even recommend the ferry from Dubrovnik to somewhere like Split instead of the bus. Just take the scenic route and skip traffic and/or winding roads.
Cities to Visit/Skip
If I had listened to people saying that Zagreb could be skipped because it was similar to places like Prague or Budapest, I would’ve missed out on what turned out to be one of my favorite cities. It was what I was missing about Europe even though I’d already been on the continent for almost two months. Now I’m not saying book a one way ticket to Zagreb, but don’t skip it, or anywhere else, just because I or anyone else said you should.
Dubrovnik is a place that most would immediately go to before anywhere else, and I personally wished I had spent less time there and moved on to the next city. Now I’m sure you may be dying to visit Dubrovnik and for very specific reasons. This is why it’s always important to go and see for yourself. Go where YOU have always wanted, and skip the places you have no desire to see. Simple.
Good luck with planning a trip to Croatia! What cities are you thinking of hitting?